Alien: Covenant is the latest film from monumental filmmaker Ridley Scott in his ever-expanding sci-fi horror franchise that follows the crew of a slender colonization vessel as they explore the supposed home of the progenitors of earthly life, only to discover extraterrestrial parasites hidden in the bowels of the planet.
What sets this visual creation apart from the rest is that it takes many of the franchise’s longstanding ideas – deceptive industrialism, sexy body horror, very bad robots – and combines them with the high-flying philosophy that the director previously explored in Blade Runner and presented in Prometheus.
This aforementioned paradise is the former home of the so-called “engineers”, the very creators of all life shown in the prequel Prometheus, and after the first series of murders in The Testament, the team finds themselves in the lair of the sole survivor from the previous film, synthetic David, who developed the deadly perfect organism is the series’ iconic xenomorph, and now secretly intends to wipe out the unsuspecting colonists as part of a much grander plan. The rest of the movie is built around worrying about what he might or might not have done as they tried to escape.
It’s a big, far-reaching film, and while the main story definitely has a lot of interesting elements, for the most part it focuses on the man at the center of it all, Michael Fassbender in the dual role of David and Walter. This pair of androids is the core of the film’s plot, theme, and without a doubt the possible future of the franchise. As such, they should be the focus of any analysis of the Testament’s ending.
What is the movie “Alien: Covenant” about
The classic Alien prequel timeline spans hundreds of thousands of years in its entirety, and since it begins with billionaire and nutty scientist Peter Weiland creating that same David, The Testament itself manages to span the better part of a century. So you really need to look at what happened in the ten years between Prometheus and The Testament to fully understand the latter’s ending, especially with regard to David.
In the original prequel, Michael Fassbender’s android was outwardly a tough automaton, obeying the orders of his creator Peter Weiland, but exhibiting his own dark unique thoughts, interacting more and more with normal people, and at one point even hinting at his creator’s contempt. David and Elizabeth Shaw eventually left LV-223 in search of the Engineers’ homeworld.
During the journey, Elizabeth went into cryosleep for the long journey, while David, now free after Weiland’s death, was left alone and began to learn about how engineers work.
Upon arriving on their home planet, he declared them a failure and instigated a mass extermination by dropping thousands of pathogen pods over the central citadel and littering the planet with black spore pods.
Somehow, the ship crashed and David began to experiment further with their technology to create an improved version of himself. Once he had exhausted his options, the android turned its sights on getting off the planet, setting up beacons to attract Earth expeditions.
The explicit purpose of the film is to show where xenomorphs come from, and, after vague hints in Prometheus, audiences finally get their answer in Testament. In short, a black liquid developed by engineers attaches itself to a living organism and rewrites its DNA, feeding on it and growing the creature before it forcibly leaves the host.
David starts with pods and spores, which in its purest form leads to the appearance of neomorphs – pale, spindly creatures, which subsequently stick to the faces of two members of the Covenant’s landing team after arriving on an ominous planet.
But before that, it is again shown how, having remained virtually isolated on the planet, David continues to explore the possibilities of the pathogen, experimenting on the surviving engineers and the body of Elizabeth Shaw, who refused to help her, the only survivor from the previous film.
He tries to perfect the process by multiplying the pods and perfecting the eggs, which now need only hosts to produce his creation. And a distraught David gets exactly that when the Covenant ship arrives, using Captain Oram as the protomorph’s “mother”.
The meaning of the movie “Alien: Covenant”
As the reference in the prologue suggests, David’s basic plan is pretty simple: get off the planet. He, in fact, devastated the world around him, having used up all the potential test subjects and completed the development of the alien, leaving him nothing else but to explore his empty planetary-scale possession.
To accomplish his main goal, David takes advantage of his knowledge of human nature by sending out a distress signal of clearly terrestrial origin that will immediately attract any space craft that comes within range. It’s also worth noting that David doesn’t have an immediate time limit, as the synthetic form can wait hundreds of years if need be.
However, what really matters here is not David’s desire to get off the planet, but what his goals will be after he does. His disdain for engineers is obvious, but over time he developed similar feelings for humanity. This is where the main part of the story comes into play. The Covenant’s entire crew is made up of married couples, and they are obviously starting over like their ancestors, but when David learns of this, it becomes apparent that his plan is to use the wombs of future mothers as a natural receptacle for xenomorph embryos, ready to spread throughout the entire universe.
In addition, David is in a position of pure superiority – he is stronger than any living being and has a higher intellectual power, which means that he behaves like his creator Weyland once proclaimed: “Now we are gods!”.
Comparison with the creator, as a metaphor with the Supreme Deity, makes the meaning of the story in the form of a kind of modern myth. So it turns out that in many ways, David is that same fallen angel Lucifer, seeking to eliminate an entire species – humanity, and create a completely new one with the appropriate elements used to tell something epic. After all, it was not for nothing that the film at some point in the script was listed under the name “Paradise Lost.”
Where the film makes its most resonant and compelling conclusion in this regard is how advanced David is. Just like he slowly created the perfect organism. David is the third generation in the “God” family, and perhaps the closest to his children. By the end, the engineers despised the humanity they created, and Weyland viewed androids only as tools.
David, however, sees both the perverse beauty and the danger inherent in his creations. He tries to gain the neomorph’s trust while Captain Oram just shoots on the spot and enjoys the birth of his first xenomorph. David is confident that this creepy life form is a step forward. And this is the true and terrible meaning of the Testament.
Movie ending explained “Alien: Covenant”
After a battle on the surface of the planet Daniels, Katherine Waterston and Tennessee Danny McBride are two of the six survivors of the film’s ill-fated events. Unfortunately, the xenomorph secretly made its way onto the ship, and now two people cannot cope without the help of Walter – another android created in the image and likeness of David by the same Peter Weiland, but less emotional in relation to the human race.
And at the very end of the movie, just as Daniels returns to cryosleep, Walter reveals that he is actually David, informing us that in the battle between the android twins, it was not the positive one who won.
Daniels ends up falling asleep and David extracts two xenomorph embryos from himself, placing them in trays containing all of the human embryos that will be used to colonize the Covenant’s original destination, the habitable planet Origae-6. This brings one big question to mind: how did David manage to get on board the ship.
The obvious solution is that David won the fight with his doppelgänger Walter in the cavern-like dwelling where much of the film’s action takes place. All he then needed was a change of costume, a quick change in accent, and, of course, losing his arm in the same way that Walter had.
Once David puts on his disguise, he can easily infiltrate the Covenant’s ranks and sabotage events exactly as he sees fit. Technically, this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, since the android can make almost all the changes necessary to pull off such a trick.
In the end, David does not symbolize a ruthless evil with a chilling goal of destroying every living creature that gets in his way, but a monstrous creativity that has gone beyond the usual limits so far that it has turned into a real genocide.
Demonization of technology
Evidence of this is the demonization of technology and the attitude towards it as a potential threat to humanity, which is expressed in many works on this topic.
Technique is essentially rational, it is the reification of the rational function of human consciousness. There is no life in it, but due to the fact that technical devices can move and interact with the environment, they become able to imitate life. And because of this, they are an excellent receptacle for our mental projections. We begin to treat them as if they were alive.
But this is half the trouble. Every year technology becomes more and more incomprehensible to us, the creators of systems based on neural networks no longer understand the logic by which these systems work. A paradoxical situation arises: what was rational begins to be perceived as something irrational.
As a result, those irrational fears, which for ancient people were associated with nature and deities, awaken again in us, projected onto technology, which we see as unpredictable, threatening and demonic.
And on this confrontation between man and technology, we project the ancient archetype of the confrontation between God and Satan. How does this happen?
The Structure of Biblical Myth
The main concepts that are present in the original structure of the biblical myth and which we are now interested in are God, Satan and Man. These characters have specific roles:
God is the Creator and Creator par excellence. Satan is a creature that rebelled against the Creator. Let’s designate his role as “rebel”. Man is a creature created in the image and likeness of the Creator. And if so, then he inherits from the creator the function of the creator.
These are the categories with the help of which we have been comprehending reality for thousands of years and, roughly speaking, setting the scenario for our relations with it.
But if in ancient times and in the Middle Ages the concepts of God and Satan were understood objectively, then starting from the New Age, they gradually descend to the level of human subjective ideas, to which nothing corresponds in reality. That is, the original biblical myth is modified, but the system of categories remains the same, and the emptied concepts require their filling.
That is, God and Satan were denied real existence, but the categories themselves remained, and a person tries to project them onto this or that phenomenon.
So, the concept of God the creator is hung either on the person himself, or on nature, or on hypothetical aliens. Accordingly, the burden of Satan as a source of evil also has to be carried either by the person himself, or projected onto something external.
And so, creating artificial intelligence, a person of Western culture, one way or another, identifies himself with the creator, creating something in his own image and likeness, i.e. projects onto itself the function of God the Creator. And being still in the same system of categories set by the biblical myth, a person unconsciously refers to his creation as a potential adversary, ready to rebel against his creator.
Thus, it is permissible to assume that, moving in line with the modern myth of a human creator and a rebellious creature, our culture creates its own, so to speak, “life scenario”, provokes its own fate.
And modern cinema, as a spokesman for modern mythology, allows us, on the one hand, to discern this scenario, but at the same time strengthens it if we do not realize it.
It can be said that Ridley Scott’s latest films – Prometheus and Alien: Covenant – are a warning about the danger posed by the spontaneous and uncontrolled development of high technology. But the irony is that both the danger itself and the warning about it are generated by our attitude to reality, due to th