The following will contain spoilers for season 1, episode 2 of ‘Halo.’ For a recap of episode 1, click here.
The second episode of Halo opens up 22 years ago on Planet Reach. Here, we see a young John-117 as he appears to be escaping his UNSC Training Facility. After jumping a fence, we see another Spartan, but in full armor. This Spartan is a young Soren-066, and Soren is shocked when he sees John holding up an assault rifle and telling him he can’t let him go. After a quick negotiation, Soren convinces John to give him a 5-minute headstart. The casting for this show remains a constant stand-out. The young actor who plays Teenage John (Logan Shearer) looks and sounds how a young Pablo Schreiber would. The same goes for teenage Soren (Jude Cudjoe).
We cut back to Master Chief and Kwan following their evasion of UNSC forces. She thanks him for saving her life as they travel to an unknown destination at hyper-speed. The writers are building up a no-nonsense mentor/sarcastic apprentice vibe with these two. The dialogue from Yerin Ha’s Kwan, though charming at times, feels a bit forced given her character’s current situation. She lost everyone she knows and cares about in the last few days and seems to have quickly moved on to cracking jokes with the man who murdered her mother. Schreiber’s acting is excellent, but the writing keeps giving him these extended soliloquies as often as they give him more standard dialogue, making him feel like Kirkland Shakespeare.
Following the opening title sequence (which is fantastic, by the way), we’re back on Planet Reach as Dr. Halsey discusses Master Chief’s desertion with one of the higher-ups. She blames his desertion on the unknown artifact and asserts that it will win the UNSC the war. We move on to members of Silver Team discussing Master Chief. Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu) and Riz-026 (Natasha Cluzac) plan on bringing him back no matter what, while Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) seems a little more apprehensive.
We return to Chief and Kwan in an asteroid field as they approach “The Rubble.” One thing Halo has done surprisingly well so far is having unique and distinct planets. The costuming and set design have been phenomenal thus far in building this literal universe. Master Chief and Kwan meet up with a grown-up Soren (Bokeem Woodbine), now running a shelter for runaways in the galaxy. He tells them that Kwan’s father’s replacement, Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman), has placed a bounty on Kwan’s head.
We transition over to High Charity, where the “Blessed One” talks to the Elite soldier who witnessed Master Chief activate the artifact in the previous episode. One of the Prophets nearby refers to the artifact as a Keystone and how they must have it. The Blessed One, also known as Makee (Charlie Murphy), volunteers to go find the Keystone as it will lead them to “the ring.”
We cut back to Planet Reach as we listen in on a council meeting in the midst of discussing Master Chief and their fears regarding his desertion. Instead of execution, Dr. Halsey proposes another alternative to John’s current situation: Cortana. We cut to Planet Madrigal as we see Vinsher Grath executing insurrectionists. He’s already seized power on the planet and has begun working closely with the UNSC.
We then move on to Silver Team hot on Master Chief’s trail. They’ve been able to rack him entering the asteroid field. John and Soren are catching up before moving on to the Keystone. John tells him he doesn’t know what it is or how it works, only that it activates when he touches it. Soren hastily puts his hand on it to see what it does, and nothing. The Keystone doesn’t activate. Soren goes on to say he knows a guy who might be able to help them figure out what it is.
Soren takes the pair to meet Reth (Johann Myers). He survived a Covenant abduction and revealed that he was experimented on to see if he was a “blessed one.” Reth attempts to destroy the Keystone before Chief takes hold of it, activating it and giving John a few more glimpses of his past. Reth warns them of “the ring” the Keystone will lead to and how John needs to destroy it. John, now scared of what this weapon is capable of, leaves Kwan in Soren’s care to reconvene with Silver Team. They return to Planet Reach, where John is taken into custody, and Dr. Halsey acquires the Keystone.
While in a cell, Dr. Halsey comes to visit with John. After a discussion regarding the mystery of this object, Halsey asks John why he decided to save Kwan. He’s a changed man. We’re also given snippets of Makee changing out of her robes in order to go undercover within the UNSC. We get a glimpse at a few scars on her back that are eerily similar to John’s.
This episode is a strong follow-up to the pilot. It focuses considerably more on the characters and their personalities than it does on advancing the plot. Despite not having much action, the mystery surrounding the Keystone is enough to keep the audience engaged. Pablo Schreiber makes the most of his time out of the mask and helps justify the decision. Bokeem Woodbine was the stand-out in the episode. He effortlessly charms his way through while also showing the real pain brought on by John from when they were kids. He is a welcome addition to the show and will hopefully be given plenty of screen time in future episodes. Halo has started strong with these first two episodes, showing promise for the season to come.
Season Rating: 7.5/10