The following will contain spoilers for season 1, episodes 5 and 6 of ‘Halo.’ For a recap of episode 4, click here.
The fifth installment of Halo saw Master Chief and the UNSC uncovering the second Keystone from the planet Eridanus II. This episode felt like the culmination of the first half of the season; Chief becoming increasingly more suspicious of Halsey, Kai opening herself up to her emotions, Makee and the Covenant zeroing in on our hero all come to a head in episode 5.
We start the episode watching the UNSC descend upon Eridanus II. They are prepping a crane to remove the especially large Keystone from the cave where John and Dr. Halsey had discovered it. Among the exploratory crew are Miranda and Jacob Keyes. Still under John’s suspicion, Halsey tells the Spartan not to touch the new Keystone out of fear of what it might show him. John looks to his commanding officer, Captain Jacob Keyes, Halsey’s ex-husband, to confide. While this is going on, Soren and Kwan are having motorbike issues on Madrigal.
The show loses nearly all its momentum when it cuts to Soren and Kwan. Though they started as new and exciting characters, their entire plot feels unnecessary. This episode especially. We spend so much of the runtime watching them bicker about their broken bike, Soren locking Kwan to the bike so she can’t escape, Kwan struggling and eventually freeing herself, and Kwan tasing Soren to end the episode. It feels like their plotline has been an afterthought and used to fill time.
Returning to Master Chief, he becomes suspicious of Jacob’s allegiances and fears he will side with Halsey. John goes to touch the Keystone and sees past memories of Dr. Halsey kidnapping him as a young boy. Learning this enrages John, who lunges at Halsey before Cortana shuts down his neural pathways, rendering him unconscious.
Chief awakens to the Covenant attacking and joins the fight. The final 15 minutes of the episode is what fans have been waiting for since episode 1 -an epic battle between UNSC and Covenant forces. John eventually abandons his objective of delivering the Keystone to help Kai. The Covenant takes the Keystone and leaves Makee for the UNSC to “rescue.”
Even without the final battle, this episode found more ways to keep the Chief/Halsey dynamic flowing and engaging than the previous one. Master Chief has gone from suspicious to angry with his creator. The final battle didn’t hurt the episode either. The action was fluid and organic, feeling like it could have been a cutaway scene from the games. Episode 5 of Halo shows audiences the potential of this series going forward.
Episode 6 opens with Master Chief immediately following the battle with the Covenant. Kai, in excruciating pain following the battle, is sedated. Master Chief looks on at Dr. Halsey, still clearly reeling from the revelation in the previous episode that he was abducted. After the ship lands, Chief traps Halsey in a laboratory and threatens to radiate her unless Cortana stops him. Cortana tells him she cannot, and as the radiation begins to pour out, Chief saves Halsey.
Makee and Chief have a brief interaction where he learns she can also interact with the Keystones. She tells him she is the “Blessed One,” a name he had heard from Reth back in episode 2. Chief goes on to confront Halsey while Captain Keyes, Admiral Parangosky, and Miranda Keyes listen in. Here, Halsey reveals that John and the other Spartans were kidnapped as children replaced by flash-clones that eventually deteriorate and die, thus, making them ghosts. This information shocks John and shows him how conniving Halsey is.
It’s challenging to follow up a good battle for any show. Halo chose to dramatize the tension between the characters to keep viewers interested. These scenes are incredibly well-executed character-driven, which is rare in a show this bombastic. The cinematography and camera work feel unique in these scenes as well. John’s stature over his fellow officers and Makee is reminiscent of the work done in The Lord of the Rings films.
Following her admission to Master Chief, Admiral Parangosky meets with Dr. Halsey. It’s learned that Halsey is going to be relocated and the Spartan Program will be given to Miranda. Halsey sends Miranda a message to visit her in her home. Halsey apologizes for being distant and not the mother Miranda needed. And when you think Halsey turned a corner, you realize she was using that interaction to give her access to Cortana.
Having been present for all of John and Miranda’s interactions, Cortana tells Dr. Halsey that John is going to interface with the artifact again. He plans to interact with it for as long as possible to overcome the pain and discomfort he’s felt in previous attempts. Chief begins the interaction, and Makee falls to seizure-like symptoms. John perseveres, and his mind ends up on the titular Halo. Makee is also there, and they take a moment to inspect the giant structure. John’s consciousness returns to his body, and it cuts to black.
Following a few rocky episodes, Halo seems to be back on track. The final shot of Makee and John on the Halo was breathtaking and well-executed. The visuals are stunning, but the sound design and score also add to the majesty of the ring. The episode excluded Kwan’s story to its benefit. The pace of the episode moved kept it engaging and built on the tension from previous scenes. Here’s to hoping the remainer of the season keeps this momentum going.
Episode 5 Rating: 7.5/10
Episode 6 Rating: 8/10
Season Rating: 7/10
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