This review contains spoilers for the film.
Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” the second installment to “Prometheus,” (2012) and the sixth installment in the “Alien” franchise, is set 10 years after the disappearance of the Prometheus with a new crew and mission. The speculations of what “Prometheus” was supposed to be like, but didn’t deliver on because of the script’s heavy revisions and change of writers, suggest that “Covenant” was essentially the “Prometheus” movie we were waiting on but didn’t receive.
Damon Lindelof, known for his work on the television show “Lost,” writes in a convoluted manner without the resolution readily in mind, but rather leaving the story open for heavy interpretation. Before “Prometheus” and before Lindelof, we had “Alien: Engineers” which was the initial title to “Prometheus” before the revisions. In this script, elements from “Covenant” were initial concepts for “Prometheus” (or then “Alien: Engineers”). If those elements were kept in the original script instead of saved for deleted scenes and another movie, the empty plot holes could have been better resolved and the series could take its time developing the story for the Engineers.
“Covenant” fell to the same fate as “Prometheus.” Initially titled, “Paradise Lost,” and for those who have seen the ending to “Prometheus” the title makes sense, as in a deleted scene David (Michael Fassbender) translates the Engineer’s home planet as “paradise.” The revision of “Paradise Lost” to “Alien: Covenant” re-directed the course of the plot to appease the fans of the “Alien” franchise. Expect to see larval aliens bursting out of human torsos and facehuggers implanting embryos into their human host, but do not expect to get a better understanding of the Engineers, where they come from and how in “Alien” the eggs full of the facehuggers got on the Engineer spacecraft to begin with. Scott has already hinted at another movie for 2018, filling in the plot holes that have yet to be explored. The fan expectation is to get a movie that smoothly transitions from the “prequel” into the “Alien” series, finally completing the circle.
“Covenant” lives up to its initial concept from its original title, “Paradise Lost.” After 10 years since the disappearance of David and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) “Covenant” fills in some of the gaps over that time period. We learn from David of his arrival to, what we assume to be, “paradise” and the unfortunate “passing” of Dr. Shaw. The Engineers’ planet becomes consumed with the same biological weapon initially intended for Earth, and we are to assume that the Engineers’ are completely wiped out.
Looking back at “Prometheus,” the Engineers look notably different, suggesting that David and Dr. Shaw didn’t make it to “paradise” after all. “Covenant” gave Scott his opportunity to shift the focus for the franchise, moving away from the “Alien” story structure and exploring an abstract concept of creation, seeking to answer – if I can quote Weyland – “the question of the ages:” who made humanity?
While “Covenant” sought to appease fans loyal to the “Alien” series and explain unanswered questions from “Prometheus,” we may need to wait a little longer to get the answers we are looking for. Instead we can expect Scott to finally put the “Alien” story to rest and make it a pawn in a larger game.