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Warning: Spoilers for Alien: Covenant are on board. If you haven't seen the film yet, feel free to head back to the main page and hatch another story.
If you were looking for a brutally dark ending this weekend, Alien: Covenant delivered in spades. By time Wagner's Das Rheingold started to make its haunting reprise, bookending the film's story in perfect fashion, an already brutal film took one final dark turn into the future of the Alien saga. Of course, like any good ending, we have to wonder just what it means exactly; and doubly so, because this is meant to be another stepping stone in the series on the whole.
So if you're still scratching your head, wondering just what happened between David, Walter, and the rest of the Covenant's survivors, fear not. We're here to talk it out, making sure you aren't left in the dust without passage back to your ship. Let's start by recapping the ending of Alien: Covenant, just to keep things fresh in our minds.
How Alien: Covenant Ended
After a battle on the surface of the planet that the crew of the Covenant had explored for a good portion of the film, Katherine Waterston's Daniels and Danny McBride's Tennessee are two of the six survivors of the ill-fated events of the film. Unfortunately, three of those other survivors are dispatched of, thanks to a Xenomorph that still smuggled its way onto the ship, which leaves Daniels and Tennessee to defeat it, with the help of Walter, the other survivor in the group.
Well, at least we thought he was Walter. At the very end of the film, just as Daniels is going back into cryo-sleep, Walter reveals himself to actually be David (both played by Michael Fassbender), informing us that in the battle between brothers, the wrong one won. Daniels goes to sleep, and David retrieves two Xenomorph embryos from his stomach, placing them in the trays with all of the human embryos that will be used to colonize the Covenant's original destination of Origae-6. This left us pondering one big question: how the hell did David get onto the Covenant? Well, we have two answers that could possibly cover that.
David Survived, Disguised As Walter
The obvious solution is that Michael Fassbender's David won the fight he had with his double, Walter, in the cave-like dwelling that a good portion of Alien: Covenant's action takes place in. All it would really require is a costume change, a quick revision of his accent, and, of course, losing his hand in a similar fashion to that of Walter. Once David had his disguise in place, he could easily make his way into the ranks of the Covenant, and sabotage things exactly as he saw fit. Technically, this shouldn't be that much of a stretch, as an android could make almost all the changes needed in order to pull off such a deception. Of course, there are some details that have us feeling that a completely separate solution is in play. Read on for our analysis.
David Took Over Walter's Body
David and Walter are both cut from similar digital cloth, so to speak, and both belong to the monolithic company that has now officially become Weyland-Yutani. In fact, Walter is merely a dialed down version of David, as we learned that folks were a bit turned off by David's demeanor. So it wouldn't be too hard for David to download himself into Walter's "shell," play the part as best as he could during a chaotic scenario with the Xenomorph, and maintain Walter's more American accent while guiding Daniels and Tennessee along their perilous task. Once all of the hard stuff is over, David can come out to play, and prove he's more human than human by sealing everyone's fates. So which is it? Did David physically win his fight with Walter, or was his victory more of a technological quirk?
A Body Swap, With Bigger Meaning
It is in our opinion that the events at the end of Alien: Covenant signal that David took over Walter's mind, and also his body. Throughout the film, David tries to groom Walter to become a compatriot in his way of thinking, as well as some of the finer things in life. While this was intriguing for Walter, he ultimately sided with the lot of humanity, engaging in the hand to hand fight with David that would seal his fate. Now, given the passage of time in this fight/switch sequence, it's rather improbable for David to have physically changed his appearance to suit that of Walter's.
He'd have had to taken off his uniform, taken off Walter's uniform, put Walter's uniform on, and slice his own hand off in a similar manner to that of a Neomorph biting it off. That's a pretty tall order for such a rapid-paced escape, and unless there were scenes cut from the climax of the film, it's safe to assume that David wouldn't have been able to pull off a quick change, and meet the rest of the action going on during the battle between colonists and a pissed off Xenomorph. It's not only a convenient explanation, it also helps tell us just what might be going on in the future of the franchise.
What This Means For The Alien Series
Some have noted that director and father of the Alien franchise, Ridley Scott, seems to be more interested in the Synthetics of the Alien world. Nowhere is this more present than in his development of David's character, as well as his motivations. Now that we know that David created the Xenomorphs, as well as all of his other experiments in xenobiology, he's basically become the de facto destroyer of worlds. With his grudge against humanity firmly in place, he could be the one that turns LV-426 into the breeding ground for his perfect organism, ready for someone to stumble upon them and become impregnated with their children.
Furthermore, a novel in the Alien canon, Alien: Out of the Shadows, shows that a Weyland-Yutani A.I. has previously saved itself from destruction by downloading a copy of itself into Ripley's life-pod. So if Ash can keep himself alive and ready to wreck further havoc on humanity, via Weyland-Yutani's efforts to secure a Xenomorph egg, what's to say that this whole thing hasn't sprung from David's original programming from Alien: Covenant? He too has access to Muthur, the computer system on both the Covenant and the Nostromo, so it looks like David, at least in Ridley Scott's piece of the Alien canon, is the destroyer of humanity. Considering his original ending to Alien, it looks like he wishes David could finish the job in the franchise.