The following will contain spoilers for season 1, episode 7 of ‘Halo.’ For a recap of episode 6, click here.
This episode of Halo starts with a flashback to Madrigal two years ago, where we see Kwan Ha have an outburst directed at her father. She walks out upset and stares off at the Madrigal planetscape. Fast-forward to present day, and we see Kwan driving into a dust storm, following her confrontation with Soren in episode 5. She stops in the middle of the storm and has a bag thrown over her head.
This week sees Kwan at the center of the episode, giving Master Chief’s storyline respite. Yerin Ha seems up to the task, however. More so than in previous episodes, we see the pain she’s been feeling since her father passed. While Kwan meets with the Mystics, we see Soren back on The Rubble safe and sound. He’s shown to be disagreeing with his business partner, Squirrel (Gábor Nagypál), about how they run things.
We cut back to Kwan speaking with the Mystics. They tell her she is the latest in a bloodline that knows the true secret of Madrigal. They hand her a bowl to drink from and she hallucinates Master Chief when she does. She follows Chief back through the sands of Madrigal to the tent of the Mystics. She needs to fight Chief to the death. After failing several different times, she accepts defeat, only for Chief to reach out his hand and help her up.
Kwan is led through the desert by Master Chief (suddenly out of his armor because of course he is) to a man in the desert staring into a well. The Master Chief leaves her, and she asks who the man is. She learns it is one of her ancestors, the first who spoke with the Mystics all of those years ago. Kwan then sees her father, who tells her the secret of Madrigal. A portal under the surface will reveal its secrets once the planet is safe. Kwan wakes up knowing she must return to where “it all began.”
From the technical side of things, Halo has done an impressive job. The bolstered budget of the show comes through when showing various planets or alien cultures. However, this episode almost feels like an afterthought. It is as if they’d filmed the original eight but decided to cut and splice scenes into an additional 50 minutes. The editing is choppy, scenes are poorly voiced over, and some of the CGI backgrounds, which have been impressive in previous episodes, feel significantly cheaper.
Having listened to one of Squirrel’s tips, Soren helps Squirrel and his men raid a UNSC ship for slip space drives. Soren learns that Vinsher has tripled the bounty on Kwan’s head when getting back to The Rubble. While interrogating one of Jin Ha’s former generals, Vinsher is alerted to Kwan’s presence at her old mining colony. Kwan runs back into Soren in the settlement, who tells her that he’s returned to help. Their reunion suddenly gets interrupted by Vinsher and his men.
Burn Gorman is a delight as Vinsher Grath. He’s channeling the pulpiness of a 60’s sci-fi villain with the bombastic outfits and cheesy dialogue while walking a fine line between menacing and entertaining. One consistent issue with the character is his power around the planet. We see through various news programs that he’s in charge, but it never feels like it. His hold over Madrigal feels more like a gang running around and stirring up trouble; not exactly the presence of a dictator.
Removing Soren from the Madrigal storyline is a baffling move that feels like it breaks the universe. Not knowing how he got to The Rubble, pulled a job with Squirrel and his men, and returned to Madrigal in a matter of days makes this universe feel much smaller than it should. Soren fights his way through Vinsher’s men while Kwan gets one of the rigs up and running with the idea to blow it up, vaporizing Vinsher and his goons. They succeed, and Soren heads back to his life on The Rubble while Kwan prepares for what’s next.
This episode is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Kwan’s journey comes full circle (ha) and ends satisfyingly. Yerin Ha comes into her own as Kwan and carries the episode exceptionally well. However, except for dead elites and the use of a plasma grenade, this episode feels wholly disassociated with the world of Halo that’s been built for the previous six episodes. Kwan’s story feels as if it was retooled to fit in with the show and fill out the season’s runtime. Kwan’s story was akin to most underdog tales, but the stakes never felt that high.
The mystery of the portal on Madrigal should leave viewers intrigued and excited to return to the desert planet. It was said that Kwan would need to lead Master Chief to it when he returns, so expect the Spartan to return to Madrigal in the remaining two episodes.
Episode Rating: 4/10
Season Rating: 6/10
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