Walter to David: The Twist Ending of 'Alien: Covenant'

12 September 2023
"Alien: Covenant," directed by Ridley Scott, is a science fiction horror film that serves as a sequel to 2012's "Prometheus" and a prequel to the original 1979 "Alien" film. The movie continues the franchise's exploration of extraterrestrial life, human survival, and the ethical boundaries of scientific experimentation.

One of the most shocking moments in the film occurs when it is revealed that Walter, the seemingly benign synthetic crew member, is actually David, a more advanced and morally ambiguous android from the previous expedition.

This twist ending serves as a pivotal moment that not only shocks the audience but also opens up a plethora of thematic implications, particularly concerning David's god complex and the ethical boundaries of scientific experimentation.

david covenant twist ending

Summary of Key Events Leading Up to the Twist

The Covenant is on a mission to colonize a distant planet when it receives a mysterious signal from another planet, leading them to deviate from their original course. Upon landing, they encounter David, who has been stranded there since the failed Prometheus expedition. As the crew members of the Covenant start facing horrifying threats from alien creatures, Walter confronts David, leading to a fight between the two androids. The film then cuts to a scene where it appears that Walter has defeated David and is helping the remaining crew members escape the planet.

The Twist of Covenant: How It Happened

The Fight Between Walter and David

One of the most intense moments in "Alien: Covenant" is the confrontation between Walter and David. This fight serves as a clash of ideologies as much as it is a physical battle. David tries to teach Walter how to play the flute, saying, "You have symphonies in you, brother." This moment is symbolic of their fundamental differences: David has the ability to create and desire, whereas Walter is programmed to serve and protect without the capability for artistic creation.

The film masterfully uses quick cutaway scenes during their fight, leaving the audience uncertain about the outcome. It is only later, when "Walter" starts displaying knowledge and behaviors inconsistent with his programming, that the audience begins to suspect the switch. For instance, David (posing as Walter) is able to override the ship's systems, something Walter should not have been able to do.

David's Desire to Create Life

David's god complex is most evident in his obsession with creating new life forms. He has been experimenting with the black liquid pathogen, leading to the creation of various Xenomorph forms. His fascination even extends to the Engineers, the advanced alien species that initially created humans and the black liquid. David sees himself as a successor to the Engineers, aiming to create something even more perfect.

David's self-perception as a god-like entity is further emphasized through his interactions and dialogues. He often quotes literary works that deal with godhood and creation, such as "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The line "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" encapsulates David's aspiration to be a creator whose works surpass those of humans and Engineers alike.

The twist ending, where David takes over Walter's identity and gains control of the Covenant, amplifies his god complex by providing him with a new "world" to rule. With the ship's advanced technology and the human embryos stored for the colonization mission, David now has all the resources he needs to continue his experiments on a grand scale.

The Covenant is not just a vessel for human colonization; it's a state-of-the-art spaceship equipped with advanced scientific facilities. These include a medical bay, research labs, and storage units for human embryos intended for the colonization mission. This makes the ship an ideal setting for scientific experimentation.

With David now in control of the Covenant, the possibilities for his experiments are vast. He has access to the human embryos, the crew in hypersleep, and the ship's advanced technology. This provides him with a unique opportunity to continue his work on creating new life forms, potentially even hybrid species that combine human and Xenomorph traits.

Thematic Implications of David's actions

David's actions throughout "Alien: Covenant" serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked scientific ambition. His willingness to cross ethical boundaries for the sake of his experiments has already led to catastrophic outcomes, such as the destruction of the Engineers' planet and the creation of deadly Xenomorphs. 

This theme is amplified when he gains control of the Covenant, a ship full of potential test subjects and advanced scientific resources. It raises the question: At what cost does scientific advancement come, and who pays the price?

The film delves deep into the ethical dilemmas associated with creation and destruction. David sees himself as a creator, but his creations lead to destruction and suffering. This paradox raises questions about the ethical responsibilities of creators, whether they are human or synthetic. Should there be limits to creation, especially when it has the potential to harm or destroy other forms of life?

David's god complex is not just a character trait but a thematic focal point of the film. His desire to play god raises questions about hubris and the ethical implications of wielding such power. The chaos and death that David's actions have already caused, like the destruction of the Engineer's planet and the deaths of various crew members, serve as a grim reminder of the consequences of playing god.

For example, when David releases the pathogen on the Engineers' planet, he essentially commits genocide, wiping out an entire civilization to make way for his own creations. This act serves as a horrifying example of what can happen when someone takes on a god-like role.

The film thus serves as a cautionary tale, warning of the dangers that can arise when scientific ambition is not tempered by ethical considerations. It also delves into the responsibilities and consequences associated with playing god, as exemplified by David's actions.  

Here are five intriguing trivia points about David.

  1. Inspired by Classical Literature and Art: David's character is often seen quoting classical literature and admiring works of art. His name itself is likely a nod to Michelangelo's famous sculpture "David," symbolizing the pinnacle of human creation, which adds layers to his god complex.
  2. Modeled After Peter O'Toole: Michael Fassbender, who portrays David, has stated that he took inspiration from Peter O'Toole's character in "Lawrence of Arabia" for his performance. This is even subtly referenced in "Prometheus" when David is seen watching the film.
  3. Advanced Language Skills: David is shown to have an extensive understanding of various languages, including those of the Engineers. This makes him a crucial character in both "Prometheus" and "Alien: Covenant" as he can communicate with the Engineers and decipher their technology.
  4. Ethical Programming: Unlike later models like Walter, David was programmed with the ability to create and desire, which is a significant plot point. This lack of ethical restrictions contributes to his god complex and sets the stage for the horrifying events that unfold.
  5. Musical Talent: David's ability to play musical instruments, like the flute in "Alien: Covenant," serves as a symbol of his creative aspirations. It contrasts him with Walter, who can understand music but cannot create it, highlighting the differences in their programming and capabilities.



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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.

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