It’s only been four years since the Alien series last burst through our chest to sear the science fiction landscape with acid blood. 2017’s Alien: Covenant which —based on the quasi-lackluster box office—will probably be Ridley Scott’s last Alien movie. It was a particularly bleak installment to end on. But all is not quiet on the factory line of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. For one thing, Neill Blomkamp’s Alien sequel is still lurking around the air vents of the rumor mill. (Why does a mill have an air vent? Why to fit the metaphor, of course.) Unfortunately, though, it does seem like that project is dead. Meanwhile, one Alien thing that is taking shape is Noah Hawley’s FX TV series. Speaking to Vanity Fair, the Fargo showrunner gave some choice details of what this new breed of xenomorph adventure will look like.
Hawley says that he’s got two episodes written so far and he hints at returning to some core ideas about the series, primarily focusing on the Alien series as monster movies with a hint of evolutionary terror. “What’s next for me, it looks like, is [an] Alien series for FX, taking on that franchise and those amazing films by Ridley Scott and James Cameron and David Fincher,” he said. “Those are great monster movies, but they’re not just monster movies. They’re about humanity trapped between our primordial, parasitic past and our artificial intelligence future—and they’re both trying to kill us. Here you have human beings and they can’t go forward and they can’t go back. So I find that really interesting.”
Nevertheless, just because Hawley name drops the three auteurs most related to the series, that doesn’t mean he’s bringing all the elements back. For one thing, the showrunner is quick to say that this is “not a Ripley story,” meaning that we shouldn’t expect Sigourney Weaver or her iconic character to show up. He continues, “She’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 not that shocking that Ripley isn’t involved in this story because the character has been M.I.A. since 1997. What is surprising is where Hawley says the show takes place: Earth.
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.
An Alien movie set on Earth is something that the films teased in Alien Resurrection and never made good on (unless you count the AvP movies, which, sure, have fun). But, according to Hawley, setting the show on Earth opens up some Alien mayhem for the corporate headquarters. Instead of dealing with the working class truckers for the company and the marine grunts from the first two movies, Hawley says he’s dealing with “what happens when the inequality we’re struggling with now isn’t resolved.”
“If we as a society can’t figure out how to prop each other up and spread the wealth, then what’s going to happen to us?” he said. “There’s that great Sigourney Weaver line to Paul Reiser where she says, ‘I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t fuck each other over for a percentage.’”
Over the past decade, Ridley Scott has expanded the idea of what the Alien series is about. To some, Ridley went too far in his quest for the next evolutionary step and our relationship with God. Now it sounds like Hawley is going the other way. However, given what he’s done with Fargo, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he worked those themes in as well. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to what hatches—so long as whatever hatches doesn’t try to put a xenomorph in us.