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This is a big improvement. I’m not the kind of guy who gets caught up in trivialities. There’s plenty of people who would only want a Halo TV show if the Master Chief never removed his helmet and it only depicted a straight ten episode adaptation of the first video game with most of it being using Needlers on Grunts. I mean, I’d watch the hell out of that but it doesn’t get into the deeper lore of the Halo universe. Halo does have a pretty deep lore too despite being the Expanded Universe for a bunch of third person shooters. I’ve read dozens of books in the setting and they mostly hold up.

Unfortunately, Season One wasn’t good despite the fact it got into things like the recruitment of child soldiers, unethical medical experimentation, the Insurrectionists, and the fact ONI is full of a bunch of incompetent man children. The Halo games were made at the height of the War on Terror and were influenced by the geo political situation of the time. There was the seemingly all-powerful Covenant and humanity’s own authoritarian government as the two choices for the setting but Master Chief just trying to save everyone. We’re in a post-War on Terror environment, sort of, and the story is much more muddled in the idea anyone can save anyone. Plus, no one really wanted Master Chief to have sex. Not unless it was a virtual reality simulation with Cortana.
Ahem.

Season Two realizes that the majority of viewers want to watch the Master Chief versus aliens and the Covenant finally shows up to start glassing planets. The fact the season opens up with the glassing of the planet Madrigal and the elimination of every single plot from that world kind of says what the developers think of it too. Season Two has the Covenant as a threat humanity is on the backfoot fighting and that instantly raises the stakes as well as provides the season some well-deserved focus. Indeed, we finally get the goddamn Halo as a focus for the season with its discovery a central theme. I feel like the fact the Halo WASN’T the focus of a show called Halo until this point as one of the bigger issues of the adaptation. Sort of like The Legend of Zelda without Zelda (or Triforce or Ganon).

The premise for this season is that humanity is being pushed back by the Covenant in every engagement with Master Chief considered unreliable after briefly being possessed by Cortana during their confrontation with the Prophets. Doctor Hasley is under house arrest for her role in the SPARTAN-II insurrection and Admiral Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) is now in charge of the project with Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) seemingly removed from her position as ONI’s chief. Unfortunately, any Halo fan knows this preceeds the Fall of Reach where humanity is opened up to full-scale invasion by the Covenant. Makee (Charlie Murphy), the human raised by the Covenant, also has some of the keys necessary to find the Halo and has been assigned an Arbiter (not the one from Halo 2) to help find it.

There’s a lot more going on with the season and the show seems more interested in redeeming character’s plotlines than ditching them. Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), Soren (Bokeem Woodbine), and others are still all in the show but they are more closely tied together. We also get some casualties among the SPARTAN-IIS that I feel was badly needed in order to establish the threat of the Covenant after their poor showing in the first season. SPARTANS never die but there’s a reason the Master Chief was the last of them for a long time.

Overall, Season Two is just a huge improvement to the series by incorporating a lot more of what people loved about Halo. Unfortunately, it’s not an unqualified success as the show is still weighed down by cramming too many extraneous plots into eight episodes. The Fall of Reach lasts all of one episode when it could have been three episodes of fighting for survival. Hell, it could have been an entire season. For a show based on an action video game, Halo suffers from not that much action. Still, there is some action and most of it is pretty good. I’ll never look down on Master Chief versus an Elite using plasma swords.

In conclusion, Halo Season Two is a success and I am glad that they listened to fan feedback to modify what they were doing. They also manage to finally get the story to where it probably needed to be by the end of Season One. I’m not going to spoil the ending of the season but a lot of build-up for fan favorite elements are realized and they leave me excited for Season Three. Would I have done things differently? Yes. However, it’s no longer a series that I feel fails to represent the franchise that I love. Halo: Infinite on the other hand…

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