Halo Ep 2, "Unbound" Review

This episode took us a few places that we did need to see. It gives us a few answers along with a couple more questions. Opening in the Spartan Training camp, going to the Rubble, seeing a bit more of Reach, and getting introduced Master Chief's squad. It had a few good turns as well with what happened. So, let's get into it!


Like I said, the episode opens with a teenage John-117 (Logan Shearer) sneaking out of the bunker, pausing by the bed briefly. We find out, when John makes it outside, he's meeting another trainee trying to leave the facility, Soren-066. He sneaks out with the classic Halo rifle, getting over the fence and meeting his friend. Soren explains what he's lost to the Spartan training and doesn't want to chance losing anything else. He tries very hard to keep John with him, but John stands firm about staying. Soren asks for 10 minutes to escape, but John only ever offers 5. John lets him go and the last we see of Soren is him running off toward the ships.


This whole scene is just a good example of a flashback. Also, a bit of 101 on how to quickly introduce a new character. Just use a cold open and dive into the past. Starting with the main character helps, and just enough context hints to figure out (quickly) that it is a younger main character. It establishes that John can, in fact, actually connect with someone over something. We don't see any of the training, just Soren's burnt and damaged arm. We get a sense of each person and their motivations.


When we get back to the present, Kwan (Yerin Ha) and John (Pablo Schreiber) talk, bonding (for her) a bit more while in slipspace. Then she has to deal with all the anxiety as John flying through an asteroid field. This all leads to a new place, the Rubble. We find that Soren ran off here, like he was talking about, after John let him escape. Soren (Bokeen Woodbine) greets him and takes him to his place where John and Kwan meet Soren's wife Laera (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), and son Kessler (Tylan Bailey). The Rubble offered some good development for everyone present. We learn more about the effects of the augmentations that John got as a Spartan, and a degree of what he's been cut off from within the human experience.


There is also Kwan and the fate of Madrigal. Her Father was leading the resistance against the UNSC, and now Madrigal is under the leadership of Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman). Kwan initials sees him executing rebellion leadership. The Leadership of the UNSC does see him as “very heavy handed” and at least some of command isn't for him staying in power. The rest sees him as something necessary to keep the supplies flowing from Madrigal. Burn Gorman only got a little time to show us Vinsher and he did a great job. Just the two scenes, where he shoots the drone and the broadcast for the UNSC. He shows the charisma that Vishner plainly has very well. I really do love a performer who can play an excellent villian.


Things with the UNSC took some turns. Halsey (Natascha McElhone) and Fleet Admiral Hood (Keir Dullea) discussed the strange artifact from Madrigal and what little they know about it. More importantly, there is her plan to have some measure of assurance about John-117’s behavior. The opening for Cortana to be implemented. When it was called up during a meeting to address Master Chief's choices to break orders and escape from the base, Hood and Halsey “corner” Admiral Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) and for her to agree to the Cortana plan to evade an ethics question that got raised. It's clear Parangosky took great exception to it, when Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) was almost begging for access to the artifact. Parangosky was clear that she got manipulated earlier and wasn't going to stand for any more of it, especially such a ham-fisted attempt.


Parangosky wasn't a fan of the Cortana project. She made it clear earlier this episode and in the last one. She felt it was too ethically questionable. Now we know why. Cloning humans for the purpose of creating a very powerful AI is something anyone would easily find questionable. It does make for a contrast to the human augmentation that each of the Spartans underwent. Really do wonder a lot about that stuff going through the ethics board to reach human testing and getting clearance.


Something I'm looking forward to is getting more time with the squad, Silver Team. We got actually meet and see John-117's team: Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac), Vannac-134 (Bentley Kalu), and Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy). With Kai, it is clear that more is going on, but they are more strongly bond to their orders. It is also clear from them, that the team (as individuals) will listen to Hasley over the military. It shows a greater level of trust. I do look forward to more time with this team and seeing the interpersonal dynamics starting to actually show. In the last episode, we saw them working together. This one was more just them engaged in a mission to bring in Master Chief. No one on the team was enthused about it, but they did unerringly work toward that goal, following the narrow lead that they had from John's slipspace passage. They respect each other and have absolute faith in Master Chief.


This is always the kind of dynamic that I love to look into. How does the team just function? This is what was keeping me going on Netflix's Cowboy Bebop, seeing the interplay. I know I'm not going to see what I want from this show here though. Kwan, her goals; John and the artifact; Hasley and Cortana are the big notes right now. If get anything more, it's going to be later on.


Aboard High Charity, we got a very interesting scene with the Elite, the Blessed One Makee (Charlie Murphy), and the Elders: Truth (Karl Johnson), Mercy (Julian Bleach), and Regret (Hilton McRae). Here, we are introduced to the Great Journey more properly, that Makee, a Blessed One, can interact with the artifact like Master Chief can. We see her devotion and the degree of sway she has with the Elders. Truth adopted her, and Makee is his daughter, devoted to the Great Journey. Being a human who can go into that space does offer a massive advantage if the Covenant wants to learn the basics. The problem here is short of her revealing she was kept by the covenant, she's not getting anywhere close to what she's after. The Covenant likely knows this and that is likely to be the play they make. Give up some more trivial information to learn what they truly need to know. Her status as a Blessed One could be one of the things she offers up, but we have to wait and see here.


This episode did give us some good insight. Soren shows what a “rogue” Spartan can actually experience in life. A bit more insight into things that are done to them to “aid” them physically in battle. It also shows a bit of a conflict. Humans can handle a lot of information at once, and with some training, can take in even more (seriously, Mentats could almost be a real thing, just minus the stained lips). The problem is we're guided by impulse as much as logic. It would make sense that if you train a soldier like a Spartan in the Silver Timeline, that there needs to be a measure of control. This seems to come at the cost of some essential parts of human nature. The proposal of the Cortana system, using AI to “pilot” the Spartan in combat, is removing the last variable of humanity, but it also removes a lot of those aspects. This is something that games never went into. Master Chief is a gifted human who was augmented in a number of ways. There was never any talk about doing anything to ensure he'd never deviate from orders. Cortana was just an AI, that would have an increasingly complex origin.


There was one scene that have to question, where Makee was taking off her covenant clothes. Sure, it's easy to reach the symbolism here, but it was just a slower scene without much too it. Nothing's changed about her being a human who's been taken in by the Covenant and joined them for the “Great Journey.” It felt like it was just ticking off a box for anything mature with “fantasy” in its genre. Understand, I have nothing against nudity of either gender. Just why take this path about it?


I did enjoy the episode overall. Meeting Soren-066, his family, and the sanctuary that is the Rubble. The ending with Master Chief turning himself in to learn more about the artifact. There is plenty more to come and I'm curious to see where it all goes.

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