Charlie Murphy as Makee in Halo Season 1, Episode 9, streaming on Paramount+. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+
Hello, Internet, I am back with the last recap of Hollywood’s latest misunderstanding of the concept of what made a video game franchise great, Halo on Paramount Plus. It was entertaining, but it never fully showed the Halo ring that the franchise is based on, outside of three dream sequences. The way the last episode of the season ended is the latest sin upon the many sins this first season has committed by having an ending that feels like the end of a movie’s second act. The concept of Halo as a TV series was easy, yet it became needlessly complicated.
Episode 7 “Inheritance” follows Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) still bent on reclaiming Madgrial from UNSC plant Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman). After recklessly driving into a sandstorm, she stumbles upon a mystic tribe who uses the hallucination technique from Black Panther to reveal that her father was entrusted by a Forerunner AI to protect a Forerunner portal that maybe leads to the Halo ring, I guess? Meanwhile, Soren leaves Madrigal after not being able to take Kwan’s insufferable behavior but comes back feeling guilty to lend Kwan a hand to take down Vinsher. They have a predictable climatic battle that comes full circle, back to the outpost in the beginning of the series. I still could care less about this side plot. Once again, this plot has little to nothing in relation with the ongoing UNSC-Covenant War.
Episode 8 “Allegiance” returns to John-117 (Pablo Schreiber) trying to get information from Makee (Charlie Murphy) about the Covenant’s true purpose for using the Halo ring, while many of the UNSC and the audience who are familiar with Halo lore know for sure she’s a spy for the Covenant. Later on, the two have a sex scene which came out of nowhere and with no logical reasons. Why? Because even though they share the same sympathetic visions of the ring, John should be standing in front of a war tribunal for fraternizing with the enemy. Halsey (Natasha McEllone) decides to go rogue and tries to escape Reach with Riz (Natasha Culzac) and Vannak (Bentley Kalu) under her control. Cortana (Jen Taylor, who is one of two best characters in this series who are not annoying or insufferably tragic as everyone else) sways to John’s loyalty to warn Halsey dispatched Riz and Vannak to secure Makee and the Keystone. John fights his teammates and ends with Makee touching the Keystone after being exposed and brutally tortured by UNSC police and Paraongosky (Shabana Azmi) causing a shockwave throughout the base.
(sigh…finally) Episode 9 “Transcendence” picks up immediately with Makee escaping from Reach and Halsey captured. Jacob Keyes (Danni Sapani) breaks the news to Riz and Vannak that he and Halsey both were responsible for kidnapping them as kids and with Halsey replacing them with flash clone versions of themselves. His daughter, Miranda (Olive Gray, who is the second-best character), is appalled by this revelation. Soon after, Halsey is experiencing convulsions revealing the Halsey the UNSC captured is not the real Halsey, who is sitting somewhere at a park looking over the city of Reach writing in her journal and waiting for her ship prepared for takeoff.
Meanwhile, the gang was able to locate the Covenant-controlled planet of Hesduros with Silver Team taking the lead (this is where we should have seen the Halo ring in all it’s glory, but it’s not here). As if the screenwriters took inspiration from the wayfinder used to find Exogol in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the team and Cortana travel through a dangerous life-threatening slip space travel and free-fall into the planet to retrieve the keystones from Covenant forces. After witnessing fan-service first person, video game-esque action scenes, Makee turns on the keystones, causing a sonic blast wiping out Covenant forces, but accidentally putting John into stasis, and revealing the location of Halo to the prophets. John and Makee share another dream with John asking Makee to let him go. Their vision gets cut short when Makee is shot by Kai (Kate Kennedy). John is on the verge of dying, wants Cortana to take over his body. The series ends with Cortana assuming control of John, retrieving the keystones, and leaving the planet with Kai asking if it’s really John inside the helmet.
This series is very asynchronous and a complete opposite of the Halo video gaming franchise. It is admittedly entertaining in certain parts and the only characters I legitimately liked were Miranda Keyes, Cortana, and Soren-066. They all seem very sympathetic characters amongst a sea of uninteresting and unlikable characters, such as this universe’s version of Master Chief, the rest of Silver Team, Halsey and her assistant, Jacob Keyes, and Parangosky (Shabana Azmi). Kwan Ha and Makee are characters whose subplots could have been immediately cut because they make no sense to the main plot at all. It makes me wonder how the screenwriting process for this series went.
As I stated earlier, they did not have to make this series as complicated as it is now. The history and lore of the game universe was already created for them to apply in a simple way for a television show. This series also feels more like a boring prequel to the story about John 117’s mission in finding and destroying the Halo. This series may have been called Halo, but everything they have released is so far detached from the source material, even with the portrayal of Master Chief. But…what else can I say at this point? They’re already greenlit for season two. And I’m not trying to scare people into not watching the show. It is still enjoyable to people who are not familiar with Halo at all and just want to watch a cool-looking sci-fi series exclusive to Paramount Plus.
Screenwriting is the main culprit of this project, and it could have been as awesome as the games (sigh)… Even the co-creator of Halo, Marcus Lehto, is not sure if this was the Halo franchise he remembered creating, but he didn’t hate it. If Hollywood could mess up a story with well thought-out lore like Halo, I am super worried of what kind of abomination Hollywood would manifest from the animated Chris Pratt Super Mario movie.
*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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