Now that we have Prometheus as our “small beginning” (!) to a “big thing” (the long-lived Alien franchise), there is an opportunity to gaze at the five films and chart new thematic or character connections. Considering the critical role that David (Michael Fassbender) plays in Prometheus, Ridley Scott has given audiences and fans a wonderful opportunity to trace, specifically, the development of artificial life forms in the series.
Alien’s (1979) Ash (Ian Holm) is next in the chronology. I’ve written about the intense sexual underpinnings of this Ridley Scott film before, but seen in the context of all the franchise androids, I now wonder if it’s possible to view Ash as the repressed teenager of the bunch.
Bishop, portrayed by Lance Henriksen, appears in Aliens (1986) and Alien3 (1992). Unlike his predecessors, this android seems to have accepted his role (and limits) in human society with grace. This may be because Bishop is governed by new programming (not available for earlier models like David and Ash, ostensibly…) that prohibits him from acting in a way that allows human beings to be harmed. Bishop is still child-like, much like David, but – importantly – is much more stable in temperament. Again, part of the process of maturation in humans is observing limits and understanding that one fits in with a group, and can’t act on any and every impulse.
The last android we meet in the Alien series is Alien Resurrection’s Call (1997), played by Winona Ryder. In a very significant way, she represents the final evolution of the android journey. Not only is she stable like Bishop was, but she is able to look outward – beyond concern for herself or her immediate companions -- to the well-being of the universe at large. Perhaps not coincidentally, Call is also the first female android we meet in the series, though the jury is still out on Vickers...