Meanwhile, Makee tells John where the Covenant have taken the second artifact. Repeat exposure to these artifacts can kill a human, apparently, or at least make them very sick. The planet she named turns out to be a wild goose chase, a stalling tactic while she tries to convince Chief to touch the artifact with her. He goes back to the artifact on his own, against Cortana’s misgivings. It turns out him touching it while in the same general area as Makee is enough. As Miranda discovered, they have a unique genetic marker that enables them to use ancient artifacts. John and Makee have a euphoric, shared vision of the titular Halo, a cloudy version of the iconic ring world.

The aesthetic continues to contrast gnarly peril (Kai’s injuries, Halsey screaming as she’s about to be radiation-burned) with Apple-esque clean lines. This isn’t the sort of humanized future that shows graffiti on the walls, or at least not in the UNSC. One of the first shots, Chief sitting with blood splashed across his armor, meshes the two worlds well. Chief still isn’t wearing his helmet very much, which saps some drama from scenes where his being faceless could have really added to the tension. (It’s also just not as cool to have him consistently carrying the mask around, and the games have more than proved that it’s possible to create sympathy for a faceless hero.) The costumes continue to look better and better, the Spartans understatedly alien next to their human allies. 

Kwan and the Insurrectionist plot line are completely absent here. It’s a pity; her dynamic with Chief had a lot of potential. But the show simply doesn’t seem interested in the Insurrectionist arc any more. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t really any aliens in this episode, either. After last week’s fun action scene, this episode is concerned almost entirely with humans talking to, spying on, or double-crossing each other. That pivotal final scene’s focus on Makee, the most underdeveloped character on the show, doesn’t really work, either.

Likewise, that central concept of who Chief really is as a person is a bit wobbly. Even threatening to kill Halsey in a particularly grotesque way doesn’t feel like a hard choice for him: instead, he’s trying to force Cortana into one. He’s forced to change minute by minute depending on the effects the artifact is having on his mind. While I understand the concept of breaking the character down to build him back up, this show’s approach simply isn’t very fun. I don’t mind the idea of talky sci-fi digging into unethical military experimentation. But Halo should have at least some element of space exploration and of Spartans being the ideal soldier (for good or ill), right? This also brings us back to Makee, who increasingly feels like a replacement for a more interesting alien character like the Arbiter. I just missed the games a lot while watching this episode, wanting to go back to the simpler adventures not because they were more simple, but because they were just more entertaining. 

The relationship between Cortana and Halsey seems like one full of potential, although it could just end up repeating her arcs with Miranda and John. That said, my favorite thing about this show continues to be Halsey. Her motivation is a bit different here than in the main Halo timeline. In the games, the Spartans were her idea for military supremacy, a weapon of oppression that happened to exist at just the right time for humans to face an alien threat. But on the show, she spins this as a twisted bid at peace. “Natural evolution” is making humans too violent, she says, and Spartans are her way to fight “the status quo” and try to protect people from themselves. This, though, is less revealing than what she says to her daughter. Halsey tells Miranda “family is just not a concept I believe in.” 

Source: Den of Geek

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