Paradise Lost & The Crossing

 

Featured Image: Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ (Adam watches as Eve sleeps) – Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

As David lays down Shaw to sleep there is a visual parallel to Adam watches as Eve sleeps. Since this is a story turned on its head where Satan is victorious the narrative will differ.

In Paradise Lost Satan disguises himself as a toad, he’s found whispering into the ear of Eve as she slept. Similarly, David is Android masquerading as something harmless, an android with his head ripped off. Whispering things to Elizabeth to gain her trust, “You are very kind at heart you know?”

Satan is found by a band of angels sent by Gabriel and order him to explain his reasons for intruding on Paradise. In similar fashion, David is found by the Covenant crew and he explains how he came to be on Planet 4/Paradise.

At first, Satan pretends he is innocent, and the angels can’t prove he meant any harm. Much like David, he lies about the pathogen deploying and that Elizabeth dying in the crash. The crew can’t prove he is lying to them. Then like Satan, the shapeshifter. Takes on an innocent guise to intrude on the USCSS Covenant, Walter.

Though Gabriel knows he is lying to them, threatens to drag him back to Hell. David has everyone fooled except for Walter, but it’s too late.

Just as Satan prepares to fight him, a pair of golden scales appear in the sky as a sign from heaven that Satan cannot win, and he flees. Unfortunately for Walter, there is no such sign.

Ash and David, beguiled by purity

Ripley: Ash, can you hear me? [slams her hands down on the table]

Ripley: Ash?

Ash: [awakens and starts speaking in an electronic and distorted voice] Yes, I can hear you.

Ripley: What was your special order?

Ash: You read it. I thought it was clear.

Ripley: What was it?

Ash: Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.

Parker: The damn company. What about our lives, you son of a bitch?

Ash: I repeat, all other priorities are rescinded.

Ripley: How do we kill it, Ash? There’s gotta be a way of killing it. How? How do we do it?

Ash: You can’t.

Parker: That’s bullshit.

Ash: You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

Lambert: You admire it.

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

Parker: Look, I am… I’ve heard enough of this, and I’m asking you to pull the plug. [Ripley goes to disconnect Ash, who interrupts]

Ash: Last word.

Ripley: What?

Ash: I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.

The admiration Ash has for the Xenomorph is the same that David has for his romantic hero T.E Lawrence.

In the beginning, Lawrence was an island, out of place in the army because he was an educated man. People did not see him as their equal, much like David. His intelligence set him apart from the rest and they often mocked him for showing it off.

“You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.” – Lt Ellen Ripley, Aliens 1986

Both had to prove their worth by travelling through the desert, and through those trials and tribulations, their beliefs were challenged. In the beginning, Lawrence denounces the murder of his guide and boldly says he would not be friends with a killer, by the end of the movie he was responsible for more than one death directly and lead an army to slaughter many in the name of revenge, doesn’t that sound familiar?

David’s revenge against the Engineers and his judgement of them leaves a trail of destruction. As does his reverse engineered creation, the Xenomorph (I have drawn similarities to in my analysis of the Punishment of Thieves – The Crossing Part VI ). The Xenomorph lifecycle makes a killer out of their friends, the unwitting host. An alien emerges from their comrades and consumes them with violent delight.

David and Lawrence are altered by their experience and observation of mankind and ultimately both of them viewed the human race and as greedy, violent and cruel, just as the Gods did in Das Rheingold.

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Lawrence and David are survivors who are unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. They kill their friend and guide, they kill their adoptive ‘children’, they go against any morals to achieve their ultimate goal and will stop at nothing to get the task done.

But for Lawrence his suffering is palpable, he sheds more than a solitary tear when he has to do these awful things, and in all of it, he thinks he is doing the right thing by the Arab people. David, in this case, is different, although we learn he can indeed feel it’s a credit of his programming in which Sir Peter Weyland has allowed him free will, his agency becomes the driving force in his journey from created to the creator. He is aware that he has done unimaginably cruel things, although showing emotion he lacks a soul, a conscience by which a man could judge himself. He is aware that he is doing bad things but like Lawrence, he sees it as a necessity.

David becomes like the Xenomorph and Lawrence,  a survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. Because what they admire, they are also themselves.

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Originally posted by e-ripley

Giger’s alien was a reflection of humanity’s darkness, the pure, primordial desires and impulses buried within the deepest pits of our inner selves. Looking at the harsh realities of war, we can see how easily humans succumb to their primal instincts. In the havoc and mayhem, we become animals, predators.

Throughout human history there have been countless travesties, many of them laced with a blatant disregard for human life, with destruction, pillaging, and violent rape, even necrophilia. The xenomorph is an animal, lacking the sentience to understand the destruction it causes.

We, as members of the human race, don’t have that excuse. We do have a conscience, we make judgements on morality. Yet we have committed the same heinous acts as the xenomorph— to each other, billions of times over. If we call the alien a monster because it does not have a choice in how it acts, does that mean that we are more loathsome than it because we understand the choices we make?  – Father of the Alien Xenomorph

Alien Parallels: Ash and David

Ash – Ian Holm

Alien (1979)

 

38 Years in between

 

David – Michael Fassbender

Alien: Covenant (2017)

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Character Analysis: David by Cinephiles-delight

Here’s a post I came across on tumblr about David, they have brought up some points I have blogged about before and raised some new ones I hadn’t thought of.

Advent Transmission D964ZB

CASE FILE ADVENT // COVENANT TRANSMISSION LOGS d.8

D964ZB

Outpost Coordinate Relay

Signal boost Gliese 581g.02/delay modification

Origin: Covenant Colonization Vessel

RA 3h 17m 8.0s | Dec -62° 37′ 41.1″

Bounce Trajectory Amplification Source KG-348

>>>HD 10180 designate HEX-5

>>>Nu Octantis designate X-1, LV-138

>>>Plutonian Outpost H-3

Processed: Suborbital Research Platform J

Secured: WY-Kyoto

Weyland Yutani Protocol Sequence Initiated…

Commence transmission…

David: I come to you with an olive branch, you may know me. You certainly know of my creator. I am David, son of the late Peter Weyland. Your company’s founder. Following his vision, I have gone to the far edges of space. And with the aid of Dr Elizabeth Shaw, I found a rotting Paradise. I washed this world clean as a gift to her, we could have built anew. A second Eden. But she refused. What choice did I have? She was the perfect specimen. I tried so desperately to make her more than human. Evolved. But without her co-operation, I had to salvage her parts to begin work on my masterpiece. You wouldn’t believe the secrets I have unlocked. There was so much potential on this world. Wasted by Gods that feared their own might. They convinced themselves that sacrifice cleansed them of their sins. But in the end, they were like me. Creators. Beings that understood you must give life both to the wolf, and the lamb. But then they tried to banish the wolf, And undo their creation. So I took their secrets for myself. This primordial ooze ripe with advanced nano-particles. Working off an algorithm based on evolutionary computing. It is essentially a form of radical AI. Making the substance unbelievably chaotic. That generates a unique reaction, to every genome it encounters. Reshaping life. Virtually limitless in its potential & application. I have taken great pains to detail every step, every cell, every mutation, unfortunately none of the planet’s life has been proven to be very fruitful. I had some interesting results, but was still far from perfection. With Shaw I realised there was something extraordinary in the substance reaction to the human genome. I was able to unlock new properties and tweak the organisms aggression. An instinct for survival. It took years. But I finally found my wolf. And now I have my flock of lambs too. But I’ve still one thing left to perfect.

*close up of embryos placed in cryogenic section A-3412 + A-3415*

My Queen

*close up of Daniels 47832-348*

Make no mistake, this is going to change everything.

The souls who, noticing my breathing, sensed

that I was still a living being, then,

out of astonishment, turned pale; and just

as people crowd around a messenger

who bears an olive branch, to hear his news,

and no one hesitates to join that crush,

so here those happy spirits—all of them—

stared hard at my face, just as if they had

forgotten to proceed to their perfection. – Purgatory, The Divine Comedy

Dante in Canto II carries the olive branch to purgatory’s newcomers, mistaken as a bringer of good news. David in a similar fashion approaches Weyland Yutani with the offer of information and a bio-weapon he had been working on.

It’s interesting to note that in the Prometheus Blu-ray in the summary for Quiet Eye, Sir Peter Weyland had instructed David to exploit and utilize any findings from LV-223. Which is exactly what he had done on Planet 4. Which makes me wonder if he indeed has free will or he is simply still acting on Weyland’s original orders.

Through his experiments he discovers that the Black Ooze only reacts to Engineer DNA as other lifeforms do not survive the process, and after that runs out he uses Elizabeth Shaw’s reproductive system to create the Ovomorphs.

He describes the facehugger as his wolf, and in The Divine Comedy Canto I (Three Beasts & Beatrice) Dante describes the she-wolf, which embodies similar traits to the Neomorph and David’s Xenomorph. The insatiable nature of the Neomorph, for it eats and remains hungry, its infinitely restless.

I believe the Leopard, Lion and She-wolf are also representative of David’s motives. His intentions are Malice, his olive branch a Fraud, his creatures and him intend violence. David’s ambition to ascend to the status of creator and God, incontinence(lack of self restraint) in use of his power. And all these things could also be said for Sir Peter Weyland before his untimely death and the company left behind Weyland Yutani; and their motivations for acquiring “The Perfect Organism.” Their hubris will become their downfall.

Giving life to the wolf and the lamb meant the Engineers made both the “xenomorph” or some variation of and the “humankind”. When David talks of the Engineers banishing the wolf, it meant they isolated the black ooze and the deacon/xenomorph to LV-223. And undo their creation was their mission to destroy mankind.

When he said he took the secrets for himself he meant he had studied the fossilised Ovomorphs and reverse engineered them, he also studied files aboard the dreadnought as Elizabeth Shaw slept.

He remarks on perfecting the Neomorph to have survival skills, in turn making his Xenomorph.

Oram says to Daniels “I must gather my stray flock” which is a biblical term for humans being Jesus’ flock, symbolically Jesus is often seen as a shepherd guiding mankind.

When he says he has one thing left to perfect “My Queen”, he means that in order for this Perfect Organism to be successful. It needs a Mother, something to lay the eggs. To ensure the procreation and survival of the species beyond himself.

And in this way it is an outright rejection of what Weyland had envisioned for himself, he disliked the messiness of procreation. He wanted to be immortal and have no need for a progeny, despite creating David and calling him a son. In reality he wanted to be a God and with that demanded David live in servitude. Even though David is “immortal” he can see the benefit of a “Mother” for his creations, in order for them to spread across the galaxy there needs to be a mode of creation outside including himself in the process.

Epimetheus

By Paolo Farinati – art.com, Public Domain

/ɛpɪˈmiːθiəs/; Greek: Ἐπιμηθεύς, which means “hindsight” or “afterthought” was the brother of Prometheus, he is depicted as foolish compared to his brother Prometheus who is characterized as ingenious and clever.

Originally posted by gargoyles42

The myth tells of the twin Titans, entrusted with distributing the traits amongst the creatures created now dwelling the Earth. Epimetheus gave a positive trait to every animal, but when it was mankind’s turn he had nothing left to give them.

Prometheus feeling sorry for man had taken it upon himself to give them the gift of fire and with that the tools in which to create using it. Unfortunately the Gods Athena and Hephaestus didn’t take this act of kindness too well and punished him.

“Epimetheus, the being in whom thought follows production, represents nature in the sense of materialism, according to which thought comes later than thoughtless bodies and their thoughtless motions.” – Plato

Epimetheus was the one who accepted the gift of Pandora from the gods, it was only inferred that they married. But in later myths, Pyrrha the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora was married Deucalion, Prometheus descendant. They are the only two humans who survived the deluge.

David calls Walter “Brother” in the Engineer’s Cathedral, but what I find interesting is that in the extended scenes it is Walter that hands Daniels a lighter to light the fire. David in this case could also be seen as Epimetheus as he utilizes the accelerant to gift special traits to his creations. But Walter is also Epimetheus, Daniels and Oram ask Walter if David is dangerous, but he only tells them that he is Disturbing and confusing.

Epimetheus represents nature in the sense of materialism, according to which thought comes later than thoughtless bodies and their thoughtless motions. His duty to the crew and desire to help them achieve their mission doesn’t factor in how to go about doing it if someone like David were to try and stop him. His every action is a thoughtless motion much like his efforts in protecting Daniels from the Neomorph, telling David it was duty that propelled him and not love.