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NewsHalo Episode 9 Review: Transcendence

Halo Episode 9 Review: Transcendence

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On the Covenant planet, the Spartans fight a losing battle, including against the Brute that stole the artifact from Master Chief before. Makee activates the artifact, using its energy blast to push back the alien army, but that tugs John into the vision of the Halo, too. Just as those two are having a heart-to-heart, Kai shoots Makee to release John from the vision. Even this isn’t a win button. With just too many enemies around, John walks into the line of fire to force Cortana to do what Halsey threatened she would do: take over his body and mind. She does, buying the Spartans enough time for Cortana to bring their ship around and make a narrow escape. Silver Team and the Covenant leadership both escape with their lives, with Cortana now inhabiting John in a way no one is entirely certain of.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the one thing the show consistently gets right is Halsey, if not exactly the reactions of the people around her. It’s easy to love to hate how conniving she is. (At the same time, where exactly did that clone come from?)

The first of the two big action scenes, Kai’s attack on Halsey’s ship, really sold the idea that Spartans can be terrifying, too. Her shouting, “What’s my real name?” continues the “Who am I?” theme with just a little bit more specificity, which is exactly what the show needs overall. (It’s still a duller reminder of one of the franchise’s best Weird Spartan moments, the “How old are you?” moment in the also live action Forward Unto Dawn.)

The second action scene strains the budget to breaking, and doesn’t seem to know what makes Halo cool. There are some fun easter eggs here, from classic noises to the Spartans sneaking up on a sleeping Grunt. Despite Kai’s good showing earlier, though, the scene utterly fails to convince that Spartans are the right tool for the job of fighting the aliens. Some more first person shots are dedicated to Chief mostly getting thrown to the dirt. The show clearly doesn’t seem interested in saying anything meaningful about the horrors that birthed the Spartans’ abilities. Instead, it’s just a very dull action scene, designed to show off the stilted and convenient John/Makee relationship one last time before ensuring it won’t have any long-lasting consequences. Frankly, I was really hoping to see Chief beat up that Brute. Instead, the Spartans seem ineffective and uncreative.

Silver Team also never really came together as a unit of characters. The secondary Spartans simply don’t have traits, other than a general loyalty to one another, different equipment, and whether or not they still have their emotion-dampening implants. I wanted a lot more in particular from John convincing the others that Halsey was being cruel to them all along. Vannak still believed the lie that the Spartans were war orphans, which is interesting. This conversation could have been much longer, though, revealing how much of Vannak’s loyalty was emotional fulfillment, how much appreciation for his enhanced abilities, how much … anything else.

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