Halo is beginning to find its footing, albeit the attempt is still shaky. Like a child attempting to avoid being torn apart on their first MJOLNIR test run. “Unbound” achieves a middle ground by blending mythology and human appeal, solidifying emotional beats that had earlier been read between the lines.
Warning: This review contains complete spoilers for Episode 2 of Halo: The TV Series!
“Unbound” dives right into the Master Chief’s backstory. He watched his companion Soren-066 vanish into the night when he was younger, fleeing the Spartan training that lost him his sovereignty and some of his arm’s use.
Soren is in Chief’s thoughts right now because he’s the only other person he knows outside the system. Soren is the pirate lord of The Rubble, an asteroid castle. Chief and Kwan arrive in Soren’s realm after an exhilarating flight through an asteroid field, which is cleverly performed mostly without music.
In the meantime, Make persuades her Covenant adopted family (and/or kidnappers) to let her lead the search for “the keystone.” Chief touched that relic in episode 1, and it will lead the Covenant to “the ring.” (Of course, that’s the titular Halo superweapon.)
Back at the UNSC, Halsey tries to keep her Cortana program alive by pointing to John’s escape as an example of why the military requires it.
Cortana’s function is the show’s most significant departure from the games thus far. The mechanics of cloning and AI in Halo are a tad convoluted. Permit me to generalize for the sake of a summary of a hectic episode.
This Cortana is a clone body and AI program designed to “replace” a Spartan’s consciousness, making them both more intelligent and simpler to govern, rather than an artificial intelligence operating as a living navigational waypoint for Chief.
People on both sides of the battle realize the Covenant is seeking a superweapon by the end of episode 2. Chief learns it through Reth, a Covenant abductee who is now in Soren’s possession.
While Chief had been divided about Soren abandoning the Spartan life throughout the episode, the impact of this information, combined with another jolt from the artifact, sends him scrambling back to his own home. Chief surrenders to the UNSC, leaving Kwan with Soren. He’s unwittingly preparing for a mind-wipe-flavored rendezvous with Cortana.
In the Halo expanded world, Halsey has always been portrayed as a cold, manipulating mother figure. Her Spartans’ attitudes toward her, as in the musical, ranged from hostility to great affection. One of the most impressive aspects of the show thus far is how it elucidates the web of quasi-family relationships.
The final cut between Chief’s face and Miranda Keyes’ establishes them as spiritual siblings. The Cortana system is technically a Halsey kid, as it is based on her illegally cloned DNA. Kwan has an older brother-like relationship with Chief, who fosters awkward dialogues with her while also sheltering her.
In particular, the closing exchange between Chief and Halsey is a masterwork of abusive familial loyalty. When Chief seeks solace from Halsey, she confirms his emotions only long enough to soften him before rejecting them.
About Soren’s kid, Kessler, Chief is even framed as a child. Kessler seriously places a smiley face sticker on Chief’s hand, with that formality and willingness to self-mythologize that kids have.
Chief treats this with the same seriousness as he treats everything else. That’s a sign that his persona is taking shape. Even his and Kwan’s gags work a little better this episode. However, it appears that his perspective is similar to that of the youngster in other aspects as well.
Soren, on the other hand, has a family in addition to his duty as a pirate king. All of this is thanks to Halsey’s removal of the “hormonal pellet” he implanted in the Spartans to level out emotional spikes while also allowing them to appreciate everything.
Bokeem Woodbine as Soren wears the fragments of his MJOLNIR armor like they’re nothing while the other Spartans stomp around. I’m sure that was an intentional choice, and his overall performance is a rich combination of energy and sadness.
His bitter smirk in response to Chief’s departure from the Rubble spoke a lot, especially after he discussed who Chief wants to be foregrounded in the show’s fundamental theme.
Kwan, on the other hand, remains enthralling. Although I’m predisposed to appreciate the viewer surrogate character in this franchise, Yerin Ha’s acting has so far been convincing, especially when she isn’t given much to do, as she is in this episode.
The fact that almost everyone in the cosmos is out to kill her has yet to be confirmed. It will, however, in the future, as we’re introduced to Vinsher Grath, a resistance commander and probable UNSC plant, as he executes prisoners while crooning a small self-composed ballad.
The Rubble is a solid space opera scenario that stands out for its vacuum rendition of a mine car thrill ride. The show does, however, droop a little near the middle. I found myself wishing for more action in the meeting with Reth, but I was hesitant to desire the same for Soren’s “refuge”-turned prison for junkies and PTSD sufferers. Perhaps some of the guilt lies with Chief’s Silver Team Spartans.
They’re still a little hard to tell apart, and they don’t seem to wear their bulky gear as naturally as Pablo Shreiber. Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian still holds the title, and the distinctions and parallels between the two franchise’s masked characters could be used to create some type of social commentary.
However, the Halo television series is far more morally complex than most Star Wars films. Whether she’s grinning at Paragonsky or keeping her face deliberately blank when Chief goes by in handcuffs, Natascha McElhone’s acting as Halsey captures that ambiguity beautifully.
The UNSC may have installed Vinsher at the same time as Halsey used Chief’s defection to reintroduce Cortana to the game. However, some of that ambivalence makes the show feel sluggish; Makee, for example, is dominant one minute and fragile the next, with no clear understanding of her relationship with her Prophets.
The first three segments feel like a foundation for most of these people’s personalities. Due to Kwan’s lack of screen time, the show may have to hurry to keep up with all of the UNSC drama.
Always be Updated with us visit GeeksULTD for Real-time Updates