HALO, TV Shows

Halo Season 2 Episode 4 Recap and Review

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Season 2, Episode 4 of Paramount Plus’ Halo finally shows the apocalyptic battle that happened before the first game.     

This is a recap and review of episode 4. Spoilers to follow!

Credit: Paramount Plus

Recap and Review

It’s finally the fall of Reach! Unfortunately for Perez, it begins with an entire block of the city being destroyed, including her home.

Having lost everyone she loves, she struggles not to break down. John doesn’t seem to grasp the depth of her sorrow, but she follows him anyway. As they make it through a civilian area, Sangheili attack, cloaked. John has a fun hand-to-hand fight with one, killing him. 

After, he and Perez move into a shop, where they arm themselves with an ax and a crowbar. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see John use it, as a woman takes a shot at them, then confiscates the ax from John, claiming it’s an antique. She states she won’t be leaving as she wishes to stay with the Earth artifacts she values so much.

Perez and John reach the main battleground, where they find Riz and Louis. They formulate a plan and move out, meeting intense fire and many Elites with plasma swords. Unfortunately, Louis’ partner, Danilo, is lost in the battle. Riz has to break the news to Louis, but before he can fully process it, a Wraith ship storms in. Louis makes a suicide run at it, destroying it and in the process, is killed. And there go the LGBTQ+ characters, but to be honest, I was surprised there was representation at all. 

After Perez, John, and Riz make it to FLEETCOM, John takes his leave of Perez and finds Vannek. None of them know where Kai is, and Vannek also explains that their armor and weapons are gone. John approaches Keyes, who tells him he was right and provides more info about how the top brass decided to let Reach fall. Keyes claims he won’t let the planet die without a fight, and they decide to create a chokepoint. They reference Thermopylae, the famous Ancient Greek battle (also made famous by the movie 300), suggesting that this is a last stand designed to hurt the enemy as much as possible and allow time for more civilians to escape. 

Keyes takes the time to give a speech. I’m assuming it’s meant to be rousing, but speeches before battles have become a bit of a cliche in the years since Bill Pullman’s in Independence Day. Truthfully, the speech really brought down the tension for me instead of amping it up. 

During all this, Soren and Halsey are inside their simulation when the attack occurs. A bomb brings them out of it (revealing they weren’t in stasis but some sort of holodeck?), and Soren takes off. Halsey follows him.

Halsey takes Soren to an ONI site, where she attempts to emotionally confuse him by buttering him up by asking about Kessler and then hinting that she let him escape the Spartan program. 

Halsey enters her lab to find Cortana, who tells her to run. Makee shows up and steals Cortana, and then a Sangheli approaches. Soren chucks a grenade into the room, but the impact flings them into the hallway.

Somehow, they aren’t hurt and make it to the command center, where they run into Keyes. He takes them to civilian transports, which are soon attacked by Jackels. 

Credit: Paramount Plus

The Spartans wait at the bridge, where a wave of Sangheili rushes them. Despite being engaged in this attack, the Spartans leave to assist at the hanger.

On the ship, Keyes realizes fuel lines are still connected to the ship that, of course, need to be removed manually. He rushes out to detach them, where he’s set upon by a collection of Jackels. He orders Perez to take off as he disconnects the line (that somehow just allows gas fumes to spew out?) and blows himself up. Soren drags Halsey away, who shows true emotion at losing Keyes.

After, the Spartans annihilate the Jackels until the Elites show up. John goes hand-to-hand again, which isn’t as easy without armour.  He engages the leader with a plasma sword, only to have another shoot him. The leader is furious at this dishonorable attack and beheads his soldier, then goes to kill John anyway. Before he can, Makee steps in from somewhere. Vannek, seeing an opportunity, shoots at the leader. Unamused, the leader stabs him with an explosive projectile (from a Needler, as they’re called in the game), killing him. Makee and her buddy leave. John is hurt and emotionally destroyed. This brings the episode full circle, as now he understands how Perez and the older woman at the antiques store felt to see their home and life destroyed.    

Overall Thoughts 

While containing much more action than previous episodes, the stop-and-start motion with the tension left the episode a bit choppy. And while I’m never against a gunfight, it’s more fun to watch the Spartans fight in armor. Of course, their lack of gear is a reason why so many casualties occurred. On top of John’s emotional awakening, the killing off of Vannek and Keyes, as well as Louis, Danilo, and Perez’ family seemed intended to make the fall of Reach more personal in its losses to the viewer rather than an above-planet view of glassing. I think it was successful in that regard. It was unfortunate that we lost Vannek, as he was one of the more comedic characters in a show that is often quite serious. 

The episode also highlights the deviousness of Ackerson, who took the Spartan gear despite knowing (or perhaps because he knew) that John and team would engage the enemy. Had Ackerson not been so clearly painted as the bad guy in episodes 1 and 2, this move could have come as more of a shock. Likewise, the show doesn’t have the space to draw out the political aspects of FLEETCOM, so I can imagine this aspect, for those not already knowledgeable of the Halo lore, might seem a bit confusing or unclear. Then again, if you want space politics (and action), check out The Expanse or Foundation

Yet, John’s grief will clearly turn to rage at some point, and I’m wondering whether he will turn on FLEETCOM rather than take it out on the Covenant. Probably both. How will this influence the trajectory of the show? Are we going to see a certain team-up earlier if John goes AWOL? Will we even get “the flood?”  

The next episode airs on Thursday, February 29th on Paramount Plus. 

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    T. S. Beier is obsessed with science fiction, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel (which was a Top 5 Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards and a semi-finalist in the 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition) and the Burnt Ship Trilogy (space opera). She is a book reviewer, editor, and freelance writer. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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