Alien:The robot head speaks

Leading from

 
a) Ash's flow of words
The robot head of Ash spoke through various drafts, a flow of different ideas that expanded on the back story for the presence of Ash and his interest in the alien life form, while in the final movie, his dialogue would be trimmed down to a bare minimum almost revealing nothing more than what the other crew knew before.

Ash would talk about how the Company put androids on all deep space vessels to watch for the discovery of "key products". The company had found that under certain circumstances, crews might refuse to bring back these key products. A Key Product was any substance capable of changing the course of human evolution. And so in this instance, the Alien was a key product, and this thing was interesting because it utilized mother species in its reproductive life cycle and in doing so, crossed itself with the host.

This meant that the Alien on the Nostromo was carrying human chromosones, it was in effect, Kane's child. It may have been a fact that in the end, the Alien wasn't useful to the company, it was not for Ash to decide, but still it was a key product.

This creature was was something that would die of its own accord and this certain creature's life cycle was almost over. It would decompose, and gallons of acid would pour out. But the spore could survive in a vacuum and Mother would take the ship back to Earth

This creature was an intergalactic parasite, capable of laying dormant for thousands of years, perhaps for all time, who was to know. And its sole purpose was to destroy other species merely to recreate itself, for life and anti-life.

b) Additional memories from Veronica Cartwright
There was another point amongst the rewrites where Ash asked the rest of the crew if anyone else had tried to communicate with the creature and of course none of them did since they were interested in fending for their lives. From Ash's words it appeared that it was part of an experimental program which in a way made the creature less evil. When Veronica Cartwright revealed this when they did the scene, she didn't go any further into what was said but it sounded as if there were remainders of the Alien: Cylinder script still remaining in the dialogue

c) Additional words in Alan Dean Foster's novelisation Part 1: Rerouting the Nostromo 
According to Alan Dean Foster's novelisation, written to expand on the script that he was given.
Ash was directed to reroute the Nostromo or make sure that the crew rerouted it from its assigned course so that it would pick up the signal and program the ship's computer to bring the crew out of hypersleep, and then program her memory to feed the crew with the story about the emergency call. The Company specialists would already have known that the transmission was a warning and not a distress signal. It was much too late, according to what the translators determined, for a distress signal to do the senders any good. The signal itself was frighteningly specific, very detailed. So, at the source of the signal, the crew were to investigate a life form, almost certainly hostrile according to what the Company experts distilled from the transmission, and bring it back for observation and Company evaluation for any potential commercial applications, using discretion of course.

d) Additional words in Alan Dean Foster's novelisation Part 2 : The Derelict mystery
The derelict spacecraft that they found, landed on the planetoid apparently in the course of normal exploration. Like Kane they encountered one or more of the alien spore pods.. However the transmission did not say whether the explorers had time to determine if the spores had originated on that particular world or if they had migrated from somewhere else. Before they were overcome, they managed to set up the warning, to keep the inhabitants of other ships that might consider setting down on that world from suffering the same fate. Wherever they came from, they were a noble people, and indeed hopefully mankind will encounter them again under more pleasant circumstances. The explorers who crewed the derelict ship were larger and possible more intelligent than human kind but this did not enable them to kill it.

e) Additional words in Alan Dean Foster's novelisation Part 3 : Dealing of the Alien
According to Ash, it was hoped that the crew would survive and contain the alien. The Company officials had no idea how dangerous and efficient the alien was. The alien was a perfectly organized organism. Superbly structured, cunning, quintessentially violent and with the crew's limited capabilities, they had no chance against it. However he thought that he might be able to kill it since he wasn't organic in composition and so would not be regarded as either a potential danger or a source of food. He was stronger than the human crew and perhaps would be able match the alien

Ash admired the simple symmetry it presents. An interspecies parasite capable of preying on any life form that breathes, regardless of the atmospheric composition involved. One capable of lying dormant for indefinite periods under the most inhospitable conditions. Its soul purpose to reproduce its own kind, a task it pursues with supreme efficiency. There was nothing in mankind's experience to compare it with. Men were using to combating parasites such as mosquitos, minute arthropods and their ilk. But this creature was to them in savagery and efficiency as man is to the worm in intelligence. The Nostromo crew could not begin  to imagine how to deal with it.

If the alien were left with the run of the ship, there was the possibility that the Alien would successfully infect a boarding party and others it might come into contact with before they realised the magnitude of the danger it presented and try to take steps to combat it, but by then it might be too late. Thousands of years of effort had not enabled man to eradicate other parasites and he had never before encountered one this advanced. What if there were several billion mosquitoes functioning in intelligent consort with one another. Would mankind have a chance?

If Ash were present and function when the Nostromo arrived at the Earth station, he would have been able to inform the boarding part of what they might expect and how to proceed safely against it to avoid unleashing a terrible plague on mankind.

f) Additional words in Alan Dean Foster's novelisation Part 4 : Ripley's response
At the realisation that Ash was a robot. Ripley made the assumption that the company's probes must have picked up the transmission from the derelict, and the Nostromo happened to be the next Company vessel scheduled to pass through the particular spatial quadrant. They put Ash on board to monitor things for them and to make sure they followed Special Order 937 . It the follow-up on the transmission turned out to be worthless, then Ash could report that back to them without anyone else aboard the Nostromo knowing what was going on, but if worthwhile, then the Company would have learnt what they needed to know before going into the trouble of sending out an expensively equipped exploration team. It was a simple matter of maximizing profit, minimizing loss and their profit would have been the Nostromo crew's loss. It explained why they were chosen beyond the expense of sending a valuable exploration team in first.

Importation to any inhabited world, let alone Earth, of a dangerous life form was strictly prohibited. By making it look as if a bunch of simple space tug jockeys had accidently stumbled onto it, the Company had a way of seeing it arrive at Earth unintentionally. The crew might have got themselves thrown in jail, something would be done with the creature, obviously Company specialists would magnanimously be standing read to take this dangerous arrival of the hands of the customs officiers, with a few judicious bribes prepaid to smooth the transition. And the crew if they were lucky would be bailed out by the Company and take proper care of them as soon as the authorities determined that they were as stupid as they appeared to be.

g) Additional words in Alan Dean Foster's novelisation Part 5 :  Crew Expendable
The Nostromo were not to be told about it because they might not have gone along and so the Company policy required their unknowing co-operation, What Ripley said about their honest ignorance fooling customs was quite correct. And in terms of their lives, the Company decided that they were expendable. It was the alien life form that they were concerned with, and it was hoped that the crew could survive to collect their shares but this was a secondary consideration.

Source quotes
  1. It is mentioned that in one script, Mother had stated that "The alien had already competed with the civilization which inhabited the planet" as if in the script the remains of a civilisation had been found upon the planet and the alien was separate from that race. (Alien Laserdisc supplement)
  2. Ash is introduced introducing his role as a Company robot looking out for Key Products. Where exactly they took the interesting term Key Products is another question presently unanswered. In regards to to the Company and the robots, Ash said  " They put them on all deep space vessels to watch for the discovery of key products. The company has found that under certain circumstances, crews refuse to bring back key products. A key product is any substance capable of changing the course of human evolution. The Alien is a key product. The Alien utilizes other species in this reproductive cycle. In so doing, it crosses itself with the host."(Alien Laserdisc supplement)
  3. Here he reveals something about the creature that they have loose aboard the ship and in the final film we have a brief half formed utterances that sounds like "Kane's son" that could be mistaken for "Gained some" by Ash after Brett has been taken by the alien. "The Alien on the ship is carrying human chromosones. It is Kane's child. It may be that the alien is not useful. That is not for me to decide. It is a key product. It will soon die of its own accord. It's life cycle is almost over.                                                                                                                           This individual will die but its spores will live indefinitely. The spores that it has layed in this ship"(Alien Laserdisc supplement)
  4. Ash responded "yes" when Ripley asked "when it dies, will it decompose. And gallons of acid pour out. But the spores can survive in a vacuum and Mother takes the ship back to Eartth"(Alien Laserdisc supplement)
  5. In a later rewrite, the android Ash describes it as "An intergalactic parasite, capable of laying dormant for thousands of years, perhaps for all time, who knows, its sole purpose to destroy other species merely to recreate itself, for life and anti-life(Alien Laserdisc supplement)
  6. Veronica Cartwright: The original scene had more grapey things and stuff and so I guess they took in, erm, I talked to Ian later, he said they went back and reshot with more tubey looking odds and ends, and they also changed the dialogue, that wasn't what it was originally. Well that whole thing about how nobody'd bothered to try to communicate with it, I mean maybe if we gave it a chance, it was part of an experimental program which in a weird way didn't make him as evil. Originally this is where he brought up "has anybody tried to communicate with it?", and we were all standing around, you know, and listening to him, he was so touching when he was doing it and and then Ridley shouts "Cut!" because he had milk, and he had grapes and he had little, he hated the little silver balls that were like on the c.... so here we are, we were all like sitting there with bated breath listening to Ian, he's got his head in the middle of the table, you know with grapes and all sorts of stuff hanging off his head and then he uh, he shouts cut because he didn't like the silver balls so, what you see is Ian with that months later and redid it, but I r.. I loved his ideas. he, Ian had this twitch through the thing which you don't get to see very much, he had like, he starts out fine, but as he starts to get, why, this left eye, would like, twitch all the time as he starts to break down. (Blu-Ray commentary 1:23:12 )  
  7.  Veronica Cartwright: Well, part of the whole thing was that, um, Ian's character , remember he, he asked us whether or not we tried to communicate with it, and none of us ever did. We just assumed it was big ugly and nasty. So now. Nobody ever bothered to communicate with it or tried. (Alien Director's cut DVD/bluray commentary (1:54:17)
  8. ‘He was using Kane’s life as an excuse, but he was never interested in Kane. He let that thing grow inside him, knew what was happening all the time. And he set off the emergency airlock Klaxon to save it.


    ‘But why?’ Lambert was struggling, still couldn’t put it all together.
    ‘I’m only guessing, but the only reason I can come up with for putting a robot crew member on board with the rest of us and not letting us know about it at the time is that someone wanted a slave observer to report developments back to them.’ She glanced up at Lambert. ‘Who assigns personnel to the ships, makes last-minute changes like trading science officers, and would be the only entity capable of secretly slipping a robot on board? For whatever purpose?’
    Lambert no longer looked confused. ‘The company.’
    ‘Sure.’ Ripley smiled humorlessly. ‘The company’s drone probes must have picked up the transmission from the derelict. The Nostromo happened to be the next Company vessel sched- uled to pass through this spatial quadrant. They put Ash on board to monitor things for them and to make sure we followed something Mother calls Special Order 937.
    ‘If the follow-up on the transmission turns out to be worthless, Ash can report that back to them without us ever knowing what was going on. If worthwhile, then the Company learns what it needs to know before it goes to the trouble of sending out an expensively equipped exploration team. Simple, matter of maximizing profit, minimizing loss. Their profit, our loss.’ (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)
  9. Ripley leaned close. ‘Ash, can you hear me?’ No response. She looked back to Parker.
    The hookup’s clean. Power level is self-adjusting. Unless some critical circuits were interrupted when the head hit the deck, he ought to reply. Memory cells and verbal-visual com- ponents are packed pretty tight in these sophisticated models. I’d expect it to talk.’
    She tried again. ‘Can you hear me, Ash?
    A familiar voice, not distant at all, sounded in the mess. ‘Yes, I can hear you.’
    It was hard for her to address the disembodied head, for all that she knew it was only part of a machine, like the shock tube or the tracker. She’d served too many hours with Ash.
    What . . . what was Special Order 937?
    That’s against regulations and my internal programming. You know I can’t tell you.
    She stood back. ‘Then there’s no point in talking. Parker, pull the plug.
    The engineer reached for the wires and Ash reacted with sufficient speed to show that his cognitive circuits were indeed intact. ‘In essence, my orders were as follows.’ Parker’s hand hovered threateningly over the power line.
    ‘I was directed to reroute the Nostromo or make sure that this crew rerouted it from its assigned course so that it would pick up the signal, program Mother to bring you out of hypersleep, and program her memory to feed you the story about the


    emergency call. Company specialists already knew that the transmission was a warning and not a distress signal.’
    Parker’s hands clenched into fists.
    At the source of the signal,’ Ash continued, ‘we were to investigate a life form, almost certainly hostile according to what the Company experts distilled from the transmission, and bring it back for observation and Company evaluation of any potential commercial applications. Using discretion, of course.
    Of course,’ agreed Ripley, mimicking the machine’s indifferent tone. ‘That explains a lot about why we were chosen, beyond the expense of sending a valuable exploration team in first.’ She looked coldly pleased at having traced the reasoning behind Ash’s words.
    Importation to any inhabited world, let alone Earth, of a dangerous alien life form is strictly prohibited. By making it look like we simple tug jockeys had accidentally stumbled onto it, the Company had a way of seeing it arrive at Earth “unintentionally”. While we maybe got ourselves thrown in jail, something would have to be done with the creature. Naturally, Company specialists would magnanimously be standing ready to take this dangerous arrival off the hands of the customs officers, with a few judicious bribes prepaid just to smooth the transition.
    And if we were lucky, the Company would bail us out and take proper care of us as soon as the authorities determined we were honestly as stupid as we appeared. Which we’ve been.
    Why?’ Lambert wanted to know. ‘Why didn’t you warn us? Why couldn’t we have been told what we were getting ourselves into?
    Because you might not have gone along,’ Ash explained with cold logic. ‘Company policy required your unknowing co-operation. What Ripley said about your honest ignorance fooling customs was quite correct.


    You and the damn Company,’ Parker growled. ‘What about our lives, man?
    Not man.’ Ash made the correction without anger. ‘As to your lives, I’m afraid the Company considered them expendable. It was the alien life form they were principally concerned with. It was hoped you could contain it and survive to collect your shares, but that was, I must admit, a secondary consideration. It wasn’t personal on the Company’s part. Just the luck of the draw.’
    How comforting,’ sneered Ripley. She thought a moment, said, ‘You’ve already told us that our purpose in being sent to that world was to “investigate a life form, almost certainly hostile”. And that Company experts knew all along the transmission was a warning and not a distress signal.
    Yes,’ Ash replied. ‘It was much too late, according to what the translators determined, for a distress signal to do the senders any good. The signal itself was frighteningly specific, very detailed.
    The derelict spacecraft we found had landed on the planet, apparently in the course of normal exploration. Like Kane, they encountered one or more of the alien spore pods. The transmission did not say whether the explorers had time to determine if the spores originated on that particular world or if they had migrated there from somewhere else.
    ‘Before they all were overcome, they managed to set up the warning, to keep the inhabitants of other ships that might consider setting down on that world from suffering the same fate. Wherever they came from, they were a noble people. Hopefully mankind will encounter them again, under more pleasant circumstances.’
    ‘They were a better people than some I can think of,’ Ripley said tightly. ‘The alien that’s aboard: How do we kill it?’
    ‘The explorers who crewed the derelict ship were larger and possibly more intelligent than humankind. I don’t think that you can kill it. But I might be able to. As I’m not organic in composition, the alien does not regard me as a potential danger. Nor as a source of food. I am considerably stronger than any of you. I might be able to match the alien.
    ‘However, I am not exactly at my best at the moment. If you would simply replace . . .’
    ‘Nice try, Ash,’ Ripley interrupted him, shaking her head from side to side, ‘but no way.’
    ‘You idiots! You still don’t realize what you’re dealing with. The alien is a perfectly organized organism. Superbly structured, cunning, quintessentially violent. With your limited capabilities you have no chance against it.’
    ‘My God.’ Lambert stared dully at the head. ‘You admire the damned thing.’
    How can you not admire the simple symmetry it presents? An interspecies parasite, capable of preying on any life form that breathes, regardless of the atmospheric composition involved. One capable of lying dormant for indefinite periods under the most inhospitable conditions. Its sole purpose to reproduce its own kind, a task it pursues with supreme efficiency. There is nothing in mankind’s experience to compare with it.
    ‘The parasites men are used to combating are mosquitoes and minute arthropods and their ilk. This creature is to them in savagery and efficiency as man is to the worm in intelligence. You cannot even begin to imagine how to deal with it.’


    ‘I’ve heard enough of this shit.’ Parker’s hand dropped toward the power line. Ripley put up a restraining hand, stared at the head.
    You’re supposed to be part of our complement, Ash. You’re our science officer as well as a Company tool.’
    ‘You gave me intelligence. With intellect comes the inevitability of choice. I am loyal only to discovering the truth. A scientific truth demands beauty, harmony, and, above all, simplicity. The problem of you versus the alien will produce a simple and elegant solution. Only one of you will survive.’
    ‘I guess that puts us poor humans in our place, doesn’t it? Tell me something, Ash. The Company expected the Nostromo to arrive at Earth station with only you and the alien alive all along, didn’t it?’
    ‘No. It was honestly hoped you would survive and contain the alien. The Company officials simply had no idea how dangerous and efficient the alien was.’
    ‘What do you think’s going to happen when the ship arrives, assuming we’re all dead and the alien, instead of being properly restrained, has the run of the ship?’
    ‘I cannot say. There is a distinct possibility the alien will successfully infect the boarding party and any others it comes in contact with before they realize the magnitude of the danger it presents and can take steps to combat it. By then it may be too late.
    ‘Thousands of years of effort have not enabled man to eradicate other parasites. He has never before encountered one this advanced. Try to imagine several billion mosquitoes


    functioning in intelligent consort with one another. Would mankind have a chance?
    ‘Of course, if I am present and functional when the Nostromo arrives, I can inform the boarding party of what they may expect and how to proceed safely against it. By destroying me, you risk loosing a terrible plague on mankind.’
    There was silence in the mess, but not for long. Parker spoke first.
    ‘Mankind, in the person of the Company, doesn’t seem to give a damn about us. We’ll take our chances against the alien. At least we know where it stands.’ He glanced over at Ripley. ‘No plague’s going to bother me if I’m not around to worry about it. I say pull the plug.’
    ‘I agree,’ said Lambert.
    Ripley moved around the table, started to disconnect the power cord.
    ‘A last word,’ Ash said quickly. ‘A legacy, if you will.’
    Ripley hesitated. ‘Well?’
    ‘Maybe it is truly intelligent. Maybe you should try to

    communicate with it.’ ‘Did you?’
    ‘Please let my grave hold some secrets.’
    Ripley pulled the wire from the socket. ‘Good-bye, Ash.’ She turned her attention from the silent head to her companions. ‘When it comes to choosing between parasites, I’d rather take my chances with one that doesn’t lie. Besides, if we can’t beat that thing we can die happy knowing that it’s likely to get its hooks into a few Company experts . . .’
    (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)

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