The Extraterrestrial The franchise created by Ridley Scott is well known in the annals of cinema, especially for having created some of the most terrifying monsters in cinema. The Xenomorphs may be ferocious and parasitic, but they’re not even the first movie’s worst antagonists. This designation would go to Ash, the clever android who reveals himself as such towards the film’s climax.
One detail that subtly sets up this reveal is Ash’s drink choice, though it’s not as black and white as it looks. Appearing as a frothy liquid, this mysterious “milk” actually had a more vital function than it seems. It also connects to the franchise’s strange relationship with biology, body horror, and sexuality. Here’s how Ash’s milk is a key part of his android anatomy.
Why does Ash drink milk in Alien?
Played by Ian Holm, Ash was the resident science officer aboard the Nostromo in the 1979 movie Extraterrestrial. Initially, he looks like any of the crew members, though his attention to detail and playing things by the book is a little awkward. The first signs that he is more than meets the eye begin to show when he breaks said protocol and allows Kane, who is infected with a fierce Xenomorph alien, to board the ship. He was also seen drinking a mysterious white substance in a scene where everyone is eating, another sign of his true nature.
Eventually, it is revealed that not only is Ash responsible for making sure the alien specimen is brought back to Earth, but also that Ash is actually an android. Decapitated, inert, and transformed into a body-horror extravaganza, Ash’s “innards” lay on the floor of the ship, white slime dripping from it. This reveals what the “milk” at the start of the film was: a kind of diagnostic fluid that helped his internal systems work. Its own sort of vital blood, that internal fluid was not, as many suspect, actual milk in most shots. This was because milk potentially spoiled in a hot studio, so it was mainly only used in close-ups, with colored water otherwise used. Beyond maintaining the android, it also had another function that was only somewhat hinted at.
Is there another function of Ash’s milk blood?
The Extraterrestrial The series is known for its highly sexualized imagery, with its most primal fear being that of forced penetration. With all that subtext already in the movie, namely of an inhuman monster, it makes sense that the other non-human would get in on the proverbial action. One idea Ridley conjectured is that by appearing and acting so humane, artificial androids would have their own kind of sexuality, albeit mostly unsatisfied. To that end, Ash’s attack on Ripley later in the film is a bit sexualizedand it even involves him trying to force himself on her with a pornographic magazine.
He’s also seen sweating during the previous scene, with the “sweat” being the same aforementioned milky substance. It was actually milk, as Scott dropped the liquid on Holm’s face for the close-ups. Considering what he intends to do to Ripley and the substance’s function as life-giving blood, this can also be interpreted orgasmically. Ridley Scott would maintain the idea of androids possessing milky “blood” in later productions, and it has since remained one of the most notable peculiarities of the first. Extraterrestrial.
Alien is available to stream on Hulu, with a Hulu-exclusive Alien movie also in the works.