After seeing the first episode of Halo, I’m completely on board. I’m a Halo lore hobbyist, that means that whereas I’ve enthusiastically skilled the campaigns of Halo’s Combat Evolved by Guardians, go on common Halopedia wiki dives, and personal a well-loved copy of Eric Nylund’s The Fall Of Reach, I haven’t consumed all the pieces the Halo universe has to supply. (Ghosts of Onyx, I swear I’ll get to you someday.) But primarily based on the Halo tales I do know, I feel Paramount Plus’ sequence provides a much more compelling take a look at the Master Chief than something the video games have executed to date.
Spoilers for the first episode of Halo beneath:
It’s laborious translating video video games to movie and TV. It’s solely lately been executed proper with Arcane, Castlevania, and the Sonic movie. And the frequent thread for all these profitable titles appears to be “chuck out every established story the audience knows and tell a new one.” Halo’s showrunner Steven Kane mentioned in an interview with Variety that “We didn’t look at the game. We didn’t talk about the game. We talked about the characters and the world. So I never felt limited by it being a game.” His feedback drew criticisms from Halo fans on social media nervous that this show was going to look nothing like the video games. It doesn’t, and that’s what makes it actually good.
I really like that the central premise of the first episode has barely something to do with the combat towards the Covenant. It would have been very straightforward to make a show about the Master Chief together with his Blue Team buddies working up on the Gravemind or 343 Guilty Spark. Instead, the complete first episode is all about the friction between the Chief and his UNSC masters — a subject that wasn’t even broached till Halo 5: Guardians and, even then, solely in the context of “I must save my AI girlfriend / mom, and you won’t let me.”
The showrunners have been completely right of their option to “not look at the games.” The outcome is a narrative that asks us to grapple with the very purpose Spartans have been created: as weapons for the suppression, repression, and subjugation of humanity — a premise the video games have nearly by no means requested us to interrogate. Spartans have all the time been these superhuman human-killing machines devoid of emotion, however now we have by no means had the likelihood to see how the Spartans themselves really feel about that. That’s the promise of this show, and I’m tremendous invested in the conclusions it’ll draw.
That’s to not say I liked all the pieces about the show’s first episode. I’m befuddled by the introduction of a high-ranking human in the Covenant faction, and, as my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore alluded to in his Halo review, it’s a bit too ugly. Halo as a sport was by no means like Gears of War. You shot the Covenant, and they fell down — they by no means exploded in a cloud of purple mist. Maybe that selection was made out of consideration for the sport’s scores or another unknown, however I all the time felt that selection made it such that when ugly issues do occur (like That Scene in Halo 4), they hit more durable. The bloody violence of the Halo show appears to lack that very same gravitas and comes throughout as a cheap-feeling Game of Thrones-like gratuitousness.
I’ll additionally say this: Master Chief is already the chosen one. In the video games, Cortana actually chooses him primarily based on nothing greater than her notion of his “luckiness.” So I discover his extra “I am a very special boy” modifier in the type of his preternatural connection to the show’s mysterious artifact a bit annoying.
Ultimately, this is solely episode one. There’s nonetheless time for the show to devolve into an “oorah let’s kill us some aliens” fest. But if it continues alongside the path this primary episode has charted, I feel the show might be a refreshing entry in the Halo canon.