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Halo TV Series Episode 3: Emergence Review

Don't be surprised if we don't even see the Halo ring until season 2.
Halo TV Series Paramount+ Master Chief Spartan 117

Photo: Paramount+

The third episode of the Halo TV series on Paramount+ does a better job of setting a pace and guiding storytelling than the second. In reality, episodes two and three were probably one big episode that they just couldn't fit into one. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Master Chief goes way off the path of what we know and love about him in this episode and the show's vision for the character is now clear.

*Warning Major Spoilers Ahead*

Plot Recap

Makee, The Covenant, and The Keystone

Emergence begins in flashback by showing Makee's childhood on the garbage-dump planet of Oban. She lives a life of slave labor cleaning up trash and the Covenant makes a stop on the planet. We see two Elites beam down in search of something. Using the Luminary, they track a Covenant artifact and come upon young Makee.

Halo TV Series Show Paramount+ Elite Covenant Makee

Photo: Paramount+

The Elite realizes that Makee is the artifact they're searching for and they take her aboard their ship. We then see Makee preparing to leave High Charity. She converses with The Prophets and explains her plans for retrieving the artifact they call the Keystone and that she'll bring them Master Chief's head.

We then see the UNSC patrol ship Gladius and it witnesses a Covenant ship suddenly arrive out of slip-space. The UNSC communicates with the ship and finds it empty, aside from Makee who's calling for help. They come to her aid only to be attacked by her and the Lekgolo.

They easily rip through the Marines and gain no information from the crew. Makee interrogates the captain but learns nothing. She kills him with a strange energy-sword-like fingernail weapon instead. Then she breaks into their military network and still finds nothing. She informs her Elites that they will travel back to Madrigal next.

Doctor Halsey, UNSC, and Cortana

Firstly, Admiral Parangosky recruits Miranda Keyes behind her mother's back to solve the riddles of the Covenant artifact. She'll be working on a parallel team to Halsey's and funneling all her resources into this work.

Doctor Halsey's clone creation is alive! The controversial technique she's using to obtain "her" brain that she needs is nearly complete. She retracts the neuro-data from the clone and injects it with additional artificial intelligence straight into Master Chief's body.

Then we meet Cortana for the first time, the artificial super-computer that will assist Master Chief. They have an odd first meeting and there is some tension between them. Cortana doesn't understand why she's being given the directions that she is but she complies.

Cortana Master Chief Halo TV Series Show Paramount+

Photo: Paramount+

Spartan Emo-John 117

Master Chief is going through a strange phase of learning what emotions are and resisting Cortana. With Cortana's help, Master Chief removes his emotion control chip, and unbeknownst to him, Kai-125 saw the entire thing. Chief goes out into the streets to experience and feel emotion. He succeeds with music, a dog, and the entire experience is brand-new to him.

Later, Master Chief grabs the Keystone again, trying to understand the memories he sees. He discovers that there is a second artifact buried on his home planet.

Also, Cortana helps Master Chief look up where he possibly came from. They come across Eridanus Two and he's certain that's the right one. Chief asks Cortana what happened to the uninhabited planet of Eridanus Two. She informs him the population was wiped out by a plague that arrived on an unauthorized transport. His parents were killed because of Emergency Contact Protocol Upsilon, which sealed the planet to stop the spread.

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He informs Doctor Halsey of the discoveries and plans to go there in search of the artifact.

Kwan and Soren

Meanwhile off in the distance of space, Soren agrees to take Kwan Ha back to Madrigal. She promises him a hefty payday with her families' riches from Madrigal's natural resources. He obliges and she plans to take back her home from Vinsher.

Consensus: Paramount+ Is Taking A Lot Of Liberties With Halo Now

The scenes of Doctor Halsey injecting Cortana into Master Chief were really interesting. You feel both intrigued and a bit concerned with what's shown very viscerally. We know it's just a clone but she's so humanoid that it's quite unsettling. I thought this was really well done and it's interesting to go deeper into the Chief's connection with Cortana.

However, that brings up the biggest problem that I had with the Halo TV show thus far. Halsey is using Cortana as a spy on John. Cortana has the ability to completely control him, albeit in the dormant form at the behest of Doctor Halsey. This feels so wrong. Cortana and Master Chief walk hand-in-hand throughout the beginning of the Halo journey.

There isn't this distrust and corruption-riddled confusion throughout their relationship, at least early on. In the first two Halo games, Chief relies heavily on Cortana to be the one thing directly connecting him with humanity while in areas that take him further than he's gone before.

This is why leaving Cortana on High Charity at the end of Halo 2 is so powerful. Cortana forces Chief to abandon his closest ally in order to save humanity and it's gut-wrenching. This show definitely doesn't have that feel and perhaps they're building this blossoming relationship by facing adversity first.

Keep Reminding Yourself The Halo TV Series Is Not Canon

Dealing with the corruption within the UNSC could all lead up to Cortana realizing she needs to side with John. That's interesting and I can accept that if we get to that point.

If Cortana is nothing more than a military spy and a gimmick that's only going to piss off die-hard fans, then that's a failure. I can forgive the design and how she looks more than a bit odd. But changing one of the most important parts of Halo, to make a political statement, isn't worth the price of admission.

The positive thing here -- and probably the one that hits closest to home for older fans -- is Jen Taylor voicing Cortana. The second I heard her speak I immediately forgot how she looked. Because let's be honest, throughout most of the Halo games we don't see Cortana, we only hear her.

She's inside Master Chief's helmet and guides us throughout the story. Several scenes in episode three don't depict her inside the Chief's head but outside as tall as he is for everyone to see. That change is weird but forgivable. It's still really cool sci-fi after all.

What about The Flood? Cortana tells Chief his parents were killed because of Emergency Contact Protocol Upsilon, which was a containment maneuver the UNSC used to stop The Flood. Could this mean we'll see the parasite at some point this season? Maybe, but it would introduce them in a different way.

Finally, the Lekgolo. I was wrong in January when I predicted the scene with Makee attacking the UNSC would introduce The Flood, and thank heavens that was a drastic overreaction. The Lekgolo looked really cool, were done well, and set up for the inevitable Hunters. When those worms come together behind a big ol' statue of armor and one giant canon, it's going to be a sight to see.


I think it's more than obvious that Paramount+ is setting up a one-on-one showdown between Master Chief and Makee. I dislike this alteration because the Chief is supposed to have the feel of taking on the entire Covenant by himself. But what if we don't even see the ring until the end, setting up for the already renewed season two?

This could be a really fascinating way to build the backstory of Master Chief's relationship with Cortana as well as the way humanity learns what the Covenant is really after. Plus, if The Flood really do show up with a much different introduction than we're used to, it would add a new element to the Halo story. Learning about The Flood before accidentally releasing them on the ring, is a different but fresh way to introduce a new generation to one of the most iconic monsters in pop culture history.