Study Guide

Alien Summary

Alien Summary


The crew of the Nostromo awakens from hypersleep and is informed by the ship's computer Mother (because that's not Freudian or anything) that they have been rerouted to a tiny, unexplored planetoid to investigate a signal of unknown origins. 

Does that sound like a bad idea? Sure does. 

But the crew's contract states that not investigating means they must forfeit their paychecks. Onward.

The Nostromo lands on the planetoid but is damaged during the process. Crew members Dallas, Lambert, and Kane go out to investigate the signal while the rest of the crew stays behind to make repairs and serve as support. The away team discovers a crashed alien ship like nothing they've ever seen before. Inside, they find the corpse of an alien and a cave-like room filled with giant leathery eggs. Kane pulls a redshirt move and decides to investigate one of the eggs. 

Because it's sci-fi, he is promptly attacked by some creature.

Yeah, we all saw that coming.

Back at the ship, Ash tries to remove the creature from his face, but acid blood and the wee beastie's temperamental personality prevent him from doing so. Eventually, the thing simply lets go and dies. Kane survives with a sore throat but seems otherwise unharmed. 

So we're all good, right? Yeah, let's eat.

The crew sits down for a final meal before going into hypersleep, but guess who's coming to dinner? Hint: It's not Sidney Poitier. An alien bursts forth out of Kane's chest, killing him. The crew decides they won't be able to hypersleep soundly with that thing on board, so they go a-huntin'.

As we enter the horror half of the film, Brett and Dallas fall victim to the alien, and Ripley discovers the Company actually sent Ash to ensure the alien's retrieval. Ash attacks Ripley, but Parker and Lambert fight him off, revealing him to be an android. They plug Ash back in to ask him how to kill the creature, but hahaha (says Ash) they can't. They are fighting the perfect organism.

Ripley decides enough of this noise. They'll escape on the shuttle and blow up the ship. Ripley preps the shuttle and goes looking for Jonesy, while Lambert and Parker gather coolant for the journey. With the terrible timing of any true movie monster, the alien arrives to kill both Parker and Lambert.

And then there was one. 

Ripley sets the self-destruct on the ship, escapes in the shuttle, and watches as they ship and alien are blown into space dust. 

The end.

Only not. 

The alien managed to escape on the shuttle with Ripley. Doing some quick thinking, Ripley slips into a spacesuit, straps herself into a seat, and blasts the creature into space. When it attempts to crawl back into the shuttle through an engine, she hits the throttle and blows the creature away.

The end—for reals this time. Ripley enters a log into the computer relating the fates of the Nostromo and its crew. The final shot is of Ripley and Jonesy in hypersleep as the shuttle drifts through space.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • The camera pans across a dark planet as the credits slowly form at the top of the screen, one line at a time.
    • Then we cut to a commercial towing vehicle, the Nostromo, traveling through space, its towers looking like some kind of space-faring Gothic castle.
    • With some obvious Star Wars envy going on, the ship flies over the camera.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • Inside the Nostromo, all is quiet as the camera crawls through the hallways of the empty ship.
    • Then a message appears on a computer monitor, causing the ship's computer to wake up the crew from hypersleep.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • The crew has breakfast together. Parker and Brett take the opportunity to bring up the bonus situation, which is totally unfair. According to them. Guys, can we save the money talk until after lunch, at least?
    • Dallas says that everyone gets what they're contracted for before he's called away to talk with "Mother." Our best guess is that she's going to tell him to clean up his room and stand up straight.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Dallas has his chat with Mother, who turns out to be the ship's central computer, in a weird egg-looking room. Anybody else getting a HAL-9000 vibe here?
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • The rest of the crew get to work only to discover they aren't near Earth at all. They are in a completely different system.
    • While the others figure out what's going on, Parker and Brett head to the lower levels, still griping about the bonus situation.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Dallas calls in a group meeting to let everyone know what's happening. Mother has intercepted a transmission of unknown origin and altered their course to investigate. (Ooh, this is going to go well.)
    • Parker argues it isn't in his contract to provide this kind of service, but Ash counters that there is a clause in his contract stating that transmission suggesting an intelligent origin must be checked out "on penalty of total forfeiture of shares" (Alien).
    • Parker decides he'll play Scooby-Doo if it means getting paid.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Disengaging the Nostromo from the refinery, the crew lands on the planetoid and damages the ship in the process.
    • Notice that the process of space flight is a little slower and more methodical here than the Millennium Falcon flipping about the sands of Tatooine.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Brett and Parker give the crew a status report on how busted up the Nostromo is. Ripley says she'll be heading down, putting both guys into a tizzy. (Sorry, man-tizzy.)
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Dallas gets the lay of the land from Ash, who calls the planet "almost primordial" (Alien). Kane volunteers to be in the party to investigate the transmission. Dallas volunteers, and Lambert, too. The three suit up while Ash provides them with support from the ship.
    • Also, what's up with Ash's little jog in place. That was… odd, wasn't it?
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • We play catch up with all the characters. Lambert gripes during the away mission. Brett and Parker are still upset about the shares situation. And Ripley is going to try and decode the transmission through EICU. (You know, just another day at the space office.)
    • We're also introduced to Jonesy, the ship's ginger tom cat.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • The away team comes across a derelict spaceship of unknown origin. The trio explores the otherworldly craft and its weird architecture. Seriously, was Cthulhu the interior decorator?
    • As they head deeper into the ship, Ash begins to lose their connection. (The most horrifying thing about this movie is the fact that even in the future, we will still have to deal with spotty phone connections.)
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • Kane climbs up a wall and discovers a creature that looks like it might have been a pilot for the ship. Or maybe the gunner? (Possibly the ship's barista; is that hardware for making espresso?)
    • It's been dead for so long it has fossilized into its chair, but Dallas notices that its ribcage has broken as though from the inside out.
    • The scene ends when Kane finds a hole that has been melted into the floor.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Mother deciphers part of the signal, and Ripley informs Ash that it isn't an S.O.S. It's a warning. Ripley wants to go out after them, but Ash tells her that by the time she gets there Dallas and Co. will know whether it is a warning or not.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • Kane is lowered into the aforementioned hole and discovers a funky cave-like room. At the bottom of the cave, he finds a layer of mist and below it a nest of leathery, egg like objects.
    • While he's investigating the egg, it opens and a creature jumps out and attaches itself to Kane's face.
    • Maybe it's a traditional alien greeting?
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • The away team arrives at the inner hatch, agitated and wanting to come inside because some organism has attached itself to Kane.
    • Ripley refuses to admit them as quarantine procedure requires twenty-four hour decontamination, which seems like a solid procedure in this case.
    • Dallas argues Kane could die in that time; Ripley says letting that thing inside could kill them all.
    • In the end, Ash opens the inner hatch against Ripley's orders.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • Dallas and Ash remove Kane's helmet and we witness the facehugger in all its gruesome glory. When Ash messes around with it, the thing's prehensile tail tightens around Kane's throat in a clear sign of aggression.
    • Scanning it, Ash assumes the creature is feeding Kane oxygen to keep him alive (In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cut, the monitor shows something entering Kane's blood stream; only Ash is watching the screen at this time).
    • Dallas orders the creature removed, but when Ash tries to cut off one of its fingers, it bleeds a molecular acid that almost eats through the ship's hull. Guess not, then.
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • Parker and Brett are working on the ship, talking about how much they want off this creepy space rock.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • Ash investigates samples in a microscope when Ripley pops in for a chat.
    • She asks about the creature, and the two fight over Ash letting the creature into the ship. Ripley says he put everyone at risk pulling such a stunt; Ash contends it was the only way to save Kane's life.
  • Scene 19

    Scene 19

    • Dallas is listening to Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" when Ash calls him to look at Kane. Dallas calls Ripley to meet him there, too.
    • In the infirmary, the facehugger is no longer on Kane's face. The crew searches the infirmary for it. Ever with the cinematic timing, the facehugger falls onto Ripley for a classic jump scare before everyone realizes it's dead.
    • Ripley wants to get rid of it, but Ash protests that it needs to go back with them for testing. Dallas says that it is Ash's decision as he's the science officer.
  • Scene 20

    Scene 20

    • Ripley confronts Dallas about this decision and whether it is standard procedure.
    • Dallas says "standard procedure" is simply that the Company gets what the Company wants. He asks how the repairs are going, and Ripley tells him a few systems are still down.
    • Dallas decides they are unessential (um, okay) and orders them to leave.
  • Scene 21

    Scene 21

    • Excelsior! The Nostromo returns to the refinery.
    • After docking, the crew is wondering what to do with Kane when Lambert comes in with more bad news: They won't be returning to Earth for another 10 months. Ash buzzes the crew on the intercom to tell Dallas to come see Kane.
  • Scene 22

    Scene 22

    • Kane is awake and seems okay despite a sore throat. (Spray some Chloraseptic on that baby and you'll be fine, Kane!)
    • The crew question him about what he remembers, but all he can discern is "some horrible dream about smothering" (Alien). Before they go back into hypersleep, they agree to sit down for one last meal.
  • Scene 23

    Scene 23

    • The crew's in a good mood as they eat, joking and paling around… and then Kane goes into convulsions on the table.
    • As the crew tries to hold him down, an alien creature bursts out of Kane's ribcage. (Quick, someone grab a cell phone; this is going viral on YouTube in about five minutes!)
    • The creature scurries off the table and into the depths of the ship.
  • Scene 24

    Scene 24

    • The crew performs a funeral for Kane. They don't say any final words for him; instead, they launch the body into the silence of space.
  • Scene 25

    Scene 25

    • Time for a group huddle. They plan to capture the little critter and toss it into an airlock, blowing it into space. Good plan!
  • Scene 26

    Scene 26

    • Parker, Brett, and Ripley form a team to catch themselves an alien.
    • They manage to corner something in a locker, but it turns out to be Jonesy the cat, and who in the world authorized a cat on a space mission, anyway.
    • He scurries away; Brett goes after him—so they don't pick the cat up on the tracker again—while the other two continue to search for the alien.
  • Scene 27

    Scene 27

    • Brett enters a dark room with dangling chains, dripping water, and a dark foreboding atmosphere. By the laws of cinematic cause-and-effect, Brett must now die. He finds something that looks like snake skin but ignores it to search for the cat.
    • He then meets the not-so-little, and Jonesy watches as the alien savages Brett and drags him away.
    • (Thanks for nothing, Jonesy. Never trust a cat.)
  • Scene 28

    Scene 28

    • Ripley and Parker report to the others that the creature has killed Brett and taken him into the air shafts. Parker is surprised how big it is.
    • Dallas decides the air shafts could be used to their advantage; if they can corner it, they can then flush it into space.
    • They decide to rig some incendiary units to use as weapons as temperature change might affect it, and Dallas volunteers to go into the air shafts.
  • Scene 29

    Scene 29

    • Dallas visits Mother to have her calculate his chances of success. Mother's screen only says, "UNABLE TO COMPUTE / AVAILABLE DATA INSUFFICIENT" (Alien).
    • In other words, good luck, mister.
  • Scene 30

    Scene 30

    • Dallas goes into the air shafts, carrying a light and a flamethrower. As Dallas travels through the air shaft, he has the others close the hatches behind him to corner the alien. Lambert picks up the alien on motion tracker and sees it closing in on the captain. After a tense scene of cat and mouse, the alien attacks Dallas, hugging him to death.
  • Scene 31

    Scene 31

    • Parker finds Dallas's flamethrower, but no blood and no Dallas.
    • The crew begins to fracture.
    • Lambert is for getting in the shuttle and blowing the ship up while Parker is all for going to kill the alien right away.
    • Ripley assumes leadership and says they'll stick with Dallas's plan. She asks Ash if there is any advice from him or Mother, but Ash says they are still collating.
    • With her new command, Ripley now has access to Mother, and she tells Ash she'll be getting her own answers from now on, thank-you-very-much.
  • Scene 32

    Scene 32

    • Ripley accesses Mother and discovers Special Order 937, a hidden objective for the science officer only. Wh-wh-what?
    • After some quickie hacking, Ripley learns that Special Order 937 is to secure the alien's return to Earth for analysis. The crew? Expendable.
    • Suddenly, Ash appears next to Ripley—by the by how exactly did he get in without her hearing the door whoosh open? Seriously, this has always bothered us.
    • Anyway, he says there's an explanation, but Ripley throws him against the wall and yell-cries that she doesn't want to hear it.
  • Scene 33

    Scene 33

    • Ripley attempts to contact Parker and Lambert, but Ash tries to kill her by choking her to death with a rolled-up magazine, which seems really inefficient.
    • Anyway, Parker and Lambert arrive just in time. Parker hits Ash over the head with a fire extinguisher and knocks his head clean off, revealing that Ash is a robot.
    • Well, technically an android, but we'll forgive Parker this slip as he's probably pretty stressed out right now.
    • Headless Ash attacks Parker again (creepy) and Lambert KOs the android with the cattle prod.
  • Scene 34

    Scene 34

    • Ripley sets Ash's head up on the table and plugs him back in, hoping he'll know how to kill the alien.
    • Ash tells the crew that they can't kill the creature, because it's the perfect organism: hostile, remorseless, with a survival instinct free of "delusions of morality" (Alien). In other words, basically a Wall Street stockbroker. Now we really are scared.
    • Ash tells the crew it won't lie to them about their chances, but mockingly offers them its sympathies. 
    • Ripley unplugs Ash and lays down the new plan: They'll take their chances in the shuttle and blow the ship up. Parker is on-board with that idea.
    • Before they leave, Parker sends Ash his regards by way of flamethrower.
  • Scene 35

    Scene 35

    • The team splits up. Guys, have you never seen a horror movie?
    • Ripley goes to prep the shuttle for launch while Lambert and Parker collect coolant for the trip.
    • While prepping the shuttle, Ripley hears Jonesy over the intercom. Elsewhere, Lambert and Parker begin frantically collecting the coolant.
  • Scene 36

    Scene 36

    • Ripley searches for Jonesy, alone, in a ship with a hostile alien… this setup seems familiar, doesn't it?
    • Lambert and Parker continue to gather supplies.
    • Ripley continues to search when suddenly the cat leaps out for a classic jump scare. Eek!
    • Cutting back to the others, we see shadow stalk its way into the light. Lambert turns and sees the alien stalking closer to her.
  • Scene 37

    Scene 37

    • Ripley secures Jonesy in a carry when over the intercom she hears Parker tell Lambert to get out of the way or it'll kill them.
    • Cut back to the others, where Lambert deer-in-the-headlights as she comes face to face with the creature. Unable to shoot his flamethrower for fear of hitting Lambert, Parker leaps into action and take the alien on mano a mano.
  • Scene 38

    Scene 38

    • Ripley runs through the corridors as we get quick cuts of the alien's attack of the other two and listen to their screaming over the intercom.
    • She's too late. When Ripley reaches the others, they're dead, and the alien has disappeared again into the ship.
  • Scene 39

    Scene 39

    • Ripley heads back to the bridge and sets the ship to self-destruct. It's a long and complicated process, but we suppose that makes sense. You don't want to accidentally self-destruct a ship, do you?
    • Mother announces the self-destruct over the intercom.
  • Scene 40

    Scene 40

    • Ripley runs for the shuttle as the ship fills with steam and warning lights and blaring sirens. This ship really wants us to know that it's about to self-destruct.
    • En route, she comes across the alien blocking her path to the shuttle. Keeping out of sight, Ripley sneaks back to the bridge.
  • Scene 41

    Scene 41

    • Ripley attempts to override the denotation since her escape route is looking decidedly less safe, but the option expires. This ship's going down, baby.
    • Ripley makes a Hail Mary for the shuttle and manages to escape just in time. The ship explodes in the distance, and Ripley exclaims that she got the creature.
  • Scene 42

    Scene 42

    • Ripley prepares to enter hypersleep with Jonesy.
    • Just then, the alien's hand moves, revealing the creature in the shuttle. Ripley runs and hides among the spacesuits and slowly slips into one.
    • Secure in the suit, she straps herself into a seat and uses the keyboard to blast the alien with gas from the pips.
    • The alien comes out spoiling for a fight, but Ripley opens the door. As the creature is blown toward space, it manages to grip the door frame. This thing does not want to die.
    • Ripley hits it with a harpoon gun sending it into the space. When the creature tries to crawl back into the ship through the engines, Ripley hits the throttle and finishes it off.
  • Scene 43

    Scene 43

    • Ripley records a log entry detailing the fate of her ship and fellow crewmembers, and then she and Jonesy settle in for a long hypersleep nap.
    • She sure hopes they'll be picked up when she reaches the frontier.