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Halo season 2, episode 8 review: "A more-than-solid entry that signs off a frustratingly inconsistent season"

 Halo.
Halo.

Spoilers for Halo season 2, episode 8 follow.

"Just get to the Halo," Kai pointedly told John in last week’s episode. That line has probably been echoed in the exasperated cries of die-hard fans desperate to see one of the franchise’s most iconic moments – that of the original 2001 Xbox title – adapted.

When it does come, it doesn’t disappoint. Before then, we get what is – overall – a more-than-solid entry to sign off what has been a frustratingly inconsistent season, with ‘Halo’ even sprinkling in several game or game-adjacent teases that will undoubtedly spark joy in the fanbase. Emphasis on spark.

Before we get to the identity of the mysterious entity briefing John, however, the show is quickly thrown out of orbit by a shocking new arrival.

As Perez aims to drive a spike literally into the heart of the Covenant fleet (complete with a nod to Alfonso Cuarón’s 2013 movie Gravity that is thankfully galaxies away from the video game stylings of her simulation mission), we are introduced to the Flood, the parasitic creatures who take over their hosts to send them on a zombie-like killing spree.

Thanks to an economical piece of plotting that brings everyone together – Ackerson and Laera sharing the same cell block is wonderfully convenient – the net soon closes in as more and more of the UNSC falls victim to the wave of new threats.

Soon enough, Halsey is infected by The Flood, and so is Laera. In one fell swoop, it instantly gets across how dangerous The Flood are. Halsey, at least, is saved – and literally put on ice, her body hanging in stasis to "stop the progression" in Miranda’s words. Still, this is one flood that won’t be stopped anytime soon, and bodes well for a more horror-tinged third season.

Après moi, le déluge

Halo
Halo

Similarly, Kai sacrificing herself helps turn the tide of the battle with the Covenant and adds some much-needed narrative weight and peril to proceedings. But at what cost? Less so in this season, but Kai has always been an exceptional foil for Master Chief, often acting as one of the best angels on his shoulder. I have a sneaking suspicion the show will be a little worse off without Kate Kennedy’s Spartan – even if it neatly hammers home Chief’s newfound isolation, shorn of allies and enemies alike.

John will need all the help he can get moving forward, too. Close to 25 years after his video game counterpart kickstarted a legend, Pablo Schreiber’s Master Chief crash lands on the Halo ring after saving Cortana and the SPARTAN-IIIs.

While some of what follows, including a terribly anti-climactic showdown with the Arbiter that wastes the potential of John wielding an energy sword, falls flat, it does just enough to excite – with the iconic Halo score given its best outing yet for good measure.

A case – not a very compelling one, mind you – could even be made that delaying Chief’s arrival for almost two full seasons has made the moment even more gratifying. Even if it took an age to get to what Cortana describes as “the perfect fusion of artificial intelligence and organic life”, it was almost worth the wait. Even John and Makee’s mind-numbing clash of philosophies couldn’t dull the moment.

‘Halo’ then treads on more familiar ground, setting up what is essentially the first game in the Halo series in fine style – and even reveals who Chief has been talking to: Guilty Spark. Expect the orb-like AI to play a major role going forward.

Halo
Halo

What of Halo season 2 as a whole? It has clearly been a show fighting an uphill battle, one where many viewers had already made their minds up long before we reached the finale. While the quality of each week-to-week instalment certainly swung wildly from great to downright bad and everything in-between, there is no doubt that the Paramount Plus series clawed back a little more goodwill this season.

Now, it’s exactly where fans wanted it to be in the first place. It’s a significant move. So much so, in fact, that if a third season comes, it could very well be a perfect blend of fan-favorite moments built on top of the (admittedly slightly wonky) storytelling of the Silver Timeline. Too little too late, perhaps, for many – but the future is bright.


All episodes of Halo season 2 are now streaming on Paramount Plus.

For what else is on the way, check out all of the upcoming video game adaptations to look forward to.