The ending of Alien: Covenant Explained

After seeing Alien: Covenant, you probably have some questions. That's okay—like Prometheus before it, Alien: Covenant was long on terror and short on answers. As such, we're here to do our best to get to the bottom of some of these mysteries, and try to figure out just what the takeaway is from Ridley Scott's latest extraterrestrial murderfest. So now, with a very obvious spoiler warning, let's try to explain the ending of Alien: Covenant.

Why did David help Daniels and Tennessee?

If you were surprised when the synthetic at the end of the movie turned out to be the evil, British David and not the kind, bland Walter, then you haven't seen a lot of movies, have you? The minute you see Michael Fassbender playing two robots—one good, one evil—you have to know that the bad one's going to pull the ol' dipsy-doo-switcheroo on our heroes by the end of the movie. It's basically movie law.

However, even if the David reveal was somewhat predictable, it does raise the question: why did David help Daniels and Tennessee during the final showdown with the xenomorph? It's not completely clear, but it seems likely that David suffered from a planet-sized case of hubris—Quoting "Ozymandias" is a dead giveaway. His whole plan seems to center around finding ways to make the xenomorph better through experimentation. We got a glimpse of some of his trials and errors when we saw his lab—along with what remained of Elizabeth Shaw from Prometheus.

It's possible that the final showdown aboard the Covenant was, for David, a test to see whether this version of the xenomorph could get the better of Daniels and Tennessee. It failed, so he's got plans for bigger, badder aliens when the ship finally arrives at Origae-6. On the other hand, maybe he simply saw something in Daniels that he wanted to preserve—again, so he could use her in his future experiments.

Who's mommy?

At one point, David says that his alien pals are "waiting for mother." There are plenty of ways to interpret this line. A pretty obvious reading is that the alien eggs — and more specifically, the facehuggers within — need a host to do the bloody and nasty with. In essence, anyone who provides an incubation chamber for a xenomorph is "mother."

But what if there's more to it than that? Prometheus and Alien: Covenant are prequels to the original Alien franchise—and that includes Aliens, which was written and directed by James Cameron. In that movie, we learned the source of all those lovely alien eggs: the Alien Queen.

Since we didn't get to see anything resembling a xenomorph queen before leaving the Engineers' planet, it's likely that it hasn't been created yet. David can't stay up forever making new eggs, so the queen's creation has to be on David's agenda. And that may spell a pretty bad morning for our hero Daniels when she wakes up…

What did it all mean?

It may be tough to decipher, but it sure seems like Ridley Scott was trying to tell us something with his tale of space colonization gone horribly awry. Well, let's think about this.

Daniels and her poor, dead husband Jacob came aboard the Covenant with hopes of starting a new life on a new planet—just because! Meanwhile, poor, dead Captain Christopher Oram decided to stop on the Engineers' planet in response to the weird communication they picked up from the ghost of Elizabeth Shaw, and to see if this new world could be exactly what they were looking for…despite the fact that the Covenant had already been going toward Origae-6 for many years already. And David—poor, poetry misremembering David—decided that he should play god and out-create his creators.

What was the result of all of these decisions? Chaos, destruction, and death. More than anything, Alien: Covenant is about the dangers of unchecked human ambition. If Daniels and her fella had just stayed on Earth and rented a nice apartment somewhere, he probably wouldn't have burnt to a crisp in a hypersleep pod. And if Christopher hadn't diverted away from Origae-6—well, then we'd have had a movie about the dangers of micromanaging a group of drunk spaceship workers. But there probably would've been far fewer blood barfs and chest bursts. And if David hadn't decided to go full-on supervillain? Well, then he wouldn't have inadvertently become that which he despised.  

What happens next?

Two months before Alien: Covenant's May 2017 release, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a set visit with director Ridley Scott. In that article, Scott revealed that he's already got the next movie in the prequel series written and ready to go. That means that the dangling plot threads of what'll happen when the Covenant arrives at Origae-6 will be answered in whatever treatment Scott's got locked in his desk drawer. Presumably, we'll see a whole mess of xenomorphs bursting out of colonists, not to mention a final showdown with Daniels and David…or whoever else signs on for a sequel if and when 20th Century Fox announces it's happening.

What happens when the prequels are over?

This is a tricky one. Not only has Scott got the sequel to Covenant ready to go, The Hollywood Reporter said that Scott's revealed plans to make yet another movie in his prequel series. That fourth movie would apparently link up with the events of the first Alien movie from 1979. And then, no more Alien movies ever, right? Well…

That's kind of a head-scratcher, isn't it? The entire reason we're talking about new Alien movies right now at all is that franchises tend to go for as long as people can earn money from them. Whatever your opinion on the current crop of Alien flicks, making new movies in a recognizable series is a sure way to earn cash. So even though these prequels will have to lead into the original movie somehow, there will likely be some effort to keep the brand alive. That might mean sequels that pick up after the events of Alien: Resurrection—or, God help us, Alien vs. Predator. It might also mean that we're only a few short years away from Alien: Reboot.

Don't say it could never happen. Hollywood rebooted RoboCop, Spider-Man, Evil Dead, and plenty more. There's no reason Alien won't be reborn soon enough too. After all, getting born (and reborn) is kinda what Aliens do…