Julian Recaps: ‘Halo,’ Ep. 1, The Beginning Of Serious Changes To The Lore

Julian Recaps: Halo, ep. 1

Hello Internet! It’s time for a review and recap of the Paramount+ television show adaptation of Halo, based on the familiar best-selling sci-fi shooter/transmedia franchise of the same name.

I have never played the games–I watched other people play them on YouTube. However, I have been reading the books that expanded the lore beyond the video games which I find very interesting. Like all video game franchises Hollywood can’t leave well enough alone, Paramount decided to invest in this franchise and convert it into a live-action TV series. Admittedly, it intrigued me because I believe it can be a great show based on the type of story it is. At the same time, I remained skeptical because Hollywood has a bad track record of mediocre to bad video game projects (with the exception of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu). Let’s not even talk about the really poor choice of casting like Chris Pratt as Mario of all things.

It’s a smart idea to have Halo be another The Expanse-type show. In addition, to distinguish the TV series from the canonical games, they dubbed it the “Silver Timeline”, taking inspiration from Marvel and DC in their storylines involving the Multiverse. Will this new adaptation gain the attention of die-hard Halo fans and newcomers alike? Let’s find out now. 

It opens on the mining planet of Madrigal in the 26th century, consisting of an Insurrectionist colony led by Jin Ha (Jeong-hwan Kong). Here is some Halo lore for your information: The UNSC (United Nations Space Command) is fighting an interplanetary civil war against the Insurrectionists because they grew tired of being under the Colonial Administration Authority and the UNSC’s bureaucracy. This war lasted from 2494 to 2526 and continued to have minor skirmishes until the theocratic alien empire known as the Covenant forced the UNSC to shift its focus on uniting all of humanity against a common enemy.

Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha in Halo episode 1, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+
Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha in Halo episode 1, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Ha’s daughter Kwan (Yerin Ha) and her friends happen to spot what she initially thought was the UNSC, was the Covenant invading the planet. Midway through the chaos, John 117 aka the Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and leader of Team Silver leads his team of Spartans Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu), Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy), and Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) to exterminate the alien attackers. Soon after, they investigate a cave the Covenant was digging and finds a relic that John touches causing him to have memories of his former life when he was a kid. 

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[Sidenote: To catch up on Halo lore, the Spartans are made up of children taken by Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natasha McElhone) who is a scientist in the UNSC’s intelligence arm, ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) pushed the kids as they grew up to have military training and physical capabilities to wear the MJONIR suit to become a new breed of super-soldiers to put an end to the Insurrection wars. Okay back to the TV show.]

John decides to secure Kwan as the lone survivor of the assault on Madrigal while he begins to mull over what just happened in the cave. Meanwhile, Miranda Keyes (Olivia Gray) tries to convince Ha to warn the other insurrection forces and unite under the UNSC banner in the ongoing war with the Covenant. Ha does not fully trust the UNSC and was not convinced. Miranda’s father, Jacob (Danny Sapani) tells her that the higher-ups from ONI led by Admiral Margaret Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) are instating Article 72, to terminate Ha. Chief gets word of this via helmet and defies orders and escapes the UNSC base Reach.

Olive Gray as Miranda Keyes and Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes in Halo episode 1, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+
Olive Gray as Miranda Keyes and Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes in Halo episode 1, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Okay, several words to describe this: interesting, cliché, and hoping for more. I think they have aspects from the games correct. For instance, when John-117 was fighting the Elites, the camera switched to first-person from Master Chief’s view with the health bar just like in the games. I also liked how they brought a character from the novels to the screen such as Parangosky. I think Azmi did a great job at portraying a very stern head of the intergalactic head of ONI, which is the CIA in space. It’s a diverse cast in which everyone did a great job for the parts they had on screen.

The ending felt like the first episode of The Mandalorian in which the Master Chief and the Kwan go on an adventure to discover where John came from and discover what is important with the relic he found in the cave. It baffled me because I actually thought after the segment of Silver Team going in and stopping the Covenant invasion force on Madrigal, I thought we would at least see how humanity is faring against the Covenant in this timeline. 

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In Halo lore, the Covenant was conquering planets day by day and the UNSC was fighting a losing battle even with the Spartans in tow and eventually invading the infamous UNSC base on the planet Reach. I’m pretty sure it will happen eventually in this show before they go to Alpha Halo like in the games. I did not expect a human to be a part of the Covenant like Makee (Charlie Murphy), but as long as it fits with the plot of the new timeline, I’m okay with it.

In the games and novels, the Covenant sees humans as infidels and has a backward religious cult mentality believing they are the Reclaimers. However, this title was originally given to humans by the Forerunners, ancient technologically advanced humans from millennia ago. I don’t know if they are going to explore anything about the Forerunners and Reclaimer stuff in this series, but maybe they will later on. 

So far, It is alright. I really hope it does not fully turn into a copy-paste version of The Mandalorian starring The Master Chief and the lone survivor. I know they are trying to be separate from the game canon, but I am hoping it goes on similar beats that are still familiar and be exciting and fun. Maybe somewhere down the line, we might see the Fall of Reach and possibly end the series with John-117 and company destroying Halo in the end of the series. Who knows, but I can not wait to see what’s in store for the Halo TV series. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Julian Jones is a University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate with a degree in Sociology and minor in Public Health. When he is not watching films, he is an Assistant to Ashley M Jones, Poet Laureate of the State of Alabama. Let him know what you thought of his review by leaving a comment below!

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