Julian Recaps: ‘Halo’ Episodes 3 And 4 Utilizes A Little More Of ‘Halo’ Lore, But Not Enough

Halo Eps. 3-4

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Season 1, Episode 4, streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Hello, Internet! I am back with another review of Halo on Paramount+. As the show is progressing, it is trying to be the Halo franchise that we remember from the games. Yet, it still feels like they are digging into story arcs that are unimportant, with the main story of the human-Covenant war fading into the background. 

It all feels misplaced in a sense–they understood in the games that the fictional galactic war was the forefront and Master Chief and company stumbled upon the Halo ring, launching an arms race to get and destroy it. Instead, the show is focusing on John-117’s (Pablo Schreiber) childhood backstory and how it might be integral to the artifact recovered from the first episode to find Halo. Or, the show is featuring Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), who so desperately wanting to go back to her home to restart the Insurrection against Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman). There are too many subplots happening that are not important. Oh, they introduced Cortana (Jen Taylor) into the series now, so hooray, I guess. 

Episode 3, “Emergence,” begins with the childhood version of Makee (Zazie Hayhurst) being a slave on a United Earth Government Tier 2 waste salvage colony of Oban. The Covenant invades the planet and abducts her believing that she is the object they were looking for. Now as an adult (Charlie Murphy), she had grown a hatred for her own kind and decides to go on the hunt for the artifact with The Flood (I believe? They never explicitly say what they are) in tow. 

Meanwhile, the evil witch of the future, Catherine Halsey (Natasha McEllone) goes ahead and creates Cortana, which was horrifying and hard to watch and her assistant is creepy. Cortana was kind of fun to watch, though there is a minor difference between the show and the games. In the games, she appears in a chip inside Chief’s helmet or other devices to insert AI into until later she somehow manifests into a physical form in Halo 5: Guardians and Halo: Infinite, in which John’s head is literally being drilled into to place the AI. 

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Natascha McElhone as Dr. Catherine Halsey
Natascha McElhone as Dr. Catherine Halsey and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 3, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

In the series, John initially does not like the idea of an AI in his head. But, in order for him to regain memories of his childhood on Eridanus II, he had to perform a self-incision to take out the behavioral inhibitor Halsey implanted. The implant inhibited his human emotions, but without the implant, he realizes what he’s missed out on. Kwan Ha is annoying, and persistent forcing Soren-066 (Bokine Woodbine) to take her back to her home planet of Madrigal, leaving audiences asking the question “is this really important right now? Isn’t there suppose to be some urgency in relation to ongoing UNSC-Covenant War?”

Episode 4 Homecoming picks up with John returning to his home planet of Eridanus II to gather more information from his past childhood about the artifact. It is pointless to have Master Chief go back home to find another piece of the artifact, when the writers could have had Master Chief, in combat against the Covenant looking for the second artifact on a UNSC planet that is being invaded by the Covenant (similar to the fight in the first episode). A positive about the series is that it shows how terrible Halsey is as an adoptive mom when she kidnapped little John and other children for what is presumed to be the Spartan II program. Halsey sees normal chaotic human behavior as data to be re-calculated for perfection, which is not true at all. 

Back on Reach, Kai-125  (Kate Kennedy) took inspiration from Master Chief and removed her behavior inhibitor. She proceeds to use her own blood from her incision to dye her hair red as an act of defiance against Halsey. She also develops a bond with Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) as they both discover that a certain human on the recording from the wrecked spacecraft is speaking the Sangheili language. I can understand where this route is going since the Spartans have resentment against Halsey for being their test subjects. The Spartans are slowly letting go of their programing which will agitate Halsey to no end. 

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Bokeem Woodbine as Soren and Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha
Bokeem Woodbine as Soren and Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha in Halo episode 3, season 1, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Arriving on Madrigal on Soren’s warship, Kwan discovers that the Insurrection is no more now that it is occupied by Grath and his militarized force for protection of the Covenant. Realistically, it would make sense for the human race to cease all pointless conflict to unite against a common enemy whether are the good guys or the bad guys. But it does not for Kwan because she wants to have her home free and gain independence. Kwan’s return and bounty stirs up trouble with Grath assigning an assassin to kill Kwan and her relatives. Her aunt Soojin Ha (Yuna Shin) tells her to find a group of mystics who was inspiration for her father’s rebellion.

There’s a lot of talk about understanding the artifact, how it relates to Halo, John revisiting his childhood home and Kwan wanting her planet’s sovereignty, yet there’s sparse action to be found in these episodes. There are interesting story developments, but there are just too many subplots. They are trying to explore the game’s lore, but it’s too distracted on other aspects when it should be focused on humanity’s war with the Covenant. Maybe the next two episodes will probably turn things around for me.

Rating: 2.9/5

*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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