‘Halo’ Season 2 Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: Has Riz Retired As A Spartan?


Episode 3 of Halo Season 2 was a masterclass in terms of tension-building, and Episode 4 provided the payoff with tons of action. Master Chief and Perez spent most of the episode trying to reach Fleetcom while fighting the Covenant invasion. Soren and Halsey did the same, but they also caught up on everything they had done in each other’s lives after parting ways decades ago. Makee stole Cortana. And then there were a lot of deaths. Danilo, Louis, Jacob Keyes, and Vannak all laid down their lives to make sure that the maximum number of civilians got out of Reach before the Covenant glassed the planet. Master Chief was severely injured, and he was about to be killed by Var’ Gatanai, but Makee stepped in and stopped Var’ Gatanai from killing him. That was where the episode ended, but given how the survivors weren’t out of harm’s way yet, let’s find out how they managed to not die with their planet.

Spoiler Alert

Master Chief Is Unable to Process Vannak’s Death

Episode 5 of Halo Season 2 opens with the fight on Reach still going on. Soren, Master Chief, Riz, and Halsey are cornered. They have nowhere to go. To make matters worse, a Hunter (at least that’s what I think it is) makes its way to the survivors and almost kills Soren and Riz. But that’s when Kwan Ha and Laera make a heroic entry into the picture with their ship, and Kwan Ha shoots down the Hunter. Riz and Soren pull Master Chief into the ship, but the sight of Vannak’s lifeless body lying in the rubble prompts Riz to go get him. She gets injured, but somehow, she gets into the ship with Vannak’s body. While passing out, Master Chief remembers Margaret Parangosky extracting Cortana from his body, thereby establishing the theory that not just Ackerson but even Margaret was aware of the impending destruction of Reach and did nothing substantial about it. By the way, in case anyone feels that the showrunners have MCU-fied Soren, in his defense, he is the only character who quips and does silly stuff. So, it’s okay.

Makee and Var’ Gatanai get into an argument for not letting him kill Master Chief and extracting only one of the pieces of the artifact. Makee says that they have Cortana in their possession, and given how rich that is in human history and knowledge, it’ll help them in their quest. Var’ Gatanai tells Makee to see if Cortana can give them the location of the keystone, which I guess is in Ackerson’s possession. John wakes up after 2 days of induced coma and shares his conflicted feelings with Halsey. He is angry that Spartans can’t process death because they have been taught to function like machines. He is frustrated because, after all this time, when they are starting to think for themselves, there is a war going on and people are dying. He feels helpless because he has nothing to defend now that Reach is gone. Seeing him getting all worked up, Halsey tells Master Chief to lie down and rest so that he can heal.

Makee has a brief conversation with Cortana, and, initially, it seems like Makee is jealous of Cortana’s proximity to Master Chief. It is supposed to be sweet because Makee apparently loves Master Chief, but she is committing genocide all across the universe. I think the only way this can end is with Master Chief killing Makee. But we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. Makee orders Cortana to show her Master Chief’s memories of The Ring, and Cortana refuses to do so. Makee warns her that even though she is A.I., Makee and the Covenant have ways to break her. John wakes up after three days, and Soren informs him that they are going to a busted mining outpost called Aleria because, apparently, that’s where Kessler is. Before they land there, Kwan Ha tries to help Master Chief make peace with Vannak’s death, but Master Chief acts aggressively because, as mentioned before, he doesn’t know how to deal with his complex emotions. By the way, I noticed something for the first time, even though I have been watching sci-fi movies and shows for decades: almost every planet is a mining outpost. Which means that no planet has been left untouched and has been robbed of its resources to benefit the fascists and capitalist overlords. It’s an explicit way of predicting that, no matter where humans go, they are going to destroy it.

Soren And Laera Search For Kessler

As soon as Laera lands their ship in Aleria, Halsey rushes Riz into the operating chamber so that she can be saved. Laera, Kwan Ha, and Soren go to a convenience store of sorts to learn about Kessler. Master Chief hangs back at the hospital, seemingly haunted by Vannak’s death, as he sees a bird soaring in the sky (Vannak used to feed birds). Kwan Ha comes back with a shovel so that they can bury Vannak, but Master Chief refuses to do it because he wants to think that he doesn’t care about these human rituals after one’s death. Kwan Ha tells him that these rituals offer closure. Since she didn’t get it when her family was killed, she is trying to give Master Chief the opportunity so that he doesn’t regret not giving his friend his final regards. Master Chief refuses to budge, so Kwan Ha goes away to bury Vannak herself. The bird continues to haunt Master Chief, thereby implying that maybe Vannak’s spirit is actually watching Master Chief and subtly coaxing him to do something humane.

McCoy, the owner of the store, looks through his records and finds the term Bodegraven in them. Based on that, Soren and Laera ask McCoy to tell them everything that he knows about the kid’s whereabouts. While traveling in Kessler’s general direction, Laera and Soren get into an argument because Laera thinks that Soren isn’t serious enough about this search-and-rescue mission and the fact that he has just survived a genocide. For some reason, this prompts Laera to throw away the silver wig that she has been wearing all this time. I guess she is done keeping up appearances for her and Soren’s sake. Now, she just wants to be a mother and find Kessler. Riz finally wakes up. As Halsey checks if her vitals are alright, Riz expresses how angry she is because she knows that she is in this state because of Halsey. If she hadn’t come up with her Spartan program, none of this would’ve happened. Halsey informs Riz that the damage to her body is immense, and it’s possible that she won’t be able to go back to active duty if she doesn’t try hard enough to recover. Riz turns away from Halsey to protest against Halsey’s advice.

Kwan Ha has a one-sided conversation with Vannak’s body while trying to bury him. But the burial process is interrupted by the locals of Aleria. Meanwhile, Master Chief gets into yet another argument with Halsey because he just can’t digest the fact that Halsey mercilessly abducted and killed kids to make Spartans, and now she is sitting in front of him, acting like a motherly figure. They don’t get to complete the conversation because they notice Kwan Ha being hounded by the Alerians. Apparently, the people of Aleria don’t believe in burials; they do cremations. During this commotion, the cloth that is covering Vannak’s body comes off, thereby forcing Master Chief to look at his friend (something that he was refusing to do because he knows it’ll break him), and he decides to cremate Vannak. Soren and Laera walk up to the house, which is inhabited by two women who claim to be Kessler’s new parents. They refuse to believe that Soren and Laera are Kessler’s actual parents, and they send them away. Soren tries to reason with them by relating to the women’s daily struggles, and they eventually agree to let him and Laera see Kessler. Laera goes on a bit of a wild goose chase because she spots a kid wearing Kessler’s Master Chief helmet, only to find out that Kessler had given it to him before being “taken away.” It means that the women are lying to Soren, and they actually don’t have him in their possession.

Has Riz retired as a Spartan?

The people of Aleria, Master Chief, Riz, Kwan Ha, and Halsey gather at the cremation site to pay their last respects. Even though they only have Vannak’s body before them, Halsey uses this opportunity to remember everyone who has passed away during the genocide at Reach. Master Chief touches Vannak’s body and vows to avenge him. And, while everyone is mourning, it’s evident that Master Chief still isn’t dealing with Vannak’s death in a healthy way. He is using it to fuel his need for violence and war. Halsey actually points this out and tells him that his plans to get to Margaret or Ackerson are only going to lead to more deaths. Halsey suggests that they should go to the Halo (the fabled ring-like planet) and learn from it instead of going on a suicide mission. Master Chief says that, technically speaking, he is dead and he is free to do what he wants to do, and what he wants to do is find Margaret and Ackerson and make them pay.

The elderly woman who sacrificed herself in Sanctuary speaks to Kwan Ha in a vision. She talks about the emergence of a monster, and she asks Kwan Ha to protect her and save her. I don’t know who or what this is. What is the monster? The Covenant? Who is the elderly woman? Some kind of spirit from the artifacts? Well, I guess we’ll get the answers to that in the subsequent episodes. Makee asks why Var’ Gatanai has brought them to the High Charity. Var’ Gatanai says that he has done what he has been ordered to do. Makee warns him that if they go to the Hierarchs, they are going to shut down their plans to embark on the Great Journey. Var’ Gatanai doesn’t believe in Makee’s prophecies and almost tries to kill her. Cortana intervenes by showing him a vision of the ring-like planet, which is the titular Halo, I suppose. This somehow prompts Var’ Gatanai to go rogue and stick to Makee’s plans. Cortana was connected to the artifacts, and she has Master Chief’s memories of seeing this ring-like planet. So, maybe she has used all that to conjure this vision in front of Var’ Gatanai. By the way, this means that Var’ Gatanai and Makee don’t have the Covenant’s protection anymore, and they’ve taken the risk of making the Covenant their enemy.

At the end of Halo Season 2, episode 5, Laera confronts McCoy regarding Kessler’s actual whereabouts, and he reveals that Kessler has been abducted by the UNSC. Why? Well, moments later, we see Kai heading teams of soldiers for the UNSC and Ackerson. We know that Ackerson wants to start his own Spartan program. Much like Halsey, he’ll need kids to experiment on. So, maybe he is sending UNSC operatives to go to these mining outposts and planets to get unwanted children and induct them into the program. This makes UNSC and Kai the enemy, and it remains to be seen if the Master Chief rebels against his former employers and his friend to help Soren and Laera. Riz tells Master Chief that she has chosen to retire and live in Aleria. Master Chief doesn’t want to accept that initially, but he understands Riz’s decision and hugs her (this moment hit me in the feels). Pablo Schreiber and Natasha Culzac absolutely nail it in this scene. Halsey acknowledges Riz’s decision. As she picks up her dog tags, she watches Riz already enjoying her retirement with the people of Aleria. It’s a haunting and bittersweet conclusion to a brilliant, Western-esque episode, and I am both scared and excited to see what will unfold in the next few weeks.

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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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