The second episode of Halo’s second season isn’t unhealthy, by any means, however it’s not fairly as memorable because the earlier episode. As an alternative, “Sword” is a reminder that the Halo collection is strongest when it focuses on the Spartans’ tales, whether or not it’s John’s makes an attempt to set the document straight about what occurred on Sanctuary, Riz’s efforts to bodily and mentally bounce again from a near-death expertise, or Kai’s considerations for the Chief’s wellbeing.
However like most fashionable tv, there are a number of branching narratives taking part in out concurrently, and Halo struggles to juggle them. There’s a barely too apparent stress between constructing out the present’s facet characters whereas additionally racing to make sure the narratives tidy up by the top of the season. The outcomes are a bit disorienting; Halo episode 2 feels prefer it’s attempting to clear a number of paths directly. It stumbles at instances, however when it finds its stride, it’s like a Spartan sprinting throughout an open area.
Spartans on standby
The episode begins with Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone), who may be very a lot alive and in a room with some attractive pure lighting. (How can I get this lighting in my NYC residence?) She’s introduced a tray of tea and cookies by a younger woman, who Halsey makes an attempt to pry for info. She’s clearly being held right here by somebody, however earlier than she will get any solutions, the woman drops lifeless in entrance of her. Flash clones man, they die quicker than grunts.
Again on Attain, Riz (Natasha Culzac) is battling the accidents she sustained from the large battle six months in the past and refusing to confess it. Even after Kai (Kate Kennedy) suggests placing her emotional management pellet again in to assist with the ache, Riz says she’d somewhat get a bullet put in her as an alternative. Cussed Spartan.
The following dialog between Kai and John (Pablo Schreiber) once more proves Halo’s power is its Spartans. The priority that flits throughout her face as he tells her what occurred on Sanctuary, the shift as she realizes he’s not simply depressed as a result of Cortana was ripped out of his head, however that he could possibly be hallucinating (he says he noticed Makee, who Kai herself killed), is top-tier stuff. She will be able to’t keep targeted on no matter is occurring with John, nonetheless, because it seems Ackerson has delegated one other Spartan crew to the “STANDBY” position—besides this one by no means returned from motion. Now John is much more involved than earlier than, the opening credit roll, and the episode snaps to Gibraltar and Kwan Ha.
Although Kwan’s story offers us an excellently choreographed chase and battle scene (that features a second the place she glasses a man with a beer bottle after which pulls him headfirst into the nook of a bartop), it struggles. She’s working from indentured servitude (which I don’t keep in mind her getting thrust into, oops), and is being chased by two males who needs to be scary however aren’t actually. I don’t know who they’re, I don’t perceive the stakes, and the little little bit of set dressing performed to determine that they’re henchmen for whoever doesn’t land. Simply take me again to the Spartans.
Spartans by no means die
We see much more of Riz’s battle to get higher on this episode, and it’s an incredible contact. Spartans are supersoldiers, certain, however they’re people, and watching them reckon with the restrictions of their humanity after years of feeling invincible is extremely emotional. As Riz struggles within the Spartan’s monochrome weight room (which appears to be like like a gymnasium I’d like to attend, contemplating Planet Health and Blink Health have the garish shade schemes of a fucking nursery faculty), a former Spartan named Louis-036 (Marvin Jones III) who went blind because of the required augmentation course of, gives to assist her. “Don’t allow them to see,” she winces as he palpates her injured arm.
“Spartans by no means die,” she says when he tells her to seek out one thing else to do along with her life. Moments later, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) sneers the identical saying via gritted tooth when he’s confronted by John, who’s anxious concerning the lacking Spartan crew. Ackerson and John have a dick-measuring contest, John loses—however not earlier than he finds out that Talia Perez (Cristina Rodio), the one surviving Marine from the Sanctuary assault, has refuted his account of the occasions. Time to make a house go to.
Soren’s household is determined to seek out him, however as soon as once more, I’m struggling to care. The performing may be very sturdy, and the writing is strong, however there’s one thing concerning the pacing that’s holding me from connecting with the opposite characters right here.
Elsewhere, Riz and the remainder of Silver crew are being put via their paces by John, who has turned to burying his emotions in coaching classes. It’s an intense scene, but in addition a visually gorgeous one—set amongst grassy hills paying homage to the ring in Halo: Infinite, with moss-covered rocks and an enormous, superior waterfall. Because the Spartans argue over the mission, the water beads on their Mjolnir armor; as they scale the cliffs, their matte tones mix into the rocks. It’s such an enormous visible improve from final season, it’s nearly unbelievable.
“The Covenant’s on Attain”
All of it comes collectively within the latter half of the episode—we get a payoff for the Halsey story (it’s Ackerson holding her hostage, she’s on Attain, and he’s utilizing Cortana to use her, although it’s unclear why, and nonetheless reads a bit messy), and all the opposite side-plots fall away to middle solely on the Spartans.
Riz goes to a healer and lets a few of her anguish go, whereas John’s compelled to eat dinner with the aforementioned Marine’s relations. (“You’re very massive,” her mom tells him instantly.) There, one asks him his KDR (kill-death ratio) within the sport “Spartan Assault” which is, ya know, simply Halo. After dinner, as he speaks to Perez on the rooftop of her residence and she or he tells him what actually occurred—the comms went down, she may hear one thing within the mist however couldn’t see it, after which growth everybody however her is lifeless.
“It doesn’t get higher,” John says of the PTSD she’s clearly battling. “It simply will get additional away.” As soon as once more, Schreiber is reminding us that on this world, Grasp Chief must take away his helmet, as we have to see ache play throughout his face, solely to see stoicism rush in simply as rapidly to exchange it.
Impressed by his dialog with Perez, John investigates the disappearance of the Spartan crew and discovers they by no means left Attain. They went to research a downed comms relay and disappeared. Concurrently, Ackerson is asking his captive Cortana about an issue he’s requested her to resolve. She will be able to’t discover any method to keep away from the chance of an unnamed occasion taking place, and everyone knows what that’s: The Fall of Attain.
“The Covenant’s on Attain,” John tells Silver crew as they go off on an unsanctioned mission to rescue the mission Spartans. The Marines on the relay face off in opposition to a single cloaked elite, and we’re reminded but once more of the horror these aliens ought to encourage. A darkish hallway, the glow of an Vitality Sword because it slices via flesh—should you’re not scared, you’re not paying consideration.
That singular elite (who’s carrying Arbiter armor) is working with somebody: Makee (Charlie Murphy) who is certainly alive and now has a brand new Halo keystone in her possession. The Fall of Attain is nigh.
Halo season 2 episode 3 airs February 15 on Paramount+.