Alien Covenant and Faceblindness

The other night I watched Alien Covenant with my roommate.  She hadn’t seen it before but I had seen it in the theater. This isn’t a review so beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

I wanted to write about my experience watching this movie as someone with faceblindness. Faceblindness is the inability or difficulty to recognize or remember faces.  My own faceblindness is fairly mild. While I can learn to recognize a person’s face it takes some time. A person I’ve just met is as easy for me to lose as a grain of sand on a beach. Unless I take note of some distinguishing feature or clothing item I could literally turn around and not recognize them when I turn back. Even after I know a person’s face, I mostly rely on hairstyle, clothing, and body shape to recognize them.

Alien: Covenant starts by reintroducing David, the robot from Prometheus, played by Michael Fassbender. After a short ominous scene with his creator, the film cuts to the spaceship Covenant, where we meet Walter, a different robot also played by Michael Fassbender. To my eyes, Walter looks like a different person. Fast-forward to after the Covenant’s crew has landed on an alien planet, been infected by alien spores, fought white pseudo aliens, blown up their landing ship, been rescued by David, and led to a destroyed city. David walks right past Walter and calls him ‘brother’. I still don’t recognize them as the same actor. I think David is calling Walter brother just because they were both robots.

Fast-forward past David cutting his hair to a similar style as Walter, to an extended scene of them interacting as David teaches Walter how to play a flute. They are literally face to face split screen Parent Trap style. I think “Hey they kind of look alike,” but I still don’t think they are the same actor. Walter has a bulky physique and wide face while David’s is slimmer and has a thin pointy face.

Fast-forward again this time to the two of them fighting. Wait are they the same actor? Then there is a cut away from the fight when it seems like Walter has won but we don’t see the killing blow. Later, Walter rejoins the other survivors but something about him is different. He still looks like Walter but there is a tiny voice in the back of my head saying “David has replaced Walter.” That’s nonsense of course. How is the movie going to explain it? Walter and David look nothing alike. Did David skin Walter? Maybe he downloaded himself into Walter. The action is really picking up at this point with an alien fight with a crane attached to a flying platform so I mostly ignore these thoughts. They kill the alien and get back to their ship in orbit.

Fast-forward past the final fight with the last alien to Walter putting the Heroine of the movie into hypersleep. She makes reference to the log cabin she was planning on building with her husband and he doesn’t react. As she begins to realize Walter is David, I see, like magic, Walter’s facial expression shift into one of David’s. I am now 95% sure David and Walter are the same actor. David does a final bit of creepy robot stuff and the credits roll. There in black and white, I see “David/Walter Michael Fassbender” and then finally I am sure they were the same actor.

TL;DR – I only suspected two characters, played by the same actor who were supose to look alike, were the same actor near the end of the movie and wasn’t sure until the credits.

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