As the first season of the Halo TV series begins to draw to a close, the show dedicates a whole episode to dealing with characters and plotlines across Insurrectionist-controlled Madrigal. Despite some wariness at an episode that doesn't really feature the UNSC or Covenant, it ends up wrapping things up well, if perhaps a bit too quickly.
Kwan and especially Soren get to shine in this episode, while the tyrannical Vinsher is entertaining to watch, if nothing else. While it's not the most exciting episode so far — Episode 5 still holds that title by a long shot — it's good to see the show allay my fears that the story of Madrigal was going nowhere.
Note: This review contains spoilers for Halo Season 1, Episode 7, "Inheritance."
Bottom line: A diversion from the main plot ends up resolving a few plot arcs smoothly, but we'll have to see where the last two episodes go.
- Some wonderful scenery-chewing from Burn Gorman
- Decisive conclusion to a few plotlines
- Some character potential cut oddly short
- Reach and Master Chief story left hanging
If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to read our review of Halo Season 1, Episode 6.
Like almost every episode in this series so far, we open with a flashback. This time, it's on Madrigal, with a slightly younger Kwan attending dinner with family and friends. Her father and aunt try to force her to talk with a young recruit to the Insurrectionist cause, while Kwan clearly wants no part of it, bitterly asserting that this newcomer can't possibly understand why she's motivated since she lost her mother.
Back in the present day, we see Kwan continuing to drive into the desert, having stolen the vehicle that Soren recovered before she knocked him out. She only makes it a short ways into a sandstorm before encountering the mystics spoken of by her now-deceased aunt episodes ago.
After being brought to the mystics' camp — curiously, they are all women — Kwan demands to be given the same instruction that her father was in the past, the but the mystic leadership seems hesitant. They relent without much more convincing once Kwan makes it clear she's the last of her family.
On The Rubble, we see Soren made his way back off-screen, and is now attending a party, telling wild stories. Squirrel (Gábor Nagypál) calls Soren out for not sharing the bounty on Kwan's head, while wishing Soren would listen to his idea of a big score. Soren seemingly agrees, going along with the plan to grab Slipspace drives off a UNSC ship.
We also get to see more of the new leader of Madrigal, the scowling Vinsher. While this aspiring despot hasn't lacked for edge in past episodes, here Burn Gorman brings him to life in a truly amazing way. Vinsher chews the scenery with wanton abandon, leaving no syllable unturned as he attempts to wax poetic while informing his lackeys that the end must be near for Kwan.
With the strange tribe of women finally agreeing to help Kwan, they have her drink what appears to be some kind of heavy water. We're treated to a look inside Kwan's mind of some kind, as she imagines facing down Master Chief in combat. Amusingly, this fight is as ridiculously lopsided as you'd expect. There's no heroic comeback, no sudden inspiration, no realization of how to take him down. Just Kwan being brutally beaten no matter what she tries.
When she finally gives up this violence, Master Chief takes her hand and she then begins to see ghosts of her ancestors that have lived on Madrigal, going through generations until finally arriving on her father, the late general Jin Ha. Father and daughter are tearfully reunited in this vision of sorts, while Jin tells Kwan that the well here is actually a portal to somewhere else and that when the time comes, she has to be ready.
"You have strengths I never had," he tells her.
While it's a hallucination and as such, it's unclear exactly how Kwan is truly learning this information, Halo as a franchise toys with echoes of people being recorded throughout the past, so I'm all right with just rolling with this strange reveal for now.
The aforementioned heist led by Soren and Squirrel is a success, but Soren crushes Squirrel's foot, making it clear he has no intentions of having his leadership challenged moving forward. It's a dark moment, one that helps remind us that just because Soren pushed for freedom from the UNSC, he's still very much an outlaw. While trying to relax with his wife, Soren is told that the bounty on Kwan Ha's head has tripled, realizing that against all odds, she's still alive.
On Madrigal, Kwan goes back to "where it all began," heading to the ruined Insurrectionist outpost that's still littered with dead Covenant. Unbeknownst to her, an increasingly hammy Vinsher is tracking her down, having disposed of her father's last general. Soren catches up to her, warning her that she'll need some help.
Now, I understand it hasn't been well established how far The Rubble is from Madrigal, but I do have to say it's utterly jarring to see Soren find Kwan first despite clearly being shown that Vinsher is on her tail, complete with drone imagery. The timing feels suspect, and while it's not a big issue, I hope this isn't a recurring problem moving forward.
Vinsher and his longcoat-clad forces arrive, hilariously toting a megaphone just so he doesn't have to yell for Kwan to give up. Our unlikely pair of companions put a plan in place to blow up the facility, and we get to see Soren fight, terribly outgunned, while Kwan tries to override a stuck panel.
Seeing Soren in action is great. While it's still brutal and pulls no punches as he snaps necks and guns down Vinsher's troops, there's a different kind of lethality. The Covenant warriors seen so far have essentially been butchers, while the Spartans have been surgeons. Soren is neither. Instead, he fights with strength and stealth, clearly better off than a normal human but lacking the raw overwhelming force (and power armor) of other Spartans. There's a sense of danger, like every move must be carefully calculated.
While he's eventually overwhelmed, Kwan succeeds in vaporizing one unlucky henchman with a Plasma Grenade, then blows the facility's gas lines, engulfing Vinsher and his men in flame.
I have to admit, I'm a little sad to see Vinsher apparently go. His role in the story was clearly finished, but Burn Gorman put in such a wonderfully over-the-top performance of someone drunk with the tiniest bit of power that it'll be a shame we don't see it in the future.
As the episode closed, we get one of my favorite interactions from the entire series so far, as a newly cheery Kwan tells a departing Soren that, "Maybe we'll see each other again."
"God, I hope not," Soren says.
With only two episodes left, it seems almost certain that the UNSC forces will have to physically find Halo soon.
Halo Season 1, Episode 7 is available now, exclusively on Paramount+. For a better experience, watch it on one of the best 4K TVs available.
Halo and more await
Paramount+ features TV shows beyond just Halo, and more will be coming in the future, so check frequently for new things to try out.
On episode 4 now. I am actually surprised at how much I am enjoying the show considering the whining I first read about it.
The Kwan story line has absolutely nothing to do with Halo, and honestly shouldn't have gone past the first 2 episodes lol. It kinda dragged along imo, and in 5 and 6 I was glad to see it wane. I guess they have to circle back to wrap it up, but hopefully they keep Soren 066 going somehow cuz I think they could do more with him
The Kwan story feels totally canon to Halo. If your don't understand the politics of the Outer Colonies vs. the UNSC, then you don't understand why the Spartan program was created in the first place. The show is not sticking slavishly to the plot of the mainline games, but building upon the expanded universe revealed over the course of many Halo novels and other media. To its credit, IMO.
I liked this episode, which means a lot, as I haven't been enjoying the Madrigal arc so far. There is a revelation in Ha's hallucinatory dream that seems to connect her to the big plot arc of the show. That's good, considering that, as a parallel story, it lacks the drive to keep going along the series.
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