After months of speculation, Alien: Covenant has finally been unleashed upon the world in all its gory glory—and depending on which side of the divide you’re on, this is a storming return to form after the disappointment of Prometheus, annoyingly more of everything that was wrong with that movie, or a greatest hits compilation of every Alien flick that’s come before (good or bad? You decide).
Whatever your feelings about Alien: Covenant, there are some considerable narrative inconsistencies to discuss, and we’ve rounded up some of the movie’s most egregious plot holes here. Major spoilers abound, so tread carefully.
**Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
If Walter can recover from mortal injuries, why can’t he regrow a hand?
Alien: Covenant’s big plot twist comes with the reveal that it’s actually evil David aboard the ill-fated vessel at the end, not his kindly synthetic “brother” Walter. We watch as poor Daniels helplessly slips back into cryo-sleep while David grins at her, his monstrous plans becoming clear. The android then cheerily places his precious alien eggs in with the other embryos on the ship and saunters off to bide his time while Daniels and the others sleep soundly, unaware of their impending doom.
In order for David to take Walter’s place, he must assume his identity completely—first by chopping off the weird Iggy Pop hairstyle he’s been cultivating for the past decade. He also has to lose a hand, to match the one Walter lost while protecting Daniels earlier in the film. But Walter losing a limb, and failing to grow it back, makes zero sense in the first place because—as we see when Walter and David duke it out later—Walter’s been built and programmed with self-healing technology. If he can recover from mortal injuries, why can’t he heal a dismembered limb? It might be because the twist wouldn’t land as hard without that little detail, but surely it would’ve made more of an impact if the two robots were otherwise completely identical to begin with.
Why did David wipe out the Engineers?
In a flashback sequence, David is shown standing at the open door of a spaceship and raining holy viral hell down on the Engineers’ planet. In one swift move, he exterminates the entire race with his horrifying neomorph plague, clearing a path for him to…live alone and create more aliens to play with?
There are a number of issues here, most notably the ending of Prometheus, which sees David venturing off with Shaw to learn all about the Engineers. What changed in the interim? Did David just decide they were expendable? Has he gone completely insane? If this synthetic is as powerful as he appears, why didn’t he use his creations to enslave the Engineers? Moreover, if his end goal is the extermination of all human life, then why bother stepping foot on this planet at all? Why not head straight for Earth and do the exact same thing there instead?
Why is nobody wearing so much as a helmet to explore this new atmosphere?
We’ve become accustomed, in films such as Alien and its many ripoffs (the recent Life being a great example), to watching smart characters do incredibly dumb things for our entertainment. Alien: Covenant is no exception; from Oram sticking his head somewhere no reasonable person would ever even want to approach, to the crew following David into the cave of nightmares he calls a home, the thing is loaded with maddeningly stupid moments.
The decision that stands out among all the (many) others, however, is the one that sees the entire crew not bothering to don a helmet or any other kind of protective gear once they’ve landed on the Engineers’ planet. This is a whole other ecosystem, one with which they’re not nearly as familiar as Origae-6, and there’s no guarantee the humans will be able to (or even should) breathe the air there. The lack of protective gear makes sense when it comes to the airborne spores conveniently making their way into unsuspecting characters’ ears and noses, of course, but logically speaking, nobody would set foot on an uncharted planet without first making sure they were completely protected from the elements.
What came first, the Xenomorph or the egg?
It’s very clearly established in Aliens that the Queen lays the eggs. Very simple. But the over-complicated explanations for the creatures’ beginnings, first introduced in Prometheus, are further built upon here as Alien: Covenant reveals it was actually David who created them in the first place, Doctor Frankenstein-style.
But how did he engineer them without the Queen? Did he create the Queen too? Is he the creator of all alien lifeforms or just some? David spends years cross-breeding the neomorphs in pursuit of a more perfect organism, and by the end of Alien: Covenant, we see the xenomorph—the end result of all that experimentation. But if the events of Alien take place just 20 years later, how did the Space Jockey ship in that movie end up being filled with eggs? The more we learn about this mythology, the less sense it makes.
What went wrong with James Franco’s pod?
The catalyst for Alien: Covenant kicking off proper is an energy surge, which awakens the ship’s crew early. Unfortunately, not everybody makes it out of their sleep pods in time and we watch helplessly, along with the crew, as Captain Jacob Branson (James Franco) is burnt alive. But what actually happened to his pod? Did it just malfunction? Did it have something to do with the energy surge? Why can’t a crew of super-smart science types figure it out? Aren’t they a tiny bit curious?
Why didn’t they detect the Engineers’ planet?
The crew of the Covenant stumble upon a rogue transmission, because of course they do, which leads them to a planet populated only by crazy David and his creations. Upon taking a cursory glance at this planet, new captain Oram decides that it’s perfect for their colonizing mission—maybe even better than Origae-6, where they’re actually headed and the details of which they’ve been studying for years in preparation for this mission.
There is a throwaway comment about why the Engineers’ planet didn’t show up before, but that’s about as much attention as it’s paid in Alien: Covenant. Given the vast technology on show throughout, it doesn’t really make sense that, after years of intense research, this place wouldn’t even so much as show up on any reports, or maps of the cosmos. Did Weyland Industries purposefully keep it from their employees? Is it all one big conspiracy? Hopefully, in the next installment, we get a few more big reveals—including a few that help make sense of Alien: Covenant’s biggest plot holes.