Noah Hawley is a busy man these days. The fascinating storyteller is perhaps best known for creating the hit television series Fargo, based on the Coen brothers’ classic, as well as for several near-misses on projects that may or may not ever come to fruition. Last we heard, however, Hawley was gearing up for a surprising journey into the Alien universe — this time, in the medium of television. Now, we finally have some concrete information about just what to expect, straight from the man himself. Some tidbits makes perfect sense for a new series set in the world that Ridley Scott created, while others are a little more… interesting.
What to Expect and What Not to Expect
First and foremost, don’t get your hopes up for another Sigourney Weaver appearance as the iconic Ripley. According to Hawley (courtesy of Vanity Fair), “It’s not a Ripley story.” This is probably for the best, as Alien might start to feel at risk of turning into Star Wars — with practically every new story set in the world always coming back and revolving around a character or group of characters from the original. While Alien may not lend itself to the shared universe-building that Disney currently has in mind for that galaxy far, far away, it’s still smart of Hawley to diversify his storytelling as much as possible. He seemingly agrees, as he goes on to say:
“[Ripley]’s one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don’t want to mess with it. It’s a story that’s set on Earth also. The alien stories are always trapped… Trapped in a prison, trapped in a space ship. I thought it would be interesting to open it up a little bit so that the stakes of ‘What happens if you can’t contain it?’ are more immediate.”
The Alien franchise also has an established history of drawing comparisons to our real-world, from corporate disregard for their own workers in the original, to a bracing exploration of the prison industrial complex in David Fincher’s Alien 3. Now, Hawley seems bent on adding his own spin on this. After the suggestion that being unable to “contain” deadly things feels eerily familiar to what the world has gone through for well over a year now, Hawley goes on to elaborate on his specific worldview for this new series.
“On some level it’s also a story about inequality. You know, one of the things that I love about the first movie is how ’70s a movie it is, and how it’s really this blue collar space-trucker world in which Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton are basically Waiting for Godot. They’re like Samuel Beckett characters, ordered to go to a place by a faceless nameless corporation. The second movie is such an ‘80s movie, but it’s still about grunts. Paul Reiser is middle management at best. So, it is the story of the people you send to do the dirty work.”
But not to be mistaken for simply retreading the same ground that Alien and its following installments already dealt with, Hawley clarifies that his series will offer a new point-of-view entirely. “In mine, you’re also going to see the people who are sending them. So you will see what happens when the inequality we’re struggling with now isn’t resolved.”
That sounds well-intentioned but also… a lot. The beauty of the previous movies (Prometheus and parts of Alien: Covenant included!) is in how they handled these issues with an effortless, yet bracing approach. Xenomorphs are great slasher villains, to be sure, but the series has mined a ton of nuance out of positioning faceless corporations, directive-obsessed androids, and flawed human beings as nearly equal foes. It remains to be seen how or if Hawley will be able to tap into similar ground here, but we’re anxious to find out for ourselves.
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