Alien: Covenant serves up religious imagery in the aptly titled prologue “Last Supper.” The introduction to the crew hints the identity of its Judas. The film’s original title was Alien: Paradise Lost, which is a biblical reference to Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden after eating the apple of knowledge. The Covenant crew are meant to populate a new world like Adam and Eve. However, their ark takes a detour when they receive a distress call from the survivors of the Prometheus mission.
The expedition is led by Captain Jake Branson (James Franco), who looks the part of Jesus surrounded by his followers at the Last Supper in the promo still (above). He too is not long for this world. Branson turns in early due to a fever to which he apparently succumbs. Franco reportedly only appears for the first 10 minutes of the film.
Engineering a conspiracy
The prologue focuses on Branson’s wife, Daniels (Katherine Waterston), who is the real savior (read: Ripley). Daniels gives the crew a pep talk but her meek shipmate (Billy Crudup) has the same idea. Crudup has ambitions of leadership that could lead to betrayal like that committed by Judas. Furthermore, he and his wife (Carmen Ejogo) display contempt for the Covenant pilot, Tennessee (Danny McBride), and his wife Faris (Amy Seimetz).
The Gospels of Luke and John attribute Judas’ betrayal to Devil the entering him. Such demonic possession is mirrored when Xenomorph Facehuggers lay chestbursters in their hosts. The trailer shows a new and improved Neomorph backbuster emerging from one of the crew (Goran D. Kleut). It would be a fitting punishment for a backstabber.
Greed is also cited as motive of Judas, who was paid thirty pieces of sliver by the Romans. The Alien franchise frequently features villains in the form of a greedy corporation attempting to possess the extraterrestrials. Their operatives are often soulless androids like Walter (Michael Fassbender), who unintentionally makes a joke about having the back of a choking shipmate (Callie Hernandez). Walter is surprisingly less human than his predecessor, David (Fassbender).
“Walter is the next evolution of David, or several evolutions down the line,” explains Fassbender in Empire magazine. “[He was] made in a way that doesn’t incorporate emotions, because, as we found out, that started to make people uncomfortable.”
Director Ridley Scott may be putting some distance between religious doctrine as demonstrated by the prominent gay couple (Nathaniel Dean and Demián Bichir) featured in “Last Supper.” On the other hand, one of God’s first commandments to Adam and Eve was to “multiply.” Homosexuality could been seen as the forbidden fruit on a mission to populate a planet.
In the beginning Alien created man
Alien: Covenant builds on religious themes introduced in Prometheus. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is a Christian denoted by her crucifix. Nevertheless, Shaw maintains her faith as she sets out to meet her maker in the flesh. Despite being sterile, she experiences what seems miraculous conception only to discover her child is not of this world.
Scott confirmed speculation that Jesus was intended to be an Engineer alien.
“We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose,” the director acknowledged in an interview with Movies. “But if you look at it as an ‘our children are misbehaving down there’ scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, ‘Let’s send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.'”
Alien: Covenant premieres May 19, 2017