Alien: The robot head speaks

Leading from

 


a.) A flow of words to be trimmed
Through various drafts of the script, the robot head of Ash spoke, a flow of different ideas that expanded on the back story for the presence of Ash and his interest in the alien life form.

What exactly was meant by half of what it said can often be only guessed at.

There may be many rewrites with ideas that I might only half guess at and I have only seen a few of the scripts as we can find at http:www.AVPGalaxy.net, but here I am looking at the script
script revision for 10th August 1978.
 
There are bits and pieces from interviews with people such as Ridley Scott and Veronica Cartwright.
 
We also have Alan Dean Foster's Alien novelisation that's based on at least one of the scripts and one might wonder exactly which one, and what of what he had written was purely his own invention without discussion with anyone involved in the production

In the final movie, despite the abundance of ideas developed for the revelation, Ash's dialogue would be trimmed down to a bare minimum almost revealing nothing more than what the other crew knew before.



b) The mission

b.i) The company's curiosity
Ridley went forwards with the idea that on this mission, this corporation didn't have a preconceived notion that an alien would be found on this mission, much less the particular alien that the Nostromo crew bring back on the ship.

It wouldn't have been on the minds of the corporation executives when they first received the alien transmission, but they had high expectations out of curiosity.

It just so happened that the company's android would side with the alien who have no regard for humanity, at the expense of the employees who have to trust the company





b.ii) Robot crew member

 
In the Alien script that was another rewrite by Giler and Hill featuring a concrete cylinder tower,

Ripley discovers a response from the computer that Ash is protecting the alien life form and with that comes the information "Weapons security: Definition experimental offensive anti-personnel system. Mission: Proceed to co-ordinates 1483 to 61325 of fifth galaxy. Gather indigenous life form and return to earth. Top priority, maximum security, necessary terminations approved. Crew expendable according to section 5161 of priority system. Further instructions on code 51234, Channel 351"  before Ash the stops her using the computer and attacks her.

See also: Fifth Galaxy

When they discover that Ash is a robot having beheaded him, Ripley decides that the alien is weapon and Ash was supposed to pick it up and take it back, with Ash sent along by the Corporation to make sure that they went to the planet, and here the planet was a weapons breading ground for the Corporation, while the Nostromo crew were guinea pigs.

They were expendable, it was just the luck of the draw, and they had to send a robot, because if they sent a real flesh and blood human, the alien might have killed him so they sent the one thing that the alien wouldn't care about, which was a machine.

They don't bother to reattach the head to get it to converse with them

In the novel, Ripley came up with an idea that why the company put a robot crew member on board with the humans without letting them know about it at the time was that they wanted someone who was a slave observer to report developments back to them.

With that, whoever assigned personnel to the ships, making last-minute changes such as trading science offices, would be the only entity capable of secretly slipping a robot on board.
She mentions that the company's drone probes must have picked up the transmission from the derelict.

While the novel went with the idea that the Nostromo happened to be the next Company vessel scheduled to pass through this spatial quadrant, Ridley Scott had decided that it was simply within the vicinity before the order came through to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought being given to the consequences.

In the novel, Ash was on board to monitor everything for them and to make sure that they followed something that was referred to on Muthur's computer screen as  Special Order 937.






b.iii) Sending an exploratory vessel 

In the novel, Ripley thought the follow up on the transmission turned out to be worthless, Ash could report that back to them without the crew ever knowing what was going on.

If it was worthwhile, then the Company would learn what it needed to before it went through the trouble of sending out an expensively equipped exploration team.

The way that Ridley Scott saw it, perhaps the Company had postponed the investigatory spacecraft for economy reasons, but he had decided that the robot virtually guaranteed in principle the success of the mission

In the novel, it was a simple matter of maximizing profit, minimizing loss and their profit would have been the Nostromo crew's loss, which explained why they were chosen beyond the expense of sending a valuable exploration team in first.


b.iv) Illegal import

In the novel's intergalactic society, importation of a dangerous life form  to any inhabited world, let alone Earth, was strictly prohibited.

The Company had a way of seeing it arrive at Earth unintentionally, by making it look as if a bunch of simple space tug jockeys had accidently stumbled onto the thing,

The crew could have got themselves thrown in jail , but if lucky would be bailed out by the Company only to be taken care of as soon as the authorities determined that they were as stupid as they appeared to be.

Meanwhile something would be done with the alien life form, obviously Company specialists would magnanimously be standing read to take this dangerous arrival of the hands of the customs officers, with a few judicious bribes prepaid to smooth the transition.

See also: Alien: Industrial Paranoia

  1. 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)  
  2.  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”.
    (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)
  3. Danny Peary: Was it the intention of the corporation that owns the Nostromo to bring back an alien, any alien? And for what reason?

    Ridley Scott: I think any corporation that sends probes into unknown territory is going to think of the possibility of finding something new. I’m sure that the crew members on all its ships would have been briefed to bring back anything of interest. It would be part of one’s job to bring it back. An alien would, of course, be of top priority. This particular corporation didn’t have a preconceived notion that an alien would be found on this mission, much less the particular alien that is brought onto the ship. The idea of bringing it back would not have been on the minds of the corporation executives when they first received the alien transmission. They just had high expectations when they ordered the Nostromo to investigate - it was purely out of curiosity.

    Danny Peary: Yet the film seems to express a “topical” theme: For selfish reasons our leaders in government and business will side with “aliens” who have no regard for humanity at the expense of the people who trust them

    Ridley Scott: Although I didn’t set out to make such a statement, the parallels on both a political and company level are quite obvious. (Omni; Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies)
  4. Interviewer: Had "Mother" foreseen from the start that the Nostromo would meet the alien?

    Ridley Scott: Again , this is only a supposition made in hindsight. I would have thought that Earth would have previously received messages, realised they were coming from an intelligent source but, for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then, one day, Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought being given to the consequences. The presence of the robot virtually guarantees, in principle, the success of the mission
    . (Film Illustrated. v9. n99, Nov 1979, "Duelling with Death, The Alien World of Ridley Scott")



c) Probes into unknown territory

Curiously in the novelisation, Ripley mentions the drone probes that must have picked up the transmission from the derelict and then we have Ridley Scott also talked about corporations sending probes into unknown territory.

  1. ‘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.  (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster) 
  2. Ridley Scott: I think any corporation that sends probes into unknown territory is going to think of the possibility of finding something new. (Omni; Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies)






d) Special Order 937
The Nostromo crew wired up Ash the robot's head after they beheaded him to get it to function and talk.

Ripley asked what Special Order 937 was.

Ash told them that his orders were to reroute the ship to the source of the signal, and there they were to investigate a life form, almost certainly hostile, and with discretion, bring it back for observation

From there according to novelisation, expanding 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 crew were expected to go to the source of the signal and investigate a life form, almost certainly hostile according to what the Company experts distilled from this frighteningly specific and very detailed transmission,

Then they would bring it back for observation and Company evaluation for any potential commercial applications, using discretion of course.

But he Nostromo crew were not to be told about it because they might not have gone along and so the Company policy required their unknowing co-operation.

It was the alien life form that the Company were concerned with, and it was hoped that the crew could survive to collect their shares but this was a secondary consideration, because the Company decided that they were expendable.
 
The Ash was Alien script revision 10th August 1978 was able to tell them that it wasn't personal, but instead just the luck of the draw.

  1.  RIPLEY
    We have to find out what else they're holding back
    Ash's head is on the table. His eyes flcker into consciousness

    RIPLEY
    Ash, can you hear me

    ASH
    Yes I can

    RIPLEY
    What was Special Order 937

    ASH
    That's against regulations.
    You know I can't tell you

    RIPLEY
    Then there's no point in talking.
    Parker, pull the plug.


    Parker reaches for the wires.
    Ash quickly reacts

    ASH
    My orders, in essence, directed
    me to reroute the ship to the
    source of the signal. There
    we were to investigate a life
    form, almost certainly hostile,
    and bring it back for observation.
    Using discretion, of course.


    LAMBERT
    Why. Why didn't you warn us.

    ASH
    Because you might not have gone
    in. The shares notwithstanding.


    PARKER
    You and the damn company. What
    about our lives, man
    .

    ASH
    Expendable I'm afraid. It wasn't
    personal. Just the luck of the
    draw.

    (Script Revision 10th August 1978)
  2. 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.
    (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)

Photo by Roger Nichols

e) Derelict transmission's message

Ash was able to tell them what the transmission had stated.

It was a warning.

The derelict spacecraft had landed on the planet, and like Kane, they encountered one of the alien spores.

In the Alien novelisation, they were dealing with a scenario where they didn't have the space jockey found in the derelict ship, and so nothing of this entity had been seen.

The derelict spacecraft that they found, landed on the planetoid apparently in the course of normal exploration, and the crew, like Kane who had been face hugged, 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, (as with the Alien script revision from 10th August 1978) the crew of the derelict spacecraft 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.

It was decided by Ash, that 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.
  1. 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.’ (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)

     
  2. Cold comfort.

    RIPLEY
    The transmission was a warning

    ASH
    Yes, and frighteningly specific.
    The derelict spacecraft landed
    on the planet. Like Kane, they
    encountered one of the Alien
    spores. Before they all died,
    they managed to set up the
    warning.

    (Alien script revision 10th August 1978)



f) Key Products

Ash would tell the crew about how the Company put androids on all deep space vessels to watch for the discovery of "key products".

One might wonder who coined the term and when.

The company had found that under certain circumstances, spaceship crews might refuse to bring back these key products.

Here was a suggestion that these dangerous strange intergalactic discoveries had been made before.

A key product was any substance capable of changing the course of human evolution.

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 essence, 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.

  1. 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)  
  2. 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)


g) Decomposing life form
This creature was something that would die of its own accord and it'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

  1. 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)


h) Intergalactic parasite

h.i) Admiration

It was realised that Ash admired the alien life form with the simple symmetry that it presented.


h.ii) Humans vs the alien

He didn't think that the human crew of the Nostromo couldn't even imagine how to deal with it, let alone kill it, and while he presented this point of view, he was of course in a disassembled state asking to be put back together again.

He saw the alien as a perfectly organized organism, superbly structured, cunning, quintessentially violent and with the crew's limited capabilities, they didn't know what they were dealing with and they had no chance against it.

h.iii) What was it

This creature was an intergalactic parasite, capable of laying dormant for thousands of years, perhaps for all time, who was to know.

Its sole purpose was to destroy other species merely to recreate itself, for life and anti-life.

h.iv) Company's hopes

In the novel Ash mentioned that The Company officials not having an idea of how dangerous and efficient the alien was, hoped that the crew would survive and contain the alien.

h.v) Robot vs the Alien

It thought that itself as a robot that wasn't organic in composition and so would not be regarded as either a potential danger or a source of food, might be able to kill the thing

Ash was stronger than the human crew and perhaps would be able match the alien

h.vi) Mysteries of the parasite
The alien was an interspecies parasite capable of preying on any life form that breathes, regardless of the atmospheric composition involved, capable of lying dormant for indefinite periods under the most inhospitable conditions, with a soul purpose to reproduce its own kind, a task it pursues with supreme efficiency.

Ash noted that humankind were using to combating parasites such as mosquitos, minute arthropods and their ilk, and that thousands of years had not enabled man to eradicate them, but they have never encountered such a creature this advanced that was to them in savagery and efficiency as man is to the worm in intelligence.

He asked the question about what if there were several billion mosquitoes functioning in intelligent consort with one another.

Would mankind have a chance?

Beyond that there was nothing in mankind's experience for Ash to compare it with.
 
h.vii) To warn of the magnitude of the creatures danger

If the alien were left with the run of the ship, there was the possibility that the it 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.

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

  1. RIPLEY
    How do we kill it.ASH
    I don't think that you can. But
    I still might be able to help
    you. I'm not exactly at my best
    at the moment. If you would
    reconnect.

    RIPLEY
    Nice try Ash, but no way.

    ASH

    You idiots. You still don't
    realise what you're dealing with.
    The Alien is a perfect organism.
    Superbly structured, cunning

    quintessentially violent. With
    you're limited capabilities you
    have no chance against it.

    (Script Revision 10th August 1978)
  2. LAMBERT
    My God. You admire it.

    ASH

    How can you not admire the simple
    symmetry it presents. An
    intergalactic parasite, from time
    immemorial, capable of laying
    dormant for infinite periods. it's
    sole purpose to destroy other
    species merely to recreate itself, for life and anti-life

    PARKER
    I've heard enough of this shit

    (Script Revision 10th August 1978)
     
  3. 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)
  4.  '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)

  5. ‘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.’ (Alien novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)
     

i) Witness to a rare evolutionary step

Once Ripley found out that Ash was a robot, as far as she was concerned, they built it and it was supposed to be part of their survival equipment.

But this robot didn't think so.

As far as it was concerned, humans gave the robot intelligence and with intellect came the inevitability of course and with this it was having the rare honour of witnessing one of those moments when a major evolutionary step is taken.

It was witnessing  two highly successive species, the humans and the alien life form in immediate competition for resources and survival.

According to an earlier script, the Mother computer had revealed that the alien had already competed with the civilisation that had inhabited the mysterious planet.

Which script this was, i can't say but it seemed as if the alien life form at the time was  seperate from the inhabitants of the planet.

Ash's was only loyal to discovering a scientific truth that demanded beauty, harmony and above all, simplicity.

The problem between the humans and this alien life form would produce a simple and elegant solution, where only one of them would survive.

  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. RIPLEY
    We built you. You're supposed
    to be part of our survival
    equipment.


    ASH
    You gave me intelligence. With
    intellect comes the inevitability
    of course. I have had the rare
    honour of witnessing one of those
    moments when a major evolutionary
    step is taken. Two highly successive

    species in immediate competition
    for resources and survival. I am
    loyal only to discovering the truth.
    A scientific truth demands beauty,
    harmony and above all simplicity.
    The problem between you and the
    Alien will produce a simple and
    elegant solution. Only one of
    you will survive.

    PARKER
    I say pull the plug
    .

    LAMBERT
    I agree


    Ripley starts to undo the wires.
    Ash smiles
     (Script Revision 10th August 1978)


j) Communicating with the beast

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 in the dialogue

  1. 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) 
  2. 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 )   
  3. ASH
    A last word, a legacy if you will


    Ripley pauses.
    Most of the wires undone.
    Ash's voice slowing
    .

    ASH

    Maybe it's intelligent. Maybe
    you should try to communicate
    with it.
    .

    RIPLEY
    Did you.


    ASH.
    Please let my grave hold secrets

    Ripley pulls the plug
    (Script Revision 10th August 1978)






k) The final filmed scene

In the final film, with dialogue that appeared to have been trimmed down by Dan O'Bannon, the Nostromo crew wired up Ash the robot's head after they beheaded him to get it to function and talk.

What is discovered is the basic order given to this machine and a few words showing off what appears to be its obsession with the life form.

We also have Ripley's suggestion that the alien life form could be of interest to the military.

Parker asks "How come the company sent us a goddamned company robot?"

Ripley's answer was , "All I can think is that they wanted the alien for the weapons division  It's been protecting it right along. Parker will you plug it in?"

"Um, I don't know why" complains Parker

Ripley says "Because he may know how to kill it"

The head is ready, and Ripley turns her attention to it, asking "Ash can you hear me? Ash!"

Perhaps echoing the scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey when David Bowman is trying to get back into the space craft and is trying to get HAL's attention, Ash replies "Yes I can hear you"

"What was your special order?" asks Ripley

"You read it, I thought it was clear" Ash replies

"What was it?" asks Ripley

"Bring back life form, priority one, all other priorities rescinded" it stated

"That's the damn company, what about our lives you son of a bitch" said Parker

"I repeat, all other priorities are rescinded" Ash firmly states

"How do we kill it, Ash, there's got to be a way of killing it, how, how do we do it?" asks Ripley

"You can't" it replies

"Bullshit" utters Parker

"You still don't understand what you're dealing with do you? Perfect organism. It's structural perfection is match only by its hostility" says Ash

"You admire it" says Lambert

"I admire its purity, A survivor unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality" continues Ash

"I've heard enough of this, I'm asking you to pull the plug" said Parker

"Not yet" says Ash

"What?" ask Ripley

"I can't lie to you about your chances,"Ash's face grins "but you have my sympathies"


1 comment:

  1. Drastically re-edited/Rewritten on 22nd June 2020 because the earlier version seemed to be just bits and pieces slapped on the page with the hope of making sense perhaps much later

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