Note: This article contains spoilers for Alien: Covenant. I'm one of those people that simply cannot stand looking at, reading or watching any source material (outside the realms of trailers, of course) that could potentially ruin a film that's about to open in the cinema. Sometimes you can see too much before the viewing, and sometimes teasers, trailers and TV spots reveal way too much to the audience before the final product has been released.
However, and much to my ignorance, I had no idea the #AlienCovenant prologues had so much content that could clarify so many questions we're asking. Some people have quickly dismissed the prologues for a number of reasons, others simply don't know they exist, but I'm going to convince you that you need to watch them as soon as possible.
First of all we have The Crossing, which fills us in with what happened after David and Shaw took off into space. It begins with a narration from David, explaining that after they had made contact with the Engineers, the crew and the USCSS Prometheus were both lost. We get to see some pretty cool footage of the ship during the narration, revealing a lot more than what we saw in #Prometheus.
We pan over Shaw and watch her studying an astrological map of sorts, as well as seeing more of the ship's interior. Here we get a sense of isolation; Shaw looks terrible as she gazes into nothingness.
Next, we listen as David comments that he had never experienced such compassion from Peter Weyland (his creator), or from any other human for that matter. We see Shaw repairing the android. David comments:
"Green to green, red to red, it's meant to be simple."
Although we get the gist that Shaw was going to repair David after they take off together to the distant world, that particular scene was by no means necessary. Nevertheless, it was a lovely touch. Later on, we watch David and Shaw taking command of the ship, both having adapted and learnt the Engineer's technology. It's a cool shot and shows off a familiar sight.
"What if they're no better than us?"
"So long as they are no worse."
Most dialogue to do with David and his outlook is fascinating, and in the quote above we are reminded of his distaste toward mankind. But one question remains: Where did this distaste come from, and why? Many speculate it may come from his relationship with Weyland, as we can see in the introduction scene to Covenant that the topic of creation and deities is something David has clearly contemplated from birth:
"May I ask you a question, father? If you created me; who created you?"
"The question of the ages, which I hope you and I will answer one day. All of this, all this wonderful art, design, human ingenuity, all meaningless in the face of what matters: What do we come from? Where do we come from?"
David then responds:
"Allow me a moment to consider. You seek your creator, I'm looking at mine. You will die, I will not."
It's safe to say that David has experienced daddy issues. Despite Weyland's ingenuity, he seems unable to appreciate his own creation. When you think about it, everything we see in the aftermath of Prometheus is David fulfilling something he never had, and in a lot of ways David treats his own creations in a way that he might have expected to have been treated by his own creator. Despite his deep and broad views, we see that David remains compliant to Weyland's demands — whether this was a front or not. It is also hinted during Covenant that David's particular model was soon replaced, as his sort often made humans uncomfortable, and I totally understand why.
Following the scene, we watch Shaw lay to rest on one of the giant Engineer cryo-pods on board the ship, in an impressive visual display that shows us the full beauty behind the Engineer's craft. It further illustrates just how small mankind really is in the face of superior beings.
We watch David emerge from a blurry shot and observe his surroundings.
"And then I was alone again."
You can immediately notice a shift in the atmosphere; an eeriness is present. At this moment, you can feel the change in David's demeanor, once again his sinister side is perfectly illustrated and we can do nothing but watch as he fades into the shadows of the ship, awaiting his arrival.
In good, old fashioned Prometheus style, the photography throughout is brilliant, and the landscape shots are no exception. The Prometheus vibes were constantly present during the prologue video, and if I had watched this sooner, my anticipation would've intensified tenfold.
And for the first time, we see civilization — the Engineer's civilization. The landing pad is extraordinary, we see a unique launch tower seemingly gliding through midair as the ship arrives on the scene, and in the foreground the city shows us multiple buildings. The most prominent building we see seems to pay tribute to traditional Islamic architecture, using the vast dome rooftop.
Then we see a massive crowd gathering around the landing pad and during the film we get a closer look to see they are more than happy to welcome back — well, who do they think they're welcoming back? Do they recognize the ship, as it dates back some 2,000 years to when the Engineer's were on LV-223, or are we missing something? The last time we saw an Engineer meet a human, he went on an angry tirade and killed every last one of them.
Interestingly, through some close-up shots, we see distinguished societal superiors among the spectators. While you can clearly identify ordinary citizens, there are some more formal Engineers looking on who seem likely to be high up in their societal hierarchy.
And then we get to see the scene — you know, the scene. In retrospect, we all knew what was coming when watching those ampules spiraling around behind David, who looks down upon the Engineers — for the first time, we're given the impression that they are in fact inferior to David — and then we cut. But we are left with some engaging dialogue in perhaps my favorite writing of the entire script. I adore the deeper, more philosophical side to the prequel series, which so happens to get lost throughout the film once we decline into the more Alien-like sequences.
Again, I don't feel as if The Crossing gives us anything we couldn't live without, but it sure does give us something to contemplate during our wait for Covenant, and even afterward the prologue serves as food for thought as we look back and wonder. Once again, this particular sequence remains my favorite of the two.
Oh, look — Ripley's back! The Last Supper sequence opens with a sweeping shot of the USCSS Covenant drifting through space, and if there's one thing that the #Alien franchise has always nailed, it's the ship designs. We abruptly cut to Walter — one of Michael Fassbender's two characters — who is running a routine checkup on Daniels (Katherine Waterston) before she goes down for the long nap.
The most disturbing thing about this entire prologue is the fact Walter's accent is continuously changing from American to British. Whether this is intentional and part of Walter's programming as an android is beyond me. However, there are plenty of good things to see from this prologue.
For example, we finally have the answer to the mother of all questions — James Franco is in Covenant! For a little longer than you and I first thought, too. I found this quite strange. Having the actor's name tied to the film and ultimately only seeing him for moments in the film kind of let a lot of people down. Many were excited to see what Franco could've brought to the table, so I thought this little touch was nice.
We first get a look at Franco's character Branson stood alongside Oram (Billy Crudup) and Tennessee (Danny McBride) — the former seem to be appreciating the blissful nothingness of space, while Tennessee comments that it freaks him out, because it's a "big old sea of nothing." I think the most amusing thing about this particular scene is how Branson remarks that he isn't feeling too hot — in fact, he's burning up. As we all know now, this was foreshadowing his untimely demise. Who would've known?
Again, throughout the prologue we get to see a lot of stunning visuals. I've always been a big fan of how the #Alien franchise has designed the aesthetic, particularly in the original film, 1979's Alien. Similarly, there's been a lot of work put into bringing the USCSS Covenant to life, and everything from the lighting, arrangement of the set, and small touches, such as the hula girl, lends the film it's signature look.
It's strange to think that would be the last time the crew (and us) would see their captain Branson. I really do believe some fans were as devastated as the crew when they lost him. They also lost a character they were stoked to see. Once Branson takes his leave, the crew throws a party, allowing viewers to get to know individual characters and how they work and bond together as a unit. We also discover during the scene that the Alien franchise has rolled out it's very first #LGBT relationship in the form of Sergeant Lope (Demián Bichir) and Hallett (Nathaniel Dean), both of who serve on the military branch of the mission, which shows the franchise is trying to diversify to the current social climate.
During the throws of the party, Upworth (Callie Hernandez) seems to get a little choked up. As a nod to John Hurt's Kane from the original film, we watch as one of the crew's pilots begins to gasp for air, with Tennessee commenting that "the food's not that bad."
I'd imagine watching the prologue before the film could make you think there's an immediate departure on the way. However, we soon see Walter enter the frame, as he walks up and delivers a swift slap to the back, which alleviates Upworth's distress. "Down the wrong pipe," Walter says, before adding, "I've got your back."
Throughout the remainder of the scene, we see where the Last Supper title stems from. As the crew gathers around the table for Daniels' speech, we see an uncanny resemblance between the multiple shots and Leonardo da Vinci's 15th-century painting of the same name. Funnily enough, fans have been associating Franco's robed look to that of Jesus Christ, although as we see in the picture below, it appears that Daniels is shown in the central position, where Jesus is depicted in the painting.
Arguably, Lope is illustrated as Judas Iscariot; however, viewers know there is no treachery to be found anywhere in the film itself. Despite this, it's these little touches that bring back a feeling we first felt in Prometheus.
"You've all sacrificed so much to be here. To be a part of this. It's the first ever large-scale colonization mission to come this far into our galaxy. We're making history. And everyone back on Earth is really grateful for your hard work and your courage. I just wanna say I couldn't pick a better bunch of jerks to get marooned on a distant planet with. So, to the Covenant!"
The Last Supper prologue serves beautifully as a piece of development for the crew, especially as it appears we'll be exploring Daniels' character throughout the prequel series from here on out. And again, it's a good way of putting Franco to some use.
Unlike The Crossing which was directed by #RidleyScott himself, Last Supper was directed by his son Luke Scott, who did a wonderful job. Perhaps we will see the younger Scott stepping into his father's shoes and taking over the franchise in the future.
Alien: Covenant is in theaters on May 19. What are your thoughts on the prologues? Sound off in the comments below.
[All images credit: Fox]