We've known for a long time now that sci-fi legend (Sir) Ridley Scott has been planning several sequels to 2012's middling Prometheus, hinting that a second iteration in the franchise would reveal some of the questions left open at the conclusion of the first film.
Damon Lindelof, who co-wrote the script to Prometheus, confirmed that elements of the plot were deliberately left unresolved for the sequel and that this film would move even further away from Alien as its predecessor did. And now we have the official title - Alien: Covenant - and the official synopsis via IMDB:
"Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world -- whose sole inhabitant is the "synthetic" David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition."
Notice anything missing from that description? Something like the main character from the first Prometheus film? Someone like Noomi Rapace's archeologist Elizabeth Shaw?
The conclusion of Prometheus saw Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender) escaping the planet in a ship, intending to continue her search for truth by aiming for the Engineer's home planet. A while back, before the cast and production was settled, Rapace spoke about where Shaw would be heading in the sequel, leading us to believe that she would again take centre stage in Prometheus 2:
"I know that Elizabeth Shaw wants to go to paradise. I say that in the first one. I don’t wanna go back. She can’t go to Earth. There’s nothing left for her there really. She wants to go where they come from, those giants, those creatures. In her head that’s the dark paradise. What’s there? God, maybe? God or [the] Devil. I don’t know. I don’t know where [Ridley Scott’s] gonna take us but I can’t wait to go there."
Shaw's strong Christian beliefs are alluded to throughout the first film, and they are what drives her exploration of humanities origins. Indeed the search that she has been on is for all intents and purposes a search for God; whilst it may not be a representation of God in the traditional sense, the Engineers are the creators of humanity.
Alien: Paradise Lost?
But you see, Alien: Covenant wasn't always the official title for Prometheus 2. First it was [Alien: Paradise Lost](tag:3572502), named so by Scott in reference to Shaw's journey to discover paradise. In fact he himself said he'd like to follow Shaw's journey to this paradise in the Prometheus sequel:
"I'd love to explore where [Dr. Shaw] goes next and what does she do when she gets there, because if it is paradise, paradise cannot be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous."
Last week details emerged from costume designer Janty Yates, who told Collider that Alien: Covenant would be set "10 years in the future beyond Prometheus". So after the events of Prometheus David ends up on a dangerous planet - without Shaw - and is found by the crew of the Covenant. This ties in with reports that Dr. Shaw would be "relegated to just a brief appearance in the sequel", perhaps appearing in flash-backs as part of David's story.
And Alien 5?
The why and the how of it is yet to be clarified, but the decade time skip forward takes Prometheus 2 even closer chronologically to the events of 1979's Alien. Which brings us to Neill Blomkamp's ambitious Alien 5, the future of which is still somewhat uncertain.
Whilst Alien: Covenant hasn't killed of Alien 5 by any means (Scott is producing Blomkamp's project), it has however put the project on hold for the time being. So it's looking like we won't get any news about the next Alien until after the Prometheus sequel has wrapped filming.
Godspeed Ridley Scott, godspeed.