Six episodes in, the Halo TV series has gained a consistent stride and pattern, with this sixth episode bringing us the realistic fallout of last episode's battle. Physical wounds are healed as the Spartans rest up, while other psychological wounds continue to fester and burrow, with the tension between Master Chief and those keeping secrets reaching a new high.
It's an appropriately paced episode, giving things time to breathe while still moving the central plots forward and making sure much of the main cast cast has time to shine. As Chakee makes contact with the UNSC and Madrigal is nowhere to be seen, we also get one very big, very cool reveal.
Note: This review contains spoilers for Halo Season 1, Episode 6, "Solace."
Bottom line: A solid breather episode delivers a quiet internal reveal and a visually impressive cliffhanger.
- Good breather episode
- Excellent ending reveal
- Madrigal seems nonexistent
If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to read our review of Halo Season 1, Episode 5.
The episode begins with John watching injured soldiers in various states of agony. Kai is among the wounded, and it notably takes multiple sedatives to ease her pain, pointing to the heightened systems of a Spartan in tangent with her continuing to struggle with removing her suppression pellet. Chief is clearly struggling with the actions he took in the battle, blaming himself for losing the artifact even as Captain Jacob Keyes praises him for the lives he was able to save.
Storming out, John fiddles with the overrides on the doors to Halsey's temporary lab, trapping her in and timing the ventilation system to go off, which will expose her to deadly radiation. Ignoring Cortana and Halsey's pleas, John asks for Cortana to physically stop him, to which Cortana insists she can't. John saves Halsey at the last possible second, insisting that he was testing Cortana's limits.
It's a cold scene that at a first watch seems somewhat out of character for John. With that said, John's emotional whiplash the last few episodes have continually eroded what he thought was true and any stoic confidence his suppressed self held. It's jarring, yes, but it's clear he truly doesn't understand his own limits right now, having never developed a proper relationship with his emotions.
Sometime later, with the teams back on Reach, a UNSC panel including Captain Keyes and Admiral Parangosky discuss what to do with Makee, while other UNSC top brass make it clear that higher-ups aren't happy with two Spartans behaving erratically, dismissing Marine casualties and threatening to assume direct control on the Spartan program.
I'll note here that we don't see anything of Kwan, Soren or Madrigal in this episode, which only strengthens my notion that their presence in the prior episode was solely to increase the already-shortened runtime. Hopefully the next time we check in on that eclectic pair things get more interesting, because despite a couple of interesting hooks, nothing of consequence has really unfolded over the last few episodes.
John goes to speak with Chakee, who says she's willing to share information on the Covenant but only if she gets to talk to Master Chief. She says the Covenant took the relic on Eridanus-2 to a star system called Aspero, but the unease between the two is palpable, which only gets stronger as Chakee insists the two of them are similar through being what the Covenant calls "Blessed Ones," humans who are able to connect with the relics.
Something I appreciate throughout this entire episode is just how suspicious everyone is of Chakee. When the previous episode ended, there was definitely a concern that we might end up seeing a stereotypical traitor infiltration. Instead, almost everyone is at least on edge with Chakee, aware that there's something different and just off about her.
John grills Halsey while (unbeknownst to either of the two) being listened to by Jacob and Miranda Keyes, as well as Parangosky. Halsey admits that she replaced the abducted children in the Spartan program with flash clones, clones that quickly developed the symptoms of seizures and died, while their parents never knew the truth.
Parangosky removes Halsey from her position on Reach, giving Miranda a promotion and essentially reassigning Halsey to far-off station where she can research without interfering. With this play made, the tension in the ranks of the UNSC officially spills over. It's open conflict that threatens the balance of power as much as any firefight, even if it's fought with words and ranks instead of bullets and plasma.
We also get a brief but tender scene between John and Kai, as the latter continues recovering from the battle. John tells her the truth of their abduction. Despite being the half of Silver Team that is no longer emotionally repressed, this scene is the first time we've seen them bond over their similarity. John also does a quick automated medical check-up, confirming that something's wrong, the relic he repeatedly touched having seemingly left some physical mark on him.
As Kai gets back on her feet, we get a nice scene of her helping in the armory with Vannak and Riz. Players of the games get a nice tease in the form of a Spartan Laser diagram, with Silver Team trying to discuss how to use it for more that five shots.
It quickly becomes clear that despite ostensibly being removed from lab, Halsey still has access, blocking different functions when Miranda attempts to analyze Chakee's blood. Miranda is left muttering an exasperated "drama queen" before heading on the way to visit her mother.
As Miranda confronts her mother, we seemingly get emotion out of Halsey for the first time, with the cold and aloof scientist tearing up and saying she should've done a better job ... only for it to be revealed that it was, yet again, just a play at manipulating someone. Cortana also cheerfully offers to hack through the UNSC firewalls and give Halsey access to monitoring what goes on in the newly occupied lab.
I have to praise the acting skills of Natascha McElhone, not just in this episode, but the series so far. She completely and utterly sells how distanced Halsey is from everyone and everything around her, always looking for a new angle, always finding the next human steppingstone in her quest for knowledge.
After John sees Miranda confirm that he and Makee share a similar odd DNA structure, John is told by Makee that his refusal or inability to go along with what the relic is trying to show him is causing him physical pain. John again impulsively decides to grab the relic, though at least with Miranda's oversight this time.
As both John and Makee reel from him grabbing hold of the relic, he allows it to completely consume him, the pieces literally clicking into place. With the episode closing, we see both John and Makee seemingly standing in a green field, but not on Reach. As iconic music from the game comes into focus, we see that they're far from Reach. They're standing on the Halo ring.
With two-thirds of the show down, it seems almost certain that the season will end with one or both factions finding the ring.
Halo Season 1, Episode 6 is available now, exclusively on Paramount+. For a better experience, watch it on one of the best 4K TVs available.
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