Alien: Covenant is about to be unleashed on the big screen (12 May in the UK folks). After Prometheus, a film that could tactfully be called divisive, Sir Ridley Scott’s second return to the Alien franchise has been met with notably cautious levels of enthusiasm. We all want the movie the trailers promise, but, as we found out last time, sometimes we get the movie where the cartographer gets lost while making his own map.
We’ll know which one we get on 12 May. But we know a good chunk of stuff already and most of it sounds pretty great. So, get ready to board the Covenant with this pre-flight checklist.
1 The Covenant is making history
The Covenant is the first interstellar colony vessel. That implies a decent chunk of time has passed between Prometheus and Covenant given how bleeding edge the Prometheus’s interstellar capabilities were at the time.
2 The Covenant crew are something different
Where previously this has been a series featuring scientists, soldiers, an early draft of the crew of the Serenity and some criminals versus aliens, this time – it’s couples. The idea is that with stable familial pairs at the centre, the colony the Covenant sets up will be on solid ground. The fact every character has a significant other who will have to watch them die is just icing on the cake. Horrifying blood-soaked icing. On a cake made of terror. And presumably eggs.
3 The Covenant is expecting trouble
Take a look at that shuttle. Take a look at the flight helmets and fatigues everyone has. Better still, look at the rifles the landing party have. This is not the bumbling civilian scientists of the Prometheus. It won’t help (when has it EVER helped in these movies?) but it’s interesting to see them this well prepared. Also, was the Covenant sent to the Engineer homeworld? If so, how? Has David been in contact with Earth somehow?
4 The crew are intimidated
As we see in the sign-off messages, these are folks who are acutely aware of what they’re doing and the stakes they’re playing with. We especially liked Tennessee’s line about how the next time he sees his younger brother he’ll be his older brother and how he doesn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry at that. This is difficult, these folks are scared and they’re doing it anyway. So they’re all couples and they’re all basically decent people. Seeing these characters go down is going to be hard.
5 The Covenant has an actual piece of space technology on board
In what is surely both the most on-the-nose and weirdest piece of product placement in recent history, the Lunar Quattro lunar rover developed by Audi is being used in Covenant as… a planetary exploration robot. We really hope the engineer (not the Engineers obvs) on the Covenant is a space nerd and has brought the “classic” old-fashioned design aboard as a retro toy.
6 Doctor Elizabeth Shaw repaired David
As we see in short film “The Crossing”, Doctor Shaw connected David’s head and body back together before setting off for the Engineer homeworld. It makes sense; with Peter Weyland out of commission he’s basically trust worthy, right?
7 No, David probably isn’t trustworthy
“The Crossing” finishes with David carpet bombing an Engineer city with the black goo. We’re sure he has his reasons, but he doesn’t seem to share them with Elizabeth. Judging by the other trailers he basically scours the Engineer homeworld clean, given there is no noise at all when the Covenant survey team lands. But why does he plant wheat? Or was that an Engineer food they transferred to Earth?
8 Doctor Elizabeth Shaw may still be alive but it isn’t looking good
We see David put Elizabeth in hypersleep in “The Crossing”. Obviously some time has passed; David’s hair has changed, Elizabeth’s is longer. He seems genuinely very affectionate towards her and while, as we’ll see, he has ulterior motives he doesn’t seem to wish her harm. That being said, the discovery of her dog tags in one of the other trailers suggests David’s later actions get his only friend killed. Which may go some way towards explaining just how off he is…
9 David meet Walter, Walter meet David
Michael Fassbender pulls double duty this time. He’s back as Walter, the Lawrence of Arabia-obsessed synthetic from Prometheus. He’s also on the Covenant crew as Walter, a more advanced synthetic with the same face. Whether the two team up, we don’t know, but as others have pointed out we’re betting money one impersonates the other at some point.
10 Mr Weyland may be back
Sort of. There’s a very fleeting shot of David, and, we think, Walter in a large white room with a piano on one side and what looks like a bed on the other. We’re betting that the Walter and David models share certain subroutines and that Weyland, while dead, may still live on in his “children”. We’re hopeful that if we do have to sit through more Mr Weyland stuff, the make-up may not be as awful this time.
11 Daniels gets the job done
The four-minute prologue “The Last Supper” makes it very clear that there’s the way the crew should operate and the way it does operate. Billy Crudup’s Oram is nominally senior but in the absence of Captain Banks (James Franco), Daniels (Katherine Waterstone) is the designated adult. That’s a nice way to fold in a power dynamic and it’ll be interesting to see how the pair interact with Tennessee (Danny McBride) everyone’s slightly drunk older brother.
12 Daniels and Banks are an item
Waterston confirmed that her character and Franco’s are involved. Given the fact Banks is ill (with a CHEST INFECTION PERHAPS?) and one trailer sees Daniels referring to Oram as “Captain”, we’re guessing he is toast.
13 Ted, the spores are back
Remember the bit in Prometheus when a crewmember gets turned into something deeply horrible and belligerent due to the weird black goo? Yeah, us too unfortunately. It looks like that’s back. We see someone trigger spores that enter their ear in the first trailer and we know David carpet bombs a sizeable population centre with it. Maybe the spores are planet wide, an evolutionary booby trap waiting for someone to trigger them.
14 There are at least two types of alien
We’ve seen photos of the Neomorph, a pallid white creature that is apparently the first alien we see. The Neomorph is the transitional form between the Deacon, the pointy headed chap we saw at the end of Prometheus, and the Xenomorph. The Neomorph tears itself out of the back of its victims, so were guessing it gets much bigger, much faster than it’s little brother.
Then there’s the Xenomorph, everyone’s favourite warrior ant. They are definitely in the movie given we see one trying to headbutt its way into the cockpit to kill Tennessee at one point. The shower/murder sequence we’ve glimpsed also features a very Xenomorph-looking tail…
15 Speculation Corner: Poetic Justice
We’ve got no evidence for this above circumstantial but here’s our theory. David, enraged at the murder of his creator, decides to take revenge on the Engineers by dousing them with the black goo. As we saw in Prometheus, an Engineer impregnated by a creature that springs from the black goo creates a Neomorph. Perhaps, with a high enough dose that becomes a full blown Xenomorph. Or worse still, the humans are the perfect hosts for the goo, creating the Xenomorph and explaining why so very many people are going to get infected in the movies to come.
Either way, Alien: Covenant is going to be interesting. We’re hopeful it’s going to be the course correction the series desperately needs to remain viable and even if it isn’t, at their absolute worst these movies are a grab bag of beautiful images and great ideas. Soon, we’ll find out which one we’re getting.
Alien: Covenant opens on 12 May.