The hype train for Alien: Covenant, 20th Century Fox’s latest installment in the long-running Alien franchise is set to leave the station, now that a new sneak peek has been released. The new footage comes in conjunction with the most recent episode of FX’s Fox-produced Legion series, meaning the studio is fully aware what it’s target demographic is up to on a late winter Wednesday evening – or the footage drop during the show was intended to act as a proverbial dangling carrot to entice more viewers to tune in.
The footage has been a long-time coming, as word has spread about Covenant for nearly two months now, following a sneak peek given to journalists at the Fox Film Showcase late last year. The footage shown at the time was reported to have confirmed that the series was making a tonal shift away from the glossy sci-fi of Prometheus back to the more dingy horror of director Ridley Scott’s first Alien film back in 1979.
Shortly before the new footage hit TV, Fox released a handful of new images that, while noticeably free from xenomorphs (or neomorphs, as the film has reportedly christened them) did play up the film’s use of atmosphere and plenty of blood to underline the way in which things were going to go south for Katherine Waterston and her crewmates during the course of the film. The images featured Waterston’s Daniels character, but also two supporting members of the cast, who, for obvious reasons, seem to have a target painted on them.
But while fans are likely expecting to see more xenomorph excitement, with plenty of chest-bursting (or back-bursting) madness, the footage released by Fox is actually a prologue, introducing audiences to the crew of the Covenant and the purpose of its mission. The footage is relatively sedate, which makes sense considering its job is to present an idea of who the characters are and how they relate to one another. The prologue shows the crew, headed up by Waterston’s Daniels, as well as Billy Crudup and Danny McBride’s characters, having one last meal with one another before settling down for a long journey spent in cryosleep.
If the promise of a return to horror is on the table, then Scott is clearly working to connect this film thematically with the ill-fated working-class characters of the Nostromo, as they all discuss the foods they’ll miss on the large-scale colonization mission that’s apparently traveling farther into the galaxy than any other mission has. Like past Alien films, there’s a sense of camaraderie as well as animosity within the group, as everyone seems captivated by Daniels’s speech, while McBride’s character seems to have earned the ire of some of his fellow crew members.
All in all, with a quick introduction to James Franco’s seemingly not-long-for-this-world captain and Michael Fassbender’s android Walter, teasing Alien: Covenant with a prologue rather than a trailer may work out in Fox’s favor. The footage succeeds in garnering audience interest in the characters long before any xenomorph’s are on the scene.