An Alien TV show is on the way, marking a new direction for the iconic sci-fi franchise. Disney recently revealed at its massive investor day presentation that Noah Hawley, of Fargo fame, will be spearheading the series alongside Ridley Scott, who directed the original 1979 movie that started it all. The series is in development at FX. But big questions linger for longtime fans. Namely, and simply, what will the Alien TV show be about? Allowing for some reasonable speculation, we may be getting a sequel, of a fashion, in the form of a TV series, to 2017's Alien: Covenant.
Let us first kick things off by stating what we know for sure. The show, which will simply be titled Alien, is being developed by FX. Noah Hawley had been rumored to be developing a series set within the franchise, even before the Disney/Fox merger went into effect. Specific plot details are firmly being kept under wraps but it's said that the show will take place on Earth "set not too far in the future." This is notable as it will mark the first time that Earth has been the setting for a story in the Alien universe, not coughing the Alien vs. Predator movies, which are not considered part of the official canon. But the whole not too far in the future bit leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and that is where we could venture into Covenant territory.
Ridley Scott returned to the world of Alien in 2012 with Prometheus, a prequel that takes place roughly 30 years before the events of the original movie. That was followed by Alien: Covenant in 2017, which takes place around 16 years before the events that Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley and her crew experienced aboard the Nostromo. This is of particular importance as it gives us a sense of the timeline we are playing with here.
Prometheus largely takes place between the 2080s and early 2090s. At this point in time, the Xenomorph does not yet exist. As we come to learn, it is Michael Fassbender's android David who crafts the beings after eviscerating the homeworld of the Engineers. He is left with several years in isolation to experiment. Once humans get thrown into the mix, the Xenomorph is born. We don't see our first fully-formed Xenomorph until the climax of Covenant. This is also important, as it could help set an expectation for what we will see in the Alien TV show. Unless new information is presented to us, we may not see the iconic alien creatures in their final form.
But more to the point, Covenant concludes with David, having disguised himself as the human-friendly Walter, taking control of the ship and its thousands of people from Earth who had set off to colonize a new planet. Instead, it seems David was going to use them for his experiments, providing him with plenty of hosts to create more Xenomorphs, or other abominations. It's a cliffhanger that was never resolved. Largely because Ridley Scott intended to make at least one more movie. However, since Covenant bombed at the box office, that never happened.
What we know for sure is that Ridley Scott has been, or at least had been, developing another Alien movie. It is at least possible that some of those ideas could get baked into the series, with Scott working alongside Noah Hawley. But to what degree could this show serve to resolve the threads left hanging in Covenant? Given that it is Earth-bound it can't be a direct sequel. Though there are ways to potentially tie some ends together
Peter Weyland, the man who goes on to create the Weyland Corp, was born on Earth in 1990. Guy Pearce played the role in both Prometheus and Covenant. Around 2030, he creates David, which is glimpsed in the opening scene of Covenant. So, looking at that concept of the not too far future, it is conceivable, if not likely, that Weyland, and perhaps David, could appear in the show. They could be used to help further ideas that were explored by Ridley Scott in the prequels, while also charting new territory for the franchise with a brand new setting. It could be the best of both worlds.
Noah Hawley has hinted strongly in interviews that he wants the show to explore the human side of this universe. Given the established timeline of the movies, with Alien taking place largely in the year 2122, the show seems well positioned to do just that. But can this show, taking on the Alien namesake, truly succeed without any Xenomorphs? It is a big question. Or, are we in for a big old fashioned retcon? At this point, we have far more questions than answers. But the suggested lack of Xenomorphs in this timeline is perhaps the biggest hint that we are indeed going to be picking up right where Ridley Scott left off, at least thematically speaking.
With Prometheus, divisive though it may be, Scott attempted to do something new with the franchise more than three decades into its existence. His idea was to go back, not forward. Right or wrong, his thought seemed to be that the movies posed bigger questions about the universe they exist in. That the Xenomorphs themselves were not the only interesting thing about that universe. Or at least not the most interesting thing. Covenant, even though it contains Xenomorphs, largely walked that same path. Noah Hawley seems to be on that same page, at least broadly speaking. Taking the action to Earth seems to be a move that is cut from the same cloth. Whether or not that results in a quasi-Covenant sequel remains to be seen. But it may be the closest we ever come. At least in the not-too-distant future.
For now, there is no word yet on how far along the show is in the process but it appears to be in the relatively early stages. There is no word yet on casting. So there is a chance more familiar faces, or at least names, will be getting in on the action. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further concrete details on the series are made available.