So I bought the digital version of Alien: Covenant yesterday — the DVD, Blu-Ray, and 4K UHD versions will drop in a couple of weeks — and there are a number of cut scenes and digital-only vignettes, including “Phobos” and “The Crossing.” But there’s one extra in particular that’s of considerable interest to fans curious about the future of the franchise. Entitled “Advent,” it appears to set up the next movie in the series, Awakening, which Scott plans to film sometime in the next year or so.
SPOILER WARNING for those who haven’t seen Covenant or don’t want to have the contents of “Advent” spoiled.
Set after the events of Covenant, the six-minute short is a transmission from David to Weyland-Yutani, drawn from his own recorded memories of working in his laboratory (most of it is in a first-person POV). He presents his message as “olive branch” in which he details his work on the Engineers’ planet and his attempts to uncover the secrets of the pathogen discovered by the Prometheus crew on LV-223. We learn that he killed the Engineers in the hopes of creating a “second Eden” with Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, but when she refused to go along, he killed her, though he later attempted to resurrect her as “something more than human.” When that failed, he salvaged her body parts as the basis for his earliest researches.
David also speaks disparagingly of the Engineers, beings who tried to cleanse themselves of an unspecified “sin” through “sacrifice” — i.e., giving their lives to seed new worlds. They were beings who understood that creators must “give life to both the wolf and the lamb,” but then decided to banish the wolf, resulting in an imperfect, unbalanced creation. He adds that the black oil is a kind of molecular supercomputing substrate that triggers radical changes in whatever lifeforms it encounters. None of the native fauna provided the results David was seeking, but by combining it with Shaw’s genome, he finally found his wolf — the xenomorph egg. As the message nears its end, David implies that he intends to use the Covenant colonists as test subjects for his researches, but that he has special plans for Daniels, who will help provide the missing piece — “my Queen.”
So what does this mean for the future of the franchise, and what does it imply for the series’ mythology in general? The biggest implication is that the Alien is not David’s creation after all, but rather something he rediscovered — something the Engineers tried and failed to suppress from existence. This is supported by the final scene in Prometheus, in which the Engineer gives birth to a sort of pseudo-Alien referred to by the production crew as the “Deacon” for its miter-shaped head. A Deacon-like figure is also prominently visible in the oil chamber in the Engineer facility, almost like a sacred icon. So maybe the Deacon was another species, possibly intelligent, that the Engineers conquered or killed in order to gain control over the black oil and the secrets of creation. Through creating life throughout the galaxy, the Engineers hoped to absolve themselves of their sins, even though their creations — humans in particular — contained the seeds of unspeakable horror. (And this also explains why the Engineers tried to wipe out humanity in Prometheus.)
It also explains the existence of the crashed derelict on LV-426, which appears to have been hundreds or thousands of years old, and yet was full of xenomorph eggs. Presumably there were times when the Engineers created Aliens, but they might have used them as shock troops in wars with other species, or created them by accident. Maybe the Alien is easier to create with other genomes, and the Engineers had bred those qualities out of their own planet’s lifeforms as a precautionary measure, especially since, based on the available evidence, things start to get out of hand very quickly.
This sets up a clear scenario for Awakening. Weyland-Yutani is aware of David’s experiments, and they know that he’s headed to the Origae system. In the time that it’ll take for another ship to arrive, he will have already established a colony and begun work on perfecting his creations. Presumably there will be some sort of expedition, possibly set up as a rescue mission, but with the intention of gathering intel and specimens, and presumably neutralizing the rogue android. Sort of a Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now scenario, in other words.
Of course, this assumes that Awakening gets made at all, considering that Covenant only made around $230 million worldwide off a budget of almost $100 million, and that Sir Ridley is almost eighty years old. But then again, in an industry dominated by decades-old franchises and shared universes, it seems unlikely that Fox would shut down the series entirely. I just hope they keep the Predators out of the mix.