‘Halo’ Season 1 Recap & Ending Explained: What To Expect From Season 2?

Media adaptations of beloved video game franchises have turned out to be the next big thing, as proven by the success of the Sonic movies, HBO’s The Last of Us series, Netflix’s Arcane, and so on and so forth. Partly due to the producers finally acknowledging the potential of video game narratives, and mostly due to assistance from creators who are passionate about the source material, fans have been catered to with faithful retellings of their favorite video game storylines. Unfortunately, fans of the iconic interplanetary sci-fi game series Halo cannot claim to have enjoyed the first season of Paramount+’s small-screen adaptation of the game series, which, in an effort to carve out its own place, became a far cry from the original saga.

Even keeping the early 00’s gaming nostalgia factor aside, Bungie’s Halo series is widely considered one of the best FPS games ever created, thanks to the trailblazing success it achieved in terms of rich, complex sci-fi lore, apt cosmic aesthetics, and strong characterization. It is no wonder that the series has acted as inspiration for a number of modern-day space classics, which is all the more reason that the makers of the live-action adaptation not even bothering to take notice of the vital points from the source material feels like such a cop-out. As the series returns with its second season in the next week, there lies the opportunity for the makers to rectify the jumbled-up narrative progression of the first season, which will be the point of discussion in this article.

Spoilers Ahead

Why Do The Covenant Seek Halo?

Before getting into the details of the plotline of the first season, it should be mentioned that the narrative takes place in the Silver Timeline, which means it posits itself separately from the prime story arc of the Halo canon to form its own structure.

The world of Halo is set in the alternate future of the 26th century, a period when humanity has turned into an active spacefaring, colonizing community. The discovery of the ‘Slipspace’ interplanetary transportation system has allowed humans to venture into the farthest corners of the galaxy, and under the control of the Unified Earth Government, they have taken control of habitable planetary systems. Eventually, humankind comes into contact with a cosmic congregation of alien species collectively known as the Covenant, whose hostile demeanor towards them initiates a century-long war. The Covenant is led by a theocratic government, with fanatic zealots known as ‘Prophets’ guiding their political and religious affairs by sitting atop their hierarchy. Formed by the assimilation of different alien species, the Covenant is unified by their belief in deifying a near-forgotten ancient alien species known as the Forerunners, whose revolutionary technological creations are regarded as holy relics by the Covenant.

Prophets help the rest of the Covenant to utilize the relics by analyzing Forerunner methodology and have set their sights on finding a set of keystones that can guide them to what they consider the holiest artifact of their religion—Halo rings, which, according to their beliefs, can help them initiate the prophesied Great Journey and elevate them to godhood. In search of Keystones, the Covenant rescued a human girl named Makee from oppressive UNSC forces, who is revealed to be one of the ‘Blessed Ones’ as she can interact with Forerunner relics. Makee is brought up under the care of Prophet Mercy and continues to learn more about the Covenant belief system, forerunner relics, etc.

How Does The Master Chief Uncover The UNSC Conspiracy?

The outer colonies of UEG form an alliance and become insurrectionists to revolt against oppressive Earth colonization and gain complete freedom. To suppress the flames of revolution and also to counter the Covenant threat, the space-navigating, colonizing, and military division of UEG, known as UNSC, introduced the Spartan Program developed by Dr. Catherine Halsey. The hideous face of UNSC comes to light when it is revealed that in order to initiate the program, they orchestrated the abduction of kids from various human colonies, suppressed their past memories, indoctrinated them in their propaganda, and genetically engineered them to turn into apathetic super soldiers. The Spartans turned out to be physically and mentally superior, controllable murder machines, and by donning advanced Mjolnir armor, they became humanity’s strongest weapons against aggressors, enemies, and insurgencies. Dr. Halsey viewed the Spartans as the next step of human evolution, and in order to upgrade them even further, she created an AI known as Cortana that can take over their mental faculties to turn them basically into mindless UNSC puppets. Both her abduction plan and AI creation depended on the implementation of flash cloning, a practice prohibited by the UEG high command. The Spartan Program Center is located on the inner colony capital, the planet Reach.

With the help of Makee’s connection to Forerunner artifacts, the Covenant learns about the possible location of a keystone in Madrigal, a part of UEG’s outer colonies, and invades the planet in its search. The legendary Spartan Master Chief John leads his Silver team to foil the Covenant invasion, but at the end they manage to save only a teenage girl, Kwan Ha, from the massacre. Master Chief discovers the Forerunner Keystone, touching which momentarily disables his memory suppressor, and he starts seeing fading visions of his past. With seeds of doubt already planted in his mind regarding the truth of his origin, John decides to disobey the direct command of UNSC after being ordered to eliminate Kwan due to her insubordination and to maintain the organization’s low profile. Taking Kwan and the Keystone along with him, John escapes to meet his ex-Spartan friend, Soren, and vaguely learns about the nature of the Keystone and their connection to Halo. Entrusting Kwan with Soren, John decides to surrender himself to UNSC in order to know more about his past. Meanwhile, Makee gets permission from the Covenant High Council to retrieve the keystone and kill John.

Was Makee Able To Retrieve The Keystone?

With Cortana’s help, John is able to reconnect to his childhood memories by venturing to his home planet Eridanus II and learning about the truth of the Spartan Program after freeing himself from the memory suppressor mechanism. Eventually, the Covenant attack and escape with the Eridanus Keystone, but Makee fails to return and becomes a UNSC captive. After Makee and John interact with the Madrigal Keystone, they share the vision of Halo Ringworld, and as they share their perspective regarding the human Covenant situation, the duo come closer. John’s viewpoint about humanity makes Makee reconsider her allegiance to the Covenant.

As the knowledge of the Spartan Program conspiracy threatens to malign the reputation of UNSC, Halsey is made the scapegoat to take the fall for the entire organization. She instead uses her flash clone to escape from UNSC’s control, and after getting interrogated or tortured by UNSC’s troops, Makee too decides to steal the Madrigal Keystone and return to the Covenant. In the finale, John and his silver team travel to Covenant central command, the near undetectable planet of High Charity, and launch a stealth attack to keep them from locating the Halo by merging the Kesystone. Soon they are overwhelmed by the horde of Covenant forces, and to save John’s life, Makee touches the merged Keystones, which unlock a star-field map to the Halo and pull John inside the shared vision of the Ringworld. John’s second-in-command, Spartan Kai, shoots Makee, as there is apparently no other way to release Master Chief from the keystone-induced stasis. The Silver Team is eventually overwhelmed by the attack of Covenant brutes, and John almost dies, which forces Cortana to take over his cerebral control, ignoring her better judgment and efficiently dispatching a horde of enemies. This provides the team with an opening; now, with her psyche suppressed, John is able to take the keystone away, and the team escapes from High Charity. As the season ends, the question lingers: whether John is his true self or whether Cortana’s control will result in his zombified existence.

What Can We Expect From The Second Season?

The entirety of season one barely scratches the surface of the actual lore of the Halo franchise, as human drama has taken up the lion’s share of the narrative. Even then, the obvious question that the series needs to answer in its second season is: when are viewers going to learn more about the titular super machine, the Halo Ringworld itself, which serves a role beyond generic McGuffins in the original storyline? A Covenant retaliation is expected, especially how laughably bad their utilization was in the finale of the first season. The trailer for the upcoming season has already indicated that the conflict will affect Reach and other human colonies, which might allow the series to finally align with the original plotline fans know and love.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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