Characters from Alien: Covenant with more meaning than you realized

You can't always get exactly what you want from the Alien franchise, but that neomorph was pretty cool, right?

Alien: Covenant is heavy on action, gore, and fan service, and light on characterization. With plot holes big enough to threaten 2,000 unseen colonists in cryosleep, Alien: Covenant relies on the speed of its action, the performances of its actors, and the beauty of its imagery to hold viewers' interest. You'll find more questions and few, if any, answers in the theatrical cut of the movie. Luckily, you have the internet to help explain a few things Alien: Covenant forgot to tell you about its characters.


In The Prologue, a two-part teaser series, Captain Branson has a cold—but even so, he commands a great deal of respect. He's too ill to "have one more beer before cryosleep," so he turns in early. "Make sure everyone behaves," he says—to fun-loving Tennessee of all people. "Is he gone?" asks Tennessee when the coast is clear. "Let's party." Everyone relaxes—everyone but Oram. 

In the opening act of Alien: Covenant, a neutrino blast ignites Branson's cryosleep chamber, cooking him alive, and Oram takes command. That's it for Branson, and if you were left feeling like you'd missed something with regards to this character, that's for good reason.

According to screenwriter Dante Harper, "Originally, [Captain Branson] was part of what was a larger storyline, involving learning more about his background [involving Oram and Daniels] and [scenes] of his dreams that he'd had [in cryosleep.]" That said, Captain Branson "was always to be an absent captain."


Chris Oram is identified as a "man of faith." As actor Billy Crudup told The Hollywood Reporter, "In [Oram's] backstory, Ridley and [screenwriter] John [Logan] supposed that he had a kind of punitive Pentecostal upbringing that scarred him in many respects, but also gave him this foundation for his belief in God."

In The Prologue, Captain Branson says he's "feeling kinda queasy" and Tennessee asks, "Who's going to lead us in our toast?" Oram seems ready to volunteer, but before he can speak up, Branson says, "Just have Danny do something, she'll know what to say." Danny is, of course, Daniels, Branson's wife.

As everybody else is partying, Oram and his wife stand off to the side judging Tennessee and his wife for how much they drink. When Tennessee says, "How 'bout a speech?" Oram starts up, "I've prepared—" Then Daniels talks over him and he immediately gives her the floor. "Jake asked me to say something, if that's okay?" "Please," says Oram.

After Branson's death, Oram takes over command. The USCSS Covenant detects the Engineers' homeworld, and Oram makes the call to ditch the planned trajectory and chart a course for the mysterious Earth-like planet. Referencing a short video of Captain Branson free climbing, Oram tells Daniels that he "needs ropes," and then throws caution to the wind and goes to the unmapped, unknown planet on blind faith.


In the commercial released for "Walter, the world's most advanced synthetic companion," there's a brief scene of Walter sitting with three others in chairs, shot from an angle reminiscent of a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Legal copy appears on the bottom of the screen, just like in commercials for real products. "Matchmaking interview and DNA screening required," it warns. "Customers with genetic abnormalities may not meet requirements for safety certification. No refunds after consciousness imprint. Default payments will forfeit DNA rights in perpetuity." Now there's the quietly malignant Weyland-Yutani Corporation we know and fear.

David 8

Screenwriter Dante Harper called David 8 a "Caliban [from The Tempest] or a type of figure [out of Edgar Allan Poe's gothic story 'Fall of the House of Usher']." He's a loner with an apocalyptic mindset in a haunted gothic world. At the same time, his and Walter's identical appearances and polar opposite personalities recall Bishop from Aliens and Michael Weyland/Bishop II from Alien 3, both portrayed by Lance Henriksen. (In Alien: Covenant, as in other sci-fi films, the British one is evil, while the folksy American one is the good android.)

David's villainy is a callback to Ash (Ian Holm) the Science Officer from Alien, while his full name, David 8, brings to mind Ripley 8, the first successful cloned version of Ellen Ripley from Alien: Resurrection. Why "8?" It's similar in shape to the infinity symbol. Weyland invented David 8 to find the Engineers of human life, and he definitely wanted to live forever.


Peter Weyland, the Weyland of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, appears in Alien: Covenant in a pre-Prometheus flashback. Wealthy beyond measure, he claims to want to know where life came from—and he does—but his main goal is immortality. He wants to live forever, and he thinks the Engineers can help him do that. He dies in Prometheus, and has been dead for ten years when the Covenant's crew is jarred from cryosleep.

His control-freakery is legendary, as you can tell from watching his TEDtalk, which he insisted on giving in a freaking stadium. As Prometheus writer Damon Lindelof put it, "Peter Weyland—whose ego is just massive, and the ideas that he's advancing are nothing short of hubris—that he'd basically say to TED, 'If you want me to give a talk, I'm giving it in Wembley Stadium.'" That's the madness of the mind behind David 8.