Thursday, June 28, 2012
Actor: Tom Skerritt
Beard Type: Captain Beard
In the wake of Prometheus, sci-fi nerds and Alien fans contemplated and discussed whatever the hell Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof tried to say. We may not have been given all of the answers we didn't even ask for in the first place, but at least we found out that Space Jockeys do not have beards.
So let's look back to the source of all the Prometheus hype: an awesome movie (Alien) with an awesome beard in it (Dallas).
The bearded Dallas is the captain of The Nostromo, a commercial towing spaceship making its return to Earth with a crew of seven and a cargo of 20 million tons of mineral ore. Dallas must use the power of the Captain Beard to guide his ship back home and ensure the safety of his crew members.
He messed up.
But it wasn't for lack of trying. With the Captain Beard comes the ability to communicate with Nostromo's on-board computer MOTHER. When MOTHER intercepts a transmission from a nearby planetoid, Dallas obeys the Captain Beard, follows the clause of their contract (as per Ash's explanation to Parker) and orders the crew to investigate it. It's not his fault that Kane got forcefully face-raped by a walking space vagina.
At this point, Dallas is face(hugged) with a major dilemma. Does he follow the 24-hour decontamination protocol and possibly let Kane die, or does he bring Kane back on board to increase his chance of survival while risking the lives of everyone else? Dallas chooses the optimistic, best-case scenario of zero fatalities and brings Kane on board thanks to the actions of Ash the astute android.
Of course, we all know what happens next. An alien bursts out of Kane's stomach, puts on a hat, and dances its way down the bar.
Dallas coordinates the plan of action to capture the little guy, which is all well and good until they realize the little guy grew into a really freaking tall and scary guy that kills everything. As a result, Dallas keeps his promise to be held responsible for whatever came of Kane's situation. With a beard on face and a flamethrower in hand, Dallas heads into the air shaft in an attempt to drive the alien through the main airlock and back into space, where no one can hear you scream when a bearded dude throws you off his ship.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out as Dallas had planned. A beard doesn't guarantee survival, but it at least guarantees you will look more like a badass when you die holding a flamethrower. R.J. MacReady had to learn that from somewhere.
Dallas wears the Captain Beard with a level of restraint and respect. While most with a Captain Beard would abuse their hairy powers and bark orders at subordinates for no damn reason, Dallas remains as one of the most laid back, soft-spoken captains you'll ever encounter. Hell, he unwinds from the whole LV-426 ordeal by sitting in the shuttle by himself and listening to Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik." He comes off as a loner with a 'don't mess with me, and I won't mess with you' philosophy. Commanding Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) may be the most practical decision-maker on the ship, but Dallas uses the power of the Captain Beard to trust his gut and do what he thinks is right at the time for the sake of his ship and crew. That includes handing over all scientific matters to the proper Science Officer, as per standard procedure, which -- as stated by Dallas -- is "to do what the hell they tell you to do."
Like a true captain, Dallas doesn't trust anybody. Just himself. Just the beard.
**It's worth noting that Alien was written by a bearded Dan O'Bannon (RIP) and directed by a bearded Ridley Scott. Perhaps if Damon Lindelof had grown a beard, the script for Prometheus would have come closer to resembling a more cohesive story.