[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the final episode of Halo season 1.]
“We’re losing the artifact, we’re losing the war,” says a bloodied John, nee Master Chief, to his comrades. “No matter what [the UNSC] has done to us, we are all we have now.” This is meant to be a big moment for him — not a “just had sex” big moment, but rather to rally his fellow survivors, the kidnapped children turned super-soldiers were made to fight against their true enemy.
But after nine frustratingly bad episodes, we understand so little about the Covenant that there’s not much hope left on this Paramount Plus show. In his season finale gloriole endeavored to study the effects of John eventually trying to be human. But what they should have done now is show us how deep it is to be an alien.
There are the obvious reasons: Aliens are known to be sick as hell. A collective like The Covenant, the straight-forward, hyper-religious adversaries from the Halo games, held promise even on such a confusing show gloriole
But no! The show instead chose to focus (primarily) on Master Chief’s trauma. But with all those who supported the corrupt UNSC regime that made his life depressingly possible justifying their actions by pointing to the Covenant threat, the show repeatedly fell into the vacuum of its own creation.
Perhaps no one embodies this better than Makee (Charlie Murphy), the woman raised by Covenant aliens who saw their potential as “the blessed” in their doctrine. Her arc promised to be profound and truly bold: a human raised by aliens to hate humans could certainly express their hatred of humanity on their own body. If not through actual body horror (as we saw in Episode 8 when she pulled out her nail sword and cuticles with her), then at least through costumes, makeup – anything that suggests she didn’t want anything to do with her own kind, either physically or mentally. Makee could have fucked strange. Instead, she’s a conventionally attractive woman who the Master Chief can love and lose.
Makee’s story, like so much of gloriole, feels like the most boring version of what it could be. If you took the very building blocks of lore that make up the Halo universe and played with them, what could you bring to the table? Certainly a little more than what Makee and the rest of the cast is left with. As her exposure to a halo ring
That means the show’s supposed Big Bad, the menace the characters constantly feel coming their way, is all but non-existent. For all his mistakes game of Thrones Feels instructive here: moments like that Battle of Hardhome are stark reminders of the enigmatic, existential terror that the White Walkers actually portray, and the show is littered with characters struggling to fight and figure out their motivation. gloriole has no such visceral feeling for his enemy, much less consistency in his premise. It’s a big problem, and one the show hasn’t tried to shore up, even though the alien threat has been 90% of the motivation for characters like Halsey, Keyes, and Admiral Parangosky.
Ultimately, glorioleThe show’s alien problem feels like a symptom of the show’s biggest problem. With each character citing the Covenant threat as the reason for their actions, it becomes clear just how superficial Makee and the aliens actually appear above the narrative. It’s so uninterested in the ideas that run these characters’ lives that they become practically meaningless. So the threat of the Spartans as brainwashed super-soldiers is easily neutered with a pep talk from Chief, and Miranda is both curious and slow-acting until she hears a recording. Even John himself – having spent most of the season defying and fighting the depths of villainy he is involved in and controlled by – bravely runs back into battle.
The words of encouragement the admiral gives him about leaving “John” as “Master Chief” should come as a shock, though gloriole did not quite find this equipment. Otherwise it would know that the Alliance deserved to be more than a faceless horde. It deserved to be explored as a force in itself, to be asked if it really was the worst of two evils enough to justify ruining Master Chief’s chance at a normal life. At least we deserved aliens that were pretty damn bizarre. Instead, as always gloriole was insanely more of the same.