First things first: If it's possible to make an Alien prequel which pleases everyone, Alien: Covenant is not it. An improvement on the garbled Prometheus in every way, Ridley Scott has made a movie which expands, and complicates, the mythology of the universe. Pondering God and creation and delivering hardcore horror and gore, it channels parts of other Alien movies while asking more questions than it answers.
Some will hate it, others will love it. But what's undeniable is that the ending paves the way for a Covenant sequel which could be even more demented, and a universe whose very laws are being rewritten by Scott with each new chapter of the story. Let's break down the twist ending of Alien: Covenant and attempt to explain how the final scenes could shape the next movie in the Alien franchise.
Major, drooling, Xenomorph-shaped spoilers beyond this point, obviously.
The 'Alien: Covenant' Ending Explained
The identical twin trope is one of the oldest in the book, and it was never going to be mere coincidence that Prometheus's devious, creation-obsessed syntethic David and Covenant's loyal, creatively-suppressed upgrade model Walter are both played by Michael Fassbender. It's an incredible dual performance which allows Ridley Scott to have some fun when the two "brothers" come face to face for the first time.
David has spent the last ten years experimenting with parasites, spores and the black liquid goo found in the caves in Prometheus. Having eradicated the Engineers in an act of mass genocide on arrival on their planet, he's transformed their base into a gorgeous and deadly lair in which he creates frankenstein mutations of the alien we know as the Xenomorph. He thinks of himself as their "daddy," in a twisted callback to the Covenant prologue, where Weyland (Guy Pearce) tells David, just born but already jaded and curious, that he is his son.
Once David and Walter come face to face, an extended and unsettlingly homoerotic flute lesson ends abruptly when David deactivates Walter in one brutally swift move. (Apparently this is called a "recorder stab.") But moments later David's attack on Daniels is interrupted by Walter, who's very much not dead, and the two androids go mano-a-mano in a fight to the death, climax unseen. Ultimately it's Walter who emerges to join Daniels and an injured Lope in boarding the Covenant and leaving the horrors of David's haunted house behind.
All of which is straightforward enough, and a lot of fun. But Scott maximizes the impact of Fassbender's dual role by saving the biggest and most ridiculous twist for last — alien defeated, Daniels and Tennessee the lone survivors, Walter puts his two crew members back into cryosleep ahead of the seven-year journey to Origae-6.
Her sleep chamber closed and sleep mode induced, Daniels reminds Walter of his earlier promise with the words: "When we get there, we'll build that cabin on the lake." But Walter doesn't remember their conversation about Daniels' dream of honoring her husband's memory by building the cabin on the lake, because he's not Walter at all — he's David. As the truth dawns of Daniels, the horror of knowing she's seconds from entering a seven-year slumber is etched on her face.
It's outrageous, it's delicious, an age-old "twin impersonates twin for evil gain" twist which somehow enhances an already deliriously entertaining movie. So that's the Covenant ending explained — where does David go from here?
Get Ready For More Philosophy When Dr. Jekyll Reaches Origae-6
As made clear by the utterly gruesome shot of David regurgitating two facehuggers embryos to store in the refrigerator alongside the human embryos, David has plans for his "children". Should the ship ever reach Origae-6, the chances of Daniels ever making it out of cryosleep alive seem horribly slim.
The bad news is that if you didn't enjoy the creationist elements of Covenant — the ways David's deep contempt for Weyland, and for mankind, have manifested in the mother of all God complexes, the on-the-nose quoting of Ozymandias (falsely credited by David as being written by Byron, rather than Shelley, in a revealing moment that suggests he may be more human and error-prone than he'd like to admit) — you're probably only going to fall further out this franchise's orbit, because it's in Gods and monsters that Scott's real interest lies, not the alien itself.
Click here for a more in-depth breakdown of David's masterplan, and the storyline potential for the Covenant sequel Scott has promised will begin filming next year.
Did you see the twist ending of Covenant coming, and what's next for David and his reign of terror?