We’re finally past the halfway point in the first season of the Halo TV series, and thankfully, it’s picking up speed. The big video game-esque battle sequence of Episode 5 marked the turning point, and now Episode 6, ‘Solace’, is giving us nothing but drama, drama, drama.
Well, okay. It’s not meaty character drama or anything, but there sure is a lot of screaming and raw emotion over everything going on. But if you’re now weirdly invested in this show like me, you’re probably just grateful for some big plot point payoffs, at the very least.
Whether you’re watching along with us and want to bounce your thoughts around, or you’re not a Paramount+ subscriber but are curious to see how this very expensive show is handling your beloved Halo lore, welcome to this recap and analysis of Episode 6.
If you need to catch up, here are the rest of our critical recaps:
- 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 6 Recap – ‘Solace’
Picking up right after the aftermath of the big battle that closed episode 5, we open on a helmetless and bloodied Master Chief, mulling over his newfound memories of being kidnapped by Halsey and being put through the paces of the Spartan program. He stares angrily at Halsey and Adun working nearby, and Halsey can barely crack a smile at him. He’s shaking with rage until another hand grabs his arm, snapping him out of it.
It’s Kai, who’s screaming in agony on an operating table, suffering from the wounds sustained in the previous battle. Vannak and Riz are there too, jabbing her with countless morphine injectors to try and sedate her.
Before John can go into another daze, Cortana pipes up with concern, explaining that John’s contact with the larger artefact has overloaded his system. Captain Keyes arrives to inform John that they’ve lost track of the Covenant ship that stole the artefact from them, but assures him that his rebellious actions still saved dozens of lives, including Keyes’.
Their attention is then directed to the Blessed One. She’s passed out, mumbling in the Covenant language while Miranda Keyes records it. We’re told that the Blessed One has managed to impart the information that she was kidnapped by the Covenant as a child (true), and has been a prisoner ever since (false).
The ship carrying our merry cast of characters lands back on Reach, with a morbid parade of body bags streaming out of the ship.
Halsey re-enters alone, and is followed discreetly by John, who locks her in her lab by physically jamming the door. What happens next is John goes through the motions of activating a radioactive decontamination procedure, which threatens to vaporise Halsey in her room, while Cortana protests. Master Chief has had enough and he’s not going to take it anymore!!
Halsey screams and bangs on one side of the glass door while John and Cortana converse on the other, the countdown timer to zero projected between them. John morbidly explains to Cortana that the only way Halsey is getting out is if she takes control of his brain functions to unjam the door and release Halsey, but Cortana explains that she can only shut him down, not control him.
As the timer hits zero and the room starts to be decontaminated with what is presumably radioactive smoke, John unjams the door and pulls Halsey out. The experiment, he explains, was to test the limits of his AI babysitter.
After the title sequence, we see the Blessed One getting tagged, examined, and cleaned up on Reach, as she watches some inane breakfast television programming.
Dubious about her motivations, the UNSC leadership is discussing an offer she’s proposed – to provide information on the Covenant but on the condition that she only speaks to Master Chief. Our pals Admiral Parangosky and Captain Keyes have no issue with it, but another leader with a delightful Finnish accent, Bota, has his doubts about the ‘new’ Master Chief, especially given that he abandoned the mission in the previous episode.
Bota is backed up by two other leaders, who move to dismantle the Spartan program, which Parangosky takes as a personal attack.
Elsewhere on Reach, an armourless John goes to meet with the Blessed One in her room, where she introduces herself for the first time as ‘Makee’. She immediately tries to warn John about the keystone the UNSC has. He tries to discern where the Covenant have taken the larger artefact, but finds the answers Makee provides dubious.
Doing his best to be intimidating, John gets all up in Makee’s personal space and asks why he should trust her in his best gravelly voice. Makee mentions that they are the same, and tells him that the Covenant refer to her as the ‘Blessed One’.
This instantly causes John to remember the wildly insane seer from Episode 2 on Soren’s pirate colony home, who first informed John of the existence of a ‘Blessed One’, and made suggestion of John’s association with them.
John becomes visibility shaken and storms out, his stoic facade instantly shattering before Makee’s eyes.
Elsewhere on Reach, Halsey is being audited on her research and work with cloning and the Spartan program, presumably by order of the UNSC leadership. While this is happening, Captain Keyes and Admiral Parangosky discreetly observe via some kind of astral projection technology, which places them in the room, visible only to one another, as they both lie on a couple of futuristic dental chairs elsewhere on base. A weird storytelling device? Definitely. Can’t sci-fi people just look at monitors like the rest of us?
John storms in and interrupts the session, demanding to speak to Halsey. He simply wants to know why Halsey kidnapped John as a child. She goes on to explain her philosophy about the human race’s inability to evolve beyond being a conflict driven species, and her desire to create a force that could prevent Conflict before it began by… just being terrifying, I guess.
Meanwhile, Miranda Keyes wanders into the astral projection room, sees her father and Parangosky lying there, and logs on to see what’s up.
Halsey explains that the Spartan project needed children no older than six in order to carry out the necessary human augmentation. Parents didn’t give up their children easily, so they were abducted and discreetly replaced with genetically compromised flash clones, who would eventually pass away, due to something that looked like a seizure.
John is outraged, obviously. Both at the procedure but also the lies they were fed their whole lives. Halsey argues that any benefit to the greater good is seen as reprehensible until the greater good is eventually achieved.
John asks who else knew about the project – at which point the astral hologram projections of Captain Keyes and Parangosky start giving each other shifty eyes. Halsey doesn’t give them up, instead saying that when you’re fighting an existential war, people don’t care about the details, they just want results. Which isn’t far from the truth, as we saw with other UNSC leadership earlier in the season.
She says that John brought them the results that they wanted, and that him bringing back his memories by touching the artefacts was worth the overall risk to find out their mysteries.
Halsey explains that their understanding of the universe has been upended by the knowledge contained within the artefact, and that John’s ability to interface with it is the key to controlling what they’re calling the ‘Halo’ – which finally gets a namecheck.
Halsey has confidence that John will use his ability to guide the UNSC there, and subsequently take humankind beyond its current limitations, but she emphasises that he needs her to do this to make sure nothing is done in vain.
‘Let’s finish what we started,’ she says. ‘I’ll finish without you,’ John says, pent up with rage once more. He storms out like an angry teenager.
At the astral projection room, Miranda is disgusted by what she’s discovered and storms out. She encounters an incredibly distraught John in the hallway and tries to offer some sympathy, but he quickly asks her to verify that Makee can interface with the keystone artefact.
John ducks into a corner to have a panic attack before lashing out at Cortana, questioning her loyalties and threatening to cut her out of his brain.
In the medical bay, John tells Kai about the gruesome origins of the Spartans. Kai laments the lie she’s been living, but John comforts her by saying he’ll take care of things, and their life as fellow Spartans remains true. Kai asks John if he’s okay. He puts up a stoic exterior in front of her, and dodges the question.
Halsey meets with Parangosky, who reveals her plan to exile Halsey to a new lab on Burial Mounds, away from the UNSC base. Doing so will frame Halsey as a scapegoat for the failings of the Spartan program, and give Master Chief some justice for the wrongs enacted on him. Stewardship of the Spartan Program and Cortana will be transferred to Miranda – Parangosky twists the knife here by saying it’s the promotion the selfish Halsey would never give her daughter.
Halsey’s previous blackmail of revealing Parangosky’s complicity in the dark side of the Spartan program is useless, because that would see both of them locked up. Not something either of them want for each other.
Meanwhile, Miranda is taking blood from Makee, and mentions that they intercepted a rough Covenant transmission from the UNSC ship that was attacked, unaware that Makee was the aggressor and the one who made the call. Miranda reveals that they’re close to cleaning the transmission up, which makes Makee nervous. John, who’s in the room, starts to get involuntary shakes in his arm, which Makee notices. He leaves.
John boards a ship out on the airstrip and uses the onboard health assessment module to get a checkup – like he did after the mission in the very first episode. Because of that, he gets flashes of Kwan when she was on board with him, which gives him a jump-scare. The health module reveals that John’s status is critical and that he should seek medical assistance immediately.
In the UNSC war room, Captain Keyes informs Parangosky that they’ve found nothing in the region Makee suggested they search, as the three UNSC leaders from earlier in the episode ominously observe them from above.
We now visit the residential area of Reach, as Halsey goes through the personal items in her apartment. Assistant Adun arrives, saying he’s done something Halsey has asked for, but we don’t know what. He informs her that Cortana has been black boxed, meaning no-one external can access her.
Halsey laments that John doesn’t trust Cortana, so she’s all alone, and theorises that Cortana will find a way to return to her. Adun boasts that he’s spent decades building impenetrable firewalls and security systems for the UNSC, but Halsey is confident Cortana won’t give up.
Meanwhile, Vannak and Riz are in the armoury, going over weapon upgrades. Kai hobbles in, full of smiles and normal human banter, and they inform her that Miranda has taken over command of the Spartans, but don’t know why. The two unemotional Spartans continue their incredibly quick pace of robotic chatter about firearms and offhandedly mention Halsey in a positive light. Kai tries to jump in with a comment, but stops herself.
Miranda steps foot in Halsey’s old lab, now hers. She’s chuffed. She has a peek inside the now empty flash cloning lab. Miranda tries to access Makee’s blood results, but somehow her access is denied. Suddenly, a message pops up on the big screen: ‘SEE ME’. It’s Halsey.
Miranda arrives at Halsey’s apartment, where she’s prepared tea under the guise of a goodbye. Miranda sees right through her mother’s false niceties. Halsey instantly relents and asks that Miranda not conduct any experiments on the Covenant artefact without her, which Miranda lashes back at.
Halsey, in a rare emotional moment, gets close to Miranda and apologises for causing her so much anger and not explaining herself properly – ‘Family, it’s just not a concept I believe in.’ Miranda seems bewildered and leaves as Halsey tears up. With Miranda gone, Halsey snaps out of it and calls Adun into the room, who asks whether she ‘got a good look’. She pulls out a high-tech contact lens.
Back at the lab, Miranda shows John that a unique gene he possesses in his DNA was found in Makee’s DNA. They’re two in a billion.
John goes to confront Makee, telling her that the locational information she provided the UNSC was incorrect. He has a spurt of rage and slaps a wall, which triggers both a flashback to him as a child and causes him great pain.
Makee relates, saying that she knows the keystone is killing him, that his insatiable hunger for the truth kept him going back to touch it at the cost of making him more ill.
John is surprised she knows what’s happening. Makee reveals about her past interactions with lesser keystones in Covenant possession, and how she was taught to give into it, eventually learning how to harness the keystones to her will. She asks John to take her to the keystone on the UNSC base, so she can find the larger artefact it’s connected to, and so he can find peace.
At Halsey’s apartment, Cortana finally breaks free and offers to fix Adun’s security system, which he takes great offence at. Halsey asks after John.
John is back in the lab with Keyes, theorising that if Makee can use the keystone to find the location of the artefact, he can too. He’s frantic and in pain. Miranda theorises that Makee could be tricking John to touch the artefact once more in order to kill him off. John wants to find out regardless, so they pay a visit to the keystone.
Halsey is outraged that they’re doing this without her, but begins to monitor John’s vitals from afar with Cortana’s help. Makee is brought food by an attendant and guard, but demands to see Master Chief. After ignoring her requests, she gets violent and whips out her fingernail energy blade.
But as John touches the artefact, Makee begins to suffer from a massive seizure – something Halsey and Adun are also keeping an eye on.
John keeps holding on for a painfully long time as visions of his kidnapping and mutilation as a child flash by clearer than ever – he’s taking Makee’s suggestion of giving into the artefact.
As the onlookers yell and urge him to let go with the fear that his heart is going to explode, John finally, after a long period of escalation, reaches a completely stable calm.
Both John and Makee’s heart rates have normalised and are in sync, as they see each other in a shared vision, both of them standing on a Halo Array, a ringed artificial world that the artefacts are designed to access. John cradles Makee’s face in the vision, and lets go of the artefact.
‘Thought we’d lost you, Chief,’ says Miranda. ‘Where’d you go?’
It took six episodes, but with the reveal of the titular ring world the Halo TV series is really in business now. Looking back, the idea that John simply overcomes the shock of the artefact to have it all come into focus feels like a cop-out, at least on the surface. Five long episodes of everyone warning him not to touch the thing, and then realising it’s actually okay, and actually beneficial for everyone, if he just touches the thing!
But look, I’m thankful we’re here now. I’m also glad after much grunting and yelling from a very emotional Master Chief (which seems to be the peak of his emotional capacity in this show so far – he’s still just a stoic male even without the emotional suppression pellet) we’re also finally clued into the origin of the Spartans, after being strung along for so many episodes. No real dramatic differences for fans of the video game lore, but it’s another thing I’m glad is out in the open for the characters of the Halo TV series universe.
Episode 6 again cranks the lever on highly-strung emotions and music to manipulate the ups and downs of the drama, rather than spending time on exploring real character moments, but I get it – there’s a lot of lore to cram in here.
Thankfully, good character moments aren’t completely absent here – Miranda (Olive Grey) has some really nice scenes in Solace where she says a lot with just her subtle facial expressions, and Kai (Kate Kennedy) has some small bits of development, too. Both continue to be the best characters on the show.
Halsey (Natascha McElhone) also gets to exercise her chops in a very convincing emotional and teary moment. But of course, it’s all a ruse for arguably the most unfeeling character in the series, next to Master Chief.
We don’t get to pay a visit to Kwan and Soren this episode – we left them with Kwan pointing a gun to Soren’s unconscious head in episode 5 – but that’s probably for the best to get the UNSC storyline to where it is.
Three episodes left until the season ends now, which feels like ample time for the Halo TV series to explore its namesake, another big battle or two, and more time for Kai and Keyes to hopefully hang out.
- Just one lame one this time: Halsey has Ikea Kuggis storage tubs in her home. I only recognised this because I have a bunch, and it’s nice to know some things don’t go out of style in 100 years.
See you next week!