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Are the Covenant Even Scary? - RANT

OP Archodus Vaxal

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Actually kinda gutted I've missed this thread until now and i can see both sides of this one. See your point about getting bogged down in the minutiae though OP and hopefully this can help reset the thread.

OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.

Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
MorseyBaby wrote:
Actually kinda gutted I've missed this thread until now and i can see both sides of this one. See your point about getting bogged down in the minutiae though OP and hopefully this can help reset the thread.

OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.

Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
MorseyBaby wrote:
Actually kinda gutted I've missed this thread until now and i can see both sides of this one. See your point about getting bogged down in the minutiae though OP and hopefully this can help reset the thread.

OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.

Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
My argument would be yes it's okay. Perhaps moving forwards there will be room for some more examples within the media of more 'lost cause' scenarios which don't end well from during the war to reinforce that.

High on my wishlist for such a thing would be a game (beyond Sins of the Prophets but that is awesome) or book entirely focussed on ship/fleet combat/a navy officer's perspective as that would be the easiest way to redress the balance a little.

The issues you raise are really easy narrative traps to fall into, but I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant. Worse example off the top of my head: Star Trek Voyager's treatment of the Borg
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Allow me to provide you with the definitions, courtesy of a wiki dedicated to fictional lore.

"A Watsonian perspective tries to interpret the text from the standpoint of the text. This is sometimes called an in-universe perspective.

A Doylist perspective stands outside the text, and is sometimes called a real-world perspective. Things that happen in canon happen because of decisions made by the author or the powers that be; inconsistencies are probably authorial error. These explanations will sometimes be written right into the canon."
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
I would contend that there aren't many in-universe explanations that hold any water, which is precisely why I have the opinions that I do. If the fanbase has to constantly come up with overreaching excuses for things whenever something doesn't make sense, is it not simply ore logical to apply Occam's Razor?
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
I would contend that there aren't many in-universe explanations that hold any water, which is precisely why I have the opinions that I do. If the fanbase has to constantly come up with overreaching excuses for things whenever something doesn't make sense, is it not simply ore logical to apply Occam's Razor?
Again, though, why else would the Doylist vs Watsonian be an issue if not for situations like this? And applying the Doylist principle I would contend is applying Occam's Razor, especially given the in-universe evidence which does exist (i.e. Earth was days/weeks from falling had the Covenant not imploded... nigh destruction of the homeworld and the vast majority of colonies including the main military and economic base in the space of 27 years: I'd think that shows the Covenant was a pretty big threat!)

If, for example, WW2 was a work of fiction written from the side of the allies you could probably make precisely the same argument about the Axis powers: the events which would be focussed on in the fiction would be the big turning point battles because those make the best stories. That doesn't detract from just how much of a threat Nazi Germany was, but if you're writing from the perspective of the Allies then events like Dunkirk, Tobruk/El Alamein, or Malta, or the Battle of Britain, or Kursk/Stalingrad are what you focus on: not the absolute pummeling the Allies were taking in the run up to most of those campaigns.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and in this case I feel you're dismissing a lot of contextual evidence which is present.

Feel like the only way you'll be placated is if 343 did media from the Covenant perspective during the war showing them at their mightiest absolutely annihilating humanity.
My issue with the whole thing is that 343 clearly wanted to move away from the covenant as a threat and instead explore the forerunners, but they've done such a horrendous job of portraying humans and the covenant that it's just unbearable.

To start off is the covenant civil war and it's aftermath. The biggest issue I have with this is the "disappearance" of the engineers, and that the elites some how have no idea how to fix their own equipment. This makes no sense from any standpoint, if a soldier is deployed somewhere they need to know how to maintain their own equipment, it doesn't matter if they're a private or an officer. Expecting a race of warriors to be clueless about their weapons and armor is mind numbingly stupid, and the same goes for their ships.
The next issue with the civil war is the idea that humanity would be safe with the covenant splintered. This is just ridiciously considering how big of an advantage the covenant had on humanity and how beaten and battered the UNSC was at the end of the war. It's such that you would expect any warlord with a dozen battlecruisers would be an existential threat to Earth, and there's a lot of warlords and a lot of battlecruisers floating around now. And as was pointed out already, the idea that humans would fund covenant splinter groups that hated them is just silly.

The other issue is the tone, which went from humanity's extinction to "HUMANITY, -Yoink- YEAH!".
Its absurd and just ruins the tone of the story, sure we don't have a single highly driven oppenant now, but a dozen or so factions that can wipe you out on a whim is still fairly grim odds. Furthermore the characters in Halo 4 and 5 go completely against what some of the original writers at bungie set out for:
Jaime Griesemer: "I'd much rather experiment and do something surprising, and not have everybody appreciate it, than just turn the crank and do another alien war movie with a space marine"

And considering how Halo 4 really tried to drive home that Spartan 4s are just normal people, it has basically, in it's own meta, devolved into an alien war movie with space marines.

Why we got here:

In conclusion, I would hazard a guess that the story and universe has undergone a sanitization of sorts for marketing reasons. Rather than an interesting and unique story universe with actual biblical references and inspirations from mythology, we have been given a universe that was watered down and over cooked to try and appeal to the smallest common denominator.
Mary Sue's, uninteresting cardboard cut outs, and classified personality ONI janitors now inhabit the UNSC, while the covenant remnants give us a plethora of lawful stupid. This is of course compounded by the forerunners who, with more and more screen time, reveal they're too stupid to exist, and the idea that Master Chief was genetically pre destined to destroy the covenant and the whoever else we're fighting now makes the entire plot and story feel cheap.
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
I would contend that there aren't many in-universe explanations that hold any water, which is precisely why I have the opinions that I do. If the fanbase has to constantly come up with overreaching excuses for things whenever something doesn't make sense, is it not simply ore logical to apply Occam's Razor?
Again, though, why else would the Doylist vs Watsonian be an issue if not for situations like this? And applying the Doylist principle I would contend is applying Occam's Razor, especially given the in-universe evidence which does exist (i.e. Earth was days/weeks from falling had the Covenant not imploded... nigh destruction of the homeworld and the vast majority of colonies including the main military and economic base in the space of 27 years: I'd think that shows the Covenant was a pretty big threat!)

If, for example, WW2 was a work of fiction written from the side of the allies you could probably make precisely the same argument about the Axis powers: the events which would be focussed on in the fiction would be the big turning point battles because those make the best stories. That doesn't detract from just how much of a threat Nazi Germany was, but if you're writing from the perspective of the Allies then events like Dunkirk, Tobruk/El Alamein, or Malta, or the Battle of Britain, or Kursk/Stalingrad are what you focus on: not the absolute pummeling the Allies were taking in the run up to most of those campaigns.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and in this case I feel you're dismissing a lot of contextual evidence which is present.

Feel like the only way you'll be placated is if 343 did media from the Covenant perspective during the war showing them at their mightiest absolutely annihilating humanity.
My quibble is: despite all of the things that are said about the Covenant War, it is rarely ever gotten across in actual Halo stories. Despite the things we're told about the Covenant, we rarely ever see that in actual Halo stories. Background lore is all well and good, but if it just leads to Stormtrooper Syndrome, it only detracts from the integrity of the mythos.

Several triple-A videogames, more than twenty separate novels, a good few comic-runs, and at least two film-productions: and not in a single one of them do we see the Covenant at its best, or even demonstrated to be particularly competent, for more than two minutes, and usually only in the intro.

If humanity's struggle against the Covenant is meant to be a daunting one, the games and books have never presented it as such- only in passing and only through declarative statements and exposition.

You'll have to excuse me if being told that Elites and Spartans are "equals" (by Dirt), but seeing Jerome "John Wick" his way through Elites and Brutes as though they're nothing somewhat irks me.
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
I would contend that there aren't many in-universe explanations that hold any water, which is precisely why I have the opinions that I do. If the fanbase has to constantly come up with overreaching excuses for things whenever something doesn't make sense, is it not simply ore logical to apply Occam's Razor?
Again, though, why else would the Doylist vs Watsonian be an issue if not for situations like this? And applying the Doylist principle I would contend is applying Occam's Razor, especially given the in-universe evidence which does exist (i.e. Earth was days/weeks from falling had the Covenant not imploded... nigh destruction of the homeworld and
My quibble is: despite all of the things that are said about the Covenant War, it is rarely ever gotten across in actual Halo stories. Despite the things we're told about the Covenant, we rarely ever see that in actual Halo stories. Background lore is all well and good, but if it just leads to Stormtrooper Syndrome, it only detracts from the integrity of the mythos.

Several triple-A videogames, more than twenty separate novels, a good few comic-runs, and at least two film-productions: and not in a single one of them do we see the Covenant at its best, or even demonstrated to be particularly competent, for more than two minutes, and usually only in the intro.

If humanity's struggle against the Covenant is meant to be a daunting one, the games and books have never presented it as such- only in passing and only through declarative statements and exposition.

You'll have to excuse me if being told that Elites and Spartans are "equals" (by Dirt), but seeing Jerome "John Wick" his way through Elites and Brutes as though they're nothing somewhat irks me.
On the final point one can assume that the Banished forces were not as well trained or equipped as the majoity of Elites in Covenant forces on Skopje.

I'll grant you though that the Dirt (and other earlier canon) references are problematic when it comes to Spartans vs Elites, but let's face it: in that era of canon they were running with that line due to Spartans vs Elites in MP.

From what we see in canon elsewhere though I think we can infer some observer bias on the part of Gage Yevgenny: by saying that Spartans fought on an equal par all he's really saying is that ODSTs are inferior to Elites: Spartans are probably superior in one vs one engagements by the late stages of the war: c.f. Noble 6 in Lone Wolf.

As to the Halo Wars 2 cutscene: perhaps that went too far given the limitations of Jerome's armor gen (unless Isabel was able to providesome serious improvements). The Halo Wars Wars cutscenes with all of Red Team though I would strongly argue for the multiplicative effect of a team of Spartans: don't forget the importance of the teamwork part of their training: the impact of a team of three Spartans is certainly far greater than the impact of three individual Spartans.

Fundamentally I agree with the point you're making that we aren't shown enough of the big bad mean Covenant we hear so much about. I just reject your premise on the basis that unless the story is being told from a Covenant perspective as they ruthlessly butcher humans, that's a story that many fewer people could resonate with.

We did see the Fall of Reach in a game and various other colonies in books first-hand and saw the invasion of Earth. I argue that's enough. You disagree. And that's okay: we had a good argument about it and I respect your standpoint.

If 343 want to commission more media to show the scary Covenant I'll read/watch/play it and enjoy it. If they decide those aren't the stories they want to tell it doesn't change my ability to imagine that with the information we've been given. I can respect you want to see that though

Yes if you want to critique the franchise's narrative choices this area is fertile ground, but I think every franchise is and I'd say it's minimised in Halo
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
OP, yes, the media which we have does not always display the Covenant as a particularly formidable foe

Narratively, as others have pointed out, the reason for this is that the 'episodes' focussed on the media have needed to be human wins in some way or another because that's how longer term character development can happen: hard to develop a character if they're dead. You can make the same argument about the forces of Mordor in Lord of the Rings, or the Empire in Star Wars. You could also make the argument about the Banished in HW2

What we have seen in the media is very much the idea about humanity buying time to close the technological gap and that's quite important: humanity didn't commit to many pitched battles until quite late in the war except where it had to. The examples in your first post about boarding Covenant ships e.g. in OPERATIONS SILENT STORM and FIRST STRIKE require a lot of prior planning and are far from regular occurrences. There must also have been failed attempts which again received little focus in the media.Another point which is fairly oblique in the media is the size of the Covenant. They were a juggernaut, but... even at the end of the war were 100% of their resources devoted to the war vs humanity? It was only the discovery of the Halos which brought High Charity and its accompanying fleet to anywhere near the frontlines. Without the fall of High Charity, the Great Schism, and the Flood intervention on the Ark humanity would almost certainly have fallen.

I see your point entirely, but I think you're assigning quite a Doylist view rather than a Watsonian one: the Halo timeline of the ever mounting casualties and losses by humanity quite clearly shows that, although not the focus of much in the way of the media, the Covenant was a serious threat
The issue, though: is all of that okay? Is all of that a good thing for the franchise?
I'd argue Halo has done a pretty good job of not falling into them with the Covenant.
Well, clearly not, if I managed to drag out this entire Thread for months on-end with little more than borderline sophistry and goalpost-shifting. I don't know what "Doylist" or "Watsonian" mean, by the way—I've seen you say those terms quite often, but it just looks like word-salad, to me.
Doylist = using reasons from out of universe to explain things (referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g. the Doylist reasons reasons for bringing Sherlock Holmes back from the "dead" were that Doyle wanted more money).

Watsonian = using reasons within universe to explain things (referring to Watson explaining Sherlock Holmes from an in-universe perspective: e.g. Watson summarising how Holmes unexpectedly survived Reichenbach Falls).

And I said I thought Halo did a pretty good job: didn't say they avoided them entirely
I would contend that there aren't many in-universe explanations that hold any water, which is precisely why I have the opinions that I do. If the fanbase has to constantly come up with overreaching excuses for things whenever something doesn't make sense, is it not simply ore logical to apply Occam's Razor?
On the final point one can assume that the Banished forces were not as well trained or equipped as the majoity of Elites in Covenant forces on Skopje.
Not to be a pedantic jackass, but that's the mootest of moot points I've ever seen. The Banished are comprised of those who survived the Human Covenant War, especially the Elites- none of them are "trained" upon entry.
Atriox recruits people who have the skillset and equipment he wants.

See, on the topic of training: we are told that every Elite man, woman, and child is trained in combat from as early as they can walk- drilled in warfare and marksmanship their whole lives. I take that to mean that every Elite is more or less at their full potential by the time they enter the Covenant military, especially given that one must pass through War College in addition to everything else.
So, when one Elite performs poorly, if you can't drum up an excuse for him, you kind of have to assume that it's a reflection of that Elite's entire Clan, if nothing else. So far, we can safely assume that Mdama and Telcam keeps are both complete fodder, as well as Szatul and Zamam.

There are no excuses for Elites, because they give themselves no excuses.

I guess they just don't deserve the name "Elite", then. Fat load of good the Swords'll do in Infinite- the UNSC probably could have just annexed Sanghelios years ago if it felt like it.

Such a shame that one of the most unique cultures in the mythos has so little actual preeminence. No, it's all just big metal men in overpowered suits and angsty, edgelord space-apes.
Grunts scare me. D:
MorseyBaby wrote:
Not to be pedantic jackass, but that's the mootest of moot points I've ever seen. The Banished are comprised of those who survived the Human Covenant War, especially the Elites- none of them are "trained" upon entry.
Atriox recruits people who have the skillset and equipment he wants.

See, on the topic of training: we are told that every Elite man, woman, and child is trained in combat from as early as they can walk- drilled in warfare and marksmanship their whole lives. I take that to mean that every Elite is more or less at their full potential by the time they enter the Covenant military, especially given that one must pass through War College in addition to everything else.
So, when one Elite performs poorly, if you can't drum up an excuse for him, you kind of have to assume that it's a reflection of that Elite's entire Clan, if nothing else. So far, we can safely assume that Mdama and Telcam keeps are both complete fodder, as well as Szatul and Zamam.

There are no excuses for Elites, because they give themselves no excuses.

I guess they just don't deserve the name "Elite", then. Fat load of good the Swords'll do in Infinite- the UNSC probably could have just annexed Sanghelios years ago if it felt like it.

Such a shame that one of the most unique cultures in the mythos has so little actual preeminence. No, it's all just big metal men in overpowered suits and angsty, edgelord space-apes.
Okay fair point trained was an awful word to use and didn't really cover what I meant. a better phrase might be 'in a worse condition than'.

As evidence for that I would draw parallels between Shadow of Intent during the book of the same name in 2553 and Enduring Conviction during Halo Wars 2. No matter how well the Banished at the Ark were supplied I somehow doubt they didn't encounter at least some of those same issues. The Halo Wars 2 logs also demonstrate that since their seizing of the Ark the only action had been sporadic encounters with sentinels or human stragglers and a constant struggle to find supplies - thus one can assume relatively low combat readiness for a force as organised as the Spirit of Fire. As you say many of the warriors would be extremely experienced having survived the war: however many may well be battle weary or, like the Blademaster, in fact reaching a point of no longer being as combat-effective as they would have been during the war. Any 'replacements' received since the Human Covenant war would, despite their level of training, be less experienced and, as Shadow of Intent makes quite clear no matter the training an Elite receives experience is a key part of that: those who survive gain it, those who do not are dead. Given Atriox's backstory one can anticipate a similar philosophy in the Banished as a whole.

You also need to consider the troops who would still be willing to serve Let 'Volir after joining the Banished. Any Sangheili with faith would surely commit to a Covenant splinter group, any with hatred for the Jiralhanae and/or rejecting the Covenant religion would surely side with the Swords of Sanghelios. Between two such causes how easily would the mercenary lifestyle sit with an honourable Sangheili? I'd argue not well and this will have reduced the effectiveness of the Banished's Sangheili complement on the basis of being lower quality troops (allowing for the Sangheili baseline to still be pretty high) because they would have fewer to choose from and less ability to replace losses.

How many of the Elites following Atriox would be equipped as well or in as good a condition and/or experienced as those faced by the UNSC on Skopje: I'd surmise the vast majority were not and, given the combat situation during the raid on Enduring Conviction I would imagine the troops defending Enduring Conviction were far from the best Banished troops present on the Ark as presumably their best troops would have been either:
  1. Assaulting Spirit of Fire
  2. Assaulting the Particle Cannon
  3. Defending the base around the gravity lift
Under those circumstances: what troops would have been present? Probably those with far more naval specialism than frontline infantry. We've also seen in other media around boarding actions (and Shadow of Intent is again an useful source here): in the timescales allowed how quickly could troops have responded to such a boarding action if they were elsewhere on the ship?

I still don't entirely disagree with your underlying point that maybe that cutscene went a bit far, but again you have to allow a bit of creative freedom in the narrative there: it's a good story and a pretty cool cutscene (what they were going for), however given the context we have within the game about that engagement I don't think it's too much of a stretch. Isabel and the Spirit of Fire's forces came up with a plan to draw the Banished's best forces out to leave the carrier vulnerable to a small incursion and they managed to achieve that. It was a textbook case of misdirection and how could it have been predicted as a course of action?

Additionally Jerome's tactics during that engagement certainly seemed to be turning the site (relatively small, cramped space) to his advantage.

I wrote a post a long time ago in response to a similar thread about how Atriox wasn't actually anywhere near as good a leader as he was stated to be in the media, when one of my main arguments was: Atriox himself can't be everywhere and in Halo Wars 2 every time he leaves a Lieutenant (whether Decimus, Let 'Volir, Colony, Pavium, Voridus) in charge they are the ones who seem to make the errors, but Atriox has a finite number of men at his command and can't be everywhere so he does have to rely on his Lieutenants: if they're the best the Banished have to offer then they're what he has to use. Again it's a similar argument here.

If you object to using the human vernacular Elite then just call them Sangheili.

Your objections to Mdama and Telcam, fine, but I would argue the Kilo-5 trilogy did a good job of painting one very important part of the post-war Sangheili: they've not had to do politics, or administration, or even really logistics for generations; their role within the Covenant has meant that only their military skills within the Covenant as a whole (i.e. almost endless resources, losses could be replaced). As Locke says in H5: Jul 'Mdama was an opportunist: I'd argue his character was always shown to be a poor tactician, but (for a Sangheili) a good politician. 'Telcam was past his prime as a warrior and undermined by his religious deference. I'd probably argue that the Arbiter is one of the few Elites to have the skills both as a military leader and as a politician/administrator.

If you think the Sangheili (and the Jiralhanae for that matter) aren't as scary in the post-war period (or make stupid mistakes during the war) then there's a simple explanation for that: because the San'Shyuum set them up to fail.
Quote:
"Then there’s Thel ‘Vadam, good ole’ Arby. His fight with Johnson and Keyes in Delta Halo’s Library is… disappointing. Thel was (allegedly) portrayed going toe-to-toe with John in hand-to-hand in First Strike, and was shown in a somewhat equal fight with Jai in Cole Protocol. And yet… you see him stagger when he’s hit in the chest by the butt of Johnson’s gun. In the chest. Where his armor is! And he visibly struggles to wrench the SMG from Miranda’s grasp! LITERALLY NONE OF THIS IS ADDING UP!!!!!"


Because we're talking about the Arbiter here, this is borderline ad hominem and simply ridiculous. That fight lasted about 10 seconds with an unarmed Arbiter. Did you ever consider why he was unarmed? How about the fact, that his mind was already, subtly starting to change and doubt about the reality of the Great Journey? Johnson is no slouch and there's a reason why he's still alive at this point in the venture. So he is knocked out in less than 4 seconds. Keyes is disarmed with one hand after being shot. Have you ever considered that maybe he did not intend to kill them? Yours is simply an uncharitable read of the event.
Quote:
"See, on the topic of training: we are told that every Elite man, woman, and child is trained in combat from as early as they can walk- drilled in warfare and marksmanship their whole lives. I take that to mean that every Elite is more or less at their full potential by the time they enter the Covenant military, especially given that one must pass through War College in addition to everything else."
Oh of course, every College football player ends up in the NFL. Hell they should be in the Hall of Fame, all without exception. I mean, after all, each one has been in training and drilled to play since they've been walking...
iamblichos wrote:
Quote:
"Then there’s Thel ‘Vadam, good ole’ Arby. His fight with Johnson and Keyes in Delta Halo’s Library is… disappointing. Thel was (allegedly) portrayed going toe-to-toe with John in hand-to-hand in First Strike, and was shown in a somewhat equal fight with Jai in Cole Protocol. And yet… you see him stagger when he’s hit in the chest by the butt of Johnson’s gun. In the chest. Where his armor is! And he visibly struggles to wrench the SMG from Miranda’s grasp! LITERALLY NONE OF THIS IS ADDING UP!!!!!"
Because we're talking about the Arbiter here, this is borderline ad hominem and simply ridiculous. That fight lasted about 10 seconds with an unarmed Arbiter. Did you ever consider why he was unarmed? How about the fact, that his mind was already, subtly starting to change and doubt about the reality of the Great Journey? Johnson is no slouch and there's a reason why he's still alive at this point in the venture. So he is knocked out in less than 4 seconds. Keyes is disarmed with one hand after being shot. Have you ever considered that maybe he did not intend to kill them? Yours is simply an uncharitable read of the event.
Quote:
"See, on the topic of training: we are told that every Elite man, woman, and child is trained in combat from as early as they can walk- drilled in warfare and marksmanship their whole lives. I take that to mean that every Elite is more or less at their full potential by the time they enter the Covenant military, especially given that one must pass through War College in addition to everything else."
Oh of course, every College football player ends up in the NFL. Hell they should be in the Hall of Fame, all without exception. I mean, after all, each one has been in training and drilled to play since they've been walking...
The Arbiter is one of my favorite characters. That he didn't dispatch Johnson and Miranda more swiftly is an insult to him.
No, I didn't consider why he was unarmed. You'll have to ask the choreographers that made the cutscene.
And, no, he was not in any way turning from the faith, at that point- it is entirely Tartarus's betrayal of him that first sparked rebellion from the Covenant, later enflamed by the slaughter of the High Councilors. Arby had no reason to go easy on the Humans, at that point in time. As far as Arby knew at that moment: Humans are unclean parasites that must be wiped from the face of the galaxy. If Tartarus hadn't shown up, i'm fairly certain that Thel would have killed both of them.

My issue is: doing so should have been a lot easier to pull off.

You are misconstruing my words- making a straw-man of my case.
Assuming that every Elite is trained from the day they can walk: there is therefore no excuse for Jul 'Mdama, among others, being such a scrub at fighting. So, one has to apply Occam's Razor and conclude that the Clans of these Elites simply don't have very good standards.
MorseyBaby wrote:
MorseyBaby wrote:
Not to be pedantic jackass, but that's the mootest of moot points I've ever seen. The Banished are comprised of those who survived the Human Covenant War, especially the Elites- none of them are "trained" upon entry.
Atriox recruits people who have the skillset and equipment he wants.

See, on the topic of training: we are told that every Elite man, woman, and child is trained in combat from as early as they can walk- drilled in warfare and marksmanship their whole lives. I take that to mean that every Elite is more or less at their full potential by the time they enter the Covenant military, especially given that one must pass through War College in addition to everything else.
So, when one Elite performs poorly, if you can't drum up an excuse for him, you kind of have to assume that it's a reflection of that Elite's entire Clan, if nothing else. So far, we can safely assume that Mdama and Telcam keeps are both complete fodder, as well as Szatul and Zamam.

There are no excuses for Elites, because they give themselves no excuses.

I guess they just don't deserve the name "Elite", then. Fat load of good the Swords'll do in Infinite- the UNSC probably could have just annexed Sanghelios years ago if it felt like it.

Such a shame that one of the most unique cultures in the mythos has so little actual preeminence. No, it's all just big metal men in overpowered suits and angsty, edgelord space-apes.
As Locke says in H5: Jul 'Mdama was an opportunist: I'd argue his character was always shown to be a poor tactician, but (for a Sangheili) a good politician. 'Telcam was past his prime as a warrior and undermined by his religious deference. I'd probably argue that the Arbiter is one of the few Elites to have the skills both as a military leader and as a politician/administrator.

If you think the Sangheili (and the Jiralhanae for that matter) aren't as scary in the post-war period (or make stupid mistakes during the war) then there's a simple explanation for that: because the San'Shyuum set them up to fail.
Didn't Locke spend a lot of the War studying Thel 'Vadam? When would he have had time to evaluate 'Mdama's character? Being an oppurutinist and being decent at fighting are not mutually exclusive things, so Locke's assessment doesn't exactly fix very many things.

It simply does not add up: for the Sangheili, warfare is the only occupation, and everything else is a hobby. The generations born before and during the War would have all been trained from the day they could walk, and put through War College to even begin their careers as Covenant Soldiers. What's more: every Sangheili is raised communally and/or taught communally- there is no "cream of the crop" when it comes to them, especially given that the sons of the Kaidon receive no preferential treatment.
Everyone is pushed to be the best warrior that they can be, because that's the only game in town, especially for men. Thusly: the only real disparities should be in genetics and/or crippling injuries.

What then are we supposed to say when certain Elites perform better than others, for reasons that escape rational answers? Do genes make that much of a difference? An Elite Minor man-handles two veteran ODSTs once, but an Elite Zealot, post-war, can't so much as stand straight when a Spartan shows up?

Best-case scenario: we chalk it up to fate/plot-armor. Worst-case scenario: we take these feats as reflections upon the Clans of each individual.
I think a great way to sell the threat of the Covenant would be to portray them from the perspective of civilians more in a visual medium. Especially the Brutes and Jackals who straight up eat people.
First: I think you need to show some respect in your forum etiquette here the same as you're being shown: when you make a good point I acknowledge it, I don't selectively quote you to make most of your points disappear in order to only respond to the ones I think I can win. I'll just have to assume that anything you don't respond to that you're conceding.

MorseyBaby wrote:
As Locke says in H5: Jul 'Mdama was an opportunist: I'd argue his character was always shown to be a poor tactician, but (for a Sangheili) a good politician. 'Telcam was past his prime as a warrior and undermined by his religious deference. I'd probably argue that the Arbiter is one of the few Elites to have the skills both as a military leader and as a politician/administrator.

If you think the Sangheili (and the Jiralhanae for that matter) aren't as scary in the post-war period (or make stupid mistakes during the war) then there's a simple explanation for that: because the San'Shyuum set them up to fail.
Didn't Locke spend a lot of the War studying Thel 'Vadam? When would he have had time to evaluate 'Mdama's character? Being an oppurutinist and being decent at fighting are not mutually exclusive things, so Locke's assessment doesn't exactly fix very many things.
Locke had an assignment against Jul 'Mdama on Kamchatka: given his background it is no great leap to assume there had been a significant of preparation for this. That was 2558 and by that point Jul 'Mdama had been a thorn in ONI's side for 4 years and leading the most dangerous Covenant splinter group. That's plenty of time for someone like Locke to read up on him.

You seem to only be looking at Jul 'Mdama's fighting ability in the context of Osiris' assault on him: he was attacked by surprise by a four man fireteam of Spartans in Gen II armor: even if the Spartans and Elites reference you made a while back hasn't been retconned that refers to Spartan IIs (or maybe IIIs) in Gen I armor. While the improvements of Gen II have been slightly retconned: Gen II armor definitely improves the capabilities of a Spartan. Combine that with the element of surprise (which I'd argue you're underestimating again as with the discussion about the assault on Enduring Conviction) and the fact that in those few moments Jul cannot be sure if they're there to kill him, kill Halsey, both, or just capture Halsey. In each of those scenarios you would respond differently. You also have to consider the special skills in Osiris. Would Jul 'Mdama have been expecting Locke to get in close like that? Given how most Spartans fight I'd argue no. Would Jul 'Mdama have seen Spartans and thought "Oh this must be some ONI assassin" - again: no. Osiris' assault was very different to other encounters Jul had experienced with Spartans.

My point was far more that Jul 'Mdama's ability to run a military campaign, while good from the fighting only perspective, displayed the problem with almost all former Covenant troops: he struggled with the big picture because under the Covenant the Sangheili and Jiralhanae commanders didn't have to worry about that.

What then are we supposed to say when certain Elites perform better than others, for reasons that escape rational answers? Do genes make that much of a difference? An Elite Minor man-handles two veteran ODSTs once, but an Elite Zealot, post-war, can't so much as stand straight when a Spartan shows up?

Best-case scenario: we chalk it up to fate/plot-armor. Worst-case scenario: we take these feats as reflections upon the Clans of each individual.
Well of course an Elite Minor can man-handle two ODSTs: ODSTs are weaker than Elites.

Jul 'Mdama was surprised and killed in a clinical and well-coordinated assault before he or his guards really had time to properly react to the surprise. IIRC in the cutscene it's less than 18 seconds from the attack commencing to the fatal wound. I think even the Arbiter would have struggled there.

Given the demonstrations of the feats of Jul 'Mdama and both his sons I don't think we can say that the 'Mdama clan's training is exactly deficient though
iamblichos wrote:
Quote:
The Arbiter is one of my favorite characters. That he didn't dispatch Johnson and Miranda more swiftly is an insult to him.
No, I didn't consider why he was unarmed. You'll have to ask the choreographers that made the cutscene.
And, no, he was not in any way turning from the faith, at that point- it is entirely Tartarus's betrayal of him that first sparked rebellion from the Covenant, later enflamed by the slaughter of the High Councilors. Arby had no reason to go easy on the Humans, at that point in time. As far as Arby knew at that moment: Humans are unclean parasites that must be wiped from the face of the galaxy. If Tartarus hadn't shown up, i'm fairly certain that Thel would have killed both of them.

My issue is: doing so should have been a lot easier to pull off.

You are misconstruing my words- making a straw-man of my case.
Assuming that every Elite is trained from the day they can walk: there is therefore no excuse for Jul 'Mdama, among others, being such a scrub at fighting. So, one has to apply Occam's Razor and conclude that the Clans of these Elites simply don't have very good standards.
I went back and watched the Anniversary cutscene. The fight lasts 27 seconds, including walking around, chatter, and retreating. I just don't see the difficulty here, or why you see a contradiction (i.e. the Arbiter is a badass in the lore, but can't seem to handle two armed humans). Thel Vadam(ee)'s record was impeccable up to the battle of Installation 04. In a straight up fight, Locke and the UNSC AI gave the UNSC 0% chance of beating him. This means that in terms of the war, Thel Vadam(ee) is a game changer for the Covenant if he is left uninterrupted and unimpeded from doing his work. In fact the only reason that the Battle of Installation 04 wasn't another sweeping victory for the Fleet of Particular Justice, should be laid at the feet of the Prophet of Stewardship and not Thel Vadam(ee). So what can we conclude from Locke's analysis, especially given retrospect? Given ample resources, whichever side Thel Vadam(ee) is on will win, and that his learning of the truth set in motion the Covenant's demise for they had no other military leader of that kind of game changing caliber.

Given more evidence from Locke, when dealing with ground assaults and fights personally, he always handles himself with honor and dignity. Is 27 seconds incompatible with being the greatest warrior in the Human-Covenant war? It should be recalled that he had just went through the library and probably slaughtered countless number of Flood forms to catch up to Johnson and Keyes with his energy sword. So why didn't he just slaughter them with the sword? Perhaps this would bring disgrace to his opponents by them being thoroughly outmatched against none other than an Arbiter. Let's also not forget that Johnson and Keyes are heroes of the Human-Covenant war. From a plot stand-point do we really want to see two heroes slaughtered badly at the hands of a character we've been programmed to be empathetic ? 27 seconds is hardly a fight, but at least we got to see them give their best shot against a figure who can dispatch whole armies by himself. Nobody wants that and nobody would want to see that, especially in light of the fact they'll be working together in the near future.

Spartan Jai's encounter with Thel Vadam(ee) was largely an opportunistic one. He had the upper hand with a surprise take down. He should've been able to finish him off, but he couldn't. Would Jai fair as well had the roles been reversed? Speculative, but doubtful. Thel was still fairly young then in terms of experience, and a minor player in the war. What if Jai encountered him after he had been beaten, tortured, and humiliated? Again, speculative, but I don't think it would even have been close. Thel has a huge heart and character, but we forget how tough he is.

You seem to take for granted that the evidence that he had already been supplied by Sesa 'Refumee and Guilty Spark would not have created some concern and doubt. Among the Elites, there have been none that have changed their mind so readily based on evidence. If it would've changed Sesa's mind and he is above average intelligence, what do you think it would do with someone as special as Thel Vadam(ee)? Again, the information was not thorough at that point, but you don't think Thel would not inquire or doubt? Especially with what would become with the changing of the guard? Again, to think otherwise is borderline ad hominem and insult to his intelligence based on what we know of his character.

I'm not making a straw man, because you've offered little in terms of what you think knowledge and training amounts to in terms of a baseline. That's a moving target for each individual Sangheili, as it is for every human. Performance is about 90% genetics, that's why some guys can Clean and Jerk 400 lbs, and some will never do more than 225 lbs no matter how much training and technique you get down. Power production is related to genetics and in an aggregate it's going to differ wildly between the average and the outliers. We should expect the same level of performance difference between say Thel Vadam / Rtas Vadum and average level Elites.

Having said that, I somewhat concur with what you say with Jul Mdama (or insert any Ultra, Gold, or high level Sangheili warrior). To me it's lazy and sloppy writing. They nailed the badass when they made Tartarus in H2. Tartarus is what a villain should be like. Other times we just have to live with the mechanics of a video game, e.g. Master Chief and Arbiter mowing and chewing through Brute after Brute after Brute in H3. When the shoe is on the other foot, look how easily the Elite's punched down the middle on the level 'The Covenant' to turn off the shield. The only way to supplement that and make it more dramatic is with mini boss fights.
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