Halo Season 2: Weekly Reviews

Check back every Friday for reviews of the new episodes of Halo Season 2!
After the divisive reception of Season 1, can Halo redeem itself with season 2?
After the divisive reception of Season 1, can “Halo” redeem itself with season 2?
Credit: Paramount+
Two-Episode Premiere

After the divisive reception of Season 1, “Halo” returns on Paramount+ with a two-episode premiere. The series jumps forward by six months after the end of Season 1, which ended with Cortana (Jen Taylor) seemingly taking over Master Chief’s (Pablo Schrieber) body and the apparent death of the Covenant spy Makee (Charlie Murphy). Episode 1, “Sanctuary,” starts with Silver Team on the titular planet Sanctuary evacuating civilians, now having removed their emotion-suppressing pellets. Master Chief is also dealing with Cortana being disconnected from his brain, losing the connection they’d built. 

The major event of this season has been revealed to be the Fall of Reach, a major event in the original Halo canon that’s explored in novels like “The Fall of Reach” and games like “Halo: Reach,” my favorite game in the series. Reach, a planet we’ve seen repeatedly in the show so far, is one of humanity’s last strongholds against the Covenant. To set this up, we see the planet Sanctuary being glassed early in Episode 1, showing how outclassed humanity is against the Covenant. 

The two episodes are a major improvement over the rocky first season, giving fans more action sequences in a series based around one of the most iconic sci-fi franchises of all time. Those scenes were a highlight of Season 1, and have been improved even more. In Episode 1, we see Master Chief fighting cloaked Elites on top of a foggy mountain, and in Episode 2, a group of Marines tries to take on a single Elite. Those sequences feel like they were ripped from a horror film and reestablish the Covenant as a major threat. 

Silver Team, the Spartan group led by Master Chief, gets more development here. While Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) and Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu) were mostly one-note characters last season, they have more of a focus here after removing their emotion-suppressing pellets during the time jump. Riz looks to be getting her own side-plot here, as she deals with injuries sustained during the last season. Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) isn’t given as much focus, despite being a highlight of last season. And the Master Chief himself, John-117, is given a sort of reboot here. His characterization is much closer to the novels and games here, while still being fresh enough for a different universe. The best sequences of either season so far have been Silver Team interacting and fighting alongside (or against, briefly in the first season) each other. 

Unfortunately, the B-plots featuring Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) and Soren-066 (Bokeem Woodbine) still play a part in the show. Like last season, it’s completely disconnected from the central plot of the series and takes focus away from far more interesting elements of the series. While Woodbine is a great actor, his attempts to maintain control of his pirate group are simply uninteresting. Kwan Ha is shaping up to be just as infuriating of a character as last season, and it’s honestly baffling as to why the showrunners decided to continue her story after her plotline wrapped up last season. 

On the political side of the series, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) is a great new addition as a secondary antagonist for the series. He’s filling Catherine Halsey’s (Natascha McElhone) position from last season, as she’s on the run from the UNSC after escaping last season. Ackerson plays a vital role in many events of the original Halo canon, and it’s exciting to see how he’ll be portrayed in this universe. 

While not all of the issues of last season are patched, the premiere is a good benchmark for the rest of the season. While the focus is still diluted, the plot and characters are stronger here, and the action is given more screen time. Episode 3 releases February 15th on Paramount+. 

Episode 3: Visegrad

The new episode of “Halo” on Paramount+ leans heavy on the impending Fall of Reach with references to the original Halo games, specifically 2011’s “Halo: Reach,” while the characters of the series become increasingly complex. After the Master Chief defied orders and went to look for Cobalt Team, who went MIA last episode, the episode deals with the fallout of those actions. Additionally, we get more backstory on the SPARTAN-II program headed by Dr. Catherine Halsey and the source of Col. James Ackerson’s hatred for the program. 

Ackerson continues to be a compelling antagonist for the series, and this episode gives him more material and backstory to work with. His actions are a gray area between the genocidal destruction of the Covenant and the heroism of Silver Team and Master Chief, adding more depth to the story. His role provides a window into the secretive Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and we see how that group reacts to the knowledge that the Covenant is on Reach, while trying to keep civilians from panicking. 

Master Chief and Silver Team continue the character development that the beginning of the season kicked off with, with Riz again getting the bulk of screentime as she begins to learn life outside of being a Spartan. Kai continues to be a highlight of the series, as she starts to work more closely with ONI this episode. Master Chief himself has an interesting arc where he’s essentially gaslighted by Ackerson as he questions past events. Unfortunately, Vannak still doesn’t get much development, though it is great to see Silver Team work together as a team again. 

The B-plot about the residents of the Rubble, including Kwan Ha, takes up a large amount of the episode. It’s still uninteresting, and without Soren’s presence, the plot drags valuable screentime from the much more interesting political machinations and Silver Team action. A shorter eight-episode series doesn’t have the screentime to waste on boring characters, though the end of the episode points towards their journey converging with the main plot at some point soon. 

As the series races towards one of the biggest events in Halo canon, this episode deftly builds up the danger posed by the Covenant and the Fall of Reach. Episode 4 releases on Feb. 22 on Paramount+. 

Episode 4: Reach

Check here on February 23rd for the review of Episode 4!

Episode 5: Aleria

Check here on March 1st for the review of Episode 5!

Episode 6: Onyx

Check here on March 8th for the review of Episode 6!

Episode 7: Thermopylae

Check here on March 15th for the review of Episode 7!

Episode 8: Halo

Check here on March 22nd for the review of Episode 8!

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