The following will contain spoilers for season 1, episode 1 of Halo. For a non-spoiler review of the first two episodes, click here.
Halo opens up on the Planet Madrigal (no relation to the magical family from Encanto). We see a group of water extraction workers enjoying a break and venting about the UNSC (United Nations Space Command). Disillusioned by the current system of government, these workers tell ghost stories about UNSC’s greatest weapon: the Spartan. General Ha interrupts by asking where his daughter, Kwan (Yerin Ha) is. Kwan is outside the boundary of their base with her friends when she notices a Covenant ship and a newly excavated cave. The Covenant emerges and slaughters Kwan’s friends. Kwan makes it back in time to warn her father and the other workers.
Pretty quickly, it becomes clear that the Covenant severely outmatch the people of Madrigal. Then, out of the blue, a UNSC ship appears. From that ship drops John-117, a.k.a. Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and Silver Team. The Spartans of Silver Team begin dispatching the Covenant soldiers in short order. This scene will please fans of the games as familiar imagery and sounds are used during this battle, from melee attacks to the sight of an energy sword and even hearing the warning beeps of Chief’s HUD after taking too much damage. When the dust settles, the only things still alive are the Spartans and Kwan.
Silver Team begins reconnaissance and enters the cave where the Covenant had been digging. Master Chief discovers an artifact at the center of the dig site. He touches the artifact, and it begins to glow and illuminate the cave. A remaining Covenant soldier watches on, but is distracted by the glow from the artifact. We get a quick glimpse of Chief’s childhood before he snaps out of it. The Covenant soldier runs out of the cave, hitting a distraught Kwan and knocking her down. Chief and the rest of Silver Team come across Kwan’s unconscious body, and he orders Silver Team to return to base while he retrieves the artifact.
We cut to Planet Reach, where Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone) is going over Master Chief’s HUD log of the artifact. Admiral Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) interrupts her and informs Halsey there’s talk of pulling her funding following the massacre on Madrigal. Halsey tells Parangosky about the object discovered, hoping it can tell them something they don’t already know about the Covenant. Before leaving, Parangosky looks into one of Halsey’s labs and sees a project supposed to be decommissioned. Halsey enters the chamber after Parangosky leaves and interacts with the controls of a bald woman in a stasis chamber. At first glance, it’s tough to tell, but this is a clone of Dr. Halsey in what is a precursor for the A.I. known as Cortana.
We transition to High Charity: the Covenant Command. We see a Covenant Prophet (floating chair and all) talking to a hooded figure regarding the artifact on Madrigal. The hooded figure stands, revealing herself to be a human and being referred to as the “Blessed One.” It’s revealed she was the one who told the Covenant where to find the artifact and is surprised to hear the artifact came to life when Master Chief touched it.
Kwan awakens on Master Chief’s ship. A hologram of Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) greets her. Keyes does her best to connect with Kwan and asks for her help to convince other outer rim colonies to join the UNSC. Kwan vehemently says no. We then cut to Dr. Halsey and another scientist going over Master Chief’s interaction with the artifact. They learn the artifact has interacted with John’s nervous system and don’t understand how. Dr. Halsey calls John to discuss what happened between him and the artifact. He reveals he saw glimpses of something that felt like a memory. Halsey and the other scientist give each other a concerned look before she tells John not to go near the artifact until he arrives.
We cut to see Miranda Keyes speaking to her father, Captain Jacob Keyes (Danny Sapani), discussing Dr. Halsey’s apprehension to Miranda’s involvement. We learn that Dr. Halsey is Miranda’s mother, and that they have a strained relationship. Before leaving, Jacob tells Miranda that Kwan will eventually succumb to injuries she sustained in the battle. After just having spoken with Kwan, Miranda knows this is a lie and is appalled by what her dad is telling her.
We go from one revelation to another as we cut back to Master Chief and Kwan. Kwan tells Master Chief that he killed Kwan’s mother while she was meeting with other colonies. Master Chief rebuts with the classic “just following orders” line. He receives a new order on his HUD: eliminate Kwan Ha. Halsey, Jacob Keyes, and Parangosky watch the ship’s feed as they see Chief disable the cameras to the ship. The UNSC leaders cut the oxygen to the ship out of fear that Master Chief is compromised.
Kwan awakens and threatens to shoot Chief thinking he had something to do with her passing out. Chief tells her the bullets won’t pierce his armor and (in a move that will anger many fans) removes his helmet, telling her to aim for his head. Kwan, now believing he had nothing to do with the attempt on her life, lowers the gun. The ship crashes at the UNSC headquarters, where troops are ready to breach the ship. John notices the artifact, now floating above the ground, and touches it. The artifact releases an EMP-like blast, knocking out UNSC headquarters and showing John more of his memories. The most intriguing of which shows a young John drawing the artifact. The duo then flies off, away from the UNSC.
The Halo premiere paints a clear picture that it will be deviating from the source material. It walks a fine line between being a faithful adaptation and wanting to stand on its own. The creators behind the show have dubbed it the “Silver Timeline,” where it can go any number of ways as the story progresses without being beholden to the games’ continuity. Like most shows, the first episode is there to introduce audiences to the characters and the world, so it’s too early to tell where the season will lead. –Kellen Murack
Season Rating: 7/10