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“Halo” trys to find its footing in season two

(Photo courtesy of: Hollywood Reporter) “”Halo” returns for its second season.”

Ekaterina Photis
Connector Editor

The second season of the Paramount+ exclusive TV Show, “Halo”, debuted its first two episodes on Feb. 8, with new releases following every Thursday. In the two years since the first season’s release, many have set rather low standards for the new addition, after such a letdown in story development from the shows debut.

Season one was met with a lot of backlash for being packed with filler content, unwanted side-character stories that felt distant and just plain awkward character dialogue. However, fans of the military sci-fi video game franchise were excited to see that season two would focus more on the core of the game’s storyline. The set up of the first episodes very closely derives from the way the story plays out in the game, “Halo: Reach”, with the alien Covenant breaching the military’s relay centers and invading their planet of Reach.

Even to those unaware of Halo lore, this is an incredibly enticing premise with intense stakes of alien invasion for the trailer to tease out. The threat to humanity’s existence is hardly felt in season one; but there is a glimpse of that gravity starting to show in the turn that season two is taking.

Yet still, the show is filled with continuations of weightless subplots and confusing filler scenes. The first three episodes seem to have so much packed into the hour-long segments and yet the story has barely seemed to progress at all. There are so many random scenes that never end up adding to the story, and ultimately they just take away from the feeling of the impending threat of the Covenant.

Season two is taking on a few different angles: the characters are still grappling with the consequences of season one, the war against the Covenant is raging to a deadly threat on mankind and all the while, the Spartans are beginning to question their identities as they try to process the trauma of augmentation. Fans will recognize the latter from the video game “Halo 4” wherein Master Chief is subtly struggling with his humanity as a spartan after discovering his true nature into becoming a super soldier.

This is a great plot line, but it’s strange to see the TV Series add this element right off the bat amidst the same unraveling of the story from the preceding video game. This element would make much more sense to the viewers if they could first see the toll that the war takes on the Spartans. This would also give much more ample space for the Spartans to explore the large ideas of their purpose and humanity, ideas that are only barely being touched upon due to the looming eradication of the human race that the story needs to bounce back to. It feels as if the show is trying to do too much and is switching between all these plot lines without really developing any of them naturally.

Finding the right focus seems to be the greatest struggle this show has. Even though they are the main rivals, there is no perspective given to the alien race other than them serving as the show’s scary antagonistic creatures. There is no significant explanation of the Covenant, their religion, their ideologies or their motivations. Viewers hardly see anything of them at all and a lot of the dialogue space is wasted on confusing character moments that add no substance rather than anything that could give interesting complexity into understanding the world.

TV Show adaptations of novels and video games are, understandably, always likely to feel as fast-paced as this, but it feels rather bizarre to see so many aspects go unexplained in a world that has already been written out for the creators.

That said, season two is taking on the task of a very notable moment in Halo’s canon, and, so far, the season does have a lot of potential to deliver a true Halo storyline that fans are excited to see explored.

The show is still somehow incredibly engaging as it attempts to throw plenty of nods at the fans, including the main theme, composed by Bear McCreary, being an amazing sample from the “Halo 2” main theme, and it’s done incredibly well. The VFX for the most part are rather impressive with violent, visceral glassing beams and even slight battle action improvements from season one.

Confusing storylines and all, the show grasps the viewers’ attention just as quickly and easily as it did in the first season, but this time the story is building toward something much better and much more tangible for the audience, even with the minimal context viewers may have, making for an exciting preview into the possibility for redemption in this new season.

Overall Grade: C+