The Paradise Early Draft Differences
David's promotion to the lead character of Alien: Covenant didn't leave much room for Elizabeth Shaw, with the movie eventually revealing she was killed and used by the android to perfect his experiments. It was an abrupt ending for the character, and while Shaw was hardly an icon like Ellen Ripley, many felt the character deserved a more dignified fate. Rapace doesn't even appear alive in the movie, with Shaw only showing up proper in viral promotion The Crossing. This three-minute short recaps her and David's journey to the Engineer homeworld, their budding friendship and how she was put into hypersleep when David unleashed the xenovirus. While the short provides a bridge between movies, it leaves lots of questions unanswered.
Now an early script for this prologue has been released online and greatly fleshes out the trip. This draft – dubbed Paradise – was written by John Logan and is dated August 2015. The script opens with Shaw on the Engineer Dreadnought recapping the events of Prometheus in voice-over. The script also reveals David's severed head has been exiled to the outside of the ship; Shaw found him trying to reassemble himself, so she banished him. Shaw is able to survive thanks to a reflecting pool providing her with water and vines that grow a strangle purple fruit. She's even refashioned her old helmet as a mirror.
Since David isn’t connected to his body his power systems start to fail, so he manages to sweet talk Shaw into fixing him once she realizes that if he dies, she'll be totally alone. She reconnects him to his body, and David puts on his best human face once he's back together. The two grow close over the coming months; they plan their arrival on the planet, work together on the gardens and record a message for other ships to come find her. The script even hints at them becoming lovers.
Unlike The Crossing, Shaw is awake when the ship reaches the homeworld. The bridge turns translucent as they fly over the Engineer city, with Shaw crying as she takes in the stunning view. Then David's human façade drops; he suddenly snaps Shaw's neck before heading to the cargo bay and unleashing the Xenovirus, as seen in the final movie.
Why The Alternate Prologue Should Have Been Used
Prometheus may have been a success but the reception was decidedly mixed, with many fans complaining about the lack of connection to the Alien series. It was likely studio pressure that tilted Prometheus 2 into more of an Alien sequel, down to the inclusion of the titular Star Beast in the finale. Covenant thus became an awkward mesh, fusing the philosophical sci-fi of Prometheus with the trashy monster antics of a latter-day Alien sequel.
Fassbender's David is such a fascinating character that few critics had any complaints about his ascension to lead, but Covenant needed a smoother transition between it and Prometheus to work. The full-length Paradise prologue would have allowed that, providing tragic resolution for Shaw's character and filling in lingering questions from the final movie. It's possible some of this script was shot; Rapace was reportedly on set in Australia for weeks, and editor Pietro Scalia has confirmed around 12 minutes of footage between Shaw and David was cut to make the story tighter. Whether that footage will ever surface is another question.
It's possible The Crossing was a way to use this material, with not all of it used as a way to keep Shaw's fate ambiguous prior to release. Still, had the movie included this flashback when David reflects at Shaw's grave, it would have been a much more satisfying resolution to the Prometheus story. Of course, the two prequels have a bad habit of keeping key pieces of information mysterious in case Scott wants to explore them in a later movie, so it's possible Shaw and David's odyssey would have been explored in more detail later on. However, considering Scott may not get a shot at making another Alien movie, he should have gone all in with Alien: Covenant and given Shaw a proper sendoff.