Gilbert Ward Kane, better known as Thomas Kane, was the executive officer aboard the commercial towing vehicle USCSS Nostromo. He was serving on the ship during its fateful voyage in 2122 when it encountered a Xenomorph on LV-426, an incident that eventually led to the destruction of the ship and the loss of all but one of its crew.
Kane was a star pupil throughout his early education, graduating with honors from Weatherly Private School before becoming top of his class at Gunning Foss Military School. However, during his time studying medicine at Bryce-Watkins Medical University he developed a medication addiction, eventually leading to an embolism that hospitalized him for 107 days. After being expelled from the university and with his plans to enter the medical profession ruined, Kane attended Wellington Academy in Suffolk, England, where he obtained a Masters in engineering and a GBUK pilot's license.
Following this, he was posted as Executive Officer aboard the UKMS Outreach hospital ship, although while there his medical addiction resurfaced. He was relieved of his post, and though he was able to get clean of his addiction, he subsequently descended into alcoholism. He was transferred (despite ostensibly being promoted to Captain) to the UKCS Powell, a commercial towing vehicle, before serving as Executive Officer aboard the USCSS Giler. By the time of his posting to the Nostromo, Kane had been clean of his addictions for some time.
Landing on LV-426
When the Nostromo landed on LV-426 in response to a mysterious signal detected on the moon, Kane volunteered to be part of the team sent out in search of the signal's origin. Kane, Captain Dallas and navigator Lambert soon tracked the signal to a derelict spacecraft. After discovering the fossilized remains of the ship's pilot, Kane elected to investigate a lower area, accessible through a hole burned in the floor. As the others lowered him down, Kane found himself in a huge, cavernous chamber filled with what looked like eggs.
As Kane investigated further he slipped and fell into one of the numerous shallow pits in the cargo hold's floor, disrupting a blue mist suspended above the Eggs as he did so. While inspecting one of the Eggs it opened, and as he peered incautiously inside a Facehugger leapt out and quickly burned its way inside his helmet before subduing him. Dallas and Lambert carried the comatose Kane back to the Nostromo, gaining access despite Ripley's refusal to let an unidentified alien lifeform aboard.
- "First thing that I'm going to do when I get back is to get some decent food!"
- ―Kane, shortly before his death (from Alien)
Surgery to remove the Facehugger failed, although the creature later detached by itself and subsequently died. Kane awoke from his coma apparently unscathed but incredibly thirsty. He described how he suffered from a nightmare involving smothering, much to the bemusement of the crew. Before returning to hypersleep, Kane and the others elected to eat one final meal, and while they ate, Kane began choking, before violently convulsing and collapsing on the table. As the rest of the crew attempted to restrain him, the Chestburster inside him emerged, gruesomely killing Kane and subsequently escaping the mess hall.
After his death, the crew held a short funeral for Kane before they jettisoned his remains into space.
Personality and Traits
- "Kane was less controlled in thought and action than was Dallas, and possessed far less imagination. He was a good executive officer. Never would he be a captain. That requires a certain drive coupled with the ability to command others, neither of which Kane had been blessed with."
- ―Alien novelization, chapter 1
Kane was a likeable and approachable individual who seemingly got along with every other member of the Nostromo crew, a quality that made his ultimate gruesome death all the more saddening for them. He was a capable second officer but he lacked the authority to make a captain.
Kane's dossier noted him as being an "idealistic overachiever".
During his time exploring the derelict, Kane armed himself with an RXF-M5 EVA Pistol for self defense, although he did not have enough time to fire it when he was attacked by the Facehugger.
- Actor Jon Finch was originally cast as Kane but had to drop out when he suffered a serious bronchial attack during the first scene he filmed. The part was subsequently recast with John Hurt.
- In early drafts of the film's script, Kane was known as Dell Broussard and was the ship's navigator (a role given to Lambert in the finished film).
- Hurt later made a cameo appearance in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, performing a spoof of the Chestburster scene in a space diner, stating, "Oh no, not again!"
- Kane's addiction to medication shares similarities with Clemens from Alien3 and Dr. Kuhlman from Alien: Isolation, both of whom were British men who had similar addictions to medication. In particular, Clemens' addiction ruined his professional career, much like Kane's.
- One of the vessels Kane was assigned to prior to the Nostromo, the USCSS Giler, is an obvious reference to David Giler, one of the producers on Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien Resurrection, Alien vs. Predator and Prometheus. Several other vessels listed in the Nostromo crew's résumés reference other crew members on Alien and Aliens.
- Kane was the first on-screen kill in the Alien film franchise.
- Kane is the only member of the Nostromo crew not to be born in the United Americas; while Ripley was born at the colony of Olympia on Luna, it technically falls under the immediate political control of the United Americas.
- In the novelization of Alien, Kane's first name is given as Thomas. The name Thomas is also used in the "ALIEN QUIZ" section of The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien (the other incorrect names given in the quiz are b. Charles and c. Solomon). However, in Aliens, Kane's crew profile (seen on the screen behind Ripley during the inquest on Gateway Station) gives his first name as Gilbert. This discrepancy was finally ratified in Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, which states that Gilbert is Kane's legal given name, whereas Thomas is an alias.
- In the Director's Cut of Alien, Kane is briefly seen holding one of the RXF-M5 EVA Pistols the Nostromo crew carry during their exploration of LV-426, the only time one of the weapons is seen clearly in either cut of the film.
- According to Dan O'Bannon's wife, Diane O'Bannon, a quote heard at the first screening of Alien regarding Kane's burial was "burial at sea...no, burial at space".
- Kane is the only member of the Nostromo crew to neither be heard nor seen in Alien: Isolation and its DLC, though concept art for him was still drawn alongside the Nostromo crew.
- Aliens (photo only)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Original Sin (mentioned only)
- Alien: Out of the Shadows (mentioned only)
- Alien: Isolation/novel (mentioned only)
- Alien: River of Pain
- Deep Black (indirect mention)
Behind the scenes
- Nostromo crew manifest, available as an Easter Egg on Alien Legacy DVD box set
- Nostromo inquest dossier seen in Aliens, available as bonus feature on Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set
- Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers), Ridley Scott (director). Alien (1979), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 135 (2012), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 174 (2014), Titan Books.
- S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 68 (2014), Insight Editions.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 8 (2014), Titan Books.
- "Strange Shapes - The Other Kane". Retrieved on 2014-03-01.
- Alien script (first draft) by Dan O'Bannon