‘Halo’ Episode 3: Recap And Ending, Explained – Is Cortana Master Chief’s Friend Or Foe?


The second episode of “Halo” Season 1 gave us a peek into Master Chief’s (Pablo Schreiber) past when he attempted to escape the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) training program with Soren (Bokeem Woodbine). But then he backtracked and gave Soren a sliver of an opportunity to make his escape. In the present day, we saw Master Chief rely on Soren’s protection and resources to not only understand the artifact/keystone, but also ensure that Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) has a place to stay since her home (Madrigal) has been taken over by Vinsher (Burn Gorman). With the help of a Covenant abduction survivor, Reth (Johann Myers), Master Chief learns of the destructive potential of the artifact and Master Chief’s role in its activation. This prompts Master Chief to surrender to the UNSC, while Makee (Charlie Murphy) makes plans to infiltrate the UNSC.

Major Spoilers Ahead

Makee’s Origins And Her Plans For Master Chief, Revealed

“Halo” Episode 3, titled “Emergence,” opens on the planet Oban in the Visper System, that’s treated as a waste salvage colony. Then we see a young Makee (Zazie Hayhurst) playing around with her friend and learning about human instincts like love and kissing. That’s interrupted by guards who chase them around and beat Makee’s friend to death! Makee tries to make a run for it but is captured by one of the guards and branded with a flaming metal rod. Makee’s torture is terminated by a pair of Sangheili soldiers, who then proceed to test Makee for her “chosen one” qualities, i.e., humans with the ability to activate the keystones the Covenant has in their possession. Makee passes the test and is almost lovingly taken in by the Sangheili soldiers.

An adult Makee is seen conversing with the San’Shyuum seers about whether she passes for a human or not. The seers approve and ask Makee what she’s going to do if she encounters Master Chief, or as they like to call him, the Demon. Makee assures them that she is not going to fail in her task of getting the artifact, and she promises to bring back the Demon’s head. After that, Makee masterfully poses as the last surviving member of a ship and lures a UNSC vessel into rescuing her. As soon as the captain of the vessel gets in touch with Makee, she flips and unleashes hell (as in she unleashes an army of massive worms with teeth). Makee asks the captain about the whereabouts of the keystone and the location of Fleet Command. The captain doesn’t budge. So, Makee kills him and starts looking into the ship’s database. She finds nothing there either and decides to go to Madrigal. Makee informs the Covenant about it, and that message is intercepted by the UNSC.

See More: ‘Halo’ Episode 2: Recap And Ending, Explained – What Was The Secret Behind The Covenant Artifact?

Master Chief Meets Cortana

Admiral Margaret Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) employs Dr. Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) to examine the artifact, while Halsey (Natascha McElhone) does the same but with the help of the clone version of Cortana, who assembles it piece-by-piece while learning about the purpose of her A.I. version that will be inserted into Master Chief. And then we get to see the questionable part of Halsey’s Cortana program (something that Parangosky keeps complaining about) as Halsey literally kills the clone, extracts her consciousness, dissolves the clone’s body, and then installs the digital version of Cortana (Jen Taylor) into Master Chief. As soon as Cortana comes to life in holographic form, she asks about the extent to which she’ll be able to “control” Master Chief and augment his ability to fight efficiently. Halsey curbs Cortana’s enthusiasm and tells her to take things slow so as not to alert Master Chief about Cortana’s real purpose.

After Master Chief/John awakens, he is subjected to a test with the artifact by Halsey so as to judge what exactly happened. During that process, John sees the same vision of the same picnic, the same man, woman, and dog, and the same sketches that he has been seeing every single time. But it’s also revealed that John’s conscious state is paramount to the activation of the artifact. If Cortana takes over John completely, then the artifact won’t work, thereby putting a dent in Halsey and Cortana’s plans to let Cortana fully control John. Following that, we see John trying to shake off the experience by reintegrating with his Spartan team. However, even that is sullied by Cortana’s appearance as she tries to familiarize herself with the team. Embarrassed by this interference, John assures the team that Cortana is a temporary measure and walks away. Amidst all this, we get brief glimpses of Kwan trying to get off the rubble and go to Madrigal, as she strongly believes that’s where she should be.

‘Halo’ Episode 3 Ending Explained – Is Cortana And Halsey Really Helping Master Chief?

In the final 15 minutes of “Halo” episode 3, Master Chief is found locating the planet that looks the most like the ones in his visions. Cortana offers help. Master Chief rejects Cortana. Eventually, Master Chief gives up and describes the details of his vision to Cortana. This allows Cortana to narrow down Master Chief’s search to a few planets. When that’s cross-checked with the planets Master Chief has been on a mission; he comes to the conclusion that the one he’s looking for is Mamore. But that brings up another problem: Master Chief’s lack of emotion, something that he realizes yet again after failing to feel anything upon remembering a fellow Spartan’s death on Mamore. And Master Chief is reminded yet again, once by Soren and now by Cortana, that that’s because of the pellet inside him that suppresses his feelings and accentuates his battle focus. Master Chief chucks every protocol down the drain and decides to take the pellet out so that he can feel something.

As soon as Master Chief starts to think for himself, Cortana notifies Halsey, thereby showing that all her signs of friendship are merely an act and a way to win Master Chief’s trust. Moreover, although Cortana is concerned with the rules that Master Chief is breaking by taking out his emotion-suppressing pellet, Halsey comes across as someone who is more diabolical as she suggests Cortana to help Master Chief in order to get on his good side. In addition to that, Halsey feels that fully opening up Master Chief’s mind will allow her to get more answers about his connection to the artifact. And technically, that’s what happens. After removing the pellet, Master Chief goes on a stroll to experience the various flavors of normal life, only to return to the artifact, activate it, and trigger his visions. And he’s convinced that as a kid, he drew sketches of a second artifact that’s buried on a planet with ice rings around it. Cortana helps her to locate it (the planet’s called Eridanus II).

While learning about Eridanus II, Master Chief inquires why it’s uninhabited. Cortana informs Master Chief that it was because of a plague that the UNSC was forced to quarantine the entire planet to contain the spread of the virus, thereby probably killing Master Chief’s parents. Master Chief is clearly not satisfied with that hypothesis and decides to visit Eridanus II and learn more about the second artifact and his origins. Halsey feigns ignorance about Master Chief’s mission (because Cortana is constantly reporting to Halsey), and she volunteers to assist Master Chief on his trip to Eridanus II. It’s pretty clear she has no interest in Master Chief’s spiritual journey. She just wants first-hand information on the artifact and how Master Chief can be used to control it. So, to answer the question, are Cortana and Halsey on Master Chief’s side or against him? No, they aren’t. They are only pretending to be helpful to use Master Chief to further their objectives. And since it seems like Cortana has more of a conscience than Halsey, we can only hope that she wakes up to Master Chief’s exploitation and warns him.

See More: ‘Halo’ Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained – Does Master Chief Find The Second Artifact?

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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