Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Season 1 Finale Recap: “Transcendence”

Peeps, we made it. We actually made it through Halo.

I know I’ve joked quite a bit about how this show isn’t the greatest thing in the world and that it’s kind of all over the place sometimes, but after watching the finale, it wasn’t bad. If I had to give it some sort of rating, I’d say that it was fine. Granted, I went into this show knowing barely anything about the Halo franchise except for the fact that Needlers are cool—but still. If I were a devoted fan of the series, however, I’d feel pretty let down and confused that the show was already renewed for a second season.

In a strange sense, I feel the same way about this show as SpongeBob did after he had unknowingly eaten a pie-bomb that Squidward accidentally gave him.

Continuing where things left off from last week’s episode of Halo, the final episode of this season doesn’t end things on a period; instead, it leaves us with a big ole question mark.

Top Gun: Master Chief
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

In picking up from where we left off with Master Chief thrown into the calm meadow once again, he apparently slept through quite a bit of the fight, as he wakes up in a war scene with everything around him practically destroyed, including Kai, who’s lying on the ground looking practically dead.

“Chief, I’m okay,” is what she’s able to barely mutter before he wanders off into the next room to figure out what’s going on. There, he encounters Vannak and Riz holding guns to Kai’s head (um, how are you seemingly alive and well and how did you get here?).

Chief tells Vannak that they were all kidnapped as kids and had their memories wiped by Dr. Halsey, but he’s not believing anything out of Chief’s mouth. With the guns turned on him now, Kai chimes in and attempts to get the others to believe him, but it isn’t until Captain Keyes walks into the room and backs Chief up that Vannak and Riz come to their senses.

With Makee apparently on the loose with the keystones in tow, Chief convinces everyone to work together towards the main goal: to stop Makee from leaving the premises. On top of that, they attempt to stop Dr. Halsey, as well, who’s also fleeing the UNSC base on a stolen ship. Though Kai was able to remarkably make it onto that ship, Halsey was able to jump ship in an escape pod at the last second. Later on, the UNSC locate Halsey and take her into custody. Oh, and Makee was able to get away, which means that the Spartans will have to figure out where the Covenant’s base is and locate the keystones.

Halsey is only in custody briefly, dying quickly after losing control of her body. However, Dr. Keyes remembers that when her mother would flash clone the baby-Spartans, they would also die in a similar manner, which means that Halsey flash cloned herself and was not actually the woman in custody.

With Makee on the run, Chief takes the reins of a UNSC ship and—with Cortana’s help—attempts to figure out just where Makee and the keystones are. Knowing only small tidbits of information about their possible locale, Cortana pieces them together and finds a destination. The only problem? They might not even be able to make it to that part of the galaxy as gravity has started to pull them in different directions. Ah, the beauty of space.

I didn’t play the Halo video game campaigns, but damn Master Chief, who knew you were such a good pilot? You go Glen Coco! I mean, he just flew through a random part of space while basically being split in half by gravity and all he got was nothing. Well, he didn’t die, so I guess that counts as something.

Anyway, instead of landing the aircraft, the Spartans decide to jump out of the ship and land on the planet that way. But when they land on the ground, they land in half-kneeling positions—how is that physically possible? No broken knees? Or death? Okay.

Upon landing, they encounter hundreds of Covenant troops almost immediately, and given that there are only four Spartans, things don’t look great. The Spartans are able to hold the Covenant off for some time, but they’re taking an absolute beating from the aliens.

Makee: Human or Burrito?
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

To answer the question above: burrito. There’s no way that Makee is a full-on human—she’s got something else going on and it’s not necessarily Covenant either. But this outfit? Yeah, it basically makes her into a walking burrito.

Burrito aside, having taken the keystone and brought it back to the Covenant’s base, not much time passes before the Spartans arrive and try to take back the keystone. In the same way, not much time passes before the Spartans are almost wiped out by the sheer strength and numbers of the Covenant.

She decides to touch the keystone to save Chief’s life, setting off a massive power explosion that knocks many of the aliens off a cliff. While it does save Chief, it also transports both of them to the beautiful meadow of calmness, where Makee informs him that she wants them both to stay indefinitely. Being that Chief is still very attached to the world below them (and that this fresh meadow is probably just a figment of their imagination), he makes the tough decision to leave her, but before they’re able to truly say goodbye, we notice a wound developing in Makee’s chest: apparently, she has been shot in real life. RIP Makee, you had a good (ish) run.

As she falls to the ground, Chief is brought back to life and sees who’s responsible for killing her: Kai. It seems like she didn’t kill Makee because of her relationship with Chief, probably more so because she was part of the Covenant. Oopsie.

Cortana then alerts Chief that there’s no possible way for him to be able to retrieve the keystones and save his fellow Spartans, which brings him to an idea: he’ll voluntarily be killed by the Covenant so that Cortana can take over his body, save the Spartans, and bring back the keystones. After all, Chief wouldn’t have been able to carry the keystones back, anyway, as the second he touched one, it would set them off.

Cortana seems to not have as much faith in herself as Chief does, but she follows his directions and takes over as he’s killed in action. As an aside, Cortana should be able to bring him back to life and switch back to her holographic self upon their return, but there might be some kinks she has to work out first. Aware of this issue, Chief still felt that this was the only way to restore some sort of peace to the world.

Acting as Chief, Cortana makes quick work of the Covenant and easily brings the keystones back to the ship, along with the other Spartans. Piloting the plane back to the UNSC, Kai moves her chair closer to Chief’s and simply asks, “John, is that you?” With no response from him, Kai certainly knows that something is up.

And finally: the end.

Final Thoughts on the Season

As a whole, the series was fine—wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible. This final episode was probably the best of the season as it had a constant stream of action and conflict that kept me engaged enough to not pause every five minutes to get up and retrieve a gluten-free Oreo from the other side of the room. However, I did have some issues with the show at large, namely the following:

I want somebody to tell me what exactly the point of including Kwan was when there was zero mention of her not only in many previous episodes but also in the finale. I don’t know if the creators originally included her simply to lure in more females to their audience, but making her plot pointless and barely existent aside from the first two episodes of the show didn’t do too good of a job of that.

In moving forward, I’d hope that they’d hone in on the parts of the series that were actually interesting to watch, like Chief’s relationship with Cortana, all of the action scenes, and Kai’s relationship both with Chief and with herself. The more they shine a light on the interesting characters and relationships, the more interesting the show will become.

Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Episode 8 Recap: “Allegiance”

Don’t even make me talk about last week’s episode of Halo again. And surprise surprise, there was zero mention of Kwan in episode eight—someone make this make sense.

Thankfully, we were reunited with Master Chief this time around, and having just come off that major a-ha moment in the episode prior with Makee, Chief has some figuring out to do.

Aliens in Love and Angry Scientists?
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

In episode six, Chief and Makee shared an intense experience after he touched the keystone, except this time, he took her advice and accepted the keystone, which brought both of them into an open meadow of calm and clarity. That moment seemed to change everything for the two, creating a bond that has only grown stronger since. I don’t know if Halo is pulling a Star Wars and they’re actually twins who were separated at birth, but it kind of seems like it. Well, except for the fact that they promptly sleep together afterward.

And what makes that even worse? Cortana watches on as this happens, bummed out because she has feelings for him. Well, I think she does.

Right after this, Makee gets out of bed and decides now would be a great time to casually rip out the tip of her finger in the bathroom. In the past, we’ve seen a blue, pointy thing pop out of her finger, and though I’m not completely aware of its full power, I’m pretty sure it’s murdered quite a few people in the past.

For a much different reason, Dr. Halsey sets her sights on Makee, but for her, it’s in an attempt to have her sway Chief to run away with her and the keystone. Halsey, being the narcissist that she is, wants full control of the keystone in order to observe it on her own terms and harness its power. Though Dr. Halsey is still being exiled from the UNSC base, she’s using Cortana to tap into what’s going on at the base. With the unlimited control of Cortana, she brings a holographic version of herself into Makee’s room to sway her, though it’s no use; Makee is dedicated to Chief now.

Cortana: Our Lord, Our Savior
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

As Makee isn’t giving in to Dr. Halsey’s request, Halsey goes rogue and sends out a direct order only to three Spartans (Kai, Vannak, and Riz) to locate Chief, Makee, and the keystone and to bring all three back to her ship, where they’ll take off for who knows where. This is considered the “Zed Protocol,” which is put in place when the senior leadership of the UNSC isn’t making the right decisions (which isn’t true). Honestly, I don’t know why they’re even following her instructions given that Halsey has been fired.

Well, all except one decide to follow her protocol; Kai—as she has removed the chip from her back—doesn’t feel right about these instructions, which she verbalizes to the others. Hearing this, Halsey secretly orders the other two to kill her, yet instead, they knock her out and tie her up against a pole to prevent any further action.

Knowing that Chief won’t go along with this plan, Halsey instructs Cortana to disable him as she did once before, though she seems a bit skeptical of the whole thing.

Despite the fact that Dr. Halsey is technically Cortana’s creator, she really serves to protect Chief, and it’s no more evident than in this moment when she finally disobeys Dr. Halsey and clues Chief in as to what’s actually going on. It’s a bit hard to get her point across at first, as Chief tells Cortana to shut up and leave him alone (major teenager vibes), but when she yells for him to stop everything, he finally listens.

“Halsey initiated the Zed Protocol,” Cortana says. “You’re walking into a trap. Turn around and get out now.”

Watching along from the monitors, Halsey notices that John and Makee have stopped walking, and it’s at that moment that she realizes Cortana has betrayed her. To be fair, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to Halsey as she treated Cortana like total garbage for the majority of the series—this was a loooooong time coming.

Although he was warned, Chief ends up being attacked by the two Spartans and basically gets his butt majorly kicked. Just when it seems like they’re going to fully kill him, Kai swoops in, having broken herself out from being cuffed to the pole. She doesn’t help much, though, as things end up in a stalemate with basically everyone pausing and pointing a gun at one another.

In another room, Makee has been taken away to be with the higher-ups at UNSC, attempting to get them to take the threat to the Chief’s life seriously. They decide not to listen to her and instead proceed to tase her repeatedly, which eventually drives her into a rage great enough to reach over and touch the keystone. As we’ve seen before, this sends a massive shockwave through the building, and Chief is thrown back into the calm meadow from before. End scene.

Final Thoughts on Episode 8

Once again, the last 15 minutes of this episode is when this series shows what it does best: action and Cortana. How many times do I have to say it? ACTION AND CORTANA.

We need more of the back-and-forth relationship between Chief and Cortana—this is a genuinely intriguing relationship that’s beyond worth diving into, yet I feel that it’s like pulling teeth to get the Halo creators to give us more of this. In this episode, Cortana tells Halsey that she isn’t capable of feeling emotion, yet it’s abundantly clear that she does—especially when she goes to save Chief.

Now, we’ve only got one episode left of Halo and I actually don’t know how they’re going to effectively wrap this up. Of course, we know that we have a second season currently in the works so nothing needs to be completely concluded, but there are a few issues that could be resolved.

For one, what are they going to do with Makee at this point? Dr. Keyes just found out that it was her voice speaking the Covenant language, and at the end of the episode, we see Makee being violently tased on the floor. Are they going to kill her? Throw her in Halo-jail? I mean, I still don’t like Makee, but this is pretty rough.

On top of that, what about Kai? Those other Spartans really showed no mercy with her; they even chained her to a pole while she was unconscious. She’s either going to have to put them in their place or they’ll just come right back and finish her off. Kai has become one of the most interesting characters in this series: do NOT kill her off.

As for the Master Chief-Makee-Cortana-Halsey love-hate quadrangle? This one could go in just about any direction, though I’d hope that Chief and Cortana find a better understanding of their relationship with each other. I worry that the UNSC will go ahead and kill Makee simply because they feel that they can’t trust her, and for Halsey, I bet there’s going to be some sort of showdown either between her and Cortana or her and Chief. Maybe this time around Cortana won’t stop him from attacking her. With this show, anything is up for grabs—after all, we did just see a woman dismember her own finger.

Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Episode 7 Recap: “Inheritance”

We had a nice break from the Kwan storyline in the last episode of Halo, but that break could only last so long, as we were given an entire episode revolving around her this time around.

I’ve written before about how Kwan’s story has felt a bit forced into the rest of the main plot of the series involving Master Chief, as the two stories are basically operating as if they’re separate shows. At this point in the series with only two episodes to go, we’re just not invested enough in Kwan’s plot to have it warrant an entire episode. Alas, here we are, though the last 10 minutes made up for some lost time in the beginning.

A Desert Cult?
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

A few episodes ago, Kwan’s aunt told her about her father’s pilgrimage to the Madrigal desert, where he encountered and joined a group of mysterious people. Pretty vague, right? Well, upon his arrival back home following this, he was a completely changed man, though for the worse. After hearing this, Kwan sought to find the possibly-fictitious people in the desert who caused her father to change. Given the lack of details about the group’s whereabouts, it seems like it would be pretty tough to locate them. Wrong.

After driving into what looked like the Dust Bowl circa the 1930s, she happened upon a group of people in silhouette and decided to get out of her car to check out the scene (always a good idea). A few seconds later, she’s kidnapped and brought back to the group’s campsite.

She quickly realizes that these people knew her father and actually weren’t awful people (you know, the ones who usually carry out kidnappings). They’re a bit sketchy, though, and the main woman of the group, Desiderata (Josette Simon), pulls an Oprah-walking-on-hot-coals moment and lights a flame in her hand which she turns into water, which Kwan is told to drink.

She’s immediately brought into an altered state of mind, where she encounters her deceased relatives as well as Master Chief, whom she ends up fighting as part of a weird test. Try as she might, she’s basically attacking a brick wall when it comes to approaching him. She uses her fists, a knife, a gun, and even a large rock to defeat him, but each time, he kills her, bringing her back to the start and repeating the process once again.

Though she wasn’t ever able to defeat Chief, she was able to face her father, as Chief gave her a hand and led her to him. There, she was able to ask him what she should do with her life as Vinsher is now in control of the planet. To that end, he tells her that she is ready to protect Madrigal and clues her in on a secret portal in the desert (though she’s not quite ready to know the full details of it just yet).

Upon being brought back to the present day, Kwan realizes that her father actually wasn’t the terrible person that her aunt was making him out to be. What he actually encountered in the desert was a profoundly introspective experience, as she has now gone through the same thing herself.

Kwan and Soren: I Just Tased You, but Let’s Be Friends
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Though Soren was somehow able to leave Madrigal following his tasing by Kwan, back on the Rubble, he finds out that her bounty has been tripled by Vinsher, meaning that she’s still alive. After a bit of convincing by his wife to do the right thing and rescue her, Soren begrudgingly heads back to Madrigal to locate Kwan.

It turns out that it wasn’t as hard as he thought, as Soren basically pops out of nowhere and approaches her. While Kwan is at first skeptical of his intentions (she did just tase him two episodes ago), he agrees to keep her safe and help her off the planet, as she’s being stalked by Vinsher and his operatives.

However, right at that moment, Vinsher’s team arrives on the scene and begins to look for Kwan, forcing her and Soren to come up with a quick plan: to manually turn on a valve that would pump hydrogen gas into the area where Vinsher’s squad is at. Once the gas is pumped in, all they would have to do is shoot a bullet into the holding tank, which would cause a major explosion and wipe them out. The only catch? Soren and Kwan would have to make it to the fallout shelter before the blast is able to reach (and kill) them.

What then ensued was a mostly long-range battle between Soren and Vinsher’s gang, as Kwan had to traverse through the underground to activate the hydrogen valve. Soren was able to hold them off for just long enough, allowing Kwan to turn on the valve, though they cornered and shot him right when it was time to unleash the holding tank. Coming out from the underground tunnel, Kwan found Chief’s old rifle from the first episode and uses it to shoot the holding tank, which activates the hydrogen. She runs to the shelter with Soren just in time for the entire place to go up in flames. Ahh, sweet victory.

Final Thoughts on Episode 7

I’ll be honest, when I realized this episode was only going to be following Kwan’s plot, I was pretty bummed—we’ve been closely tracking Master Chief’s story in every episode that it felt kind of absurd to derail that plot for an entire 50 minutes.

While I feel that the better part of this episode could’ve been cut down to about five minutes or an email, the last 10 minutes really got to the core of what this show does well: complicated relationships and action.

Also, I just need to add: how did Soren not die from that gunshot wound? After Vinsher and his team are killed, Soren just takes off in his ship and heads back to the Rubble as if nothing happened. I kept expecting him to keel over, but it seemed like he shook off that gunshot wound pretty well.

While this episode redeemed itself at the very end, here’s to hoping that next week’s episode puts the spotlight back on Chief.

Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Episode 6 Recap: “Solace”

Last week’s episode of Halo finally gave us that long-awaited battle scene that we had been in such desperate need of, but if you were hoping for a similar situation this time around, you’re—of course—out of luck, because that’s what this series does to us. Just when things are starting to hit a decent stride, they rip it out from under us and give us something inferior. In this case, that inferior thing is Makee.

I don’t know what it is about this girl, but she really just gives me the creeps. Maybe it’s her overall sketchy-ghost-like demeanor or perhaps it’s just that she reminds me of Siobhan from Mare of Easttown, but basically, I’ve had enough.

Aside from her, this episode focuses on the fallout out from the battle on Eridanus II, which includes exposing Dr. Halsey and her lies, figuring out the connection between Master Chief and Makee, and pushing past the prior restraints of the keystone.

Master Chief vs. Dr. Halsey
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Chief is fairly out of it following the events of the last episode, with Cortana notifying him to seek medical attention as his system is completely overloaded due to this contact with the keystone.

As he’s both physically and mentally out of sorts, he casually locks Dr. Halsey in her lab, turning on a system modification that will emit a fatal level of radiation into the room. He seems unfazed by this whole situation as Cortana instructs him to stop what he’s doing and let her out, with rage building in his body as he remembers bits of his childhood and her involvement in it.

Just as the gaseous radiation is being let into the lab, Chief finally acts and lets Dr. Halsey out with practically zero time to spare. Basically, it was a test to see if Cortana had the capability of saving her, but as she’s only able to shut off Chief and not operate him, she wouldn’t have been able to step in for the save.

Later on, Chief demands a meeting with Dr. Halsey and they finally get to hash things out, as she had been putting off the meeting for quite some time. She ends up revealing that she did indeed kidnap Chief as a child, along with other children who were trained to become Spartans. Instead of telling the families that she was taking their children away, she came up with the idea to flash-clone the children beforehand, pulling a bit of a switcheroo on them.

As the clones would naturally die off as time passed, the families were left mourning as their real children were actually alive, being trained into Spartans by Dr. Halsey and the UNSC.

With this revelation, Admiral Parangosky (who had been listening in to this conversation) decides to remove Dr. Halsey from the premises, firing her effective immediately and putting her daughter, Miranda Keyes, in her place. However, this exile doesn’t stop her and her assistant, Adun, from hacking into the Cortana system and spying in on Chief and the UNSC from afar.

The Keystone’s Alignment
Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

In the last episode, our sketchy Covenant-ish friend, Makee, was left on the battlefield, with the UNSC deciding to take her in for evaluation, eventually figuring out that her and Chief have very similar genetic makeups. Because of this, they’re both able to experience the keystone at about the same levels, though it seems like Chief is even more sensitive to it than Makee.

Given this, the two have a heart-to-heart conversation about their shared experiences, with Makee revealing that the keystone used to hurt her, as well, both physically and mentally. However, when she stopped fighting it, it became one with her and everything became more clear. While Chief also seems to be skeptical of her, he decides to test something new out in his approach to the keystone.

He finds Dr. Keyes and has her agree to run a test with him and the keystone, though it’s more so a test for himself rather than of anything diagnostic-wise. Even though he hasn’t healed from the prior keystone, he goes ahead and firmly grasps it, immediately sending him into another world and his heart through the roof beat-wise.

At the same time, Makee is chilling in another room when this happens without warning, causing her to fall to the ground as her heart races uncontrollably. Their heart rates end up hitting the exact same BPM, and just when it seems like both of them are going to die, their heart rates fall and we’re brought out of the exam room and into their heads.

Chief is standing in a lovely, open meadow on Reach with Makee next to him, with both of them taking in the views and the calm. It’s clear that Chief now has control of his reaction to the keystone after following Makee’s advice. With this, there’s no telling just how far he’ll be able to go the next time he touches the larger keystone, as well as where his relationship with Makee will head.

Final Thoughts on Episode 6

Alright, so there was no action in this episode of Halo. That’s a definite negative, but on the flip side, we didn’t have to suffer through any more Kwan scenes, which completely makes up for that fact. I’m not hating on Kwan here—I want her story to be good, but it’s just not trending that way as of right now. The most important plot right now is Chief and the hunt for the larger keystone; it just seems like the whole fighting-for-Madrigal-rebel-thing just doesn’t have enough oomph to keep going.

As for what to expect from next week’s episode, I’m sure we’ll be diving into Dr. Halsey’s involvement from a distance as she now has access to Cortana. It’ll be interesting to see just how much Cortana’s relationship with Chief changes as a result of this staff switch-up; whether that ends up being a negative or a positive is basically up for grabs at this point.

Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Episode 5 Recap: “Reckoning”

With episode four being a bit on the slower side, this week’s installation of Halo brought in some much-needed action on the battlefield while still working on the plot with Chief and the keystone.

On Eridanus II, we’re visiting the Reach for Life Installation, which is basically a nature-based school for children. With all of the kids in uniforms, it basically looks like a weird child cult. However, it turns out this is a bit of earlier Eridanus II, as we’re following a much younger Dr. Halsey, who seems to be touring the school (slyly scouting for kids).

They’re basically in a large, fenced-in area where they can explore gardening, climbing, and other outdoor activities. A young Master Chief is up above on some precariously raised platforms and is being teased by another boy. However, when the boy almost falls off, Chief is able to save him from a deathly fall by lifting him up, which is seen by Dr. Halsey. She’s impressed by the school and asks her husband what he thinks; though he outwardly seems interested, it’s clear that he’s not so sure about Chief. At that moment, we cut to the present, showing this man as one of the captains of the UNSC.

Dr. Miranda Keyes arrives on Eridanus, as well as Kai and the other Spartans, who are setting off to join Chief. It turns out that the man from before is her father, Captain Keyes, and they head off to a temporary UNSC camp to find Halsey and her new discovery: the second keystone. Cortana informs Chief that this keystone has an energy power much greater than the original one found on Madrigal. Upon hearing that, Halsey directs him and the others to stay away from it, as its power could be potentially dangerous.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

At this point, we check back in with Kwan and Soren, who have made it to the Okjungdong Basin on Madrigal after having fled the situation with Vinsher’s troops. The motorcycle that they stole broke down, so Soren decides to walk around and find another vehicle, chaining Kwan to the dead motorcycle with one handcuff to keep her from leaving.

Back on Eridanus, Chief spots Kai’s new hair color and thinks something might be up with her, so he goes over and asks her to take a walk with him. He immediately asks her when she removed her emotional-suppressing pellet, to which she admits, “After I saw you remove yours.” She gets extremely honest with him, admitting to loving the new perspective she has on life, yet all Chief offers up in return is informing her that he’ll be unable to clear her for combat as she’s distracted. It’s a bit of a double standard, though, as Chief has removed his pellet, as well, and is not barring himself from combat.

We focus on Kwan, who’s now picking up the motorcycle and walking around (very slowly), though it eventually falls to the ground with her. On the ground, she attempts numerous times to remove herself from the handcuffs, and after tons of tries, she is able to free herself.

After Chief approaches Captain Keyes about the issues he’s been having with Dr. Halsey, Keyes and Halsey have a meeting with Admiral Parangosky, who’s very concerned about the emotional situation with Chief. Halsey informs her that the situation is under control, though Captain Keyes denies this, telling Parangosky that Chief remembers Halsey being in his house as a child.

“You’re willing to tell the committee anything they need to hear as long as you get what you want, and now you’ve put all of us at risk,” Parangosky tells her. “I’m cutting you off.”

After that statement, Halsey brings up a mysterious Admiral Hood, to who she basically threatens to tell all of this as a form of blackmail, which Parangosky isn’t too pleased about. Ultimately, Parangosky gets Halsey to agree to handle the situation with Chief in the way that she wants. As a result of all this conflict, Captain Keyes wants their daughter taken off the project, which they both agree on.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Back on Eridanus with the keystone, they’re just cutting into it when a high-pitched, sonic boom bursts out of the stone, sending a massive blast through the area and basically destroying everyone’s eardrums in the process. The sound is so loud that it messes with the electrical services and computers, and just as that continues, the Covenant is able to pick up a signal, which makes Makee fall to the floor as she’s extremely sensitive to the keystone.

Chief runs to the cave just in time to see the crystal around it break, revealing just the keystone. Dr. Keyes is able to pick up some data on it once the computers start working, confirming that the sound was putting out a signal to something else. After revealing that the keystones could be part of something entirely different than just two halves, her father takes her off the project for safety reasons.

Chief asks Cortana to fetch the files about his adoption, though there are none in the database as the plague wiped them all out. In addition, there are no archives about the Spartan program, which Chief also finds odd. Out of anger, he touches the keystone even though it could potentially kill him. He immediately has new memories, including that of him being brought to the Spartan program as a child. He sees Halsey, who injects him with something, but at that moment, his hands leave the keystone and he falls to the ground.

Halsey walks in and he immediately tells her that she kidnapped him as a child, though she wants to table this discussion for the time being, as the main objective is to bring the keystone back to Reach. Extremely angered by having to put off this conversation, Chief jumps up to attack Halsey, though Cortana shuts off his neural bridge just in time to stop him.

On Madrigal, Soren rides back to the spot where Kwan is supposed to be, though he finds nothing but the broken-down motorcycle. As he gets closer to the motorcycle, Kwan comes up behind him and shocks him with some sort of taser device, causing him to fall on top of the motorcycle. She steals his pistol to shoot him, but we cut over to Chief waking up before seeing what happens.

Cortana lets him know what happened, and while they’re arguing, she notifies him that a Slipspace rupture was detected, meaning that the Covenant is near. Ah, finally, some much-needed action.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

The Covenant launches an all-out attack on the UNSC as they’re looking to retrieve the keystone. They immediately destroy the Pioneer ship that was meant to bring the keystone back—whoops. The new order at hand is to transport the keystone to the smaller ship that Dr. Keyes is on, which is a bit of a lengthy transport to reach via Warthog.

While it was initially just an aerial attack via Banshees and other ships, the aliens of the Covenant are now dropping down, making it much harder to transport the keystone. Also, unfortunately, it looks like there was a major explosion on Dr. Reyes’ ship, leaving her injured along with a new change of direction for the keystone, which is now headed to Halsey’s ship.

On the battlefield, it turns out that Chief was right about Kai’s state of mind, as her heart rate drastically increases, causing her to freeze in the middle of combat while being hit by gunfire. Seeing this unfolding from afar, Chief’s emotions get the better of him, which leads him to jump onto a Banshee to bring him to Kai. He’s able to crash the banshee into one of the main Covenant ships, sending a shockwave through the area and clearing it of aliens—temporarily.

Many of them stand up and start attacking Chief, who works his way through the crowd to get to Kai. Though he saves her from the Covenant, the keystone has somehow ended upright in the middle of the battlefield (?) and he has to sprint to save it from being taken by them. However, they drop down an absolutely enormous alien who takes it back up to the ship with ease. Before completely leaving, they drop down a pod with Makee, who falls to the floor pretty randomly; I honestly don’t know what they’re going to do with her.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, this probably dethrones episode three from being the best of the series, as this one had just the right balance of, well, everything. Now, I’m not saying that the Kwan story is boring, but we were focusing a little too much on it in the previous episodes for how little was actually happening with its plot. What was sprinkled in of her story in this episode was the exact, perfect amount, as Chief’s story is what we need to be focusing on at the moment.

It was definitely refreshing to see a bit more of Cortana, as her relationship with Chief is gaining more structure with each episode. On top of that, the backstory with Dr. Halsey and Chief is proving to be one of the most interesting, as the series is giving us just enough information to hold us over until the next episode. While I would’ve preferred even more action, the last 15 minutes were the most exhilarating so far, providing an even more dynamic battle scene than the one we saw in the first episode.

Popular Culture

‘Halo’ Series Episode 4 Recap: “Homecoming”

Episode 3 of Paramount+’s Halo brought back a beloved member of the Halo squad: Cortana. While it was nice to get reacquainted with her, this episode was significantly lacking in Cortana (*sigh*).

In Episode 4, we’re thrown into another flashback, but we go even further back past Master Chief’s young adult life as a Spartan. As a child, we watch as he trains with the other pre-Spartans, though he tries to run away. He’s then approached by Dr. Catherine Halsey, who reminds him of why he needs to stay.

We cut over to Madrigal, where Kwan Ha and Soren are riding around, looking for Vinsher’s ships. Soren reveals that after leaving the Spartan program, it was as if his mind was completely wiped, with small bits of information coming through as time passed. For example, it took him quite a while to remember that his father had passed—and that he was the one who killed him.

On Reach at the UNSC base, Kai—after having seen Chief remove the emotional-suppressing device from his back—is asking around if anyone has seen him (though he’s now off the base and headed to Eridanus II). However, as the camera pans to the back of her, we can see an empty spot where she has removed her device, as well. Looks like we’ve got a little trend catching on here, right?

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Chief, Dr. Halsey, and her assistant make it to Eradinus II; apparently, the colony was led by his parents, who were widely considered heroes for keeping the colony afloat. Immediately upon arrival, Chief is able to locate the briefcase that he buried years ago. Inside, he doesn’t find the keystone but instead sees all of the drawings he made as a child about the keystone.

While John obsesses over the drawings, Dr. Halsey more wants to get to the point and find the physical object. However, the drawings send him to a quick flashback, which spurs him to head up to his old house and check things out.

Back on Madrigal, Kwan and Soren head to where Vinsher is hanging out. Just as they’re leaving the scene, Kwan and Soren pull up and get to experience his oppressive ruling up close. While walking around the crowded streets, Kwan runs into an old friend, Attu, who clearly doesn’t want to be associated with her. However, he tells her to come to her father’s memorial, which is being held later that night. Right as he’s leaving, Kwan sees a broadcast with a “Wanted” sign over an image of her, along with an offer of a reward for her finding.

Later at the memorial, Kwan isn’t too happy with the turnout, as her father fought very hard to keep control of Madrigal. She talks to one of her old friends, who reveals the violence that has been occurring since she left. Apparently, everyone is frightened of the government and just wants protection from them; basically, the revolution is over. Because of this, she ends up making quite the scene and calls her friend a traitor, which catches the attention of everyone gathered around—not the best move when you’re wanted by the government.

Right at that moment, a horde of government troops comes storming in and starts to attack the people gathered at the memorial. It’s a scene of chaos immediately, and it’s all the doing of Kwan.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

At the UNSC base, Dr. Miranda Keyes hosts a bit of an impromptu meeting with some of the Spartans, where she interrogates them as to why Chief is so special. They don’t really have any decent answers, as one simply says it’s because “he’s the Master Chief.” Afterward, Keyes tests out each Spartan with the keystone to see if they’re able to have the same powerful interaction that Chief can. Kai comes in to do her test, and after taking off her helmet, Keyes sees that she has dyed part of her hair red with her own blood (Pinterest hack?). Though nothing happens when she touches the keystone, she gives a lengthy speech to Keyes about how she should stop treating the Spartans like machines, as they have much more to give to the world.

At Chief’s old house, the group wanders around, looking for hints of, well, anything. Chief then asks Cortana to assemble a rendering of what his old house looked like, which she shows him on his heads-up display. Though she has trouble recreating his room due to the damage, he’s able to get himself into a vision that reveals more about the house. He watches on as his young self draws something, showing a hole in the ground that leads to an underground cave that holds the keystone, which his younger self touches. However, when he flashes to his mother, he sees Dr. Halsey as if she were his mother. That quickly snaps him out of the vision, after which he promptly leaves the house.

Outside of the house, Dr. Halsey expresses her concerns to Chief about the fact that he’s having visions outside of the keystone. He then admits that he saw her in his vision, though she dismisses ever being at his home, claiming that visions get muddled over the years.

Back at the UNSC base, we finally reach the moment I’ve been waiting for: the reveal of our old buddy, The Needler, which Kai appropriately fangirls over. After she says the word for “Needler” in the Covenant language, it sparks Keyes’ imagination, prompting her to ask the other Spartans about the other words they know from the language.

On Madrigal, we cut over to Vinsher, where we get more of a close-up view of him, as he’s smoking a cigar and hanging in a remote cave pool. In speaking with Franco, an assassin, he brings up Kwan specifically, whom he believes will be trouble for them. Right as he’s saying this, Kwan and Soren are approached by men with knives who attempt to kill them for the reward, though her aunt swoops in and calls it off. Vinsher then instructs Franco to “take care” of her.

After inputting the new Covenant words into the system, Keyes has a chat with the Spartans, who tell her a bit about their past training. For example, they were all given pets and then given a task to complete. The side that won the task got to keep their pets, but the other side was then forced to eliminate them—a task that came as a major shock to Keyes.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

On Madrigal, Soren’s ship was completely scrapped, leaving him without a ride back to the Rubble. Instead, he’ll have to take a transport ship later that night to go back home. The only catch? The transport ships are located 200 miles from his current location. He threatens a local man with his gun to take his motorcycle as Kwan is explaining the overall situation to her aunt. Apparently, her father spent all of the money on the revolution, leaving her aunt and family penniless.

Kwan basically cannot be talked out of wanting to pick up where her father left off, even though her aunt advises against it. Her aunt then reveals that her father fought for a lie, explaining that he joined a desert group called The Mystics. Upon returning from the desert, he was a completely different person, insisting that it was his responsibility to free Madrigal—his true purpose in life.

All of a sudden, there’s a thud at the door, and as her aunt swings it open, Franco has just taken out the guards outside and then immediately knocks out her aunt. As Franco approaches Kwan, her aunt tries to save her, though Franco kills her on the spot. Just then, Soren comes through the door and shoots her, sending her out the window—though she survives.

They flee the scene, but as they’re attempting to get on the motorcycle, shots are fired, but Soren is able to fight back. They’re then engaged in a fairly low-speed motorcycle chase.

Back at the UNSC base, we’ve got a little Halo name drop going as Keyes and Kai look back at the footage from Chief’s first touch of the keystone. The ring around the keystone resembles a ring, also known as a Halo. Aww. Keyes then asks Kai if they can keep this discovery between the two of them, and she immediately agrees.

Keyes then lets Kai in on a little secret about Dr. Halsey: when her Spartans start behaving in “unexpected ways” (like humans), it makes her uncomfortable, as their actions are controlled by emotions and passions.

We finally cut back to Chief’s home planet, where he’s able to locate the hole in the ground from his childhood drawing. He jumps in, finding just what he had seen in his visions: the keystone.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so this episode was definitely better than the first two, but the third episode is still the best of the bunch. While this one had a bit more action than the others, the action was always short-lived—there was no epic, main scene like we got in the first one.

Overall, it was a bit slow-moving, mostly with the story of Kwan and Soren, as I was more interested in Chief finding the second keystone. The scenes between Kai and Dr. Reyes were surprisingly interesting, as it felt like the two made an unlikely bond. That’ll be quite the relationship to explore, as Reyes wanted to keep information between the two of them, which is probably frowned upon in the UNSC.

Kai is actually turning into one of the most intriguing characters, as she removed the emotion-suppressing device from her back. Hopefully, we’ll see a bit more of her in the coming episodes, as the story with Kwan and Soren seems a bit forced as no one in the city really cares about going against Vinsher.

Culture Movies/TV

‘Halo’ Series Episode 3 Recap: “Emergence”

Things were left a bit open-ended after last week’s episode of Halo on Paramount+, with Master Chief heading back to the UNSC base after having gone rogue. As Kwan Ha is being kept safe on the Rubble with Soren, things open up for Episode 3 to explore where Chief’s head is currently at.

We kick things off on the planet of Oban—they call it a “waste salvage colony,” which is basically just a fancy word for one, massive steaming landfill. Not only do the people of this planet live amongst garbage, but they also wear garbage, too, with hordes of people walking around in makeshift outfits comprised of repurposed trash.

We focus in on two young kids reading a book even though they’re supposed to be working in the landfills; they’re caught reading by a few guards and are chased around, with the young boy eventually being KILLED by the guard. Oh, and then the young girl is electrocuted by another one. Honestly, the violence and gore in this show is still shocking to me.

And if that wasn’t already terrible, the Covenant decides to swoop in and make the rounds while this is occurring. Just as the young girl is about to be killed, an alien comes in and saves her (okay, King), where it’s then revealed that this is all just a flashback of Makee’s (Charlie Murphy), who still lives and works among the Covenant, as they feel she’s the “Blessed One.”

In the present day, Makee is about to set off for Madrigal to look for the relic—they now refer to it as the “keystone.” One of the aliens is talking to her about Master Chief, who they also believe shares her powers; she then promises to bring back the keystone and Chief’s head.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Elsewhere, Dr. Halsey is engaging with Cortana, who is finally out of her egg and basically looks like an unfinished character from The Sims. The two go back and forth, with Cortana trying to figure out what her purpose is and how the Cortana System will work. Basically, their plan is to integrate the system into a Spartan in order to have more consistent and controllable soldiers.

Chief is eventually greeted by Dr. Halsey, who has him situated in a medical exam room. She explains that the new system will allow him to get back to the front lines instead of being caught up in his head. While she’s chatting with him, it seems like the gears in Chief’s head are turning as he’s trying to figure out if he really wants to go back to that previous version of himself. Despite these thoughts, he reluctantly agrees to the system; with that, Halsey and her assistant Adun (Ryan MacParland) get to work.

Cortana is left alone with Adun, who briefly and very awkwardly compliments her on how beautiful her brain is. He then almost kisses her (what!?) but is interrupted by Dr. Halsey. Okay, is Halo turning into a soap opera on us?

Anyway, they activate the system to start linking up Cortana with Chief, and another shockingly freaky moment happens when a needle is aggressively driven into Cortana’s eye (I don’t even want to describe the sound it made). Cortana falls unconscious and her nose starts to bleed; it seems like the goal here was to take a “neural substrate” from her brain to then inject it into Chief. The needle is removed (eek) and the substrate is then brought over to Chief, where a hole is then drilled into the back of his head to make room for the substrate.

In the other room, Cortana is lifted down into a tank of water, where she’s able to be retrieved through a hologram upon the speaking of her name. Halsey tries it out, which makes Cortana appear before her as a holographic, walking-and-talking person. She’s able to instantly retrieve the information about the keystone as Chief lies unconscious, though she’s a bit upset with Dr. Halsey about not having full access to become one with his body yet.


We’re back at the Rubble to check in on Kwan Ha, who’s still chilling with Soren as she was left there by Chief in the previous episode. She wanders around the city a bit and catches a brief broadcast about Vinsher (Burn Gorman), a politician who opposes the resistance and has taken over Madrigal. After seeing this, she informs Soren that she wishes to return to Madrigal, though he won’t let her as he made a promise to Chief to keep her safe. She explains why she wants to go home, but Soren isn’t hearing any of it and basically treats her like a little girl.

At the UNSC headquarters, we’ve arrived just in time for the big reveal: Chief finally gets to meet Cortana. He’s a little freaked out by how she’s an exact clone of Dr. Halsey; overall, he just doesn’t seem too pleased with her. Sensing this, Cortana heads off into the time time continuum saying, “Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Master Chief, I’ll…speak to you soon—I guess.” I mean, come on, our girl Cortana has feelings too, Chief!

However, later on, Chief decides to give Cortana another shot, except this time, he’s got a bit of a crowd watching on as they’re recording him touching the keystone. We’re shown a longer flashback of Chief’s childhood than usual, but when Cortana goes to take over and record those memories, the connection is lost. Afterwards, Cortana offers a suggestion to Dr. Halsey, who basically tells her that she was only created to obey her orders—ouch.

In space and on a UNSC Patrol Ship, the officer on board encounters a Covenant ship that they’re able to get in contact with. A young woman’s voice comes through the radio, explaining that she needs help as she was taken as a prisoner. Though I’m not sure how much I believe this—it could just be a set-up. Regardless, the ship sends over a pod, which arrives back on the ship with Makee, but of course that’s not the case, as she instantly summons an army of violent worm-like creatures to take down the officers. The entire crew is killed with Makee left on the ship to figure out where the keystone is.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Back at the UNSC base, Chief is getting reacclimated to daily life with his Spartan buddies, but Cortana comes in and crashes the party, innocently introducing herself to the Silver Team. He’s quite harsh to her and basically tells her to scram, and though she leaves, it’s clear that she was emotionally affected by his words.

Later on, Chief’s looking up some data online and is having trouble finding anything, so Cortana pops into his head and tries to get him to trust her. He finally gives in and allows her to help, though it ends up becoming more of a therapy session. Afterwards, Cortana becomes a bit of a tattletale, letting Dr. Halsey know that Chief is trying to remove the receptor in his spine that prohibits him from emotionally feeling things.

Instead of having Cortana shut down the situation, Halsey wants her to appear as an accomplice as a way to gain his trust instead of coming off as a spy. She reluctantly agrees, talking him through the process as he removes the receptor with a knife from his lower back. However, what neither of them realizes is that fellow Spartan, Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy), was watching the whole situation unfold from afar.

In a surprisingly wholesome scene, we follow along with Chief as he goes out in public, takes the train, and strolls around. As this is an entirely new experience for him, it’s quite a lot to take in, as he’s exposed to music, different types of people, and even a dog. Coming off this experience, he immediately heads back to the keystone to fully feel his flashbacks, though Cortana advises against it.

While going through the flashbacks, he realizes that there’s a second keystone that his family most likely buried at their home. With Cortana’s help, he’s able to isolate the planet he lived on as a child, being that it had visible ice rings. He’s now determined to go back to the planet, and Halsey agrees to accompany him.

At the Rubble, Kwan is trying to re-route the electrical wiring of one of Soren’s ships to escape, though he catches her in the process. She cuts a deal with Soren: if he flies her back to Madrigal, she’ll give him a heft sum of her family’s money. Surprisingly, Soren agrees.

Final Thoughts

Alright, I could’ve done without seeing a needle being viciously slammed into Cortana’s eyeball, but aside from that, this episode is actually taking the show in a much more intriguing direction. I have to say, the past two episodes were giving me The Mandalorian vibes, but the complexity of Cortana’s relationship both with Chief and with Dr. Halsey is adding a transformative quality to the series.

We still have a ways to go given that this is only the third episode of 10, but seeing as this one presented a complex, marked change of events, it’ll be interesting to see how the relationships with Cortana play out, as well as if we ever see Kwan and Chief reunite.

Culture Movies/TV

‘Halo’ Series Episode 2 Recap: “Unbound”

The second episode of Halo throws us back to the earlier days of Master Chief’s life—I mean, not so far back as to give us a visual of an armored-up Baby Chief, but far enough to give us a better sense of Chief’s changed psyche.

Getting ready for bed as a young man in the UNSC, Chief notices that the bed labeled “066” is missing its occupant, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine), who’s Chief’s best friend. He leaves to find Soren on the brink of leaving the UNSC base for good, as they had apparently agreed to leave together. As Chief hasn’t brought his armor or ditch bag, it’s clear to Soren that his friend won’t be joining him. Soren tries to convince him to leave while Chief pleads with him to stay, though Soren is set in his ways—and so is Chief. Finally, Chief pulls a gun out on him, though he has a slight change of heart and decides to not to kill Soren, telling him instead that he has five minutes to leave before he alerts the authorities.

Back in the present day, Chief and Kwan are out on the loose as they were narrowly able to escape the UNSC headquarters just before. Though it’s at first unclear where exactly they’re headed in their ship, Chief has a whole plan figured out in his head.

There’s an almost extreme quietness as they head through the asteroids in space, but Chief finally settles on a specific one to hone his sights on. Landing on the Rubble, a city on an asteroid, Chief meets up with none other than Soren, who seems to be living a particularly happy life after having left the UNSC.

We switch our gears to High Charity (a planet that houses the Covenant), where plans are being put in motion to steal back the artifact that Chief took from Madrigal. The Covenant clearly understands the full capabilities of the artifact’s powers and are desperate to get it back. Also, apparently what I’ve been referring to as the “artifact” is actually considered the “relic,” so from here on out, we’re going with “relic.” The relic is part of one of the main keystones, which is why it’s so valuable to the Covenant. And at the Rubble, one of Chief’s main goals is to figure out just what that relic is capable of.

Adrienn Szabo / Paramount+

Chief gets a surprisingly positive greeting from Soren, even though he threatened to kill him previously (no biggie). Chief brings him up to date with the situation at hand and Soren—being the (sort-of) man in charge at the Rubble—escorts Chief and Kwan to his personal home. Now, it’s no easy walk to get to his place, as they have to take a chaotic, subway-like car that ziplines itself to Soren’s place. After that rough ride, they finally arrive and are greeted by his family. They hang out for a bit but then get down to business, as Chief asks him about the relic and if there’s anyone he knows who could help him. It turns out that Soren does have someone in mind, but that certain someone might be a bit on the extreme side.

Elsewhere at the UNSC base, a group of admirals, scientists, and other high-ranking officials gather to discuss the issues with Chief as well as their options in controlling both him and other UNSC spartans going forward. Dr. Catherine Halsey has a solution: Cortana. She explains that Cortana would be the next stage in human evolution—an entirely new upgrade to the UNSC spartans, as she represents the intelligence of the entire galaxy. The others in the room express some concerns, bringing up the illegal practice of flash-cloning humans, but Halsey tries to make a good case for Cortana.

Back at the Rubble, Soren brings Chief and Kwan along to a hallway filled with cells, where they focus on one cell that holds Reth (Johann Myers), a man who had been taken to a Covenant ship at one point in his life. Clearly mentally affected by this experience, he stays close to the ground, jumping all around while talking extremely fast. Reth ends up confirming everything that Chief had suspected about the relic, and while Reth’s touch to it does nothing, Chief’s touch sends the cell into a spin, as Reth realizes that Chief is chosen one.

It turns out that the relic has the capability to end all life entirely, but because of Chief’s connection to it, he would be able to stop it from getting to that point. The only catch: if he destroys the relic, he destroys himself. With that information, Chief decides to leave the Rubble, except he’s also leaving someone else behind: Kwan. Claiming that she’ll be much safer there, Chief heads off to the UNSC.

Culture Movies/TV

‘Halo’ Series Episode 1 Recap: “Contact”

Before even jumping into the new Paramount+ series, Halo, the high expectations are palpable. From the hordes of fans who have been anticipating this moment for years to the studio side of things (which has poured $100 million into the production—oof), there’s quite a bit riding on this series. But they must’ve done something right, as the show was already renewed for a second season prior to its premiere on March 24. With that, let’s head off into the world of people who dress up like robots and the aliens who are…well, aliens.

It’s the year 2552 in the UEG Outer Colonies and we’re chilling on the planet of Madrigal. There’s a major war going on, as the humans on Madrigal want to become completely independent from Earth. We focus on Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), a Madrigal teen who just wants to hang out with her friends and take drugs—you know, the usual. More specifically, the drug is called “Madrigal Heavy Hydrogen,” and it can also be used to power ships. Just as her friends are starting to take the drugs, Ha notices a little something out of the corner of her eye.

As she spots an alien-like ship, she and her friends are immediately under attack by the Covenant, which is a fancy word for all of the characters who are aliens. As they’re suddenly under heavy fire, Ha cracks open a flare to alert her home base as to what’s going on. Basically, all of her friends are goners, but she’s able to sprint back to the base, barely making it in as the gates close behind her.

Her father, General Jin Ha (Jeong-hwan Kong), is the head of the rebel forces on Madrigal and is elated to see that his daughter has made it back. He’s not too elated, however, as he knows that a swarm of aliens is at his back door. There’s basically nothing that they could’ve done to stop the Covenant from breaking through, so as the general has his rebel soldiers at the ready (with AK-47s in the year 2552?!), the aliens burst through and immediately start taking out soldiers left and right.

Of course, the ever-holy energy sword had to make an appearance, and boy, did she translate well to the big screen (even though she was being used to take out innocent rebel soldiers). About 75% through the battle, a familiar face shoots down from above: our best guy, John-117, the Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC).

He and his squad make quick work of the Covenant but are ultimately unable to save the general. The only survivor of the entire attack ends up being Kwan, who the UNSC squad quickly abandons to scope out the rest of the area afterward. I mean, it’s not like she just went through a traumatic event or anything.


Chief leads the crew to a dark cave with a weird, mystical, triangular artifact attached to one of the walls. Like any of us would when faced with a potentially dangerous alien object, he decides to reach out and touch it. Various lines and lights are illuminated, lining not just the artifact itself, but also the walls that surround it, sending Master Chief into a childhood flashback that jars him. Not only did that insane moment just happen, but on top of that, a lurking alien pops out of the cave and is able to escape, knocking over Kwan on its way out, who had been outside.

With that, we check in on another planet in the galaxy, Reach, and more specifically, at Fleetcom, which is the UNSC headquarters. We’re greeted by Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natasha McElhone), who works as a scientist for the UNSC and created the Spartan-II Project. She has our girl, Cortana (voiced by Jen Taylor), in an egg-like incubator à la Lady Gaga circa the 2011 Grammys.

Leaving Madrigal and now on the ship back to Reach, Master Chief keeps Kwan in the back under observation so that those at Fleetcom can keep an eye on her vitals and what she’s doing in general. Though she was being ignored for the entire trip, Chief finally speaks to her and she explains that her father wanted independence from Madrigal, so she does, too. We also learn that Chief was responsible for the death of her mother, so, you know, they quickly become best buds.

While talking with her, Chief gets an order on his heads-up display (HUD) to kill Kwan. He has a few more visions similar to the ones before, except this time, he can make out a little bit more of what’s going on, realizing that it involves his childhood. All of a sudden, Kwan gets dizzy and is having trouble breathing, eventually falling unconscious; this is because the UNSC is seeing that the Chief isn’t acting on his orders to kill her. He figures out that the UNSC is remotely turning down the oxygen on the ship, and as he realizes that, Chief falls unconscious, as well.

Somehow he’s able to wake himself up, reach for the manual oxygen lever (apparently that’s a thing), and turns it back on. Seeing that he’s defying orders even further, the admiral at Fleetcon, Admiral Margaret Parangosky, is considering sending out the Pelicans (tactical ships) to neutralize him, though Halsey convinces her not to; she wants to secure him, instead.

In a shocking moment, Chief takes off his helmet (*gasp*) and talks to Kwan about how he doesn’t want her executed, even though it goes against what he has been taught over the years. This is likely to be a divisive moment amongst fans as Chief has never taken off his helmet in the games.

At this moment, he realizes how much of an effect the artifact has had on him already. As the ship was being flown via autopilot under the control of the UNSC, Chief disables the ship and decides to fly it manually. As he gets closer to being in the range of the UNSC base, they shoot it down to force it to land.

They attach explosives to the side of the ship, but Chief decides to touch his hand to the artifact once again, which wipes out all of the electric connections on the base. Because of that, they have total control of the ship, turn it around, and head out to parts unknown.

Culture Movies/TV

Meet Some of the Creators Behind the Ambitious New Series, “Halo”

The creativity behind and within Halo has always been tenfold. Outside of the meticulously-crafted campaigns, players could do anything from crafting their own maps and game modes to turning the game into a futuristic Mario Kart—and that’s because its creators wanted players to have that freedom. In that same fashion, Halo, the upcoming series, takes things a major step forward by unleashing that creativity even further.

We spoke with actresses Jen Taylor and Yerin Ha and producers Steven Kane and Kiki Wolfkill to discuss quite a few angles of the series, from their writing, producing, and acting standpoints.

While you might not know Jen Taylor, you definitely know Jen Taylor’s voice. On top of voicing Cortana on Halo for a casual 20-plus years, Taylor has also been the voice of Princess Peach, Toad, and Toadette—so, yeah, when Peach giddily celebrates after taking you out with a blue shell in Mario Kart, it’s Taylor.

“It’s a different beast, right? It’s the same character-slightly tweaked; very similar, slightly different,” Taylor said of playing Cortana in this series. “For me, I’m doing motion capture with actors who are doing a live performance, so it’s slightly different—a modality within a modality. I have a lot more technical things that I have to worry about than everybody else does, so it’s fun; it’s another different step for me which I’m really enjoying doing.”

In the same way that Taylor has spent over 20 years playing Cortana, she has also gotten to know the character in a way that no one else possibly could. And with that knowledge comes a massive insight into what Cortana both would and wouldn’t actually do in the series.

“I definitely had some moments where I said, ‘Can we try it this way?’ and ‘Can I maybe say this instead?’ and Steve was very receptive to that,” Taylor said. “I definitely feel like I’ve been able to have some input for sure. I mean, not with the plot, but with smaller things, absolutely.”

In one of her largest roles to date, Yerin Ha is taking on the starring role of Kwan Ha—a daring rebel who finds herself working alongside Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) as a new addition to the Halo universe. Given that fans have been waiting years for a series like this, Ha was a newcomer in two senses: in joining this massive franchise and for Kwan herself in the.

In watching the series, Ha’s character always feels within reach (pun absolutely intended)—it’s easy to tell that Ha’s entire heart is in the performance as she blends innate humanity and emotion with a devoted rebel spirit in Kwan. While there were definitely high expectations from fans for the show to succeed, Ha powered past that and focused on the importance of being in the present.

“You know what’s funny, I actually tried to not think about that too much. I did my part in doing the research and reading everything I could about Halo and the universe with my respect and homage to that,” Ha said. “There was a point where I kind of had to let it go and focus on Kwan, this new character—what her purpose is, what she’s trying to say, why she’s there in the story, why she’s there with Master Chief—and kind of really focused on that.”

Steven Kane and Kiki Wolfkill

Showrunner, writer, and executive producer Steven Kane had a pretty daunting task ahead of him: Finally adapting Halo for the big screen. Kane has worked on and wrote on the series, The Last Ship, The Closer, and American Dad!, as well as feature films like The Doghouse. As there had been rumors swirling around for years about a possible Halo series or movie in the works, this time, it was for real.

“I think it’s overwhelming at first as the spigot opens up and you get inundated with 20 years of canon. The first thing I did was I went to Seattle for boot camp to get a crash course—not really so much on the game itself, but more so on the ethos behind the game: the themes, the important core values,” Kane said. “Focusing foremost on my job as a writer—it’s just to tell a good story with characters that you can relate to with a journey that’s compelling. And coming from the outside of 343 [Industries] and outside of the canon, [it’s] being a tour guide for the uninitiated, as well, so that even if you don’t know the first thing about canon or about Halo, you’re just watching a good TV show. If you know canon up and down, the rewards are manifold because they’re everywhere; we made sure we serviced that, as well.”

Kiki Wolfkill has been in the Halo sphere for quite some time, as she has worked as a video game developer for years, especially with 343 Industries on the Halo franchise, and on this project, she worked as the executive producer. Oh, and she’s also a former competitive racecar driver, so she’s basically the coolest person ever. In speaking about the previous Halo projects like the animated show Halo: The Fall of Reach and the short film, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Wolfkill explained her incorporation of those into this new series.

“Those are both really good examples; I think we looked across all of those things. But what I would say is with Halo 4—and I’ve always been particularly passionate about narrative in video games and different narrative structures—we really tried to dig a little more into Chief and his relationship with Cortana and his state of mind; maybe starting to question what his role is as a leader of men (and women) and in the UNSC,” Wolfkill said. “That John’s story became really important—that’s where eight, nine, 10 hours became super important to a television series. The origin story is super-critical for John’s journey: him understanding, recognizing, and reconciling where he came from was really important for him moving forward.”

Halo premieres on March 24 on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping weekly and it has already been renewed for a second season.