It’s been some time since we checked on Paramount’s Halo show. When it first premiered, we thought it was an interesting, strange, interestingly strange adaptation of the Xbox shooter franchise that had some potential, but it’s understandably rubbing a lot of folks in a couple of different ways. The biggest shakeup the show offers is in how it chooses to explore Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber). Rather than being a simple killing machine who speaks more with his actions, the show’s Chief is pretty vocal and takes off his armor in a way that gives the impression that the show wants to give the character some humanity. As the Covenant threat looms across the galaxy, much of this season has seen Chief—or John, rather—attempt to dig into the past he had before ultimately becoming a child soldier brought into a larger intergalactic conflict.
Running parallel to John’s story is that of Makee (Charlie Murphy), a human woman who was taken in by the Covenant as a child and since become a key player in their efforts to find the Halo ring that will decide the fate of the galaxy. The pair finally crossed paths in episode six, but it was this week’s past episode, “Allegiance,” that their relationship took a turn that many are finding hard to accept.
As you’ve no doubt probably heard by now, Chief and Makee end up having sex during the episode; John removed a pellet that was suppressing his emotions earlier in the season, and he’s been more emotionally open as a result. As for Makee, she’s begun to feel a camaraderie with him due to their similar ability in being able to decipher the visions left by the Forerunner artifact, and they had a shared vision of the Halo ring in episode six. Thus, the two give into their apparent feelings and hook up, an event made even stranger by the fact that John’s AI partner Cortana (Jen Taylor) is watching the two as this happens.
While characters having barely PG-13 sex is pretty rote on TV at this point, Halo is a franchise that is—despite the many jokes surrounding Master Chief and his suit—overall fairly sexless. The only other time the idea of sex has really been touched upon in any official capacity was towards the end of the 2007 novel Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten. But the Halo show has had no trouble playing around with the idea that underneath that bulky armor, John’s a good looking man, as evidenced by the fact that he’s played a man some would consider good-looking. Just generally speaking: if you put someone in a suit of armor all the time, folks are going to think that the person underneath is hot and run with that in their fan works, regardless of if it aligns with the canon or not.
Lest you think that the Master Chief is so good a lover that Makee may be on the verge of switching sides, Halo doesn’t let this moment of intimacy linger long enough for it to be anything more than a springboard to one of the larger franchise’s key moments. Having learned of John and Makee sleeping together by Cortana, John’s surrogate mother Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone) orders the two to be captured by his fellow Spartans. Having been found out as a mole, Makee snatches up artifact and escapes, but not before apologizing to John and sending a signal for the Covenant to attack the planet Reach.
In the game’s fiction, the UNSC established Reach as key in the military force’s fight with the Covenant. It’s basically the planet you have to go through before reaching Earth, and its fate in the games is to get invaded by the Covenant and ultimately destroyed. The original Halo game opens with Chief and Cortana fleeing the planet’s destruction, and 2010's Halo Reach—the final game in the series by original developer Bungie—provides a more intimate look at what went on during the planet’s final days. Chief was a vital player during the Fall of Reach, but the Reach game puts him to the side to focus on a different group of Spartan supersoldiers who greatly contributed to Chief and Cortana’s escape and the pair’s discovery of the original Halo ring that began the entire saga. (We probably won’t see Noble Team in the finale, but it would be nice if they were acknowledged.)
For better or worse, knowing that Reach’s end will be brought about due to a momentary fling rather than the Covenant’s dogged obsession with Forerunner artifacts feels cartoonishly silly. Perhaps the actual Fall of Reach will feel appropriately epic and tragic in the show, or maybe there’s another weird, massive curveball waiting to make itself known. Either way, this sex scene probably won’t even be the strangest thing to happen in the show once all is said and done. There’s shades of humanity in moment, but in the end, it comes across more like a way to get events in place for a cataclysmic season finale.
Halo’s first season will conclude this Thursday with the episode “Transcendence.”
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