It took about half a season to get here, but the Halo TV Series is finally starting to pull some of its threads together. We got a lot of action in Episode 5 – not just of the gun shooting kind, but also the consequences of character decisions that have been made up to this point. I guess that episode title, ‘Reckoning’, really wasn’t underselling it.
Whether you’re watching along with us, or if you’re a Halo fan but not currently a Paramount+ subscriber, we’re excited to have you following along with our recaps, and subsequent critical analysis.
If you need to catch up on previous episodes, you can do so with our overviews below:
- Halo TV Series – Episode 1 Recap – ‘Contact’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 2 Recap – ‘Unbound’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 3 Recap – ‘Emergence’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 4 Recap – ‘Homecoming’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 5 Recap – ‘Reckoning’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 6 Recap – ‘Solace’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 7 Recap – ‘Inheritance’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 8 Recap – ‘Allegiance’
- Halo TV Series – Episode 9 Recap – ‘Transcendence’ – Season 1 Finale
[WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE HALO TV SERIES CONTINUE BELOW]
Halo TV Series – Episode 5 Recap – ‘Reckoning’
We open on the planet Eridanus in a flashback, where the Reach for Life program – designed to revitalise dead planets – is in full swing. A young Doctor Halsey is getting a tour at a school with an eye to migrate there with her family.
Our attention is quickly drawn to a young John, the boy who would become Master Chief, who’s getting in a fight with a bigger bully on… a treacherous balance beam high in the treetops – how on earth did this play equipment pass the risk assessment stage?
Young John dodges a kick from the bully, who loses his balance and falls right off the beam, only for little John to catch him by the foot in the nick of time and, with some effort, pull him back to safety. Young Doctor Halsey is impressed, but her husband, revealed to be UNSC’s Captain Keyes (though we knew this already), catches Young John’s eye and stares him down while an ominous musical cue plays.
We cut to Captain Keyes on Eridanus in the present day, where he’s overseeing the operation to retrieve the second Covenant relic discovered by Master Chief and Halsey in the previous episode. A ship carrying his daughter, Doctor Miranda Keyes, as well as the Spartan Silver Team lands nearby. Miranda and Kai share a brief human moment before Silver Team departs to meet up with Master Chief, continuing on the chemistry established last episode.
Captain Keyes is reunited with Miranda, whose presence on Eridanus was requested by him so she could have a chance to prove herself to everyone, especially her mother, Doctor Halsey. Miranda is not exactly ecstatic by that knowledge. A large, sprawling base camp has been set up around the artefact by Doctor Halsey, but Captain Keyes isn’t quite sure Halsey knows what she’s doing.
We join Master Chief, who is staring at the actual artefact, seemingly unmoved since the end of the last episode. Cortana pipes up to explain that this much bigger artefact can likely produce far more energy than the little one they initially found on Madrigal. Halsey uses that information to emphasise that Chief shouldn’t go near it or touch it, lest he blow up everyone nearby.
Chief just stares silently, the artefact reflected in his visor. Which only leaves you with one thought:
Yep, he’s totally going to touch it.
We jump to the Planet Madrigal after the opening titles to join Soren and Kwan. Soren is grumbling about their state of misfortune (losing their ship, and now having their motorbike break down in the desert).
Kwan continues to be stubbornly committed to fighting for Madrigal’s freedom while Soren is insistent that they get out of there – so much so that he handcuffs her to the bike as he wanders off into the desert in search for another mode of transport.
Back on Eridanus, Miranda approaches Halsey at the artefact to congratulate her on the discover, and posits a variety of tests on it. Halsey more or less ignores her, continuing to be lost in it, along with assistant Adun. Miranda looks dejected.
Elsewhere, Silver Team’s Riz is briefing a troop of marines about transporting the artefact. Off to the side, Kai and Vannak ponder what the Covenant’s actual motivations are.
The staunch Vannak predictably posits straightforward answers (They want the artefact. They want to kill us.) but Kai is a little more empathetic, thanks to the removal of her emotional suppression pellet. She tries to push Vannak into thinking about why he never wonders more deeply about these issues, but he responds with hostility.
Riz sends out a surveillance drone (which ends up having no plot purpose, albeit a clever aesthetic one – more on that in the notes below), while Master Chief and Cortana observe and make note of Kai’s radical new hair colour from afar.
Chief catches up with Kai and pulls her aside, immediately confronting her about removing her pellet. Kai is absolutely ecstatic about her newfound feelings, and is relieved to be able to talk openly with Chief about their shared experience, but in a surprising move, a stoic John declares her unfit for combat – she’s a danger to herself and others.
Kai throws the hypocritical order back in Chief’s face, but he doesn’t respond. Cortana privately voices her support of Kai, reminding Chief he’s untested in combat since he removed his pellet, too. That’s right, it’s been almost four long episodes since he saw any action, and we’re well aware of it, Cortana.
Back on Madrigal, the Covenant and the Blessed One have finally arrived, searching for traces of the relic where it was originally found in the first episode. They’re hoping to discover a clue that will lead them to the whereabouts of the second one.
Elsewhere on Madrigal, Kwan is attempting to push her motorcycle-sized ball and chain through the desert, to no avail. She attempts to break off the plate the handcuffs are attached to, and after a few attempts, finally succeeds.
Back on Eridanus, John is confiding in Captain Keyes about his flashbacks, specifically, the fact that Doctor Halsey was in his house while he was a young boy, and while his parents were still alive. He knows that she’s been lying to him for a long time.
John says he’s come to Keyes with this information because he respects and trusts him as his superior officer. Keyes assures John that he’ll look into the matter personally, but he’s visibly quite distressed at this turn of events.
Cut to Keyes and Halsey speaking to Admiral Parangosky about Master Chief’s identity crisis, where Keyes immediately blabs about John’s revelations. Oh, Keyes.
Parangosky moves to cease Halsey’s operations, but Halsey uses John’s still-unknown memories as blackmail material, threatening that Parangosky will be used as a scapegoat should they come to light. Successfully getting herself off the hook, Halsey assures that John’s memories will be kept incomplete, and that they’ll find whatever kind of weapon the artefact is leading them to.
Captain Keyes is disgusted, demanding that their daughter Miranda is taken off the artefact project so her hands remain clean, which Halsey readily agrees to. Keyes leaves in a huff.
Elsewhere on Eridanus, the extraction of the artefact is underway with Adun acting incredibly aroused over the piece of rock. As soon as a cutting laser touches the artefact, it emits an intense sonic boom and subsequent droning frequency, which wreaks havoc and destruction across the base, crippling the hundreds of soldiers and scientists there. The facade of crystal and rock shatters to reveal the actual artefact inside.
On Planet Madrigal, the Covenant and the Blessed One hear the signal, and immediately pick up on its location.
Miranda Keyes is fascinated by the now-revealed artefact, speculating that it could potentially be something other than a weapon. But Captain Keyes walks in and bursts her bubble, telling her she’s been taken off the project, and to stick with her linguistic research. He warns that it’s better if she doesn’t understand. A distraught Miranda speculates that Halsey is manipulating her father, something which he certainly does not appreciate.
Master Chief, who’s just chilling out on base, spies Captain Keyes chatting discreetly to Doctor Halsey and shakes his head in disappointment.
Fueled by annoyance, he begins stomping through the base, quizzing Cortana about his adoption and the origins of the Spartan program. Cortana can’t locate information on either of these things, despite self-proclaiming that she has access to every single piece of information in UNSC history. She’s oblivious to the reason why.
Chief shares an awkward glance with Keyes and Halsey as he stomps past, and also notices Kai is out and about, not having listened to his orders for her to stay put.
Master Chief barges into the chamber with the artefact, and immediately touches it, yearning to know the truth.
That’s right folks, he totally touched the object. But we all knew that was going to happen.
A flashback to Chief’s youth sees a young John physically abducted from his bed by goons, and then drugged and kidnapped by a young Doctor Halsey.
Halsey enters the chamber and tries to placate John, promising that she will explain everything once they return to Reach with the artefact.
In a rage, John lunges at Halsey, who yells for Cortana to shut down his neural functionality. John’s eyes glaze over as he crumples to the floor.
Back at Madrigal, Soren has returned to where he left Kwan with a dune buggy, but finds her missing.
Well, not quite. She’s concealed herself in the sand, and while Soren’s back is turned, she emerges and uses the taser she picked up in the last episode to knock him out. Two Spartans down now. She picks up Soren’s revolver, and points it at his head.
On Eridanus, John wakes up. Cortana explains she shut him down because his decision making was compromised, but before he can go on a tirade, she urgently alerts that the Covenant have arrived on the planet.
A squadron of Covenant Banshee ships quickly fly in and shoot down the enormous star destroyer ship protecting the base, which goes down in spectacular fashion. On Miranda’s ship, Kai urges her to take off, but Miranda refuses and orders Kai to get out there and fight.
With everything destroyed by the earlier sonic boom, Halsey orders the artefact to be delivered by hand to Miranda’s ship. Vannak, Riz, and Master Chief quickly take point, much to the annoyance of Halsey’s artefact-loving assistant Adun, who’s forced to stay put in the cave with other non-combatants.
The Spartans load the artefact on a Warthog piloted by marines, Kai arrives and is put back on duty by Master Chief, and what follows is a battle sequence that marks the most faithful this show has been to the video game source material yet.
Silver Team charge into a platoon of Covenant Grunts and Jackals, alongside the Warthog, gunning the aliens down in brisk faction. When a Grunt takes out the Warthog’s gunner and driver, Master Chief reclaims the wheel and Silver Team hop on board.
Meanwhile, Miranda’s ship gets blown to bits, much to the horror of Halsey and Keyes. But upon seeing Miranda stumble out of her ship alive with other survivors, Halsey personally rushes to her aid – finally, a redeeming parental moment for Halsey. The artefact is redirected to Halsey’s ship.
A dropship full of Jackals wreaks havoc near Kai and Captain Keyes, who have stayed back to provide cover. The Jackals, who are wild and agile, absolutely carve through dozens of marines with their energy blades.
Though she fights back competently, Kai is quickly traumatised by the carnage, blood and death happening around her – something she’s likely experiencing for the very first time, thanks to the emotional suppression pellet. Kai falters and begins to take several shots. Her energy shield depletes, and she’s blown back by an explosion.
Seeing this from across the base, Master Chief (who’s also devoid of an emotional suppressant) decides to leave the artefact and Warthog mid-chase in order to save her, much to the distress of Cortana and Halsey. He leaps from the Warthog off a cliff, and onto a Banshee flying by, which he then hijacks. Big Halo multiplayer vibes here.
Unfortunately, another Banshee crashes directly into the Warthog and knocks it, Vannak, Riz, and the artefact off the cliff too – just as they were approaching Halsey’s ship.
Master Chief crashes his Banshee into the dropship near Kai, and the resulting explosion conveniently knocks down all the enemies in the area. Chief rises from the rubble, and proceeds to dispatch a couple dozen Jackals, quickly swapping weapons on the fly and procuring new ones from fallen enemies, a pretty nice job of mimicking the combat flow of the video game for the Halo TV series.
The confrontation ends in a first-person shot of him charging up a paltry Covenant energy pistol and firing it to distract an Elite Covenant soldier, who’s beating a downed Kai. It does basically no damage (again, accurate to the game), so Chief gets in a fistfight with the Elite and kills it, continuing to beat its face to a pulp in a furious rage, and finally stomping it into dust.
Kai, meanwhile, has been urging him to stop – initially, we think because he’s letting his anger get the better of him, but we quickly find out it’s actually because the artefact is right there and the Covenant are on their way to scoop it up.
An enormous Covenant Brute soldier drops down before Master Chief can reach the artefact, and knocks him away with a Gravity Hammer.
Battered, bruised, and bloodied, Master Chief stands off with the Brute and utters a paraphrase of his famous line from the Halo games: ‘Cortana… I’m gonna need a weapon,’ as his shield recharges with the characteristic sound effect.
He picks up a battle rifle and fires, but it doesn’t faze the Brute, who casually picks up the Artefact and is beamed back to the Covenant ship. Halsey is devastated.
The Covenant ship leaves, but not before releasing another drop pod with the Blessed One housed inside. Master Chief confronts her, and she faints.
I won’t pretend that the climactic battle in Reckoning didn’t have some cheesy moments as it continually tipped its hat to the video game, but as a fan, it was hard not to be excited as it all unfolded – and that’s how they get you. As a grand action sequence in its own right, I thought it was put together well. It managed to capture an understandable sense of scale and urgency, while also taking the time to zoom in and focus on the smaller skirmishes around the field.
That’s thanks, in part, to the somewhat innocuous surveillance drone Riz threw out earlier in the episode, whose viewpoint was constantly returned to throughout the episode as an in-universe method of establishing and building an understanding of the scale and layout of the base, showing where key scenes were occurring. Of course, it was also used to get different perspective during the battle. Overall, a very clever decision by the Halo TV series crew here.
But ‘Reckoning’ was also satisfying because we got to see the consequences of many of the actions and decisions that were being slowly set up over the course of the last three episodes. Master Chief has had enough of this shit and hit his breaking point – spending the episode seething with anger, lashing out at his pals, touching the artefact, and assaulting Halsey.
The removal of the emotional suppression pellets also whipped back around to bite the Spartans in the rear quite dramatically, causing Kai and Master Chief to suffer greatly in terms of their battle and mission focus, resulting in the current less-than-ideal predicament. It’ll be interesting to see the subsequent fallout next episode.
Kwan also hit her breaking point in Episode 5, and you know what? Good for her, Soren was starting to become a bit one-note anyway, though I’m surprised they left things where they did – with the big battle I almost forgot we were left with Kwan about to shoot Soren in the head. I’m still wondering what part this subplot will play in the rest of the Halo TV series narrative arc however, because right now it seems completely separate.
A solid, redeeming episode overall, which revs up a great amount of momentum I hope the next few episodes can pick up and run with. But honestly, I just really hope Kai’s okay.
- We first meet up with Kwan and Soren in this episode in a place called the Okjungdong Basin. In real life, the Okjungdong (or Okjukdong) Dunes are a desert-like beach on Daecheong Island in South Korea.
It’s a neat little factoid that ties Korean heritage to a presumably significant part of the planet’s population, even if it isn’t explicitly explored in detail as part of the plot. More tales of Madrigal’s multicultural background, please!
- We start to get a bit more of Cortana’s trademark sass in this episode with tidbits like:
Master Chief: I can’t hear myself think
Cortana: I can, and you’re not missing much.
- Why did they have to make Adun so horny for the rock? In the extraction scene, his face is just way too close to the cutting laser. Basic safety protocol, man! Who’s the scientist here?
- It was just a little bit disappointment that our suspected encounter between Soren and the Blessed One on Madrigal never came to fruition, despite both of them being there at the same time. Soren has yet to show us whether he still has the combat chops of a Spartan.
- I love that, according to the Halo TV series, Spartans can run as fast as a Warthog is driven. Equal parts ridiculous and excellent.
- The cheesiest moment from the big battle, which I loved like a guilty pleasure, is when Cortana is advising Chief to switch to his secondary weapon as he runs out of ammo.
Chief quips: ‘I know how the game is played, Cortana’.
Get it? Because he’s from a video game?! So bad, it’s good.
See you next week!