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‘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.

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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.

Paramount+

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.

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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.