Halo season 1 review: a flood of bold bets and tangled plot points

The Halo The TV series’ season finale premiered yesterday, bringing the first season to an interesting, if incomplete, ending. With a full season in the tank, I’m finally able to fully review the show as a complete entity, and I have to say, it’s complicated.

The Halo TV shows are complicated like a toxic hookup is complicated. Is this person bad for you? Yes. Is the sex great? Meh. But are you intrigued? barely enough to keep them around to see where it goes? Absolute.

Even though I don’t feel real Halo is either a good television season or a good exploration of the Halo canon, I’m not ready to put it in the glass countries the way Netflix did my beloved but troubled Cowboy Bebop

There were just so many good, well-executed concepts spinning around in slip space just waiting for the right one Shaw-Fujikawa engine to get them where they need to be.

Pablo Schreiber was a good Master Chief. He made some weird decisions (or rather, the writers made some weird decisions for him), but overall he struck the right note as John-117. He has the gravitas of a natural leader and a competent soldier. He is also stoic, but not too serious. If anything, he might have been a little too staid and could have used some more one-liners to rip him off to the proper Master Chief level. Remember the tear in halo 2 about returning their bomb to the Covenant? More of that, please.

But as skilled as Schreiber was, he was surpassed by almost every female lead character.

Aside from the hideous haircut, I really enjoyed Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha, the orphaned human settler fighting to save her world from the UNSC bootlicker played by Burn Gorman. There was so much promise with her character and the Master Chief in the first episode. If the entire series had been about Master Chief getting in touch with his humanity with the help of Kwan while teaching her how to be a better soldier and leader in the wake of her father’s murder, this would have been a much better show. have been.

Image: CBS/Paramount Plus

dr. Natascha McElhone’s Halsey was a crude, almost cartoonish, evil caricature of her character from the games, but it worked. The showrunners basically flipped Cortana’s motivations at the end of this year Halo 5: Guardians – essentially “I will save you by your total submission” – to her human ancestor. While it’s an explicit departure from its canon nature, it makes sense. dr. Halsey has done some unspeakably bad things which she justified by saying it was for the greater good. The showrunners just took this ethos to its natural conclusion that McElhone played to chilling perfection.

I’m actually very disappointed in the showrunners’ treatment of Makee, the Human Covenant spy played by Charlie Murphy (the Irish actress from Peaky Blinders — not brother of Eddie Murphy). She would have been another great defender for John, as this is a woman who is his sworn enemy, even more so than Kwan Ha. But because of their shared connection to the artifacts everyone is looking for, they become so close that they eventually become lovers. The idea that John has a girlfriend is unfathomably weird, but why not? It’s an idea that’s never been explored in the canon (his obvious but platonic love for Cortana aside), and the showrunners had quickly and loosely played with John’s characterization, so why not let him have a girlfriend? I would have loved to see more of Makee and John exploring and getting to know the elements of romantic love – an emotion neither of us has experience with – especially a romantic love filled with the fears of two people raised on opposite sides of a war . The enemies of lovers fanfiction writes itself!

But the writers didn’t want us to have nice things. Even after Makee’s trickery at the end of episode eight, it was still clear that she and John cared about each other and that she would be willing to leave the Covenant again for his sake. But when he can only convince her to rejoin him for a few seconds, Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) shoots her dead.

Makee was wasted potential. It was like the showrunners didn’t really know what to do with her outside of her plot device status, and they had no better imagination for her than to drop the big old one. metaphorical fridge on her head. There’s a chance she could come back in season two, so all this hand-wringing might be for nothing, but we’ll just have to see.

Of all the women acting in Schreiber’s circles, none was better than Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) and Kate Kennedy. They were amazing in every scene they were in, and the one scene they played together was probably the best, most heartfelt, and cutest moment on the show.

I love what they’ve done with Miranda. She became a real person with more emotion and motivation than her video game counterpart, barely stepping outside the bounds of an emotionless, “honorable and dutiful” soldier of the UN Security Council. I felt for her the moments she tried to connect with her mother Dr. Halsey, while wanting to be both respected and loved by her, while also wanting nothing to do with her “necessary in any way” cruelty.

Image: CBS/Paramount Plus

And Kai? Kai is simply the best actor on the show. Period. Season two could be nothing but Kai pressing warthogs and talking to Miranda about the Covenant language, and it would be a perfect show. When Kai followed John’s lead and removed her emotion-suppressing pellet, she came to be much more natural and believable in her humanity than John. She is most like the Spartans I know from the books and games. She has the sniping skills of Linda-058 and the devil cares attitude of Fred-104 and Edward Buck

Seeing Kai so well written makes her conflict with the rest of her team, who I felt were lagging behind. I would have liked the show so much better if Riz-028 and Vannak-134 got the same treatment as Kai and John. Silver Team was so disjointed with Kai and John on one side and Riz and Vannak on the other: they often tried but failed to be a credible team, and I felt like the showrunners didn’t quite understand that the most important draw of Spartan teams is their camaraderie. Halo fans would have forgiven many of the show’s plot flaws if the Spartans of Silver Team were more on it blue team or noble team or even Fireteam Osiris

Aside from great performances, the plot of the Halo The TV show was a mess. Kwan Ha and Soren-066’s subplot quickly became annoying and strange. It had to somehow be better integrated into the main plot or jettisoned – not go on like it would slow down the more interesting parts of the story. A nine-episode season should be fast and tight, and yet we have padding. There are also several moments throughout the season when the camera switched from perspective to first-person like in the games. Stop that. It’s bad. It’s always shocking and ugly and compelling. It didn’t work in disaster all those years ago, and now it doesn’t work anymore. Stop.

Image: CBS/Paramount Plus

The Covenant as the villains were fine. While all the aliens except the Prophets looked ridiculously badass in a low-budget, “presented by SyFy” fashion, it was a good thing they weren’t the main focus of the season. One of the things I loved most about the show, and the reason I want to give it another chance, is that it wasn’t the masturbating celebration of military propaganda it could have been so easily.

Halo it could have just been nine episodes of good, upright soldiers in powerful armor wiping out the shit of hyper-religious alien fanatics, because that’s what the first three games are for the most part. While I can’t agree with all the choices the showrunners made, at least I fucking respect their “Fuck it, Anything goes” approach to Halo‘s story. The Halo universe has such richness that it has not yet been thoroughly explored from new angles. We’ve never really seen the Master Chief struggle in any meaningful way with what he is or what he was made for, and we certainly never saw him as a man of desires. The Halo writers tried to give us those new perspectives in a clumsily executed but serious way. They took big risks playing with one of the most beloved franchises in video game history, and I appreciated their failed attempt at doing something different more than I was making a successful attempt at something simple.

This is not the end of Halo† The show has already been approved for a second season. There’s a good show here buried in redundant storylines and embarrassingly bad CGI. If the showrunners can find it, I think they can give hope of a better season two.

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