Silver Debrief: Homecoming
Greetings, Blessed Ones. We’ve been expecting you.
We’re now just about at the half-way point of the first season of the Halo television series, the latest episode—“Homecoming”—having released last Thursday.
You know what that means: it’s time for another Silver Debrief!
The episode begins with a flashback to the childhood training of the SPARTAN-II program, where Soren and the Spartans of Silver Team are taken for a run by Chief Mendez. A young John-117 is told by Dr. Catherine Halsey that Chief Mendez informed her of his latest escape attempt. Saying that he wants to go home, Halsey tells John that he and the other Spartans are special, and that they have a mission, for which he could be their leader, concluding that he is going to be the one to save humanity.
Returning to the present aboard Halsey’s ship, she and her aide, Adun, speculate about the alien artifact that set these events into motion. Discussing the intelligence that must have created the artifact, Halsey says she wants to meet it, while Adun questions why John can do what nobody else can—what is it that makes him special? Halsey tells Adun that she’s been asking that question since she met John as a boy.
Cortana asks John where they will begin their search, to which John observes that slipspace looks different to him on this journey. Cortana deduces that John is experiencing anxiety about returning to his childhood home, after which the ship exits slipspace and arrives at Eridanus II.
Kwan and Soren arrive at Madrigal where they talk about his time as a Spartan, how his mind was wiped, which Kwan likes the sound of after what she’s endured. Soren tells her the story of his memory returning, remembering first that his father died—only remembering later that he was the one who killed him. He tells Kwan that memory reminds you of what you are and what’s important to you.
Back on the FLEETCOM Base at Reach, Kai-125 is visited by Riz-028 as she is in the process of washing a knife—after witnessing John remove the hormonal pellet from his back, she has done the same.
Landing on Eridanus II, John, Halsey, and Adun take a Warthog through the woods. Halsey recalls John’s parents, who led the Reach For Life initiative on the planet, calling them heroes. Arriving at John’s old house, he begins digging for what he was made to bury as a child.
In a street on Madrigal, Governor Vinsher Grath patrols with his entourage of enforcers, the fear of the people evident as he passes and greets them. Kwan recognizes an old friend of hers who is attempting to sell a UNSC helmet to a prospective customer; he tells her to come to the memorial for her father tonight as Soren spots the wanted holo for Kwan on the wall.
On Reach, as Kai is cleaning her sniper rifle, she feels a compulsion to streak her hair with the red-colored grease she’s using. Reporting to Miranda as she begins studying the alien artifact while Halsey is absent, Silver Team prepare to take turns touching it to see how it reacts to them.
Remaining inert as Riz and Vannak each attempt to activate it, tension grows as Kai removes her helmet to address Miranda directly and points out that she simply sees the Spartans as machines. She states that Spartans studied battle tactics from the age of six; Riz is able to speak the language of every human colony, and Vannak’s analysis of Sangheili close-combat encounters led the production of more effective armor for marines. Kai then places her hand on the artifact, remaining inert, and tells Miranda that she has to look a little deeper to understand the Spartans.
As John continues to dig, he finds a box containing his old drawings of the artifact, but not the artifact itself. Contemplating their options, John heads into the house. From there, he asks Cortana to recreate a simulated facsimile of how it used to look, stirring old memories within him as he flashes back to his old life—he sees the family dog and his younger self speaking with his mother. Halsey anxiously tells John that not everything he recollects is necessarily reflective of real events...
Following a memory where he left the boundary of the colony, John enters a cave where he sees an alien artifact. Returning to the house, he sees a younger Halsey tossing a coin for him. John catches the coin mid-air and correctly calls that it landed with the eagle side up, after which Halsey asks the young John to keep their meeting secret.
Stepping away from the memories and venturing back outside, John tells Halsey that he saw her in his childhood memories—not at an orphanage, but his own house. She attempts to deflect, saying that memories can be muddled when trauma is involved.
The candle-lit memorial for Jin Ha is held on Madrigal and Kwan laments to Soren that this is all her father gets after all he did for Madrigal in the fight to secure its independence from the UNSC. Spotting Agatha, one of her father’s generals, Kwan is confronted with the uncomfortable truth that the Covenant attack on the outpost changed everything. Their people are frightened, the other generals have been made an example of, and, according to Agatha, they now see Vinsher as protection against the Covenant. Their revolution is over.
Kwan, however, notes that Agatha is the only general who hasn’t been apprehended or killed, deducing that she sold out their allies to save herself. At that moment, Vinsher’s forces arrive at the vigil. Soren informs Kwan that his ship has been discovered and nobody is going to stand against Vinsher so they need to leave; Kwan, however, says they need to find her aunt, as she controlled the family money and is how Soren will get paid.
In her lab on Reach, Miranda concludes that the Master Chief is special in some way they don’t yet understand. Meanwhile, Silver Team look at the things she and her team have been studying from the Covenant, Kai picking up a Needler and declaring it to be her favorite of the Covenant’s arsenal. Kai asks Riz about the Sangheili name for the weapon, which she says aloud, prompting Miranda—who is herself studying the alien language—to add it to her database and ask what other words they know.
In a bathhouse, Vinsher relaxes as he meets with Franco, an assassin, and asks her to quietly eliminate Kwan Ha so she won’t become a martyr for the people. As Kwan meets with her aunt, Soren leaves to see to how they can get off-world.
Back on Reach, Miranda excitedly says that she should’ve compared notes with the Spartans years ago, telling Kai that Halsey wouldn’t let her anywhere near the Spartans and always wondered why she preferred them over her own daughter.
In response, Silver Team tell Miranda a story from their training—an exercise where the Spartans were each given a pet and divided into teams of hunter and hunted. Those who lost would be forced to eliminate their pets, and even though Vannak never lost, his pet was also eliminated in order to teach them the lesson that Spartans must be bonded to each other and no one else. The tale horrifies Miranda.
Meeting with an informant, Soren inquires about the state of his ship. Told that it has already been scrapped and is being sent to Sedra, he’ll have to take a transport ship to the colony of New Carthage, which will be a challenge as the dock is two-hundred miles away. In order to get there quickly, Soren steals the man’s bike.
Kwan, meanwhile, insists to her aunt that they can beat Vinsher, that she has to fight in order to honor her father’s sacrifice. Her aunt tells Kwan that Jin fought for a lie, that he had visited a group of supposed mystics out in the desert and came back changed from the encounter, convinced that his mantle of responsibility was not only to free Madrigal, but that the Ha family had a purpose for being there. As Kwan decides to seek these mystics out herself, Franco arrives and kills Kwan’s aunt; Soren returns before Franco can murder Kwan, causing the assassin to flee. They attempt to escape on the bike Soren stole as Vinsher’s men give chase.
Adun brings Halsey the brain scans of John, recorded by Cortana, realizing that his memories and emotions are reactivating neural clusters. John then appears and says he knows where the artifact is, the three of them set off in the Warthog.
Miranda and Kai study the intercepted message that was transmitted by Makee from the UNSC Gladius, identifying several key words, such as “keystone” regarding the artifact. Kai then says that Miranda hasn’t been honest with her, joking that her hair—a small act of rebellion—looks awful. Further study of helmet footage from the keystone’s recovery leads them to identify the words “Sacred Ring” and “Halo.”
Miranda asks Kai to keep this information between them, knowing that Silver Team is supposed to report to Halsey, to which Kai agrees, the two noting that they’re effectively like sisters. Opening up about her mother, Miranda tells Kai that Halsey designed everything to her specifications and she is uncomfortable when they act in unexpected ways—like a human.
Halsey sees humans as messy, irrational, and chaotic as they make emotional decisions, whereas Halsey sees the world as data to be optimized, regardless of the pain or sacrifices. In this, everybody else falls short of her dedication, and people who let her down are cut out of her life. She is only interested in pushing humanity forward towards her vision of its “true potential,” and so she doesn’t tolerate glitches.
On Eridanus II, John finds the cave he visited as a child, the alien artifact entombed within stone, where he is joined by Halsey.
Declassified is the official after-show hosted by Sydnee Goodman, detailing the making of each episode of the series with interviews and featuring all sorts of other behind the scenes goodies, along with a preview of what's next.
This week’s episode saw Sydnee Goodman joined by the legendary Jen Taylor (who, in case you didn’t know, portrays Cortana, Dr. Halsey, and The Weapon in the games, and Cortana in the show), exploring how Cortana was brought to life in the show through Jen’s motion capture performance.
A big focus of this week’s episode of Halo was the Sangheili language, which Miranda Keyes and Silver Team discuss extensively. In case you didn’t know, David Peterson (who notably also worked on the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones) has been sharing the constructed language on his Archive of Our Own page each week—check that out here. And if that’s not enough for you, this episode of Declassified provides a crash course in Sangheili 101!
And, finally, the cast and crew detail the incredible VFX work that has gone into the show, while remaining grounded in real sets with detailed props, animatronics, and actors as aliens.
DR. CATHERINE HALSEY’S COMPUTER
When Halo: Reach launched in 2010, fans who purchased the limited and legendary editions got their hands on the personal journal of Dr. Catherine Halsey.
For the Halo television series, we knew we wanted to do something similar, providing a resource to serve the trove of lore that has gone into the Silver Timeline. And so, every Friday, be sure to check into Dr. Halsey’s personal computer.
Here, you’ll find a ton of cool lore about the Silver Timeline. Access the ONI Database to learn about the historical and ecological information of colony worlds (and a certain Covenant construct); read up on Persons of Interest to discover more about the characters—their rank, assignment, and current status.
And, if you’ve got special clearance, or you’ve got your own AI designed for infiltration, access password-protected ONI data...
Ordinarily, we'd save this for a Community Spotlight, but it's just so good that it had to be featured here! As this week focused a great deal on Kai-125, it seemed only appropriate to show off this incredible bit of artwork by @AdeptaReality of the fan-favorite Spartan of Silver Team!
The erudite Halo Canon and intrepid Installation 00 have once again posted their own breakdowns of the latest episode, exploring the events of the story alongside the Easter eggs and references to the core canon of the Halo universe.
Be sure to give ‘em a watch!
END OF DEBRIEF
With episode five just days away, this is absolutely going to be an epic turning point in the story of this season. Fans looking for that high-octane Spartan action, the likes of which has only been ‘seen’ before in the novels, will definitely want to tune in!
But I shall say no more, lest I give anything else away and find myself locked up in ONI’s Midnight Facility.
Until the next time, Silver Team!