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Aliens' Newt is more than someone to be saved
When you think of the Alien franchise, you usually think of Ellen Ripley, the xenomorphs, artificial persons, and the marines. However, there is someone else who should instantly come to mind: little Newt. It's a shame how she was wasted in Alien 3, as she earned a spot in at least one more movie. Newt wasn't merely a child who needed to be saved. She was more than that. While it's an absolute honor to be considered a sidekick to someone like Ripley, anyone who could survive xenomorphs on their own deserves their flowers and should be regarded as a hero in their own right.
For those unfamiliar with the Alien series, Newt is a small child we don't meet until Aliens. She is discovered by Ripley and the group of marines who come to Hadley's Hope after all hell breaks loose. They find her scared but in full survival mode. She had somehow managed to outlast everyone else in the terraforming colony, and not because she just so happened to be lucky. Her survival is thanks to her own wits. You don't survive an entire calendar month in a place crawling with lethal killers solely on good fortune. In the Alien: Sea of Sorrows novel, written by James A. Moore and Dirk Maggs, there is evidence to support how much of a tiny badass Rebecca "Newt" Jorden is.
Newt was the first resident born to the Hadley's Hope colony on Acheron, also better known in the Alien universe as LV-426. If the name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same moon where Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo made the unfortunate discovery of the alien derelict ship. And it's this same ship that Newt's parents found, and their discovery led to the events that orphaned their daughter. Newt was a native resident — she knew the colony setup like the back of her hand. This more than likely allowed her to forage for food by using air ducts and crawlspaces the xenomorphs couldn't get to.
Actually, in the novel, after a xenomorph bursts through Newt's father's chest and makes its way into the air duct, Newt is the reason she, her brother, and friend manage to evade despite being in those very same air ducts. She frequently won the game of monsters; the children in the colony would play in those spaces for a reason. A queen of detail and spatial awareness, Newt wasn't new to any of this but very much true to it. When dealing with something as dangerous as a xenomorph, knowing your way around an enclosed space can be a lifesaver. Just ask Ellen Ripley: Knowing her way around the Nostromo saved her life a couple of times.
Everyone knows a big part of the Alien universe is having to deal with men, and usually men who make you contemplate whether having a facehugger could be a better option than actually having to interact with them. Prior to Hadley's Hope going to hell in a handbasket, Newt had her fair share of dealing with how utterly irritating the male species can be in the form of her older brother. Even as a child he was showing signs of being more of a nuisance than actual help. In the midst of things going wrong in the colony, Newt's brother was still giving her a hard time. During the adventure described above — being stuck in an air duct with a xenomorph — Newt's brother almost gets them killed with bad directions because he didn't want to listen to her after she suggests taking another route. Newt stands her ground; they end up taking her route instead and living to see the colony fall into complete demise. Newt is the Hadley's Hope Moses, if you will, only she brought herself to the promised land.
Ellen Ripley didn't go back into the bowels of hell to save an ordinary helpless child. Even though Newt may have been riding Ripley's hip as they made their escape from the xenomorph nest, please believe Newt's fighting spirit had everything to do with inspiring Ripley to go back for her. She's a fighter, a master navigator, a leader, and never should be considered a sidekick. The marines were Ripley's sidekicks and we all know how all but one of them ended up by the time the last sleep pod closed on the Sulaco.