Ash was an android/cyborg character featured in the 1979 film Alien. He was played by Ian Holm and served as a precursor to the Bishop character seen in later films. Alien director Ridley Scott described Ash as a bio-mech who was 2/5ths human. The character was created by co-writer and producer Walter Hill.
Ash was a bio-mech android model 120-A2 constructed by Hyperdyne Systems in the early 22nd century. He was contracted by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and assigned to serve as Science Officer aboard the commercial towing vessel Nostromo under the command of Captain Dallas. Neither Dallas nor the rest of the crew were aware that Ash was an android, and as such, were unaware of his true mission. Weyland-Yutani sent Ash on the Nostromo under Special Order 937, which involved the procurement of an alien organism which was believed to originate somewhere in the Zeta II Reticuli System on the Outer rim of the galaxy. All other matters were considered secondary and the crew was expendable.
In 2122, the Nostromo was returning from a job in the Solomons when the ship received a distress beacon coming from a nearby planetoid. They took a drop-ship to the planet's service and discovered the wreckage of a derelict space vessel as well as the fossilized remains of its pilot. The Nostromo's second in command, Kane, was attacked by an embryonic creature which attached itself to his face. Despite all quarantine procedures, Ash allowed Kane back onto the ship so he could analyze the organism. He attempted to surgically remove the creature from Kane's face, but when he made an incision on one of the phalanges, he found that the alien had concentrated acid for blood. He also determined that the so-called "Face Hugger" served as a sort of midwife to another species. It inserted a probiscus into Kane's mouth, which kept his body stable, but also impregnated him with a seed that gestated inside of Kane's chest. The Face Hugger eventually detached itself from Kane and died after serving its biological requirements.
The product of this process grew inside of Kane and adapted some of his physiological characteristics. Using Kane as a birthing chamber, it burst free of his body and quickly grew into a full-sized Zenomorph. Ash deliberately sabotaged the crew's efforts to destroy the creature and Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley eventually discovered the truth about Ash's mission. Ash offered to explain himself to Ripley, but she wouldn't hear it and attempted to warn the rest of the crew about him. Ash grabbed Ripley and threw her against a computer panel on the bridge of the ship. He then began to suffocate her by shoving a rolled up magazine into her mouth. Crew members Parker and Lambert came to Ripley's rescue and Parker bashed Ash across the back of the head with a steel pipe. This caused a malfunction in the android and he began spasming and spinning about in circles, bouncing off the walls of the ship. Parker struck him a second time and partially dislodged his head. It was at this point that everyone learned that Ash was an android. After incapacitating his body, Lambert reconnected his head and vocal processors so they could learn the truth about his mission parameters. Ripley asked him how they could neutralize the alien and Ash plainly stated, "You can't". Frustrated by the uncooperative traitor, Parker finished him off by incinerating the remains.
Notes & Trivia Edit
- Dan O'Bannon's original script treatment for Alien did not include the character of Science Officier Ash. Producers Walter Hill and Ronald Shusett felt that the film needed a secondary story element, so they added the sub-plot of Ash, the android spy who ultimately betrays the crew. O'Bannon was displeased with this, feeling that it was a cheap gag and disingenuous to his original vision. He referred to the new material as suffering from "Russian Spy" syndrome. 
- On the director's commentary for the Alien special edition DVD, Ridley Scott attempts to ratonalize the scene where Ash tries to kill Ripley. Scott ascribes a Freudian sexual conflict to the character of Ash, noting that as an Android, Ash is not anatomically correct, and vents his sexual frustration upon Ripley when he forces her to fellate a rolled-up pornographic magazine.
- Ash's model number and manufacturer is revealed in Aliens. According to Bishop, a more advanced model android, the "A2s were always a bit twitchy".