Halo Season 2 Review: SkyShowtime’s Video Game Adaptation

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Paramount+ Premieres Season 2 of Halo

Halo is one of the most adapted video games to other media: comics, novels, shorts, miniseries (Halo: Nightfall produced by Ridley Scott), and now the Halo series from Paramount+, available in Spain through SkyShowtime.

Two years after the first season, a new batch of eight episodes arrives, in which the war between humans and Covenant will reach new levels of intensity, setting in motion the events seen in the Halo video games on Xbox, although with significant differences.

We have seen the first four episodes of the season and can affirm that, at least in this first half, Halo is a series more solid, better constructed, and more satisfying as a whole. It premieres with a double episode on February 9 and then one episode per week on SkyShowtime.

SkyShowtime Takes Us to the Fall of Reach in Halo

The first season of Halo suffered from an identity crisis. As an adaptation of the video game, it deviated too much from the canon, with a humanized Master Chief that many fans did not recognize (especially without the helmet). Furthermore, as a first approach to the world of Halo for a new viewer, it was an overexposure of information without emotional anchor to hold it up.

The result was a series that could rarely fully satisfy anyone, neither the fan nor the newcomer, but had enough virtues (interesting and nuanced characters, genuinely brutal action scenes) to deserve a second chance. And from what we have seen, they have taken advantage of it.

The first thing you should know is that one of the major flaws of the first season, the division into two parallel plots (that of Master Chief and the Spartans in the UNSC, and that of Soren and Kwan on the planet Madrigal), has been corrected in this one, at least as far as we can see.

Now everyone is rowing towards the same place, which is the imminent arrival of the war against the Covenant on Reach, the main human colony. Those who have played the games (in particular, the prequel Halo: Reach) or have read the novel that accompanied the first Halo Combat Evolved of 2001 can imagine what will happen.

Paramount+

The downside of this is that, in the first few chapters, action is scarce. While the first season began with a surprising (and disproportionately violent) battle scene, season 2 opens with a more discrete action scene, shrouded in the misty darkness.

Appropriate, to say the least, for the first steps of the season: secrecy and conspiracies within the UNSC, much changed after the end of the previous season, in which James Ackerson replaces Dr. Halsey in command of the ONI.

This new character is one of the great successes of the season, thanks to a magnetic portrayal by Joseph Morgan, the kind of character we will love to hate for the rest of the season.

Dr. Halsey is now a fugitive, but still present in the plot, although for now with a minor role, and apparently inconsequential at the moment, the same as Soren and Kwan, who, after solidifying their alliance in the first season, are now seeking reasons to remain relevant in the history. Whether they succeed in retaining relevancy is something we don’t know yet.

Halo Halsey

Those who benefit the most from this new set of episodes are undoubtedly the Spartan teammates of the Silver Team: Vannak, Kai and Riz in particular (Nathasha Culzac) present a greater evolution, now liberated from Halsey’s influence, questioning orders and reflecting on their own existence.

And what about John-117, our Master Chief? Well, more combative and protestive than ever now that he is “independent” and doesn’t even have Cortana. The fate of the AI seems to be one of the biggest mysteries of the series (including aesthetic changes that have not convinced us yet).

Although some fans may complain that in these initial chapters, he wears the helmet even less than in the first season, it’s hard not to get excited watching Pablo Schreiber argue with Ackerson or with his teammates.

This actor has always been one of the best things about the series, no matter what they say, and here he continues his evolution as a leader, without giving up more sensitive moments (but without the forced romanticism of the first season), like those he shares with another new addition, the rookie marine Talia Pérez (Cristina Rodlo).

Halo Preparing Us for All-Out War in Season 2

The change of showrunner has worked well for Halo. Although this first half of the season starts a bit slow, and there are still parts whose function is yet to be determined, it serves as a true first act of a much larger, more important, and focused story.

Instead of saturating with information and diverting attention with multiple subplots, the season takes its time to build tension and allow the characters some “calm before the storm” before things truly explode: we can already anticipate that when things explode, they do so in a grand fashion, with one of the best episodes of the series so far.

With these first four episodes, it’s hard to find too many flaws, beyond the CGI, which is still somewhat uneven, although it’s a much smaller issue, especially because the action scenes and choreographies are brilliantly directed and are just as breathtaking as those in the first season.

These four episodes bode well for the future of Halo on SkyShowtime, and if they capitalize on the momentum, this score could very well increase by a few points when analyzing the season as a whole, becoming one of the great television adaptations of video games.

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