‘Halo’ TV Present Breaks Grasp Chief’s No. 1 Rule — and I Completely Love It

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The Halo TV present permits you to see Grasp Chief as you’ve got by no means seen him earlier than.


It was a second I dreaded ever since I heard an adaptation of beloved video sport franchise Halo was coming to TV. Spoiler alert: The subsequent line reveals an enormous plot level. 

Halo on Paramount Plus

“Look out for spoilers!”

Paramount Plus

The warrior Grasp Chief takes off his helmet to disclose his face.

For these not accustomed to Halo lore, here is why it is a large deal: John 117, or the Grasp Chief, is the protagonist of six mainline video video games plus numerous novels and comics, has adorned an infinite parade of merch, and he by no means exhibits his face. It is simply not completed. A key a part of his enchantment is his anonymity. He is a relentless, indomitable soldier voiced with stoic gruffness by actor Steve Downes, a laconic vessel into which players can place themselves when battling hordes of aliens hellbent on stamping out people.

So I am going to admit I winced when watching the Halo collection, which streams on Paramount Plus on Thursday, March 24, as the long-lasting inexperienced and yellow helmet rises to disclose actor Pablo Schreiber’s face. As somebody who’s performed nearly each Halo sport and is emotionally invested within the Grasp Chief, one thing in my intestine instructed me this was fallacious. For no matter picture I had of John inbuilt my thoughts, Schreiber wasn’t it. He was, for the dearth of higher description, too regular.

However after a second (or two) of processing the scene, and after making a aware choice to let the story unfold over the subsequent few episodes, I spotted it was sensible to tear off the bandage (or helmet) early. 

Blasphemy, you say? Possibly. However seeing this war-weary face, of a person questioning the navy authority he is been raised to obey, is essential for the present given how a lot the opposite characters, the story, and actually the whole universe, hinges upon this one character. This is not Star Wars, the place the characters and settings are effectively understood by the lots. Halo might want to educate many viewers on the completely different races, worlds and political dynamics, and it does that by John’s eyes. 

And sans helmet, you may get to see these response by his precise eyes.

It is a clear sign that this present breaks from the sport’s canon in numerous large methods. Grasp Chief’s face is an early warning that will help you regulate to the TV present’s large adjustments to Halo historical past, dubbed the “Silver Timeline.” That is not essentially a foul factor. Video video games plots and characters are tuned to that medium, and an uber-faithful adaptation would not all the time work (bear in mind Warcraft and Murderer’s Creed?). Creating one thing distinctive, particularly given Halo’s sophisticated canon, is perhaps one of the simplest ways to create an entertaining present for everybody, and never simply hardcore players. And moreover, there are a number of fan-pleasing nods to the sport — watch Grasp Chief take cowl whereas preventing, for instance — which show the filmmakers aren’t simply throwing out the sport for the sake of it.

As my colleague Mark Serrels famous in his early assessment of Halo, the present shifts gears from the unique sport’s simplistic and jingoistic story of a UNSC tremendous soldier and area marines who may do no fallacious.

The TV present introduces complexities that make the story extra compelling, even when it turns what Halo followers know and love on their head. And it solely works when you will get a learn on the emotional state of the principle character. This is not going to be a present a couple of tremendous soldier tearing his method by alien Covenant forces — that might get repetitive after a number of episodes, as would a faceless, near-emotionless character. As a substitute, the hope is these story wrinkles and the way Grasp Chief reacts to them supplies a compelling character arc. 

Master Chief and Spartans in the Halo TV series

Grasp Chief and his fellow armored, helmeted Spartans are humanity’s solely efficient weapons in opposition to the Covenant.

Paramount Plus

Mandalorian this is not

The present additionally units up a thriller round Kwan Ha (performed by Yerin Ha), who survives a brutal assault by the alien Covenant forces. The rising bond between Grasp Chief and Ha attracts comparisons to The Mandalorian and Child Yoda, however there are some key variations.

Halo, as fashionable as it’s, would not have the identical mass enchantment of Star Wars. Children develop up studying about lightsabers, Tatooine, leaping to lightspeed and all that lore (together with distinguished helmeted characters like Boba Fett and Darth Vader). The Mandalorian was arrange as a western, with a faceless gunslinger caring for an uber-adorable, melt-your-heart sidekick. There is a familiarity with the dynamics, settings and mythos that you simply’re capable of comfortably slip into the world and benefit from the journey.

And actually, nothing tops Child Yoda.

Halo would not have that luxurious of familiarity. Except you are a gamer, you most likely solely know Halo as a shooter on an enormous alien ring construction — if that. There’s numerous world constructing that must be established, from the Covenant hierarchy to the stress between the UNSC and the colony worlds — particulars that is perhaps misplaced to even some players.

Having the Grasp Chief stay faceless, indifferent from all the pieces happening, provides a stage of distance which will flip viewers off earlier than they will develop into emotionally invested on this universe.

The Halo present is simply getting began, so it stays to be seen whether or not the story and story twists are compelling sufficient to justify this daring and doubtlessly fan-annoying transfer. However it’s additionally a chance to take Grasp Chief’s character to new and completely different locations.

That prospect is value embracing. So, Halo followers, let’s simply breathe slightly bit and see the place the journey takes us.


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