When we ended the last episode, Master chief had just unmasked himself. To end the first episode with one of the most famously ambiguous gaming characters unmasking himself was incredibly risky. A narrative twist like that shows us as a viewer that this was not going to be like the Halo we’re all used to.
Episode two takes this unknown element and drives it home even further. Beginning with a flashback of Master Chief and his friend Soren, this episode leans harder into its efforts to humanise Master Chief.
Teasing The Future
Going into the show, I was curious about how both the UNSC and Covenant would be handled. Would parts be left out and forgotten? Would anything be overshadowed by other, less than stellar aspects? While the Covenant make a far smaller appearance in this episode, it is not to the detriment of the show. It is made apparent that they’ll be a larger focus later on, viewers just have to be patient.
Episode 2 actually does a lot in terms of teasing future parts of the series. One element it teases are the Halo rings themselves. I felt that showing them off too early would have been a huge mistake. By simply teasing it the showrunners have carefully traversed teasing elements fans are familiar with without compromising an interesting plotline. After all, there’s a lot that needs to happen before we see the installation.
Halo And The UNSC
One thing that I really enjoy seeing, especially in a big sci-fi franchise such as this, is the exploration of government. To understand why Master Chief, as well as colonies like Madrigal decide to rebel, we need to understand the brutalities of the UNSC. The meeting between the Admirals, Captain Keyes and Dr Halsey was incredibly interesting. It illustrated that while The UNSC may be a beacon of defence and hope, they are not afraid to deal with morally dubious acts.
Another way this episode really helps expand upon the UNSC is through Burn Gorman’s Vinsher Grath. He has been known, as of episode one, to be of questionable character. The UNSC installed him as leader of Madrigal, only for him to seemingly go rogue. It’s a fantastic way of grounding the UNSC and representing it through in a more character-focused way. Overall, however, I felt that the exploration of government in episode 2 is something that the show really needed. It helps viewers become more engrossed in the world and expands upon the lore of the franchise in a genuinely fascinating way.
Master Chief And The Return To Reach
Probably my biggest issue with Halo: The Series episode 2 was that, while I understand the reasoning behind the decision, it felt extremely odd for Master Chief to go back to Reach so soon. Yes, he needed to go back to work out why he was experiencing his sudden returning memories and needed an answer as to what the artifact was and what it could do. However, I really felt that there should have been an additional episode before we returned to such an iconic location.
That being said, in the context of the show, it was a smart choice to go back. Leaving Kwan with Soren to keep her safe ensures the UNSC won’t find her and keeps her place in the show secure. What that will be, however, is anybody’s guess.
Dr Halsey is also an interesting character. As it stands now with this timeline, we’re led to believe that she has some sort of ulterior motive. Given her almost motherly attitude toward Master Chief, her desire to keep him safe from harm makes sense. With her push for the Cortana project to succeed and her willingness to control Chief, it remains to be seen what exactly her plans are.
Halo: The Series Episode 2 Final Thoughts
Episode 2 was far slower-paced than the previous episode as it had a larger focus on pure character development. The writers and Pablo Schreiber did a fantastic job of portraying Master Chief’s burning desire to figure out exactly who he is, and there was enough put in place to make that mystery feel far more intriguing. After watching these first two episodes, I’m firm in my belief that Pablo Schreiber is a fantastic Master Chief. He brings a lot to the character and humanises him in a way that is important for this adaptation.
Kwan was left on the backburner somewhat in this episode but still managed to make her presence known and will undoubtedly have a far bigger role later on. For right now, however, she’s little more than a lost kid. We’re sure to see more of her, and hopefully, the writers will do a lot with all the potential she has as a character. But, in order for that to work, we just need more of her.
We know, as of the end of the episode, that Cortana is finally coming. It was for the good of the show that she was not introduced straight away. It would have taken away from the development that Master Chief and Dr Halsey needed. Given Dr Halsey’s more sinister development so far, Cortana may be quite different from the version we know.
I cannot wait to see how the show handles not just everything we’ve seen so far but also every upcoming plot thread too. As with any show, it will take time to see any sort of payoff from the plot. I just hope that the potential payoff will be worth it.