I’m staring at my laptop screen guiltily, realizing that this, the first post I’ve posted in months, is not to share some life achievement or to inundate you, my Above Average readers, with the superb writing skills I’ve purportedly been honing while I’ve been gone.
Instead I’m going to complain about a TV show.
But goddammit, I can’t help it.
You want to know why I’ve been so absent lately? It’s because of work. I edit, write, and assist in managing a website that focuses primarily on gaming content, and trust me when I say it’s not as fun-filled as it sounds. It takes discipline to be on top of your schedule, diplomacy to work with the various (honestly wonderful, who am I kidding) personality types in our online spaces, and dedication to be working 42-hour weeks on average. (Sometimes it’s more.)
So in my downtime, I like to take some time to actually enjoy the medium my career now orbits around. I play games and I watch TV shows related to these games.
And as you, my faithful Above Average readers, might know by now, there is no gaming franchise I adore more than Halo.
And fucking fuck, they messed it all up.
I didn’t go into the new Paramount Plus show with bitter pessimism. I went into it with eager hope. And those first three episodes had me mightily intrigued. I liked a lot of the things this Silver timeline was dishing out.
Side note: For those of you not in the know, the Halo TV series has crafted this “Silver timeline” that stands separate from the events in the games and books and assorted canon materials. It’s basically a carte blanche to work with the content of the games without having to be bound by their existing narrative.
And while I wasn’t keen on Master Chief removing his helmet (the Halo equivalent of blowing your load outside of the restaurant before you’ve even met that first date), I wasn’t uber pissed about it. I was patient. Willing to see what they were going to give me.
They gave me a heaping pile of Moa shit.
They presented this character named Kwan Ha to us in the first episode as if she would be a foil to Master Chief. Where he was a jaded, brainwashed super soldier, she would be the spirited rebel with no desire to submit to the UNSC, the one to convince him to break free.
But they basically spent two episodes together and then never saw each other again.
And while Kwan Ha’s background appeared interesting, we never got the chance to really see it aside from one flashback. You can’t expect me to care as much about a side story you did not even have the decency to fully develop when you then decides to give it its own whole episode.
That’s not to say there weren’t good moments in the show. Many of the action setpieces were awesome, and I actually really liked the characters of Cortana, Dr. Halsey, Kai, and Captain Keyes.
But you know who I grew to loathe?
Master frickin’ Chief.
Or should I say John?
I don’t know who they think the Master Chief is, but it’s definitely not the douche nozzle they gave us.
I don’t even care that they showed his face at this point! Could they at least have made him less of a jerk?
Side note: I’d also like it if they could make Master Chief a person who does not sleep with a Covenant spy. That would be nifty. That would be really swell.
He frequently makes the most irrational of decisions, leaving us fans wondering hopelessly at what his motivations are. He gets angry in almost every pivotal moment in this one episode, and it just cements him as this unlikable person. It says something about how a character has been developed when you find yourself sympathizing with the scientist who kidnapped, experimented on, and lied to him rather than him.
For instance, at one point, Master Chief removes this emotion-blocking pellet from his lower spine so he can feel his feelings better. A fellow Spartan, Kai, sees this and gets the idea to do it herself. However, when she almost happily presents him with this information, he gets mad at her and declares her unfit for combat.
Look, the thing that’s so cool about Master Chief is how much he gives and does for humanity, with little to no thought for his well-being. The drive he has to finish his fights and protect humanity whatever the cost makes him a hero.
You don’t see that here in the show. At all. You get a bit of it at the ending, but it feels less like a heroic act and more like a well-there-is-literally-nothing-else-I-can-do-to-get-out-of-this-situation act.
And I get it. Master Chief as he is in the games is a larger-than-life character. It’s tough to translate that to a TV show and have him be this relatable person.
Which is why this show should not have been about Master Chief.
Master Chief could have been a prominent figure in the show, but the main character should have been someone like Kwan Ha or Miranda Keyes or a random UNSC marine. Someone just trying to get through the struggles of a human-Covenant war from a position and perspective we could understand more easily.
If any of my Above Average readers are Halo fans, do you remember Forward Unto Dawn, that little miniseries 343 Industries did to promote Halo 4? That is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
Lasky was just a dude with an allergy trying to figure out if he wanted to stay in school or not, with an intimidating mom and an older brother everyone thought was better. And when his school got attacked by the Covenant and Chief rescued some of Lasky and his classmates, he looked friggin’ awesome and amazing, but he did not detract in any way from Lasky’s story. If anything, he enhanced it. He inspired Lasky to be a better man, a better soldier in times of crisis. When Lasky decides to be a distraction so Chief can get a better angle on a Hunter, that moment is all Lasky. You are cheering for him, even though Master Chief is being way cool and flipping around sticking plasma grenades on the Hunter.
Side note: AXIOS!
That’s what this show should have been.
Okay, I’ve moaned and complained about this little video game television show enough. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal that it sucks eggs. I got to watch the show with a friend who loves Halo as much as I do, and that made the whole thing pretty funny, even though we were both shrieking, “What?!” more than half the time an episode was on.
I feel the need to apologize for not posting much, i.e. at all, these past few weeks. It’s not been some glorious vacation or anything. Work has been work. I spend hours of my day plugged into my computer, stuck in my computer chair, doing computer things for a job that entails a lot of computer. And when I’m done, I find myself wanting to hang out as far away from my computer as I can. Sometimes I’ll go for a nice walk; sometimes I’ll flop on the couch and watch YouTube videos. Other times, I’ll turn on my Xbox and play a few games.
Side note: My Xbox is not my computer, shush. It’s an entirely different thing, not the same at all. I’m on the couch when I play.
So I’m sorry for not being around much.
Actually, heck, I don’t know why I’m apologizing. I’m not sure how many of you are still with me. I don’t even look at my stats page anymore. For all I know, I’m posting this into the void. But it was fun to write it.
And as I keep reminding myself, that’s what matters. That it’s fun. And as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it.
See you in the next post, my glorious, possibly nonexistent, Above Average readers!
I rate Paramount Plus’ Halo series a my-god-it-is-below-average-it-is-so-below-average-it’s-worse-than-my-blog-and-that’s-saying-something-because-my-blog-sucks.
5 thoughts on “Halo’s TV Show Is an Utter Disappointment”
Could not have said it any better, this is not my chief.
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FWIW, this non-existent visitor thinks your blog doesn’t suck. Sorry to hear about your woes!
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Hahahaha thanks 😊
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Great to see a new Below Average post! I’ve missed your writing! (Your blog most definitely doesn’t suck so cut that talk out!)
I fully agree with these thoughts about the Halo TV show. Like you, I went in open-minded and was even partially on board for the first couple of episodes. Master Chief’s characterisation is my biggest issue, too. He’s selfish and overly emotional – a far cry from how he should be portrayed!
To me, the issue with this new interpretation of the character is they never earned it. He had no real arc as they never took the time to establish his baseline personality (stoicism, steadfast adherence to military code, etc.). From the first episode he’s already defying orders and allowing his emotions to get the better of him, so removing his pellet isn’t exactly the dramatic turning point the writers seem to think it is. It *might* have worked if he very gradually (like, at the end of the season) came to realise there were more important things than following orders. For most of the season, it doesn’t even feel like the Covenant are even a threat because Chief is so busy running around angsting about his past with no concern for the interstellar war presently raging…
Agree with all your assessments of the other characters. Kai is probably my favourite. The actress brings real gravitas to the role. I really wanted to like Kwan but she makes it hard with her constant irrational actions.
I also really liked Forward Unto Dawn! I agree that’s the standard they should be hitting. Tonally, it feels more like Halo than the Paramount show (like, seriously: desert witches, a silly raving madman in a cell, an energy sword coming out of a finger — WTF…). I thought Nightfall was alright, too. Not exactly high art but watchable.
Really pleased you posted! And I just noticed you wrote a Halo Infinite review that I missed! Going to check that out ASAP.
Hahaha I’ve missed writing them! There just doesn’t seem to be enough downtime in a day!
I was reading through the points you brought up in your comments, and I kept saying “EXACTLY!” I feel like shoving plot points in our faces that were entirely unearned was a problem throughout the entire show.
Ugh, yeah, they made Chief so angsty.
There’s going to be a season 2, I believe, so we’ll see how that goes. I recently showed Forward Unto Dawn to my partner, and it was like apples and oranges. The vibe of that little show was so much BETTER.
I’m hoping to be able to write here on the blog a bit more. And getting to chat with you was sorely missed!
Did you like Infinite?