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Silver Debrief: Halo

Debrief 022
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+
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  -  3 months ago

Season Two of Halo has been a hell of a ride, from the conspiracy around Visegrad leading to the fall of Reach, to discovering the SPARTAN-III program on Onyx, and now the end has come.

The Halo is within sight as the UNSC and the Covenant battle to make ringfall first, but an ancient monster has awakened...

Spoilers lie beyond!


EPISODE SUMMARY: HALO

Olive Gray as Dr. Miranda Keyes in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

The Master Chief converses with an unseen being, who asks the Spartan what he found “down there.”

Back in the present, Miranda examines spores from the alien object she recovered, finding that they are no longer dormant.

She converses with Janine, a lab assistant who was inspired to pursue studies in biology because of Dr. Halsey, Miranda’s mother. Miranda asks if Janine was in the lab earlier and if she touched the object, which she denies, and is then dismissed so Miranda can focus on her work.

Janine goes about her day, but becomes visibly ill over time—the veins on her face blacken and she loses focus, before a sudden violent outburst where she stabs one of her colleagues in the neck. Miranda continues to observe the spores as their cells continue to divide and grow.

CORVETTE ASSAULT

Kate Kennedy as Kai with Spartan-IIIs in Halo episode 8, season 2 streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Javelin Team are deployed against the Covenant fleet, which opens fire on their Condors. Kai tells Perez to trust her training, but their Condor takes a direct hit and explodes before they can even deploy.

Perez manages to adjust her trajectory after being sent on an uncontrolled spin in space, rejoining Kai and the other Spartans who survived as they navigate a debris field which they soon realize are the bodies and wreckage of the second wave, and narrowly manage to make it to the hull of a Covenant corvette.

Admiral Parangosky contacts the Master Chief’s Condor as he listens to the distressed communications from the battle. The Chief asks what she wants, to which Parangosky says that they are tracking the Covenant fleet in pursuit of a single vessel which is bound for the Halo and it is of critical importance that he reaches the ring first. The Chief says that the Spartan-IIIs are getting torn apart by the Covenant, but Parangosky attempts to reassure him that the UNSC fleet is on the way.

Breaching the Covenant corvette with Perez and a group of Spartan-III survivors, Kai directs them to the bridge, finding the bodies of Dagger Team in a corridor, who jumped with the first wave. Rounding a corner, one of the Spartans is killed by an Unggoy with a plasma turret, forcing them to retreat to cover as they figure out that the Covenant forces aboard were waiting for them. Weapons fire ceases momentarily and Sangheili charge the Spartans’ position, driving them further back, but the UNSC fleet then arrives out of slipspace.

Kai contacts the fleet to request assistance, but the Halcyon-class cruiser on approach is destroyed by a ventral beam that cuts through the ship.

The Chief demands to know if Parangosky is going to help, but she says that the Spartan-IIIs are buying him time and if he doesn’t get to the Halo then all of their sacrifices will be for nothing. He recalls his conversation with Perez during the fall of Reach—that when he walks into the line of fire in a battle, he knows that he’s likely to lose somebody, but it won’t be him. He tosses the coin that Perez returned to him, contemplating his next course of action.

The Chief stops the Condor and enters the rear troop bay, with Parangosky demanding that he return to the cockpit to get to the Halo as he can’t save the others. The Chief puts on his helmet, saying that she has no idea what he can do.

EN ROUTE

Charlie Murphy as Makee in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Aboard Arbiter Var ‘Gatanai’s vessel, Cortana tells Makee that at the rate they’re taking fire they won’t make it to the ring’s surface and advises that they take a drop pod. Makee asks if the Master Chief will come, but she refuses to simulate anything to do with the Spartan. Makee commends Cortana’s loyalty and asks what she thinks will happen next, to which Cortana concludes that she will be erased before Makee breaks Cortana’s data chip.

Aboard the corvette, Perez and Kai run out of ammo and pick up the Covenant’s own weapons to turn against them as they make it to the bridge. Perez gets hit in the side, burning through her suit to the skin below. Kai watches as the Spartan-IIIs are overrun by the Covenant, the UNSC fleet is already on the verge of being reduced to ruins. Perez tells Kai to use the spike, but Kai hesitates for a moment, saying that Perez doesn’t know what this actually does, and as she is about to put it in the bridge console an explosion erupts in the passage behind them and the Sangheili are attacked by a new enemy: the Master Chief.

Looking out of the forward viewport, Kai laments that the most powerful UNSC fleet will not last the day in this battle, and that she and the Chief are the last of their kind, repeating the oft-spoken phrase that “Spartans never die.” Kai notes that they do, but as the Chief watches a pod deploy from the Arbiter’s ship, he simply says “Not today.”

Perez and the last remaining Spartan-III head back to the Condors, but Kai returns to the bridge console, saying she’ll be right behind them.

Cristina Rodlo as Corporal Perez in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Dr. Halsey is brought to Parangosky’s command center, hoping Halsey can order the Chief to get to the Halo. Halsey tells the Chief that the lead Covenant ship is being pulled into the Halo ring’s gravity and is breaking up, leading Parangosky to wonder why he’s trying to board an empty Covenant ship, to which Halsey realizes that he’s going to recover Cortana and directs him to an access point.

Returning to the unknown being that the Chief was conversing with at the start of the episode, it says that it finds some of his choices troubling as he deviated from his mission. The Chief says that he had a responsibility, and that Cortana is more than just a construct—she knows him. The entity says that perhaps it should be talking to her, but as the Chief enters the bridge he finds the destroyed data chip.

However, Cortana has moved to the Covenant ship’s systems and says that they’re about to be destroyed as the surface of the Halo becomes visible. The Chief plunges his fist into the console, his suit “absorbing” Cortana from it.

Perez awakens aboard a Condor, her injuries having been treated, and she asks where Kai is. Kai remains aboard the Covenant corvette and observes an assault carrier converging on the UNSC fleet. Taking the corvette’s controls, Kai pilots the Covenant ship on a collision course—sacrificing herself.

FAMILY AND FOOD

L-R Joseph Morgan as James Ackerson, Tylan Bailey as Kessler and Fiona O’Shaughnessy as Laera in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Aboard Soren’s ship, Kwan says that they have to leave and tells Soren that she’s felt the darkness her father spoke of her entire life—and now it’s here on Onyx. But Soren is determined to get Laera and Kessler before they leave.

James Ackerson sees Laera and Kessler in the cells next to his, and in the cell beyond theirs is a woman who won’t turn around when Kessler tries to speak to her—Janine, who is undergoing the next stage of her infection.

Soren and Kwan enter the prison facility and find the ONI guards with their weapons drawn, but all of them are seemingly frozen in place—not moving, not breathing.

In her cell, Janine turns to face Kessler and Laera, the infection having spread further as fleshy growths under her skin begin to expand and she lashes out at the prison’s bars. Ackerson demands that the guard do something, but he is also frozen in place. Janine begins forcing her way through the bars and a whiplike tendril bursts from her neck, but Ackerson takes the guard’s weapon and shoots Janine. The infected guard then turns towards Ackerson, who realizes that he is out of ammo.

Olwen Fouéré as The Mother in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Entering a security room, Kwan and Soren find the location of Laera and Kessler on one of the facility’s camera. Arriving at their cell, they kill the infected guard and open the cell, freeing Ackerson as well after Laera tells Soren that he saved their lives.

Ackerson guides Soren, Laera, Kessler, and Kwan to exit the facility but they find a horde of infected. They retreat, but Kwan gets surrounded, closing her eyes in what she believes will be her end, the Mother then appears and says that she knew Kwan would find and deliver them. Kwan asks who she is, and the Mother reveals that she was like Kwan—a protector, a very long time ago, but she was consumed by the parasite, within which her consciousness lives on.

The Mother tells Kwan to go, as she cannot hold the parasite for long. She explains that the parasite is the final equilibrium of life: the Flood.

Reaching the exit, Soren says that he’s going back for Kwan, but they find her sprinting towards them shouting for them to go. As they move through a set of doors, Laera sends Kessler ahead to Soren but shuts the door behind him, choosing to stay behind to buy them time to escape.

Laera holds up her arm and reveals that she has been infected with a blackened wound on her wrist. After bidding a final farewell to her husband, she recedes into the darkness.

LIKE MOTHER, UNLIKE DAUGHTER

Natascha McElhone as Dr. Halsey in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Miranda is contacted by Halsey from the command center and asks her what she’s found. Miranda says she believed it was a sample container that seemingly contained inert spores, but she now realizes it was some kind of parasite.

Halsey looks around the room and sees strange injuries on several of the personnel, telling Miranda to stay where she is and that she’s on her way. As Halsey makes to leave, infected personnel in the command center start attacking—one of the infected leap onto Halsey, but she manages to get out of the room and shuts the door. Before departing, she witnesses Parangosky being held down by the infected.

Halsey reaches Miranda’s lab and she explains that the parasite is stimulated by proximity to living tissue, causing it to grow and expand. Halsey is in awe of the Flood, but she pauses mid-conversation—freezing in place. Miranda sees a wound on Halsey’s neck and realizes that she has been infected.

Miranda places Halsey into cryo to stop the infection from developing further and promises that she will bring her back.

REDEMPTION AWAITS

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

The Chief awakens on the surface of the Halo and Cortana appears, saying that this installation is a living network—the perfect fusion of artificial intelligence and organic life. The Chief says that they need to find Makee, and Cortana directs him to a large structure as he picks up an energy sword.

Arriving at a large Forerunner structure, the Arbiter and Makee find a console which hums to life in her presence, but the Chief arrives just behind them. The Arbiter says that he will not be spared this time and activates his energy sword as the Chief opens fire on the Sangheili with his pistol, activating his own energy sword after expending the magazine.

The Chief manages to land several cuts on the Arbiter, causing the Sangheili to change his stance and swap to his right hand, immediately gaining the advantage. The Chief then uses his grappleshot to send the Arbiter’s swings off-balance and brings the Sangheili to the ground, pummeling the alien’s face with his gauntleted fists and breaking one of his mandibles.

The Arbiter asks the Chief to kill him and end his shame. Makee says that this is not the death that he deserves, but the Arbiter asks her to tell the Chief that only death can restore his honor.

The Chief ignites his energy sword and stabs the Arbiter through the heart, and Makee activates the console which opens the structure’s door.

Charlie Murphy as Makee in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Makee says that wherever the Chief goes, war will follow, and he brought it to the Halo ring—now there is nothing to do but start anew, and once the ring has been fired then peace is all that will remain. The Chief says that he can’t let that happen, but Cortana appears and points out structures that are rising out of the mountains, and UNSC vessels that have made it to the ring emerging through the clouds.

Makee tells the Chief that there is so much that he has yet to understand about what the two of them are. The Chief asks what he doesn’t know, and she responds that she is a Demon too before walking inside the structure, the doors closing behind her. The Chief places his hand on the console to open the door and heads inside.

THE PARTING OF THE WAYS

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

The unknown entity that the Chief has been speaking with throughout the episode says that the fight doesn’t end, even when the Chief wins, and asks why he fights. The Chief says that ONI took his image and bent it to their purpose, so he took it back—the armor and what it represents belongs to him, not them.

The Chief warns the entity that Makee is not to be trusted, she’s dangerous, and the entity responds that Makee said the same about him. The entity states that he is relieved the Chief is here, that “it” is awake because he is here, and he is here because it is awake. The Chief asks what “it” is, to which the entity says that it has been down there all this time, waiting to meet him.

The entity is revealed to be a monitor, the caretaker of the Halo, who concludes by saying that he will be watching before departing.

The Chief puts on his helmet, the visor partially cracked, revealing his eye, and he prepares for the fight to come.


CORE CONNECTIONS

Art of a Forerunner monitor both disassembled and complete

At the end of the episode, we learned that the Master Chief was conversing with an alien entity on the Halo ring—the monitor. This being previously appeared as the “wisp of the well” back in Season One when Kwan underwent her strange vision quest with the Mist People on Madrigal.

We were first introduced to monitors all the way back in Halo: Combat Evolved, where we encountered 343 Guilty Spark—the monitor of Alpha Halo.

Since then, we have met many more throughout the games, including Penitent Tangent on Delta Halo, Exuberant Witness on the shield world Genesis, and Despondent Pyre on Zeta Halo.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Terminal screenshot of a gathering of Forerunners and monitors

But what is a monitor exactly?

Simply put: Monitors are artificial intelligences encased in multi-purpose armatures, tasked with the duty of serving as administrators, guards, and caretakers for Forerunner facilities and installations.

Bound by a strict set of protocols they must adhere to, when encountering a monitor it is never wholly clear as to whether they will turn out to be friend or foe, especially when a Flood outbreak threatens to overwhelm the galaxy, necessitating the activation of Halo.


DECLASSIFIED

Title card for Season Two of Halo The Series Declassified

Sydnee Goodman takes us for a final tour with Declassified, diving into the events of the series finale and chatting with Kiki Wolfkill (Executive Producer) and Fiona O’Shaugnessy (Laera) about the journey this season has taken us on.

(NOTE: Some regions may not be able to view this episode.)


FAREWELL TOUR: FROM KIKI WOLFKILL

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 8, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Oh, what a journey this has been! It’s hard to believe that’s a wrap on Season Two. As we take a breather to see what lies in the future for a Season Three, I want to take a moment to thank you, our fans and audience, for going on this crazy adventure with us.

There were bumps along the way, there always are, but you stuck with us and I hope you enjoyed watching this season as much as we enjoyed making it! You are the lifeblood of this franchise and it has meant the world to us that you have been alongside us in the development of this new Halo experience.

Any endeavor that involves bringing a story to life, whether in a television series or a videogame, requires multitudes of people collaborating, problem-solving, risk-taking, and building together—lessons are learned along the way, many of them hard, but through it all is a commitment to excellence and delivering the best work possible.

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 8, season 2, streaming on Paramount+ 2024. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

There were an incredible number of teams and people involved in the show, both on the production crew and here at Microsoft. To that end, I want to personally thank some of the brilliant minds here at Xbox and 343 who made all this happen.

To Kenneth “The Canon” Peters: our on-set Halo Technical Advisor by day, 343 Senior Franchise Writer by night. Kenneth was on the ground in Hungary during all of Production and was a constant and invaluable resource to the entire crew from the writers to the propmakers; he introduced a whole new audience to Halo through his encyclopedic knowledge and lending his military subject matter expertise as well.

To Corrinne Robinson, 343’s Franchise Development Director, for gracefully running the machine that reviews everything Silver—from social posts to creature art—and is Halo’s real-life Librarian outside of the show.

To Alex Wakeford, the man who brings you these Silver Debriefs but does so much more than that for Halo alongside our heroic Halo Community Team.

To Rob Semsey, Halo’s Comms Director who provided invaluable feedback all along the way.

To Cheryl Marine. Cheryl has been the producer and conductor behind the scenes navigating all parts of Xbox, 343, Paramount+, and our production team when we were all in Budapest—she is the lynchpin that makes our myriad of voices sing.

And finally, a huge thanks to the Halo Infinite team for creating a game world that we all inhabit every single day, and from which we drew so much visual and aural inspiration this season.

But this isn’t goodbye—hopefully just a “see you soon...”

~ Kiki


And that closes us out for Season Two of Halo—and for this run of Silver Debriefs!

Thank you for joining us on this great journey through the action-packed season that has unfolded over the last seven weeks. You will no doubt be wondering about what news there may be of a third season—to that, we have nothing to announce here today, but never say never, right?

We’ll be watching.