Three out of the five films in the Alien franchise have ended with the same combination of survivors: a woman, and an android (plus Newt in Aliens, though her survival sadly didn’t stick). Ripley and Bishop made it to the end of Aliens, Ripley and Call made it to the end of Alien: Resurrection, and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and David made it to the end of Prometheus. In the latter film, Shaw and David decided to take the Engineers’ ship and fly it to the Engineers’ homeworld in search of answers.
Alien: Covenant takes place ten years after the end of of Prometheus, and follows the crew of a colonization ship that intends to terraform and colonize the Engineers’ homeworld – without knowing its history, of course. Last summer we learned that Noomi Rapace was set to reprise her role as Shaw in Alien: Covenant, though in a much smaller role than she’d had in Prometheus. Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender will be playing both David and a new android, Walter, who has the same physical model as David but is incapable of human emotion.
The obvious question, which even the latest Alien: Covenant trailer failed to answer, is just what happened to Elizabeth Shaw in the interim ten years? Is she still alive and with David, or did she die at some point, with Rapace returning only for flashback sequences? Well, between the trailer and Screen Rant’s visit to the set of Alien: Covenant last year, we can piece together some clues (though not a complete answer).
Warning: Mild SPOILERS for Alien: Covenant ahead
One thing is certain: David is still alive when the Covenant’s crew lands on the Engineers’ homeworld, and he even gets to meet his android counterpart. When asked what David thinks of Walter, Fassbender replied, “I think he sees him as kin in a way. Perhaps a student, a younger brother.”
Another thing that’s more or less certain is that Alien: Covenant will feature flashbacks to Elizabeth and David’s arrival on the planet. When asked if he had to shoot any scenes as a disembodied head (as David was at the end of Prometheus), Fassbender laughed and said, “I did a little bit of that this week, yep.” At some point, however, he is pieced back together by Shaw, since the movie’s concept art showed him intact.
While the confirmation of flashbacks may seem to bode poorly for Elizabeth’s fate (since Rapace’s scenes could have been limited to flashbacks only), there’s one important bit of evidence that she’s still alive: when asked about the relationship between Elizabeth and David, Fassbender spoke in the present tense.
“[Their relationship is] like any good marriage. [Laughs.] There’s a real affection there between the two of them. I think they get on each other’s nerves. Well, he gets on her nerves rather. But I suppose they went through quite a lot together in Prometheus. So there is a bond there, for sure.”
Of course, this could just be a bit of misdirection on Fassbender’s part – especially since it’s at odds with Alien: Covenant‘s official synopsis, which describes David as the “sole inhabitant” of the Engineers’ homeworld. The latest trailer shows multiple shots of a hooded figure (pictured above) on the planet’s surface, but a brief glimpse under the hood in the previous trailer revealed that this is David, not Elizabeth. Unless, of course, they’re both running around wearing cloaks.
On to the next major clue: eagle-eyed Alien fans no doubt spotted the pair of dog tags in the trailer that bore Elizabeth Shaw’s name, discovered by Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and Walter during their exploration of the Juggernaut. The room that Daniels finds the dog tags in was one of the sets we visited, and was referred to as “The Drip Room.” It’s a small room just off the main corridor of the Engineers’ ship, and in addition to the dog tags there was also a Weyland uniform, indicating that Elizabeth may have used it as a living space. Then again, it’s not particularly homey: the name refers to the perpetually dripping water in the room, and the only bit of furniture is a stone bed with a shallow pool of water in it.
Our set visit took place shortly after the report of Rapace’s involvement in Alien: Covenant emerged, based on Rapace’s presence in Australia, where the movie was filmed. There was a definite air of secrecy surrounding her fate; the War Room (where all our interviews took place) had boards full of reference photos and concept art, but there was no concept art of Shaw, nor any references to the character. Of course, this may simply have been due to the studio wanted to keep the details of Shaw’s return a surprise.