As the mastermind behind both existential comic book adaptation Legion and crime caper anthology Fargo, Noah Hawley knows his way around reinventing familiar genres and well-worn tropes for the small screen, which makes the prospect of seeing him team up with Ridley Scott for the first-ever episodic series in the Alien franchise such a tantalizing proposition.
His planned Star Trek reboot may have been taken away from him just when it looked as though pre-production was starting to gear up, but Alien is a more than acceptable substitute, especially when the TV show is a project he’s been toying with for years, having first revealed it to be something that interested him as far back as 2018. Through a domino effect that included Disney purchasing Fox, the Mouse House’s increased stake in Hulu and the relentless desire to continue revisiting iconic properties, the pieces fell into place pretty nicely.
Of course, every new film or television endeavor set in the Alien sandbox is always going to generate talk of a potential Sigourney Weaver return, especially when the actress has admitted more than once that she’d be willing to play Ellen Ripley again if the quality of the story was up to scratch. Unfortunately, Hawley has made it clear that he’s not planning on using the brand’s most recognizable figure as part of his mythology.
“It’s not a Ripley story. 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 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.”
On some level it’s also a story about inequality. In mine, you’re also going to see the people who are sending the people who have to do the dirty work. So you will see 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?”
As the first Alien-related title set on Earth, Hawley’s series is already venturing into uncharted territory for the Xenomorphs, unless you count Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, which you most definitely shouldn’t. The real big bads of the universe have always been the corporations rather than the extra-terrestrials, who just happen to be a terrifying byproduct of whatever nefarious scheme Weyland-Yutani have in mind, which typically involves sending the working classes to their doom. It’s an interesting hook, and should at the very least differentiate Hulu’s Alien from the various sequels, reboots and spinoffs to have come before it.