The Morality of Conflict: Halo S1E1, “Contact”

The following contains spoilers for Halo S1E1, “Contact” (written by Kyle Killen & Steven Kane and directed by Otto Bathurst)

As the theme song of Star Trek: Enterprise said, “It’s been a long road from here to here,” and the journey for Halo from video game on-screen has long been plagued with many glitches and problems. However, it’s finally here! Paramount+ has launched its first episode of what it hopes will be a long-running epic sci-fi series based on the global phenomenon Halo.

The TV series is not based on any particular game, but is a program that will be drawn from the game’s vast mythology to create a story of the war between the United Nations Space Command (or UNSC) and the brutal alien civilization. known as The Convenient.

While I played the first match of the Halo series and know some lore, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the franchise, but what I played got me excited for this show!

The morality of conflict


At the heart of this pilot episode is the exploration of morality in black and white. In its beginnings we follow a young girl named Kwan who is the daughter of the rebel leader of the planet Madrigal. We hear the Rebels speak of the UNSC Spartans as the brutal, unkillable monsters that have been slaughtering them for years.

However, when the Covenient attacks the rebel outpost and tears apart the men, women, and children, the Spartans (led by the Master Chief) fall from the sky and effortlessly kill all of the Covenient’s forces, seemingly aiding those who ‘they have been. kill before.

Things get murky when we find out that the UNSC only rescued Kwan to use him as a puppet to convince the other rebel planets to join the UNSC. While not an unreasonable request, after Kwan threatens to lie and claim the Master Chief killed his people, we find out that the UNSC has issued a kill order on Kwan.

This episode choosing to go the way of showing that while the Covenient is evil, the UNSC is morally gray at best and losing its humanity in the struggle to survive is really interesting. It adds a new layer to the classic “Humans vs. Aliens” conflict that we’ve seen a million times.

Blood Guts and Brotherhood

Soldiers wear armor and hold long guns in Halo S1E1, "Contact"

Halo S1E1 doesn’t shy away from blood and guts, with a group of teenagers blasting themselves to pieces within the first 10 minutes. The combat is visceral and thrilling and very R-rated; the carnage the Convenience inflicts on defenseless humans is sometimes hard to watch. With a moment showing a group of youths and children being slaughtered (it’s off-screen but still difficult), all the violence and desperation makes The Master Chief’s arrival all the more satisfying, when he lands and begins effortlessly killing all of the Practice. He is a monster to them, with one of them yelling “Demon” upon his arrival, and he is as ruthless to them as they were to humans.

The episode also features the bond of brotherhood between the Spartans and Master Chief. They fight as a unit and help each other, and seem to take care of each other as much as the programming allows.

We only get hints of Master Chief’s background, but we learn that he and the other Spartans were “created” and enhanced by Dr. Halsey in order to fight the Covenient, and that the UNSC monitors and can remotely control all aspects of their equipment. Master Chief is shown as cold, obeying orders without question (even killing civilians when deemed a threat).

This all changes when he touches an alien artifact and begins to have visions of a past he may have lived through, a past that would have been “erased” by the UNSC. It is these visions that begin to cause Master Chief to question his orders for the first time in his life and ultimately to reject the kill order he receives for Kwan.

The show treats these feelings as less novel and more repressed by UNSC programming. When Master Chief goes rogue and refuses to kill Kwan, the UNSC orders him to be neutralized. However, its creator Dr. Catherine Halsey secretly calls her team, rescinds the orders, and says that Master Chief must be taken alive, even if they have to hire friends to do so, to which one of the Spartans responds, “If they go after Chief , these are not friendly matches. Which begs the question, would his Spartan squad have protected him and disobeyed orders even without Dr. Halsey?

Halo S1E1 ends with Master Chief fleeing, but his team is ready to fight 200 marines to protect him if necessary.

Filmmaking, Acting and CGI

The UNSC Pelican ship flies over the cargo bay past dozens of marines and jeeps

The acting of this first episode is good and it is clear that all the actors do their best to bring the characters to life. I never felt like any of the preferences were wrong or took me out of the story. The cast is made up of veteran actors such as Burn Gorman, Bokeem Woodbine, Natascha McElhone, and Pablo Schreiber, as well as a number of newcomers.

The CGI is fine, if a little wonky at times. The opening battle is thrilling but has a few moments where Master Chief or the aliens feel a little rubbery – I think it might have been better to frame the opening battle at dusk when some of the more CGI issues obvious from the series could have been hidden. That being said, the planet Reach and the ships are beautifully rendered, as is the set design, so hopefully the show’s CGI improves.

Halo S1E1 does not reinvent the wheel in terms of cinematography, but we are still entitled to some nice shots of the planet Madrigal as well as Reach. Overall, his camera work did exactly what it was supposed to do: frame and show us the action. It wasn’t fancy but it really wasn’t necessary.

In conclusion

The first episode of Halo is a strong opening for the series. Despite some goofy CGI, I felt it was doing its job of introducing viewers to its world. The action begins almost immediately and the plot never stops from there – it’s a roller coaster ride.

While the show itself is a reimagining of video games, there were enough Easter eggs and “ripped from the pages” moments to keep me happy as a player of the first game. That being said, this show Clearly also targets casual audiences who don’t play video games. I watched this episode with my mom, who’s not a big sci-fi fan, and at the end she said, “Well, that was awesome!” So I think this show will be popular with gamers and non-gamers alike.

If you like sci-fi, military action, or just a fun action-adventure, then check it out Haloyou can just enjoy it!

Comments are closed.