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Spoilers are ahead for Halo season 2, episode 6, “Onyx.”



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Summary

  • Halo
    season 2 continues to diverge from the game’s canon, but strikes a balance between new ideas and iconic franchise moments, including a team up between Master Chief and Cortana.
  • Master Chief and Cortana’s reunion sets up one of the franchise’s most compelling dynamics and hints at a storyline inspired by
    Halo: Combat Evolved
    .
  • Much to the relief of long-time fans, Master Chief and Cortana are primed to be
    Halo
    season 3’s main characters.


Halo season 2, episode 6, “Onyx,” finally delivers on a team-up that fans of the video game franchise have been waiting for since the show was announced. It’s no secret that the Paramount+ TV adaptation of Halo has diverged substantially from its source material. Set in an alternative Silver Timeline, the series is inspired by the core canon of the video games and books, but puts its own spin on Halo lore. While Halo season 2 seems primed to retcon big missteps, it’s leaning into other alterations and finding ways to make them work for its characters.

Notably, the series has continued to feature Pablo Schreiber’s Master Chief, a.k.a. John-117, out of his Spartan armor, even though the Chief’s lack of helmet received backlash. In some ways, leaning into controversial decisions in Halo season 2 has balanced out with the show’s insistence on chronicling iconic in-game events, such as the Fall of Reach. Aside from the Covenant’s “blessed ones” plot device, season 1’s most divisive element might have been the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana (voice of Jen Taylor), John’s A.I. ally who was introduced alongside him in Halo: Combat Evolved.


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Master Chief & Cortana Finally Reunite In “Onyx”

In the wake of the Covenant invasion of Reach, John winds up on Aleria with several other key characters, including Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone), ex-Spartan-turned-pirate Soren (Bokeem Woodbine), insurrectionist Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), and the now-retired Silver Team Spartan Riz (Natasha Culzac). After regrouping, most of the key players take Soren’s ship to the ONI-controlled Onyx, a planet with a secret Forerunner connection. While Soren and his wife, Laera (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), try to find out why the UNSC took their son, Kessler (Tylan Bailey), Master Chief decides to go after ONI’s top brass.


Surrounded by dozens of soldiers, John admits temporary defeat.

When Kwan Ha follows her visions of The Mother right into a UNSC ambush, John handles the soldiers, allowing Kwan to join Dr. Halsey in a hidden UNSC research bunker. Surrounded by dozens of soldiers, John admits temporary defeat. After he’s brought in to the UNSC and ONI’s main Onyx-based facility, John makes quick work of his captors. Joseph Morgan’s James Ackerson, Dr. Halsey’s replacement and the architect of the Spartan-III program, sends Kai (Kate Kennedy) after her former commanding officer. Just when Master Chief seems completely defeated, the long-lost Cortana appears to him.

2:03

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Cortana Sets Up The Show’s Version Of Halo: Combat Evolved’s Story

Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and the Forerunner keystone on Onyx in Halo

One of the biggest moments in the Fall of Reach episode centered on Cortana. The A.I. construct was being held in an underground cell, completely cut off from the network at large. Ackerson employed Cortana to run different scenarios regarding the impending Covenant invasion of the planet, though he expressly told the A.I. she wouldn’t be coming with him when he evacuated Reach. During the attack, Dr. Halsey and Soren come across the A.I., but Cortana is almost immediately stolen by Makee (Charlie Murphy), the Covenant-raised human, and Arbiter Var ‘Gatanai (Viktor Åkerblom).


In Halo season 2, episode 5, “Aleria,” it’s revealed that Makee and The Arbiter were searching the ONI facility for the other Forerunner keystone. Although the Covenant agents weren’t able to complete their keystone set, Makee decided Cortana could hold valuable knowledge about their human enemies. Halo season 2 sets up an unlikely allegiance between Makee and Cortana; in order to survive, they need to rely on each other. After Cortana conjures an image of the Halo, The Arbiter decides to spare Makee and agrees to find the Sacred Ring with her, hinting at Combat Evolved‘s core plotline.

Master Chief & Cortana Prove Why They’re A Fan-Favorite Duo

The Master Chief shares an intimate moment with Cortana in Halo 4


In episode 6, Makee reveals that she can’t activate the keystone that she and The Arbiter have aboard their ship. Realizing that Makee may be able to interact with the Forerunner artifact if her fellow “blessed one,” Master Chief, accesses its twin relic, Cortana transmits herself to Onyx. In one scene, the artificial intelligence visits Admiral Parangosky (Shabana Azmi), ONI’s commander-in-chief. It becomes apparent that ONI wanted the Covenant to steal Cortana. In fact, ONI plans to track Cortana’s position once Makee and The Arbiter find the ring. Clearly, Parangosky has no problem eliminating Cortana in the process.

Cortana encourages him to stand up — to be the Spartan she knows…

That dynamic — ONI using Cortana — makes the A.I. construct’s scenes with Master Chief even more compelling. Beaten and bloodied from his armor-less fight with Kai, John can barely stand. Cortana encourages him to stand up — to be the Spartan she knows John to be — and find the keystone. Heeding Cortana’s advice, the Chief ambles his way to the keystone, while Cortana infiltrates the ONI security system and unlocks various doors. Best of all, it’s a sequence that feels like it’s been ripped straight from one of the Halo video games.


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Master Chief & Cortana Are Primed To Be Halo Season 3’s Main Characters

A bloody Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) in a hallway in Halo

While Kai’s fate (and allegiance) remains unclear, there’s no doubt that Riz’s decision and Vannak’s death initiate Master Chief’s story from the original Halo game. The former leader of Silver Team no longer has his Spartan unit. In fact, he doesn’t have anyone outside of Cortana — maybe. The lone-wolf protagonist who barely speaks and keeps his armor on is exactly the kind of Master Chief fans wanted to see in the show’s first season. It seems like Halo season 3, which will likely tell a story similar to Halo: Combat Evolved, will deliver on that long-held desire.


Halo
season 2’s finale is called “Halo,” teasing the fact that some of the show’s characters will finally reach a ringworld.

Although Combat Evolved features several other key supporting characters, like Commander Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray), it’s Master Chief and Cortana that steal the spotlight. One of the best character duos in video games, the Chief and Cortana have weathered a lot together, from crash-landing on Installation 04 to unearthing the truth about the Flood. In the original Halo games, it’s hard to rely on anyone, but Cortana is something of an exception. The A.I. always has Master Chief’s back, and it would be in the show’s best interest to let that dynamic shine in future seasons of Halo.

The finale of

Halo

season 2 airs on March 21, 2024, on Paramount+.




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