“The Crossing” is maddening, laying the groundwork for Dr. Elizabeth Shaw’s ultimate fate and showing the first moments of the genocide David releases on the Engineer’s world. It’s a big source of frustration for fans who wanted to explore the mysteries of creation, but Ridley’s new obsession is with David’s patriarchal madness. The fact that the entire short isn’t part of the movie is bizarre. All of these short films are included on the “Alien: Covenant” DVD and Blu-ray, and most are available on YouTube.
“Alien” takes place in 2122, 17 years after “Alien: Covenant.” But, despite that short amount of time, a lot happens in between. “Covenant” continued putting vital information in spin-off media. Peter Weyland’s corporation became Weyland-Yutani not on screen, but in a book by Alan Dean Foster. “Origins,” published months after the film debut, describes how Yutani’s CEO raided Weyland Corp after Peter’s death, explaining why the colonists were flying under a familiar corporate banner.
There were also two more “Alien: Covenant” short films produced after the movie’s release. One, “Advent,” was included on the DVD. It’s David’s thesis on how to create a superior being, mailed to Weyland-Yutani. In grotesque autopsy sequences, David defiles Dr. Shaw as he talks about perfecting his creation. “Advent” also makes it clear that Daniels, one of the Covenant’s two surviving colonists, is fated to become part of the first Xenomorph Queen. It’s an act that will ensure the future replication of the species.
The other film, “David’s Lab — Last Signs of Life,” was released on YouTube as an anniversary gift. Twelve minutes long, it’s too slow for what it offers. Weyland-Yutani has sent an expedition to study David’s lab, and, of course, one of David’s new facehuggers takes a bite out of the new arrivals.
James Cameron also subverted the themes of “Alien” in one other way. Lance Henriksen as the android Bishop is set up to upset both Ripley and the audience. But by not making Bishop’s identity a secret, “Aliens” gives the audience a chance to see him as an actual character. It’s rational to fear him, especially during his autopsy of a facehugger, but to the Colonial Marines, he’s just one of the guys.
Henriksen gives Bishop an awkward sensitivity that eases the fact that he’s an android, and it becomes clear that, while he’s as intelligent as Ash was, his loyalty is to his crew, not to Weyland-Yutani. He’s there to help people come back alive. In order to do that, his programming gives him a reason to care.
The prequels revealed that androids can assume the flaws of their makers. “Alien” showed that, without a heart, an android will execute its commands without hesitation. But Bishop is allowed to be almost human, making what happens to him in the finale all the more devastating. However, his legacy remains. Bishop’s choices proved that there’s a better future for his synthetic people, if their creators have benevolent motives. In the Alien universe, Bishop represents the future of AI.
“Alien: Resurrection” takes a 200-year leap into the future and dismisses the threat of Weyland-Yutani with a joke about them being bought out by Wal-Mart. It’s a low-key ending for the corporate monster, but there’s harmony in the idea that there will always be a bigger, badder shark in the water.
And yet, the mega-corporation left all of its toys behind, and the United Systems Military still wants what Peter Weyland promised them centuries ago. The cloning storyline in “Alien: Resurrection” is garbage carried by good performances, with Ripley 8 becoming David’s inhuman bookend. But while cloning has leached away some of Ripley’s humanity, the androids get a short but fascinating plot about becoming more human than their makers. Call is an autonomous second-gen android who, like others of her line, have made fixing the malicious ethics of their makers into a cause.
In a better film, the androids’ choice to become more like the humans that tried to stop Weyland and his successors would feel more important. Instead, it leaves the film with the same almost-was melancholy that Ripley and Call feel when they both glimpse Earth for the first time. Released in 1997, “Alien: Resurrection” remains the final chronological film in the franchise. “Alien: Resurrection” is streaming for a fee on Apple and Amazon.
This content was originally published here.