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Halo TV Series

Silver Debrief: Transcendence

Debrief 012
Photo of Alex
  -  a month ago

The finale of Season 1 of the Halo TV series has landed.

Beaten, battered, and betrayed, John-117 leads the Spartans of Silver Team on a suicide mission to retrieve the alien artifacts from the Covenant and save humanity. But at what price?

Let’s get you debriefed...


RED VS SILVER

Catch up on the finale with a recap from Sarge, Grif, and Simmons!


RECAP: “TRANSCENDENCE”

The episode opens on Reach with John awakening after Makee used the Madrigal artifact to send an energy pulse through the base, blasting the Spartans away from each other. Seeing Riz-028 and Vannak-134 are still unconscious, he calls out for Kai-125, who groggily tells him that she’s okay and that he needs to go. Heading to the artifact chamber, he sees the ashen remains of the trooper who stunned Makee and is told by Miranda that she took the artifact and left.

Makee, meanwhile, finds herself at odds with a pair of military police, grabbing one of their pistols, she shoots him before aiming at the other and demanding that he escort her to the captured Phantom dropship.

On his way back from the Artifact holding chamber, John runs into Vannak and Riz holding Kai at gunpoint. Vannak says that Dr. Halsey’s orders are to bring him in, dead or alive, to which John reveals that Halsey kidnapped them as children and tells them the truth of the SPARTAN-II program, causing Riz to momentarily lower her weapon. Jacob and Miranda Keyes arrive in the midst of the revelation that the Spartan candidates were kidnapped as children and turned into weapons. When Vannak aims his magnum at John’s head, in denial about the situation, Jacob Keyes steps in to confirm the validity of the information and his involvement.

Keyes reveals that he helped Halsey select the children, plan the abductions, deliver the replacement flash clones to their families, and erase the Spartans’ memories, concluding by saying that if there’s anyone they should shoot it’s him. John says that if they lose the artifact they lose the war, and no matter what Halsey and her accomplices did to the Spartans, they’re all humanity has now to save them from certain doom.

Lowering their weapons, Vannak tells John which hangar the Phantom is located in and Riz hands him her magnum; and while the three move to head in that direction, Kai chooses to go after Halsey.

BOARDING ACTION

Kate Kennedy as Kai in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Out on the tarmac, the troops outside Halsey’s ship issue their final demands for her to shut down the engines. Aboard the vessel, Adun informs her that auxiliary power is up and the package is secure, saying that they still have options.

John, Riz, and Vannak arrive at the hangar just as Makee departs in the Phantom; at the command center, Jacob Keyes orders the vessel to be tracked and for Pelicans to be deployed as reports come in that Halsey’s ship is back online and preparing to launch.

Infuriated at the possibility of Halsey getting away, Kai’s Mjolnir armor enables her to sprint at inhuman speed across the tarmac as the ship begins to depart. Leaping into the air with incredible momentum, she launches herself onto Halsey’s ship and shoots the engine thruster with her magnum before breaching the interior. Adun scrambles to close the bulkhead door to the cockpit, but Kai forces them open and removes her helmet, demanding to know what her real name is from Halsey.

Adun strikes Kai from behind in an attempt to knock her out, causing Kai to grab him by the throat and smash his head through the ceiling fixture above the command console, instantly killing him, Halsey using the distraction to run off to a Bumblebee escape pod.

Keyes and Parangosky track Halsey’s pod as the EMP slowly comes back online. Meanwhile, Kai staggers through the ship and attempts to regain control as its damaged engine thrusters send it on a collision course with the ground by the base’s landing zone. Silver Team watches on as the ship is destroyed, going up in flames, and fear that they have lost one of their fellow Spartans. At the last second, however, Kai managed to escape the vessel, climbing up the wall to the base to rejoin her team.

With Halsey on the loose and Makee having escaped with the artifact, John tells Cortana that he’s going to need her now.

MAN, MACHINE

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief and Shabana Azmi as Admiral Margaret Parangosky in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

John watches camera footage of the moment Makee is torturously subdued and then grabs the artifact, asking Cortana if Halsey asked Makee to help her steal it, which Cortana confirms but notes that Makee refused.

Bringing up the Aspero star system where Makee said that Raas Kkhotskha was located, the holy place where the Eridanus artifact was taken to, Parangosky asks John how he can trust a word of what Makee said after what she’s done—John insists that she was honest with him.

Recalling the Covenant prophecy about how the Halo will be revealed in a place where the stars sparkle like glass, John believes that it’s a clue and asks Cortana what the gravitational field strength of the system is. Cortana notes that there are several fields, as Aspero is a system bounded by red dwarves and black holes in orbit around each other, the competing gravitational fields warp and scatter light within the system which creates a kaleidoscopic effect. Thus, from our point of view, a planet would look more like fragments—like shards of glass—and it can’t be seen until they’re actually there.

Parangosky says that she’ll send twelve battalions of marines, but John says that if they send ten thousand marines they’ll lose ten thousand marines. This mission, the first incursion into Covenant-controlled space, is for Silver Team.

Telling him that his recent behavior has been erratic and he hasn’t been his usual self, Parangosky says that he must put his feelings and pain aside. When he walks onto the battlefield, ‘John’ must no longer exist. Only the Master Chief.

Suited up, John prepares to depart in a Condor. Jacob Keyes arrives and informs him that Halsey’s pod has been tracked to Manassas, admitting that there is much he has done that he isn’t proud of and rationalizes it by looking at the good that the Spartans have done, but there is no apology that can give back what was taken from them. John says that there will be a reckoning to come, but not today.

Silver Team boards the Condor and Keyes departs. Heading to the cockpit, Kai asks Riz and Vannak if they were really going to shoot her, which they both immediately confirm. Vannak asks if she would have done the same to them, Kai says she would have but she would’ve felt bad about it afterwards.

TRANSIT

Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Running through a field, Halsey is captured by a group of marines and brought back to FLEETCOM base, watched by Jacob and Miranda Keyes as she is escorted to her cell. Attempting to talk to his daughter after she learned about his involvement in the SPARTAN-II program, Miranda walks off before Captain Keyes can say his piece.

At a temple summit on Raas Kkhotskha, a Sangheili honor guard carries the Madrigal artifact alongside Makee, approaching the Prophets. Mercy congratulates her on delivering both artifacts to the Covenant, the Prophet of Regret notes that she also promised them the Demon’s head. Makee asks if he is not satisfied, Mercy interrupting that she has done well and soon they will begin the Great Journey, and that there is a place for her alongside them—though Makee covers her bloodied finger where she removed her energy blade implant.

Aboard the Condor, Cortana informs John that Halsey was going to give her full control of his body and mind, that the plan was always for her to fully take over—that was the purpose of her design. Asking why she didn’t just take him over from the beginning, Cortana reveals that that only he could activate the alien artifacts in order to find the Halo. He had only become redundant in Halsey’s plans once Makee showed up with the same ability.

John further states that Cortana had her chance when Riz and Vannak ambushed him, saying she could have knocked him out and handed him over to Halsey. Cortana states that she was programmed to learn as well and believes that what Halsey wants to eliminate from humankind is exactly what makes them special. After watching John fight for his humanity and seeing it to be a just cause, Cortana admits that she agrees with John’s decisions and a bond of trust begins to form between them.

As the Condor enters the seam between competing gravitational fields, the transit becomes increasingly destructive, severely damaging the Condor by pulling the hull apart. Cortana helps John guide the vessel along the equilibrium line, emerging through the distortion as Raas Kkhotskha comes into view.

WARNING: HITCHHIKERS MAY BE FLASH CLONED WAR CRIMINALS

Charlie Murphy as Make in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Back on Reach, Halsey is visited by Miranda who gloats that she never thought she’d see the day when the great Catherine Halsey is held accountable for her actions. As her daughter notes, her charges begin with kidnapping and end with treason.

Miranda informs Halsey that the military tribunal has already reached a verdict on her guilt, which was never in question, but the real debate was over her punishment. Because she’s too dangerous for incarceration or exile, only one option remained which Miranda says she wanted Halsey to hear from her: Article 72.

Halsey says that by keeping Miranda away from all of the past machinations she had thought she was protecting her daughter, but instead it had the opposite effect—hardening her. She tells Miranda that she’s chasing a ghost and needs to let it go, for her own sake. Miranda says goodbye to her mother and leaves, watched invisibly by Jacob Keyes in the adjacent room as Halsey dabs at her bloodied nose.

On Raas Kkhotskha, Makee prepares for the ceremony with the artifacts, observed by the Prophets of Truth and Mercy. Mercy says that he has not forgotten his promise: once they begin the Great Journey, Makee will burn along with the rest of her species.

Aboard the Condor, Cortana picks up Covenant activity in the northwest hemisphere and says she’s not reading any air or ground defenses. Gearing up, John says that the mission is to infiltrate, get the artifacts, and then get out as Vannak clarifies with him that the artifacts are their concern, not Makee. Donning his helmet, the Master Chief and Silver Team deploy from the troop bay for an orbital drop.

Eliminating a group of sleeping Unggoy outside the temple, Vannak acquires a needler and Kai takes up overwatch with her sniper. The Master Chief notes that security seems unusually light, wondering where the rest of the Covenant are to which Cortana informs him that the only Covenant activity she’s picking up is inside the temple.

On Reach, Miranda rushes back to Halsey’s cell as base personnel gather for what appears to be a medical emergency, three medics seeing to her—one of them telling Miranda that her nose just started bleeding again and she went into a seizure. At that moment, Miranda recalls the conversation between John and Halsey that she observed where she revealed that the flash clones she replaced the Spartans with as children were genetically compromised and experienced headaches and nosebleeds before dying of an undiagnosed seizure disorder.

Parangosky pulls Miranda away, telling her to let the medics see to her mother; Miranda tells her that this isn’t her mother as she demands to know where the real Halsey is, but the clone—“the package” referenced earlier by Adun—dies.

PUPPETEER

Kate Kennedy as Kai in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

As the Spartans approach the temple, Makee attends the ceremony where a Sangheili honor guard unites the two halves of the artifact they refer to with reverence as “the Keystone,” causing the artifact to profoundly affect both her and the Master Chief — creating a mental link between the two.

Kai spots an Unggoy lookout who informs the rest of the Covenant forces of their presence, prompting the Prophet of Truth to accuse Makee of summoning the Demon to betray them.

Mercy orders the Zealots to be unleashed, emerging from within the mountain where they were hidden from Cortana, who determines that there are hundreds coming for them. Heading to the temple for cover, a group of Jiralhanae block their entrance—the Chief and Riz taking them on while Vannak and Kai attempt to suppress the Zealots approaching from the rear.

Makee observes from a distance as a massive Jiralhanae enforcer known as Atriox, who was responsible for retrieving the Eridanus artifact, enters the fray. Riz attempts to take him down, but Atriox grabs her leg and tosses her at a pillar. The Chief is caught in a battle with half-a-dozen Jiralhanae, managing to overcome them and he launches a gravity hammer at Atriox, throwing off his swing as he prepares to execute Riz. The Chief’s advantage is quickly lost as Atriox lifts him up and throws him aside, holding the Spartan down with his mace, before pummeling him.

Unwilling to watch him die, Makee rushes to the artifact and activates it, sending a massive power surge across the temple grounds which blasts many of the Covenant forces off the edge of the mountain. A star map begins forming in the sky and the Chief approaches Makee but falls to his knees as he is pulled into a vision on the Halo ring.

Kai rushes over to Riz, dragging her away from the combat zone while Vannak takes position at the top of the temple and fires on the Covenant below. Vannak says they need the Chief back in the fight before he is blasted from the balcony and incapacitated.

John asks Makee to send them back, but she says that she’s not going back, and that the keystones led them to each other for a reason, asking him to finish this together. John tells her that she has to let go, but Makee looks down and sees blood pooling in her chest, collapsing out of the vision space as the Chief turns to see that Kai was the one who shot her.

SACRIFICE

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Season 1, Episode 9. Photo credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

As a result of Makee’s death, the star map to the Halo remains incomplete. An Unggoy sticks Riz with a plasma grenade, Kai rushes over to help but both of them get caught in the detonation. Mercy orders the Covenant to take the Chief alive, as he is the only other one who can activate the artifacts.

The last Spartan standing, Cortana says they will soon be overwhelmed and there’s no way that they can save both the artifacts and Silver Team. John says to Cortana that she can do it by taking over his body as he fights through Covenant forces, Atriox approaching him once more. His shields critical, John tells Cortana to find the Halo and win the war, firing a final shot at Atriox—hitting the Jiralhanae in the mouth.

Cortana tells John that she may not be able to bring him back if they go through with this, to which he says that he trusts her. Atriox delivers a final blow with his mace, seemingly killing John as Cortana fulfils the purpose she was created for, taking over and quoting the first words she said when she was ‘born’: “When the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.”

The Spartans watch as the Master Chief silently rises, controlled by Cortana. And though the fight against the Covenant resumes, it is with renewed, inhuman efficiency. Atriox charges, but Cortana extends her reach to control the Condor, its guns shooting at him as Silver Team recovers. Cortana lifts the artifact, which remains inert to her touch, and carries it to the Condor as Vannak helps Riz to the troop bay where she collapses to the floor while Cortana has the ship escape from the surface of Raas Kkhotskha.

Having seemingly lost both their pivotal “Blessed One” and the “demon” who shared a similarly potent connection to their holy relics, the Prophets failed to fully establish the location of the Halo. Humanity, it is clear, are more than a distraction or inconvenience, but are becoming a troubling barrier for the fulfilment of the Covenant’s holy mission...

AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON

Shot of Jen Taylor as Cortana and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Season 1, Episode 9.

The left side of Riz’s body is severely mutilated by the plasma grenade’s detonation, and to stem the bleeding Cortana moves quickly to tear off the Spartan’s chest plating and ignites an oxygen hose from the Condor to cauterize her wounds with the flame as she screams in agony. Vannak takes over as Cortana heads to the cockpit to address an alert, piloting the Condor away from the planet.

Back on Reach, in the city of Manassas, Halsey writes in her journal about the future of humanity, how humans are born, live, and die according to the rules of blind and unguided evolution, which means that we are not equipped to survive what comes next. She declares that it is time to take control of human evolution, to discover the true potential of humanity, for which Halo will provide the key.

Escorted to an orbital tether where she is told a ship awaits her, Halsey concludes that much has been lost and there will be yet more sacrifices to make, but they will soon rewrite what it means to be human, achieving transcendence.

Aboard the Condor, Vannak holds onto Riz’s arm as she stabilizes. Kai looks at the artifact, wondering how the Chief managed to carry the device without activating it, and heads to the cockpit, settling into the co-pilot seat. Asking “John? Is that you?”, the Chief turns to face her but offers no answer.


DECLASSIFIED

Header image for Halo The Series Declassified

It’s not just the season finale for Halo, but also for Declassified!

Hosted by Sydnee Goodman, this episode of Declassified welcomes executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and showrunner Steven Kane for an extended interview where they talk about Season 1, the finale, and the exciting road ahead to Season 2.

While the Master Chief may be a man of few words, get a look at Pablo Schreiber’s emotional send-off speech and cast ruminations as Season 1 wrapped filming. There’s also a panel on reflecting the real world in sci-fi through diversity, featuring a marvelous line-up with Riana Manuel-Peña, Danny Peña, Parris Lily, and Stella Chung; and there’s a final salute to the fans that highlights the passion and connectivity shared by the incredible Halo community.


DR. HALSEY’S COMPUTER

Key image of Halsey's Computer site

Dr. Halsey’s computer has been updated!

This website is an official resource containing a trove of lore from the Silver Timeline. Every Friday, it is updated with new information.

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.

Catch up on the latest updates to character bios and more!


LINGUISTIC LINKS: SHADOW OF INTENT

Cover art of Halo: Shadow of Intent

David J. Peterson has updated the conlang ("constructed language") dialogue on his Archive of Our Own page, with script excerpts and direct translations—this latest one may sound familiar to lore fans...

This comes from the novella Halo: Shadow of Intent by Joseph Staten, which released in 2015. Continuing Shipmaster Rtas ‘Vadum’s journey after the events of Halo 3, a San’Shyuum prelate blames Rtas for the death of his family on High Charity and enacts a plan to attain vengeance.

While the prelate is captured, Rtas speaks with him and sings to him the story of Kel ‘Darsam - a pre-Covenant song about the legendary titular Sangheili demigod. Born to a mortal mother and the god-star Urs, Kel was uninterested in becoming a kaidon and instead appointed his uncle—Orok ‘Darsam - to the position. But, during an assault on ‘Darsam keep, Orok was captured by a rival kaidon.

Kel sought to free his uncle, travelling alone to the keep of Nesh ‘Radoon to free him under cover of night where he succeeded in springing Orok from his prison and they made their escape. But as Kel was about to jump to safety from the walls of the keep, he was mortally wounded by a spear that was thrown into his back. Falling to his death in the sea, his divine father, the ruling god Urs, transformed Kel into light, giving the Sangheili word its meaning, as kel means “light that dances on the waves.”

Two versions of the ballad exist: one where the spear was thrown by Nesh ‘Radoon, and one where the spear was thrown by his uncle as an act of betrayal, as he feared Kel would one day seek to reclaim his title as kaidon.

In the show, this ballad is sung as a Sangheili war chant.

With Season 1 of the show over, if you’re looking for Halo stories that will definitely get you misty-eyed then definitely pick up the Halo: Shadow of Intent novella, which can be purchased individually or as part of the Halo: Fractures anthology.


END OF DEBRIEF

There we have it, that’s a wrap on Season 1!

The last nine weeks have been a heck of a time, watching through reactions and discussing the ins-and-outs of the show as we’ve undertaken this Great Journey to bring Halo to the silver screen has been quite an experience.

See you in Season 2!