Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant has finally landed in theaters, and though it manages to juggle (and, in some cases, kill) a large cast of characters — including two played by Michael Fassbender — you can’t just see the movie itself without missing out on a lot of the necessary backstory.

In short, you have to watch the trailers for Alien: Covenant before seeing the movie. Otherwise, you might miss out on essential bits of information regarding the crew of Covenant, or exactly what happened to David and Shaw after Prometheus. A number of scenes featured in some of the trailers were specifically shot for marketing purposes and don’t appear in the final cut of the film. And these aren’t just alternate takes we’re talking about — it’s entire scenes, some of which take place years before the rest of the movie.

So, rather than sift through the almost 30 videos that 20th Century Fox has put out associated with the film, here are the essential videos to watch before you actually go and see Alien: Covenant.


Prologue: The Crossing

This video does double duty as a prologue to Covenant and an epilogue to Prometheus, featuring its protagonist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her last companion, the android David (Michael Fassbender). After Shaw attached David’s severed head to a new body, the pair are able to set course for the Engineers’ homeworld. After arriving on the planet the crew of the Covenant will eventually find, David ominously quotes a Percy Shelley poem (“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”) as something churns inside the ship. Expect to learn more in Alien: Covenant about what happened to David and Shaw after they arrived.

Meet Walter

Though largely something of an in-universe advertisement for the latest android (that still looks identical to David), “Meet Walter” introduces us to the robot that’s “created to serve” the crew of the Covenant.

Prologue: The Last Supper

A genuine prologue to Alien: Covenant, “Last Supper” is a scene prominently used in several of the trailers. Just before the crew is about to enter cryosleep for their long journey, Walter inspects and preps Daniels’s health before she goes into stasis. Nutrition and hydration are important, apparently, but that gets forgotten as the crew has one last party before their real journey begins.

There are shots and beers and fooling around, but there’s also a moment when a crewmember chokes that is deeply reminiscent of the original chestburster scene from the first Alien. Walter, always ready to serve, is able to diffuse it with a swift jab in the back; the Heimlich maneuver is so passé by 2100.

When things settle down, Daniels gives the speech you’ve heard in most of the trailers so far. Almost all of Covenant takes place after the crew has woken up from cryosleep, so if you want to get to know what the characters were like before shit hits the fan, this is really the only chance.


Crew Messages

As the Covenant crew embarks on their journey, each crew member records and sends one final message to their loved ones back home. They’re intercut with brief flashes of point-of-view footage on the planet, ultimately making for an ominous bit of foreshadowing. These are the last things they say before we catch up with them in Alien: Covenant. Presumably, each member did this, but we’re only privy to a handful of them.

Oram

Oram speaks of the “majesty of creation” and “behold[ing] wonders” as we also see him and some others running around frantically on the planet’s surface.

Lope

The no-nonsense Lope speaks with deliberate efficiency befitting of a soldier. He hopes to “keep these people safe,” but if the footage from on the ground is any indication, he’ll wind up dead pretty quickly.

Rosenthal

It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Rosenthal, who talks about being “a little bit lonely” and gets a bit flustered in her farewell message. She worries about being forgotten, which might just be the case if she does wind up dead.

Tennessee

One of the few bits of comic relief in any of the prologue footage and in the movie itself, Tennessee is a heavy drinker with a criminal record that includes three arrests and punching a police officer’s horse right in the mouth on St. Patrick’s Day.

Daniels

Daniels, one of the higher-ranking members of the crew, says a goodbye to her father for her one transmission back to Earth, and in it, we get more info and footage here than in any of the others. She’s excited to build “a new life for 2,000 families.” She might think she’s “exactly where [she's] supposed to be,” but we somehow doubt that will be the case before long.


Alien: Covenant is out now in theaters.