So, we have an independent, sexually inaccessible woman whose business acumen is an issue for the main character. She’s framed as being so robotic as to actually seem, well, like a robot. And yet as the narrative progresses, it’s difficult not to see her in an increasingly sympathetic light. Her relationship with Weyland, her father, seems strained. He wants her to man the boardrooms but cuts her out of his emotional and spiritual life. When he introduces David to the crew, it’s as the child he never had. Yet it’s the difficult, business-oriented decisions made by Vickers which seem to be truly for the good of the ship (torching Charlie, for instance). Whereas Shaw’s messy human relationships, which seem present mostly to make her seem sympathetic, sensitive, accessible, actually significantly endanger the crew.
All of this seems to be setting us up for the ultimate question of, “Who will be the final girl?” I have to admit that I hoped the answer would be “both.” I’m tired of narratives where only one woman–and only one model of femininity–can “win,” and Vickers seemed increasingly human and sympathetic to me. But of course, this is the Alien franchise. Prometheus wasn’t so much a story as a collection of nostalgic callbacks and so we could have only one female survivor. Here, it’s predictably the true-believer, who wants nothing more than to be a mother.
This bothered me. What bothered me more was the nature of Vickers’ death, which felt both indulgent and gratuitous. At this point in the narrative, Shaw’s motivations are a little murky (“faith,” I guess??), but Vickers’ are crystal clear: she wants to survive. The crewmen make a noble sacrifice. She takes off for her lifeboat. And then, for reasons that escape me, she stumbles out, only to ultimately get crushed by a spaceship while screaming “No! No! No!”