‘Halo TV Series’ Episode One “Contact Review” – The Outerhaven
The ‘TV series “Halo” certainly had a long and difficult journey. Originally announced in 2013, the show was to be released as a Showtime exclusive, with director Steven Spielberg at the helm. Then, in 2015, the series was in full production, but not much was known about the series. More things happened; the show was eventually delayed until 2019, while key roles were changed, along with the change of producer. This would see several more delays, until 2020 and finally until 2022. As I said, it has been a long and difficult journey. Still, we’re there now, with the Halo TV series practically on our doorstep and debuting exclusively on Paramount+ on March 24, 2022. Thanks to Paramount Pictures, we were able to preview two episodes ahead of the official release.
Halo TV Series Episode 1 “Contact”
The first episode kicks off with a bang. We’re introduced to an insurgent camp, which was odd because it meant the show took a different path than the games. Here we are given a glimpse of some insurgents as they watch the news that the USNC has begun deploying the Spartans. Super touch soldiers who are supposed to be the solution to make battles and wars much easier. Something the insurgents were amused about, others were worried about. It’s a nice touch of foreshadowing, and again, it shows that things are going to be very different in this show.
Suddenly the Covenant arrives and they are on this currently unnamed planet looking for an artifact. We don’t know what this artifact is, or what it does, but it is apparently important. Soon the Covenant locates the insurgents, and let’s just say the insurgents had little luck. It looks like a complete bloodbath until a long USSC ship appears, with everyone stopping to watch it hover above the village. A lone Spartan falls, the Covenant are momentarily shocked before continuing their attack. Suddenly, several other Spartans come down and start cleaning the shop. Much to the surprise of the members of the insurgency, as they don’t believe the UNSC or United Nations Space Command cares about them. Despite the Spartan’s help, everyone but one person was pronounced dead. Surprise, the only survivor is the daughter of the village chief, Kwan. I’m sure she’ll end up either being a plot or a major character down the road. However, here is where things get a little fuzzy with me. Now, if I’m the Covenant, I wouldn’t go out of my way to slaughter a village of people, especially if it would reveal my location. The Covenant in the games and books may not have been rocket scientists, but they weren’t negligent either. So this move is a little weird in my mind. But it was cool to see the Spartans popping up, but of course our buddy Master Chief had to be front and center initially.
Alright, but let’s move on.
While trying to verify that they have eliminated all threats, the Spartans search and locate the Covenant ship, and below is a cave with something inside. That something was why the Covenant was even on the planet, and upon touching that object, he reacts to the Master Chief, flooding his mind with memories he can’t seem to remember. Needless to say, he’s both confused and lost, but luckily the good people at USNC see it all and know it all. We also see the Covenant ship leaving, meaning some of the Covenant managed to survive the onslaught.
Master Chief leading a pack of Spartans is new and something I’m not aware of. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it’s just weird, but I understand how they’re trying to make it more human. I imagine trying to recreate the same character from the game wouldn’t translate well. Plus, seeing the action of other Spartans and it’s not the Master Chief show is refreshing. I hope this continues throughout the series.
After that, things switch back to the Covenant, who learn that the USNC has the artifact they were looking for. Not thrilled with events, a certain person of interest who we can’t yet mention is shown discussing that they want to talk to the surviving Covenant. It’s an interesting scene, and we can see the Covenant communicating using words and gestures to get their messages across to each other. Some are more evolved, some less so, which matches the actual Covenant makeup that has been established throughout Halo’s long history. Yet things here are also different. There is a lot to learn, despite the short time spent here.
Shortly after, we are introduced to another familiar face, Doctor Catherine Halsey, and she seems to be a carbon copy of the person from the game. At least on the surface, but I think it’s too early to determine what she simmers. He’s a dynamic character in the game and the book, and I imagine that would be true on the show as well. She and others don’t like what’s happening to Master Chief and they want him back, as soon as possible. Already, Master Chief has angered everyone upstairs, and it’s another departure from the character we all know.
But when he starts to go against the plan concocted by the UNSC to cover up this little incident, suddenly things get worse and that’s when someone wants Master Chief dead. Here we have an instrument of destruction and a project that costs a lot of money. Yet the decision to reject it because it’s out of the script is the first thing anyone decides to do. Halsey disagrees with this but does not make her disagreement known. Instead, she confronts the other Spartans and tells them that no harm comes to the Master Chief. Like, I mean, it’s pretty much indestructible as it is but ok.
Meanwhile, the pelican that Master Chief was taken over and now flies directly into the hands of the USNC. Not being a fan of this course of action, he and Kwan work frantically to bring the ship under their control. It’s a weird sight to watch Master Chief suddenly become an engineer, knowing every detail of the Pelican and what he needs to do to make things right. Except it doesn’t, and that’s only when Kwan decides to grab an assault rifle, shoot the important stuff, and stop the Pelican. While putting a damper on the USNC master plan.
There’s a bit more going on, but unfortunately it all falls into the realm of spoilers, so you’ll have to watch the show to see what happens. Sorry about that.
When the show was revealed, I wasn’t sure what direction the show would take. As someone who’s been following Halo from the beginning, I’m glad to see that Paramount and Microsoft have decided to start at the very beginning, the very beginning with the Uprising. It’s a part of the Halo universe that only those who read the books would know about, because the Halo games never talked about it.
However, the events that happened and the dates upset me, but that’s okay. You see, the timeline for the Halo TV show isn’t the same as the books and games and will instead focus on what’s called “The Halo Silver Timeline.” Instead of being stuck telling a story that’s already been told, this new timeline will feature canonical parts, while allowing the series to tell a different story. It will still be rooted in canon, but some liberties, as I’ve seen before, can be taken. Not just with the story, but other key characters have been altered or altered in one aspect or another, as have the dates.
Watching Master Chief talk among his team of Spartans and barking orders or confiding in others about his feelings and insecurities is new to me. This character has been, through all of the games and books, a very vocal limited character. When he speaks he doesn’t engage in long conversations, but here he said more in 30 seconds than in hours of Halo gameplay. I still haven’t gotten used to Pablo Schreiber playing the iconic character, but he’s growing on me. He has a gruff voice and I think he did a great job portraying Master Chief. He did a great job playing the isolated character of humanity.
As for the Covenant, the Spartans, the USNC and all associated backgrounds, they have all been faithfully represented. I particularly liked the look of the Spartans, each with their own distinct look and weaponry. This goes for ships and buildings on each of the opposing sides – everything is faithful. Even the names and badges remained intact, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the USNC Hammer of Dawn was mentioned. Needless to say, fans of the Halo series will be happy with what’s been shown so far, even if the timeline isn’t what they’re used to.
I’m already invested in this new story, as it not only focuses on Master Chief but several other story components as well. So far it’s shaping up to be a good show, and I like the various changes that have been shown and told along the way.
The Halo TV series debuts exclusively on Paramount+ on March 24, 2022.