- Ash’s non-human status as an android is subtly hinted at through his behavior, such as not eating with the rest of the crew, indicating a lack of concern for human needs and safety.
- Ripley’s negative experience with Ash makes her mistrustful of androids in the Alien franchise, leading her to be guarded around Bishop despite his assurances of behavioral inhibitors.
- Bishop’s conscious decision to not eat with the crew, unlike Ash, is a sign of transparency rather than subterfuge or malevolence, which contributes to Ripley’s growing trust in him and represents meaningful character development.
Ash (Ian Holm) turns out to be a killer android in Ridley Scott’s Alien, but there were clues that teased his non-human twist long before the reveal. The crew of the Nostromo was never supposed to know that Ash was a synthetic person, much less one who did not have an inhibitor when it came to inflicting violence against humans. After the crew lands on LV-426 and comes in contact with the ship carrying the face-hugger eggs, Ash’s protocols dictate that he preserve the organisms for study, even if they’ve already killed members of the crew through the gestation process of creating a xenormoph.
It’s almost too late when Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) discovers what Ash is and what he’s been designed for, and he nearly kills her in order to prevent her from telling anyone else about his plans. There are a few distinctive behaviors Ash exhibits early in the film that give his status as an android away, but because the audience is still getting to know all the crew members and the movie switches gears to focus on the alien plotline, these signals are easy to forget. Ash’s android secret affects the way androids are perceived in the rest of the Alien movies, and possibly even the new Alien: Romulus movie.
Ash Not Eating Hinted He Wasn’t Human In Alien
Ash begins Alien as a new member of the crew who is seemingly shy and skittish about his status among an established cohort. However, aside from keeping to himself, the science officer also doesn’t eat with the rest of the crew during the big table scene after Kane’s contamination and subsequent impregnation by the face-hugger. He appears to be waiting to see what happens to Kane, and when he starts to react to the chest burster’s violent exit from his chest, Ash doesn’t show the same sort of concern that the rest of the crew does.
While this can be easily dismissed on first viewing with Ash’s atypical, even introverted behavior, it’s harder to ignore later when he attacks Ripley. His cold detachment from a human in distress is a precursor to his own lack of regard for human life and safety. He isn’t simply a logic-based science officer incapable of displaying a correct emotional response – he’s an android who doesn’t have the same safety protocols that would later become required on all models.
How Ripley’s History With Ash Affects Her View Of Androids In The Alien Franchise
After her interactions with Ash, Ripley was mistrustful of androids, so even after waking up from stasis in Aliens, she was guarded around Bishop, the android assigned to the Solaco. Despite the advancements during the 57-year gap between Bishop’s model and Ash, a Hyperdine Systems 120 A2, she was prejudiced. Assuring her that he had behavioral inhibitors didn’t help – he had to prove that not only would he not hurt a human, but he would also go above and beyond to preserve their life, which he did when he risked his own safety to help rescue her, Newt, and the surviving Colonial Marines.
Notably, Bishop seldom ate with the rest of the crew because his status as an android was known and he didn’t feel like he needed to try to blend in. His was a conscious choice, and even though it might have made him stand out, his decision wasn’t based on subterfuge or malevolence. Knowing where she stood with Bishop was one of the main reasons Ripley started to trust him, and because of her history with androids, this bond was one of the most meaningful examples of character development in the Alien franchise.