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Halo TV Series

Silver Debrief: Just Beyond Our Reach

Debrief 003
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  -  3 months ago

“There’s something out there. Just beyond our reach.” 

That ‘something’ is the Halo television series, which is now just days—yes indeed, not years, days—away from release!

It’s been a tremendously exciting time as we’ve seen a flurry of content and attention around the series in recent weeks. We debuted a new trailer (which we’ll be breaking down soon!), we’ve got interviews with the cast and previews behind the scenes for how things were made, our first two episodes premiered at SXSW, and we’ve got even more to dig into...

But first, let’s begin with some words from Kiki Wolfkill, for whom this moment—the bated breath before the plunge into nine weeks of Halo goodness on the silver screen—must feel quite surreal!


“It's been just a week since we had our world premiere at SXSW and in a few short days, we will have our first official release on Paramount+!

I want to thank everyone for coming on this journey with us. I know we will get a lot of different reactions based on the different things people care about most within our franchise, but know that we approached this with so much respect and care working to pull from all parts of our Halo universe.

I hope the sights and the sounds and moments from the games will come alive for you in a completely new way and that we're able to surface and pay homage to the many corners and crevices of the extended universe as well. This show would be nothing without our game foundation and all of you, both are at the heart of this effort.

As we come up on this premiere, there are two things I am most excited about. The first is showing the world an expansive view of Halo in live-action so everyone can see what we see and love in the games every day. The second is starting the journey of this series. We learned so much along the way in making this show both from a production standpoint and creatively and taking those learnings, feedback from our fans and audience, and bringing that into Season 2 is a gift and means we will just keep getting better.

So, thank you again for your patience and support. All of us here at 343 and all of the series cast and crew hope you'll enjoy the story we have to tell.”

~Kiki


MJOLNIR EN SCÈNE

Among the previews for the Halo TV series, these two provide a great look into the making of the show—starting with IGN’s ‘Inside the Master Chief’s Armory.’ 

Join Senior Franchise Writer Kenneth Peters and find out more about how the creative team behind the show brought the iconic weapons of the Halo universe to life, pulling all sorts of details from across the expansive lore of the series for those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ details. 

As we’ve said before: while the show is its own branch of continuity (and you can read more about the Silver Timeline in our first Silver Debrief), it is very much grounded in the authenticity of the Halo universe—that verisimilitude was a matter of great importance, both thematically in terms of the story we’re telling and in the depth of detail that fans expect. In some cases, such as the Sangheili language, we’ve managed to push that further than ever before...

IGN’s second video preview is an exploration of how the Halo television series aims to honor the games and what that really means. It also provides a look into the overall production process, highlighting some of the work done by hundreds of incredibly talented individuals across countless disciplines to make this show a reality.

Concept art, set design (including a quick look at some amazing miniatures made before the real thing was built on location), costumes, props, and more—these are among the building blocks of that indefinable ‘magic’ that comes together in the final release.

IGN’s coverage for the week concluded with a clip of Dr. Halsey and Margaret Parangosky from the first episode, hinting at some of the large-scale events and personal and political conflicts that are adding layers of complication to various plans.

Our final video is not so much a ‘making of,’ but a look at the wonderful chemistry between some of our cast members (Pablo Schreier, Yerrin Ha, Olive Gray, Natascha McElhone, and Jen Taylor) as they answer a series of very important questions about the Halo television series. 

What did they steal from set? What scent would the show have? Does Jen Taylor truly possess the quick thinking of humanity’s smartest artificial intelligence?

(Spoiler: she does!)


PARAMOUNT PERKS

In case you missed this Xbox Wire post from Kiki, we can indeed doubly confirm that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will be able to stream Halo through an exclusive offer of Paramount+ for 30 days free via Perks, available to claim from March 23.

Key image of Xbox Game Pass perks for Paramount+

TRAILER BREAKDOWN

Here it is, our third and final trailer...

Though we’re just days away from the show’s release, there’s still a great deal to say about some of the stunning new moments showcased in the trailer released last week. Let’s dive straight into it!

Trailer shot of the Master Chief looking up at a Covenant ship.
It's like a postcard...

Is there anything that says “Halo!” more than the Master Chief looking at a Covenant ship in the sky, hanging over a vast vista filled with imminent peril?

We have some lovely renders of this ship which we’ll absolutely look to share with you all later!

Trailer shot of Dr. Halsey visiting a young John-117.
Images that precede terrible events.

A wonderfully evocative shot that captures the essence of the relationship between the SPARTAN-IIs and Dr. Halsey in a nutshell: she is both that light in the darkness for them, a steadfast symbol of certainty in their world, and the one who put them there in the first place.

Halo has been exploring the depths of that relationship for over two decades now, it’s a wellspring that never runs dry, and we can’t wait for you all to see it unfold on the silver screen...

Trailer shot of a trio of Elites marching through destroyed gates.
Enemy at the gates.

While the magic of VFX will make this look so wonderfully real when Silver Team take the fight to the Covenant, a shoutout must be given to the incredible work of the folks on-set who were performing fight choreography and capturing the kind of locomotion you expect to see from a Sangheili warrior... while mounted on stilts.

As we’ve said before: every effort was made for there to be a physical presence on-set to keep the action grounded in a sense of reality. While we were unable to make contact with Sanghelios itself to get the Arbiter to send over some of his finest performers, come March 24 you’ll certainly think we had!

Trailer shot of Jacob Keyes and Dr. Halsey.
KEYES: "What else are you willing to sacrifice?" / HALSEY: "Everything."

If there’s a single exchange that sums up Dr. Catherine Halsey, this might be it.

In core canon, we know that Halsey was romantically involved with Jacob Keyes and that Miranda is their daughter, and we’ve seen a few glimpses into the tensions within that relationship, but in the show it’s something that really comes to the foreground as the three are stationed at Reach’s HIGHCOM tower.

Perhaps the core thematic question of this show is how much of our own humanity we have to lose in order to save our species from a threat as monumental as the Covenant. Catherine Halsey is not particularly interested in that question when it comes to what’s necessary—in fact, she’s already picked up the carving knife...

Trailer shot of a figure being lowered into an acidic tub.
A nice hot bath at the end of a hard day...

Those who have read the novels and delved into the expanded universe may appreciate the significance of this scene. Even then, it’s something that certainly hasn’t been depicted (and certainly so viscerally) before.

Let’s just say that there are very good reasons for the UN Colonial Mortal Dictata...

Trailer shot of Margaret Parangosky with Miranda Keyes.
The only person Halsey ever feared.

Do yourself a favor and go and search up Shabana Azmi, who is as much a legend in our own world as the Master Chief is in his. She has been involved in more than one hundred film projects in a career that’s going on half-a-century, she’s set a record as five-time winner of the National Film Award for Best Actress, and those accolades are rivalled only by her equally expansive social activism.

To see Shabana Azmi on-screen as Margaret Parangosky, Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence, is its own reason to be excited to tune in every week.

We see her quietly saying to Miranda Keyes that she’s interested in finding a way to be less reliant on Dr. Halsey in the future, knowing that there is a price and a level of unpredictability that comes with Halsey’s brilliance.

Trailer shot of the Master Chief sprinting towards a Spirit dropship.
The very last thing you'd ever want to see as a Spirit dropship pilot.

Seeing SPARTAN-IIs in action is something that always feels special. Whether it’s reading about their incredible feats in the books or seeing Red Team hold their ground in the ‘Monsters’ cinematic of Halo Wars, there’s a certain level of expectation that when one of these soldiers shows up the combat is going to be taken to the next level. They are the masters of any weapon, pilots of any vehicle, and their Mjolnir armor—combined with their biological augmentations—enables them to do things nobody else on the battlefield can.

And where others would retreat and fortify their position at the sight of an approaching Spirit dropship, it is a Spartan that sprints headlong towards imminent danger. As our trailers thus far have shown, you can definitely expect to see some thoroughly compelling action sequences!

Trailer shot of the Prophet of Mercy.
Did you know that San'Shyuum were once considered very attractive?

During their war with humanity, the Covenant was led by three Prophets known as Truth, Regret, and Mercy.

Truth was cold and calculating, a master manipulator; Regret was the youngest, the most excitable and militaristic; and Mercy, shown here, was the oldest and most pious of the triumvirate.

The Prophet of Mercy takes a more central role in the television series than he’s ever had in the past. In core canon (spanning both the games and expanded universe media), Truth and Regret have primarily been in the spotlight, which left a lot of room to do some interesting things with Mercy.

Readers of the novel Halo: Contact Harvest may recall that Mercy, unlike many San’Shyuum politicians, believed wholeheartedly in the divinity of the Forerunners, to the point where—even when held at gunpoint—he was willing to allow High Charity to be destroyed when the awakened Mendicant Bias attempted to launch the ancient Keyship at the heart of their holy city.

Even when considering the irony of the hierarchs’ names, Mercy is unique. Truth chose his name because of the lies he would have to tell to keep the Covenant together; Regret chose his name because, even in death, he showed no regret for his actions. And while Mercy received none from the Prophet of Truth when the Flood arrived at High Charity in Halo 2, he was shown mercy by the Master Chief—a human—who removed the infection form from his neck and allowed him to die.

Trailer shot of Soren-066 raising a gun.
The pariah.

Soren-066. Former SPARTAN-II conscript, wanted by the UNSC, notorious pirate, and—in the words of the inimitable Bokeem Woodbine himself—a loveable rogue.

Readers of the Halo: Evolutions anthology novel (specifically the short story ‘Pariah’) have known of Soren since 2009, and he was among the first characters revealed to be in the show. He’s an enterprising man who truly understands what it means to be an independent, who has sought to make the best life for himself and others after escaping the UNSC and the SPARTAN-II program.

Trailer shot of Silver Team deploying from a Pelican.
The light is green!

Silver Team’s deployment from low orbit here strongly evokes imagery used in Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians

In the former, Dr. Halsey’s narration is visually overlaid by the depiction of a Covenant invasion, showing a human city overwhelmed by Covenant forces until the SPARTAN-II super-soldiers arrive to turn the tide on the ground, deploying from a Pelican with the shot angled upwards. 

In the latter, the game opens with Fireteam Osiris deploying to the icy surface of Kamchatka in the middle of an all-out battle between Covenant and Promethean forces. Spartan Jameson Locke takes the lead in the descent to the planet’s mountainous surface with a very similar shot. 

Those visual parallels are another very rich part of the core language of Halo, even as each game assumes many different cinematic styles (whether that’s the fluid ‘one-take’ camera of Halo Infinite, the almost ‘military documentary’ style of Halo: Reach, and everything before and between). 


END OF DEBRIEF

And there we have it. Just seventy-two hours to go and you’ll be hot dropping in your ODST pod onto the surface of Paramount+, ready to explore a whole new take on the Halo universe.

Over the next nine weeks, after each episode drops, you can look forward to more regular weekly instalments of the Silver Debrief that will keep you up to date on all the latest goings-on in the show, sharing behind the scenes details and more!

Until then, set your cryo pod’s timer for this coming Thursday—that's March 24!

We’ll see you on the other side.