Season 1 of Halo took sci-fi fans as well as fans of the hit game franchise to the 26th century, where an intergalactic war was unfolding between the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) and the Covenant. The UNSC was in charge of protecting every planet that came under its jurisdiction, while the Covenant was in the business of invading planets and collecting artifacts for an unknown cause. The poster girl of the Covenant was Makee, and the poster boy of the UNSC was Master Chief. Apart from that, there were a lot of political issues that were covered. There was a lot of personal drama between the primary and supporting characters. Kwan Ha, a rebel who was saved by Master Chief, was placed under Soren’s guardianship on The Rubble. Dr. Catherine Halsey, the mind behind the Spartan program (that was headed by Master Chief) and Cortana (an A.I. to control Master Chief), went on the run. Makee was apparently killed. And Cortana had allegedly taken over Master Chief’s consciousness for plot-related reasons. Let’s see what all of them are doing in the first episode of Halo Season 2.
Master Chief Has An Harrowing Altercation With The Covenant
Episode 1 of Halo Season 2 opens in Sanctuary, which is located in the Branta System, and it’s being evacuated by the UNSC because the Covenant is about to “glass” it, which basically means that they’re going to turn it into a puddle of molten lava. The Spartans (Master Chief, Riz, Kai, and Vannak) are keeping an eye on the proceedings from a distance. When the natives refuse to budge, Master Chief and Riz head over to the village to quicken things up, while Vannak and Kai hold their positions. Kai notices something in the mountains and decides to “call it in,” but Vannak advises against it because it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. One of the elders of the village says some ominous stuff to Master Chief about family and home because Master Chief was orphaned by Halsey. Master Chief doesn’t get the chance to ponder on it because he has to head to the mountains to check for any Covenant activity. Instead, he finds a bunch of UNSC soldiers who are part of the communications team who got lost in the fog. Master Chief tries to get them out of there, but they are all attacked by a bunch of Covenant soldiers who are equipped with some kind of cloaking technology, thereby making it hard to locate them until they are too close.
It’s a great action scene, which is slightly hindered by the bad lighting. I understand the need for darkness, but this is a fictional show and not a documentary. The showrunners can change the atmosphere to make the fight sequence more comprehensible. They don’t have to keep the fog that consistent if the work of the stunt choreographers, VFX artists, CGI artists, SFX artists, and actors isn’t all that visible. Anyway, just when Master Chief thinks he has killed all the Covenant soldiers and is about to take Perez (one of the survivors) back to the ships, they are surrounded by at least 20–30 more Covenant soldiers. However, they don’t attack and simply retreat. Master Chief notices a hooded figure that looks a lot like Makee, but going by the opening scene of the episode, it’s possible that he is hallucinating after his consciousness was taken over by Cortana. Before Master Chief can go after this figure, the Covenant begins to “glass” the planet, thereby prompting everyone to escape. The elder and her followers decide to die on the planet, but she gives Master Chief some parting advice. She tells him to find his faith, or else he’ll die very soon. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I am guessing that Master Chief has lost his psychic ability to connect to the artifacts that the Covenant is after because of Cortana. If he doesn’t recover that ability, he won’t be able to survive in this great war.
James Ackerson Suspends Master Chief and the Silver Team
Master Chief tries to explain that the Covenant’s activity on Sanctuary was weird because they were on the ground for some reason. They were going to destroy the planet. So, why did they land there to inspect it? Captain Jacob Keyes is apparently not in the mood to entertain Master Chief’s questions, and he tells him to take all his queries to the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence). Miranda Keyes is nowhere to be seen, by the way. Maybe she is still dealing with her mother’s betrayal somewhere on the Reach. The debrief session between the Spartans and Jacob is interrupted by Halsey’s “replacement,” James Ackerson. He talks about believing in the Spartans because he is a fan of the Silver Team. He talks about respecting the Spartans’ needs. But he also talks about keeping the people of the Reach and those who are under the UNSC oblivious to the war that’s going on because that’s his definition of “peace.”
Master Chief tries to have a personal conversation with Ackerson, as he wants to inform him about the Covenant’s erratic behavior and how it can be a sign of something sinister. But Ackerson steers the conversation in the direction of Halsey and Cortana and explicitly blames Master Chief’s vague insinuations about the Covenant on his messed-up mind. To make matters worse, the UNSC doesn’t award the Spartans for evacuating Sanctuary; they credit Perez for doing so. And they ground the entire Silver Team and sent the Cobalt Team to do some kind of repair work without warning about Covenant activity. Master Chief does his best to give them a heads-up, and that’s it. Elsewhere on The Rubble, some kind of auctioning is going on, and a guy called Felix claims that he knows about Catherine Halsey’s whereabouts. That piques Soren’s interest, but his wife, Laera, advises against it and tells him to focus on “saving the galaxy.” Laera also warns Soren that his crew is silently turning against him, especially after he didn’t share the bounty he had acquired from Madrigal. Laera suggests that they should take their son and go on the run. Soren chooses to do the exact opposite.
Was Soren arrested?
While taking a trip into the city, Master Chief comes across Margaret Parangosky (she has seemingly been fired from her job and is living as a regular citizen). He tells her about Sanctuary, and she warns him about Ackerson’s apparent lack of initiative. So, Margaret advises Master Chief to pursue any evidence he gets about the Covenant’s evolving war tactics and then relay it to her instead of relying on Ackerson. After parting ways for the time being, Master Chief goes to a virtual lap dance room, where he pours his heart out to a shallow facsimile of Makee. This makes it clear that Cortana has been washed out of his system and that he is in full control of his head. Does that undermine the tragic ending of Season 1? Yes, kind of. It feels like a very bad copout. Since this is a show, I understand the need to keep Master Chief humane and not an AI-controlled murder machine. But maybe they could’ve extended this arc of his, instead of doing it off-screen and forced him to struggle to regain his consciousness. I still think they’re going to do that this season, but they should’ve started things off by keeping Master Chief a little robotic and then allowing him to come to his senses.
In an attempt to re-establish his chemistry with his crew and send out the message that he is still the boss of The Rubble, Soren decides to follow Felix’s lead and capture Catherine Halsey. That obviously turns out to be a hoax because Soren’s crew abandons him, Felix reveals that he is an UNSC officer, and he arrests him with the help of several other officers. To be honest, the VFX and CGI in this whole sequence are decent. At the end of Halo Season 2, episode 1, Soren’s family learns about his fate. I think they are under the impression that he is dead because his crew makes it seem like he and Felix died while trying to get Halsey. And it’s possible that those who captured Soren are going to kill him. But he is alive, and he’ll be tried for his crimes, and that truth should’ve been conveyed to Laera and Kessler. A sad Kessler goes into the caves, and we see Kwan Ha etching stuff on their walls. Yes, she was supposed to become the protector of Madrigal, but I guess she had to run when Madrigal was allegedly glassed (off-screen). She had forged a connection with Soren. So, it makes sense that she came to The Rubble to stay under his umbrella. With Soren gone, what is she going to do? Is she going to fill the power vacuum? Who knows? In addition to that, we see the Covenant’s sky fleet rising through the clouds and heading for an attack, which proves that Master Chief’s apprehensions are right and the UNSC is clearly underestimating the danger on the horizon.