With “Transcendence,” the ninth and last episode of the Halo present’s premiere season, so much is unsure. This present has been an enormous experiment of taking a “spaghettified” assortment of Halo video games, books, comics, and different associated media and funneling that into an on-screen adaptation firmly rooted within the custom of status fantasy/sci-fi tv that arguably reached important mass with Sport of Thrones. And with the primary season now over, I feel the present largely succeeded regardless of some poor executions of in any other case completely entertaining and interesting plot developments, most of that are undeniably congruent with the tales Halo has been telling since 2001.
The issue, in fact, is that what makes Halo “Halo” is well confused and hotly contested. Let’s be sincere, Halo started as a reasonably easy shooter steeped within the custom of army science like Starship Troopers and Alien, amongst others. The story, at the very least within the unique trilogy, was an of-its-era post-9/11 story of a army industrial complicated tasked with defending “humanity” towards non secular zealots.
After the departure of Bungie within the early 2010s, the sequence adopted grander ambitions and tried to take itself extra severely. I imagine this present is the end result of that effort and is, when it needs to be, one of many sequence’ higher makes an attempt at reaching a broader scope of storytelling. Competition over when Halo misplaced what made it “distinctive” is extra debated in group areas than the authenticity of Metallica albums post-1991, so any dialog about this present, the books, or the video games since Halo 4 is a fruitless train in arguing towards nostalgia and really particularly curated units of opinions. And I’m not immune from that both.
All of that mentioned, this present appears invested in adapting the themes from different Halo media into an attention-grabbing reconfiguration whereas maintaining the mythos thematically on monitor…albeit with the entire affair feeling prefer it’s maybe teetering on the point of collapse.
If nothing else, “Transcendence” proved a pair issues. First off, that the Halo present is, inheritance apart, simply plain previous enjoyable tv sci-fi. Typically it will get awkward, different instances it sings—I imply, a present that talks about one’s id being recovered by way of a change of hormone regulation, whereas bonding by way of discovered household over a historical past of childhood trauma, is in fact going to make me, a trans girl, really feel a sure approach. For all the speak of humanity being central to this present, I feel the season finale makes it simple: This can be a story about individuals.
Whereas its portrayal of a army industrial complicated nonetheless requires a deeper dialog, it’s clear that these characters want each other as they battle to carry on to their humanity by coming collectively within the face of a fucked-up scenario. As such, I’m genuinely glad no Spartans died right here, and that final episode’s explosive battle between them didn’t result in them murdering each other.
Although John is the “chosen one”-style protagonist, he nonetheless must depend on others, be that Cortana or the opposite Spartans. He often is the hero, however we’re getting a greater sense of who he’s a hero to on this episode. Maintaining these characters alive, I feel, has allowed the collective heroism these characters share to take heart stage. With that, the present has confirmed why they should take off their helmets so typically: Their previous and current conditions demand and implement the helmet, the swimsuit, the position of the soldier, however these are people who find themselves, one would possibly say, heroically struggling towards that demand. Whether or not they’ll survive and have the ability to safe a future through which they don’t want the armor, metaphorically at the very least, stays to be seen.
As for the present’s bigger actions within the Halo mythos, occasions are very attention-grabbing and, I wish to cautiously say, promising. Whereas I’ve loved most of this season, I’ve additionally caught myself saying aloud, “When the fuck are they gonna get to the rattling Halo ring?” “When is Attain gonna get glassed?” “Why can’t Kwan’s display time profit from the intriguing plot components surrounding her?”
I really assume its gradual reveal of secrets and techniques could be for the higher, although.
The season’s gradual drip-feed and reliance on a set of annoying “keystone” artifacts—which all the time appear to have the ability to deescalate out-of-control motion in a really narratively handy approach—has been tiring however, if the story of Halo is certainly one of uncovering a few of the deepest secrets and techniques of our universe, perhaps it’s applicable that meaty lore is effectively hidden. Reveal the deepest secrets and techniques of the cosmos too quick, and it makes the individuals on this world look kinda silly for not figuring them out sooner. Maintain them again an excessive amount of and you find yourself with a J.J. Abrams manufacturing. I feel this season finale principally achieves that stability, and it’s earned us time with these characters. But it surely’s clearly worn out. Season two wants to kick it up a couple of notches and get to the rattling refrain.
Now, did Makee must die for that? I feel the story goes to wrestle with that for a while, and he or she’ll probably change into a bit like Halo 4/5‘s model of Cortana for Chief. Do we’d like one other narrative with an enormous, burly, straight white man being upset over a girl dying? Most undoubtedly not. However this will function a adequate counterpoint to John’s inner sense of himself as a hero; let’s simply hope it doesn’t flip him right into a model of Remaining Fantasy VII: Creation Youngsters’s Cloud Strife and see him mope about for an additional bunch of episodes.
That’s assuming John is even nonetheless with us.
The destiny of John is severely unsure. With out one other couple of shut readings of what was mentioned and what occurred by the tip of this final episode, it’s laborious to say “the place” John is. I’m not fully certain if Cortana did take over? Is he simply stoically upset over his girlfriend getting shot? I don’t know! It’s thematically applicable, nevertheless, for us to see John fade behind the helmet of the Grasp Chief, to change into the senseless soldier the story (and most followers…) need or want him to be. Whereas many viewers haven’t been pleased in regards to the present having so many helmless, suitless scenes, we at the very least bought to see who is now doubtlessly misplaced, as an alternative of the plot simply telling us that his humanity is in danger, which is what the video games and books have principally settled for.
“Get up, John,” was a central theme in Halo 4‘s advertising and story, the hero fading right into a slumber and being summoned when he’s wanted. The primary sport begins with this theme, and it’s how the unique trilogy ended. Halo has, in its better context, been about cycles of civilization and battle all through historical past, with heroes taking part in pivotal roles rising and falling over the eons. Who they’re, the place they’re, and “when” they’re is commonly what makes the distinction, and that the present is taking part in with this, I feel, is what arguably makes it a real Halo adaptation and never merely the type of the video games set to a unique tune.
That mentioned, this season has struggled to juggle its many plot threads, certainly one of which it ended with a bullet by way of Makee. Between the Keyes household drama, the Ha household secrets and techniques, Soren, Catherine Halsey’s bullshit, and all the Spartan stuff, there’s a lot on the desk that I’m unsure the present may give it all of the care it deserves, as we noticed with Kwan’s scenes amounting to little greater than her simply repeating the identical strains time and again and getting mad at everybody. It virtually felt as if the character herself was breaking the fourth wall and demanding higher pacing and writing. We’re certain to see a few of these present tales fade away or take unusual turns, as we did, for instance, in Battlestar Galactica and Fringe.
Now that the situation of the Halo rings has been revealed (I feel?) will probably be attention-grabbing to see the place season two takes this supply materials and these narratives. And I feel probably the most attention-grabbing facet of the experiment that’s the Halo present, at the very least for me, is that I’ve come to be entertained sufficient by this assortment of 9 episodes to wish to see the place they go together with it. The actors are an excellent match and the present’s adapting the themes effectively sufficient for the format. It’s only a query of whether or not it may possibly attain the mythos’ bigger story beats in any type of satisfying method. And from the appears to be like of issues, the reply to that query could be a lot additional out than we would want.