WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Alien: Covenant
Director Ridley Scott adds another prequel chapter to his Alien series in Alien: Covenant, and made sure to drop in plenty of easter eggs, hints at the original films, and homages to its first hero, Ellen Ripley. Fans are sure to have questions when the credits on Covenant roll, from the possible directions that another Alien prequel movie could go, to the ways in which Scott’s follow-up film both connects to and improves Prometheus. But once all that speculation is put aside in the coming weeks and months, it’s the old fashioned easter eggs and references to the original series that will be caught on repeat viewings.
Whether it’s clear callbacks to specific moments or lines of dialogue, even more confirmation of a Blade Runner/Alien shared universe, or references to literature and operatic storytelling well beyond the scope of Covenant, fans will want to catch every single detail. We’ve done our best to breakdown the standout examples so far, and we guarantee the average viewer – or diehard fan – is sure to find enlightenment among our list of Alien: Covenant Easter Eggs & Connections.
11. Telltale Tagline
The advertising and posters of Covenant may have kept story details to a minimum, instead relying on the image of the Xenomorph and words like “RUN” or “HIDE,” but the actual tagline for Alien: Covenant bears a stronger connection to some of mankind’s greatest literature: Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” in particular. With the trailer promising that “the path to paradise begins in Hell,” the thematic connection between the Alien prequels and Dante’s work was made obvious, since that is a line taken explicitly from the “Divine Comedy.” In the movies, it’s a figurative idea, but in the poem it’s a literal fact.
It isn’t hard to see the parallels between the two narratives, with Dante following a man through the afterlife, traveling from the depths of Hell (Inferno) through to Heaven (Paradiso), all in the pursuit of becoming closer to God. It was Prometheus that used that exact idea as the beginning of the entire Alien series, with humans heading into the stars to find the beings who had created them… and to discover why. Not long after, the humans learned what Dante already claimed: that their journey to the Heavens or a greater understanding would first submerge them in the stuff of nightmares (and Covenant is no exception).
10. What’s in a Name?
Although Covenant is the film which follows the events of Prometheus a decade later, the film opens on the ‘birth’ of David, the android created by Weyland as the first of his kind of intelligent, creative, artificial lifeforms (who would follow his own pursuit of creation later in the story). In the opening scene, Weyland instructs David to offer his name, at which point he strolls over to a statue in the room – Michelangelo’s David – and chooses his namesake for himself. It’s no coincidence, either, since the statue itself speaks to the overall themes and plot of David the android.
The fact that Michelangelo returned to element of Greek heroic statues for the Italian piece makes it something of a genetic hybrid, as well as its imbuing of a typically un-heroic moment with the true meaning. Instead of depicting David in his actual defeat of the looming beast Goliath, Michelangelo showed the moment between David deciding to enter the fight knowing the odds, and actually beginning the work. If the message is that the meaning and heroism isn’t just in the doing, but of making the hard decision and commitment to conquer the beast, then the film’s own David seems to believe that idea to his core, given his own testing with the alien DNA.
9. Wagner’s Das Rheingold
Shortly after being created, Weyland requests that David play for him on the nearby piano. When asked for a composer, Weyland offers the German Richard Wagner – but lets David decide which song to play. The “dealer’s choice” is Das Rheingold, the beginning of a four-act work known as Der Ring des Nibelungen, or “The Ring of the Nibelung,” a story about a dwarf stealing gold to gain control of the world. Weyland is less than impressed with how the piano sounds on its own without the orchestra, but if he was a bit less confident in his own design, he might have been worried about what David was capable of from the very beginning.
“The Ring of the Nibelung” is, at its core, the story of a being determined to become the ruler of all creation, which can only be possible if the gods themselves are reduced to in-fighting and destruction. The scene continues with David stating that he “serves” his human creator, even though he will never die – hinting at the feelings of superiority or a greater purpose that eventually come to define him. The music makes a return in the film’s final scene, as David cues up the music once again, having destroyed the false gods humanity sought (the Engineers) and seeking out a truly divine power and rule.
8. Walter Follows David
Michael Fassbender plays not one, but two distinct androids in Covenant, once the story jumps forward from its opening scene to the timeline of Alien: Covenant years later. The version aboard the Covenant vessel and tasked with the mission of settling a new colony on Origae is known as Walter, and blessed with an American accent. There’s no added meaning behind his name, or even confirmation that he was allowed to choose it himself (the films of the series in chronological order followed an alphabetical order, from Ash, to Bishop, to Call, then David). But the credits and production team reveal the likely meaning.
When Ridley Scott returned to the series for Prometheus, he did so by reuniting with producers Walter Hill and David Giler, who produced and wrote the original Alien, respectively. It seemed at the time that Scott may have given his new android the name ‘David’ as a tribute to that reunion, but with ‘Walter’ getting a similar nod in the sequel, there’s no longer a doubt.
7. A ‘Fantastic’ Haircut
When the audience is introduced to the crew of the Covenant after they emerge from cryosleep, it’s hard to miss the… unique hairstyle sported by Daniels, played by actress Katherine Waterston. It may be taken by some as a move to call back the style of what the 1979 original thought would define the future – a nod to Ellen Ripley, perhaps. But the truth is a bit less founded in art or style, and a bit more… fantastic.
Waterston will be recognizable to many Covenant audience members thanks to her role in the recent Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opposite star Eddie Redmayne. The Harry Potter prequel was famous for its own unorthodox hairstyle sported by actor Ezra Miller, with a tightly shaved scalp leading to a one-of-a-kind mushroom cut. And it turns out, that’s no coincidence. Waterston revealed during Fox’s Showcase ahead of Covenant‘s release that she was so fond of Miller’s “dumb hairstyle” she put on a wig herself during reshoots, and begged Ridley Scott to let her wear it in his Alien prequel. Obviously, he allowed it… with some slight adjustments.
6. The Bird Still Drinks
The small wooden ‘drinking bird’ wasn’t created for the original Alien film specifically, but its place in the franchise lore was guaranteed all the same when it made its first appearance. The first debut in the original movie was on the kitchen table during the crew’s first meal out of cryosleep, giving the impression that the future of this universe wasn’t as sterile, or utilitarian as other science fiction films. And in Covenant, it appears that the drinking bird might actually be standard issue for all Earth vessels – which is a comforting thought, or a troubling one, depending on your point of view.
This time around, the trinket makes a trip from the mess hall to the bridge, seen taking sips as the bridge crew of the Covenant stands watch in orbit of the undiscovered planet. It’s not the most meaningful signature from Scott, but in terms of details that are easy to spot, it takes the top spot.
The average Alien fan may know that Alien 3 stands as the most controversial entry in the franchise. Not only did it kill protagonist Ellen Ripley (a death undone in the next film), but is also the most tonally different from the rest, and ultimately was taken out of director David Fincher’s hands by the studio. But the history of the sequels that didn’t get made is just as interesting, with William Gibson’s Alien III the most well-known script offered to the studio (the first of ten writers). It would have followed the second film’s heroes back to a militarized base, but never made it off the page. Thankfully, Covenant offers a strange, if not totally intentional nod.
When the heroes of Covenant make their landing on the alien world, two different members accidentally make contact with what appear to be native seed pods. These are actually an evolution of the alien physiology, releasing spores on contact that are then inhaled. After hours of silent gestation, the Neomorphs burst out of their hosts. In Gibson’s script, the Xenomorph had also evolved a means of reproducing through inhaled spores, with the carriers completely unaware they had been infected until they effectively became a Xenomorph, bursting out of their own skin. The chest-burster nature of the Xenomorphs is fairly familiar to the series in Covenant, but the moments of horror leading up to it are also reminiscent of Gibson’s body-horror invention.
4. The Blade Runner Screen
As we mentioned before, the days of online movie buffs hatching theories over the shared technology, Earth, and future of both the Blade Runner and the Alien fictional universes are over. Now, Ridley Scott has taken it from a playful, not-entirely-intentional coincidence to downright fact, ensuring the corporations overlap from one to the other, and the use of the exact same hatch/purge effects on the computer monitors are used for whatever purpose necessary in either film series.
We don’t yet know just how clear a connection the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 will make to the Alien films or prequels, but Scott didn’t miss the chance to continue the easter egg tradition with Covenant. The director has confirmed that more Blade Runner screen effects are used in the new movie, with the most likely candidate being the cross seen above, this time possibly tinged a different color to at least give fans something to hunt for.
3. ‘That’s The Spirit!’
Ridley Scott had more than obvious reference in his bag of tricks when it comes to paying homage to not Blade Runner the fictional universe, but the actual film – and one of its final, climactic scenes. We won’t assume that Daniels’s entire character story isn’t built around paying homage to this single moment, but she’s introduced mourning the loss of her partner, who was burned to death in the neutrino incident that kicked the entire crew out of their pods prematurely. Among the belonging she packs away is a single metal nail, apparently to be used to build the two of them their log cabin by the lake. Daniels knots it onto a necklace which she wears through the rest of the film.
Later on, Daniels find herself ambushed by a homicidal– no, genocidal David, and has no other weapon with which to defend herself than the embodiment of the life she almost had. Grabbing the nail, she jams it into David’s throat… to little effect. Still, the moment will be remembered for David’s reaction, as he meets her sudden burst of violence with a hearty “That’s the spirit!” before tossing her aside. It’s a recreation of a similar fight between hero and android in Blade Runner, where Harrison Ford’s Deckard also drives a nail through Roy Batty’s hand – leading the villain to make the same exclamation to his prey.
2. Paradise Lost
When Walter jumps in to Daniels’s rescue, he and David have a memorable fight, with the latter learning that upgrades have been made to Weyland-Yutani’s androids in the years since David was commissioned. When the battle reaches its climax, David poses a question to Walter before one of them is forced to kill the other: “serve in Heaven, or reign in Hell?” It’s a line taken directly from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” and since the original title for Covenant was actually Alien: Paradise Lost, it has more than a little bearing on the plot.
For those unfamiliar with the text, the line relates specifically to Satan after being cast out of Heaven upon losing the war against its many angels. Tossed down into the void with a chorus of demons, Satan puts a spin on the situation by claiming that it is better to be in charge in Hell than to continue following someone else’s command in Heaven. On the surface, it can relate directly to David’s first scene, when he realizes his fate is to serve his master and humanity in pursuit of their Creators. Follow him to the end of the movie, and he may be wading into the darkest, most depraved science and experimentation imaginable… but he’s making the choice to do so himself.
1. Famous Last Words
The movie leaves more than just Daniels alive by the time the closing credits roll, but it’s evident that she has taken on the role of a spiritual successor to Ellen Ripley, the original (and continuing) hero of the Alien franchise. She even has a final one-on-one battle with the Xenomorph trying to kill her, but instead of a large mechanical loader like her predecessor, Daniels uses one massive crane to put a similar squeeze on the monster. Only this time, she doesn’t need an airlock: the clamp holding the Xenomorph crushes it into an explosion of acidic blood.
Daniels has earned the right for a bit of tough-talking to what remains of the Xenomorph, uttering a victorious “I got you, you son of a bitch.” A moment that longtime fans of the series will enjoy, since it’s the exact phrase Ripley spoke when sharing a similar moment of (perceived) victory over her alien foe.
There you have it, Alien fans. We’re certain that more details, technology, and almost impossible-to-spot secrets were buried in Covenant to build more connections and hints towards the movies that came before and after. So if we’ve missed any in our list, be sure to let us know in the comments!