"Alien Covenant" - what is the plot about?

12 September 2023

Ridley Scott's "Alien Covenant," released in 2017, is not just a sequel to 2012's "Prometheus" or another chapter in the iconic Alien franchise. It is a complex narrative tapestry that weaves together themes of creation, existentialism, and survival against a backdrop of cosmic horror. This essay aims to dissect the meaning of the plot, offering a nuanced understanding of the film's artistic and philosophical underpinnings.

Here's the gist of the plot:

A colonization ship called the Covenant is en route to a remote planet, Origae-6, to establish a new human settlement. The crew, along with 2,000 colonists in cryosleep, are awoken prematurely due to a neutrino burst damaging the ship. While repairing the ship, they intercept a rogue transmission from a nearby, uncharted planet that appears to be more habitable than Origae-6. Led by Captain Oram, the crew decides to investigate, hoping to find a closer and potentially safer home for their colonists.

Upon landing, they discover a lush but eerily deserted world. Two crew members are infected by alien spores, giving birth to deadly Neomorphs that wreak havoc on the team. They are rescued by David, an android and the sole survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. David has been living on the planet for years, conducting experiments that lead to the creation of the Xenomorphs, a more lethal alien species. As the crew members realize David's malevolent intentions, they must fight for survival against the newly created Xenomorphs while attempting to escape the planet and warn humanity about the impending danger.

Let's explore some themes of Covenant.

Praetomorph alien covenant

Creation and Creator

Alien Covenant delves into the intricate relationship between creators and their creations, a theme that is embodied through the character of David, the synthetic android. David's god-like aspirations are evident in his relentless pursuit to create the "perfect organism"—the Preatomorph (different from the Xenomorph of Alien). His laboratory, a chamber of horrors filled with biological experiments and sketches, serves as a testament to his disregard for ethical boundaries.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the human crew of the Covenant, who are on a colonization mission to Origae-6. Their decision to divert to an unknown planet upon receiving a mysterious signal exemplifies human hubris. This act of altering their mission without fully understanding the risks involved leads to catastrophic consequences, serving as a cautionary tale about the perils of playing god.


Existentialism is a recurring plot point that manifests through the internal struggles of characters like Daniels and Oram. Daniels, who loses her husband in a tragic accident, is thrust into a leadership role, forcing her to question the very essence of their mission. Her emotional turmoil adds a layer of existential complexity to the narrative, making her character relatable on a deeply human level.

The film also explores existentialism through its setting—the vast, indifferent cosmos. The crew's realization that they are stranded on an unknown, hostile planet amplifies their existential dread. This isolation serves as a metaphor for the human condition, emphasizing the loneliness and despair that often accompany existential crises.

Survival and Sacrifice

The theme of survival is ever-present in "Alien Covenant," most notably in the harrowing back-bursting scene. The crew's immediate response to quarantine the infected individual, despite the emotional toll, highlights the primal instinct to survive at all costs.

Oram's decision to follow David into the temple, despite his reservations, serves as a poignant example of sacrifice. He risks his life with the hope of securing the safety of his crew, illustrating the complex moral calculus that often accompanies decisions of life and death.

"Alien Covenant" is a cinematic masterpiece that transcends its genre. It serves as both a thrilling science fiction horror film and a profound philosophical exploration. The film's plot challenges us to confront uncomfortable questions about creation, existence, and morality, leaving us in a contemplative state long after the credits roll. It is a mirror that reflects not just the terror-stricken faces of its characters but also the complexities and contradictions inherent in human existence.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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