Halo Season 2: First Four Episodes Reviewed
Halo Season 2 is almost here and I got a sneak peek at the first half of the season, my full review.
As a massive Halo fan, I was thrilled to see the Master Chief hit the small screen in a big way with Paramount’s Halo TV series. Season 1 started with a lot of promise and high-octane action, capturing many of the essential elements of the blockbuster video game franchise. Unfortunately, as the first season progressed, it had issues with pacing, storytelling bumps, and even took characters, including the Master Chief in some questionable directions. Now, Halo Season 2 has arrived on planet Reach to tell a darker, more intense story.
"Now, Halo Season 2 has arrived on planet Reach to tell a darker, more intense story."
Ahead of Halo Season 2’s official release, Paramount shared the first four episodes so I could share my thoughts. Let’s dive into my spoiler-free look at what the first four episodes have to offer with Paramount's latest foray into the Halo universe.
I’ll get straight to the point: from the perspective of the TV series, Season 2, is off to a better than the first season in many ways. Hardcore Halo fans be warned: It deviates from the games, books and overall Halo lore but it does so in better ways to serve the narrative. To tell this type of story, it has to offer audiences new and old something more to connect with and for the most part it succeeds. The first thing I liked is that the Chief and his team waste no time getting back into action. The plot line picks up directly from Season 1 with some incredible action sequences to kick things off. The tone is darker and a lot more serious with the Covenant moving in on and destroying major human colonies, getting closer to planet Reach, the last human stronghold. Reach is a major human military planet, one that in arrogance is seen as so heavily fortified, it could never fall.
The legacy of the Battle of Reach
For me, the “Battle of Reach” storyline is one that I have followed through many different mediums from video games, novels, comics and beyond. I am always eager to learn more about Halo’s expanded universe, I find it fascinating. I consider Eric Nylund’s Halo: The Fall of Reach, to be among the best works of Halo lore and science fiction pieces out there, so I'm always interested to see how the story is going to be interpreted. I was excited to see how Season 2 would raise the stakes and tackle such a big part of the Halo storyline. While the first few episodes offer some interesting moments, they have yet to hit many of the highs in Nylund’s work, but these early episodes are clearly building to something bigger.
There are interesting small nods to the lore with things like minor characters mentioning the fact they are from Harvest (a human colony that is key to the overall Halo canon.) The show writers have sprinkled some great references like this throughout the storytelling which is great to see.
The early action sequences look great, offering up some very cinematic segments like battling Covenant in a thick fog with flashes of energy swords, it looks stellar. Choices like these offered some visual variety and were overall a fun watch, but I still found these scenes a little too rare, especially being based on a video game series that has action in its DNA. When big actions scenes did happen, they were more balanced and really hit the mark.
New and familiar faces
When it comes to side characters, they are still fairly one dimensional with outcomes you might be able to guess. The bright spots though are the Spartan Silver team cast, consisting of Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu), Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy), and Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac). They are developed more through storytelling and act human in moments that don’t seem as forced as they were in the first season.
"They are developed more through storytelling and act more human in moments that don’t seem as forced as they were in the first season.'
The biggest addition to the cast is James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) of ONI, who replaces Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone). The portrayal of his character really fits the cloak and dagger nature of ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) as they often operate outside the law and military rules on top secret missions. Ackerson takes on the role as the new leader of ONI and as a foil to Master Chief and Silver Team. Morgan's portrayal is by far one of the best acted in the series so far. He’s a character that you love to hate for all the right reasons. As you learn more about his character his motives also start to make sense, I'm looking forward to seeing more from Ackerson before the end of the season.
"Morgan's portrayal is by far one of the best acted in the series so far. He’s a character that you love to hate for all the right reasons."
Kwan Ha and Soren-066 Story Arc
One of the aspects I liked the least from season 1 was the Kwan (Yerin Ha) / Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) pirate story arc. They have both returned this season albeit slightly improved. I found Kwan’s character a lot more interesting, changed by the events of the previous season, she now has a much more fatalistic view on the human-covenant war. Kwan also had the best action sequences outside that of the Spartans, which I found enjoyable to watch. Soren, the “Pirate King,” on the other hand still feels like a part of the story that just doesn't fit into the Halo universe, or the series. There are some twists with Soren toward the end of the 4th episode but I don't know if it will ultimately be enough to draw his character more naturally into the full narrative.
Overall Thoughts on Halo Season 2
At this point, I am genuinely curious to see how the series will end. I think Season 2 has done a good job of humanizing Master Chief and the rest of Silver Team. I also appreciate the references to the lore and some of the creative liberties taken to make the story more suitable for TV. However, I’m hoping the last half of the season has greater focus on Silver Team and doubles down on major battles and plot points that lie ahead. The first two episodes of Season 2 are set to premiere on February 8th, 2024, let me know in the comments below your thoughts on the new season when it drops exclusively on Paramount Plus.
About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of dappertux.com, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on multiple social platforms with the handle @dapper_tux via "X", Instagram, Threads, TikTok and join in on the fun!
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