Deadly Movie Connections: Bishop, Played by Lance Henriksen in Aliens (1986), Alien3 (1992), and Alien vs. Predictor (2004)
Aliens (1986): Dir James Cameron. The android Bishop would first appear as an advanced model of the Ash android (Alien 1979 played by Ian Holm). Bishop is the executive officer aboard the military vessel Sulaco, destined for a rescue mission on LV-426. Bishop is essentially a strategic planner who’s primary function is to aid human survival by any means necessary, which he achieves to heroic levels when being torn in half by the Alien Queen. Of course as an android this is less of a fatal guts-spill and more of a spiny rainbow ball.
Alien3 (1992): Dir David Fincher. Bishop would also appear during the finale of Alien3 billed as Bishop II who claims to be the designer of the Bishop range. After a bit of a skirmish with want away prisoner Morse and his monkey-wrench, Bishop II clearly bleeds from the head (a scene accentuated in the 2003 Assembly Cut whereby Bishop II’s entire ear is hanging off). Blood would indicate that Bishop II is human right? Well Alien lineage teaches us that droids are filled with a milky white goop (see Ash’s decapitation in Alien, Bishop’s torso and legs separation in Aliens, and Call’s weepy wounds in Alien Resurrection) rather than blood. So at this stage Bishop II is either A) a human with a very high pain threshold, or B) an advanced model of android that utilises human tissue (think Terminator). Rumour has it that in the original screenplay Bishop II was indeed a human, a fact backed up by the novelisation whereby Bishop II is a human called Michael Bishop. This ambiguity however left the door ajar for one Paul W S Anderson (cough, asshole, cough).
AVP Alien vs. Predator (2004): Dir Paul W S Anderson. Now it gets confusing. Henriksen plays Charles Bishop Weyland, a rather coarse attempt to bridge both the matter of where the Bishop android derived from and the origin of the infamous Weyland-Yutani company. So Charles Bishop Weyland both looks like the android Bishop and owns one half of the company that would go on to form the super conglomerate that would build said Bishop’s. Coincidence? So it’s pretty obvious what we’re being asked to derive from this, Charles Bishop Weyland is the inventor of the android technology and the inspiration for its appearance. Which is a very tender move by the future scientists who think of this homage to Mr Weyland some 168 years in the future, one of the many glorious timeline problems caused by this movie (I wonder if future Mac robots will look like, and be called, Steve Jobs?) . Which brings us back to the troubling appearance of Bishop II in Alien3 and adding a third variable to the conundrum that C) Bishop II is the spitting-image direct descendent of Charles Bishop Weyland, let’s say great great grandson, which would account for the blood. Hmmmm.
In conclusion: To conclude my almost pointlessly deep investigation into the character of Bishop in the Alien franchise I give you final hypothesis: Bishop is an android developed somewhere between the events of Alien and Aliens, let’s say in the year 2160’ish. He is a product of the Weyland-Yutani corporation whose physical appearance was based on that of one of the companies founding fathers Charles Bishop Weyland. Bishop II (although originally intended to be human in the original Alien3 screenplay) is an advanced form of android who is covered in living tissue (due to the new continuity added by AVP). Done and done.