It’s finally here, the first episode of the Halo TV series on Paramount+ just dropped and it’s a doozy. There are good and bad moments in this episode. Some lore is retained from the source material but there are some new changes and one or two major departures. Be warned; there are major spoilers for episode one of the Halo TV series: Contact.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Halo TV Series Plot
The first contact the humans have with the Covenant is badass. Initially, it feels like an alien invasion film in which humanity has no idea who or what they’re dealing with. This planet has yet to feel the wrath of one of the most terrifying species in the universe and it shows. The horror the humans feel as they’re chased by an unseen enemy is palpable.
The Covenant hunts down these humans extremely efficiently before attacking their base. Elites break into the facility swiftly and deal some serious damage. Then Master Chief along with the UNSC shows up to destroy the enemy. After the battle, the Spartans locate a cave in which the Elites were digging for some artifact. Master Chief grabs it and awakens it but it shows him visions that he can’t comprehend. He takes it to bring it back to the UNSC.
Doctor Halsey is shown briefly, watching the event through the Chief’s HUD. She’s interrupted and threatened to make progress with her research or risk losing her funding. Then the show pivots to the Covenant mothership High Charity which looks beautiful.
We get a brief introduction to a new villain to the Halo lore and the Prophet of Mercy. They clearly have some motive against the humans and she has intimidating confidence. However, the Prophet subtly reminds her that she’s only on board because of her unique perspective on the human psyche. They also discuss how the relic the Covenant sought after in the cave was stolen by the humans.
The Master Chief Difference
While en route to planet Reach, Master Chief and the lone survivor of the Elite’s attack, Kwan Ha, discuss their previous meeting. The Chief was part of an operation that killed her mother. She was an outspoken extremist against the UNSC’s direction and was murdered for it. Then Chief gets an alert on his HUD that he is to terminate Kwan. He begins questioning the murder of her mother and his new orders.
The UNSC isn’t happy about this as they can see everything happening on the Pelican. They decide to remotely lower the oxygen on board and can shut down Master Chief through some kind of control system. The UNSC Marines and other Spartans gear up to intercept the Chief before he lands. But Halsey informs the Spartans they are to protect the Master Chief and resist against anyone who opposes.
Chief stabilizes the ship but it’s immobilized by the Marines. Chief then interacts with the relic that looks like Forerunner technology, seeing more visions, and it recharges the Pelican. They fire it up and fly away.
Lore Done Well, Pros, and Design
The special effects look pretty good here as the Elites’ costume design and CGI were a concern of fans from the trailers. But they look great, are fierce and brutal, and show how terrifying dealing with the real Covenant would be.
The weapons and sound effects are top-notch. When the Spartan grabbed a Covenant pistol, charged it, and blew off the head of an Elite, I nearly jumped off the couch in excitement. That was a great moment very early on in the episode and it leads into the next point.
This show is bloody and that’s AWESOME! The Halo games were always violent with a mature subject matter. But they never had the gore of a game like Dead Space. Sure, there are plenty of moments while fighting The Flood in Halo where dismemberment is a requirement, but it never felt realistic and disgusting.
It makes you wonder though: some of these weapons are plasma-based, right? They should be blowing holes in people left and right instead of just knocking them down. This change is very visceral and really brings more reality to the violence the Covenant inflicts.
First-person shots are cool and tough. There are several of these types of camera angles in the first episode and it looks great. Seeing Master Chief’s HUD with a shield bar, grenade and ammo count, and a motion tracker is awesome.
We spent a lot of time running through High Charity in Halo 2 and it’s one of the most memorable missions throughout the series. This show did a great job not only of showcasing its beauty but making it feel insanely large as it should be.
Lore Changes and Cons
When the Spartans show up to save the civilians from the onslaught of the Elites, the humans are conflicted. They don’t want the help of the UNSC and they definitely aren’t fans of the Spartan super-soldiers. The change here is that humans are almost an anti-hero. Clearly, the Covenant is the enemy, as they should be, but the humans being shown almost as a villain themselves is a bit concerning. It’s an odd deviation from the way humanity praises the Spartans throughout Halo lore.
Personally, I could care less if Master Chief takes off his helmet or not. Just because he doesn’t do it through the games doesn’t mean showing his face in the TV series takes anything away from that. However, I got a very Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens vibe. They showed his face far too early and should have saved it for a big reveal later in the series, especially since he’s more rogue than he’s ever been before.
Is A Different Chief Really That Bad?
The deviation of Master Chief from the hero we know him as is interesting. Once you come to terms with the fact that this TV series isn’t canon, the show makes a lot more sense and it’s easier to accept. I don’t like that Master Chief is not the devoted UNSC soldier from the games. However, this change makes sense when noticing what the writers are doing in terms of storytelling.
This is a different story than we know and that’s okay. The UNSC is viewed as evil and with what they’ve done, it’s clear they are. Chief realizing this and going rogue is an interesting departure that will lead him to discover the Halo. Whether or not this show goes down the Forerunner path and the Chief as a reclaimer though is difficult to say at this point.
The Prophet of Mercy says to the ‘Blessed One’ that Master Chief activated the relic as she can. This would mean there are multiple reclaimers in this story if that is the path they’re leading us down. That change is different, enjoyable, and means hardcore fans don’t know exactly what’s coming next. Episode two cannot come fast enough.
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