Halo TV series Season 1, Episode 8 review: Penultimate tensions hit their peak

Emotional connections are formed and shattered in rapid succession.

Halo Episode 8 John Unarmored
(Image: © Microsoft / Paramount+)

In the eighth episode of the Halo TV series, the tension across the main cast finally stops building. Instead, we get an explosion as sides are chosen and passions inflamed. It's not exactly where I thought the show was headed, but it works well enough, and I'm more invested than ever in this interpretation of Master Chief.

That said, there are a couple of shortcomings given just how little of the show we have left for now. With only one more episode to go from here, there's still a lot that this series will have to juggle going into the finale. As long as things stay focused on Master Chief and the rest of the characters currently on Reach, I'm excited to see where it stops for this season.

Note: This review contains spoilers for Halo Season 1, Episode 8, "Allegiance."

If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to read our review of Halo Season 1, Episode 7.

The episode surprisingly doesn't open with a flashback. Instead, we get Master Chief drawing circles in the steam of his bathroom mirror, seemingly entranced by the vision of the Halo ring in Episode 6. Makee is similarly absentminded, and the two take a walk through the grounds of Reach, seemingly to the frustration of the UNSC personnel around them.

Source: Microsoft / Paramount+ (Image credit: Source: Microsoft / Paramount+)

We get to see a neat framing, as various pairs of individuals discuss the strange blossoming friendship between John and Makee. Captain Keyes notes that John has changed, to Parangosky's frustration, while Halsey finds John's burgeoning connection with the woman fascinating.

As John pushes Makee for answers about Halo, the woman finally shares why the Covenant is searching for it. She recites a prophecy that divine wind will rush through and take believers on a path to becoming god-like. It's a cool moment for fans of the games, as it's essentially a paraphrased version of what the Prophets directly say in Halo 2.

The differences between the three non-Master Chief members of Silver Team are amusingly highlighted as Vannak and Riz run tests on a captured Covenant Phantom. While Vannak brusquely asks what Kai's status is, Riz carefully tries to play it off.

Source: Microsoft / Paramount+ (Image credit: Source: Microsoft / Paramount+)

Smash cut to Kai, who is currently showing off by pulling on a cord, lifting first an engine block and then a Warthog, to the enthusiasm of a gaggle of gambling Marines around her.

I have to say, Kai has really grown on me. I wasn't sure about how well the presentation of another Spartan besides Master Chief experiencing emotions and feelings would go, but her wide-eyed naivete is played well by Kate Kennedy. She has a refreshingly optimistic, happy, near-overwhelming vibe, and I hope she continues to shine in the future of the show.

We get another cute moment between Miranda Keyes and her father. Miranda is trying without success to clean up and translate the intercepted Sangheili language fragments from earlier in the season. Even as her father assures her she'll get it, she ominously notes that it's almost as if there are different pitches being used.

Source: Microsoft / Paramount+ (Image credit: Source: Microsoft / Paramount+)

John again checks in on Makee, dismissing her guard and delivering her a book, recalling that earlier in the episode, she told him about how a childhood friend would read to her. After a few moments of tension, Makee kisses him. The two remove their shirts, inspecting each other's scars ...

Oh, yeah, they have sex.

Of course, Cortana secretly watches them the entire time. This is a good time to recall that Cortana, as a smart AI, was created by using a clone of Halsey. In turn, let us recall that Halsey, having abducted the children for the Spartan program in the first place, is something of a mother figure to all of them, including John. Frankly, there are more layers to this whole thing than a celebrity's wedding cake. Freud is spinning so fast in his grave he's likely to open a wormhole.

All right, I can hear the cries of confusion already. "Master Chief having sex?" It took me off guard. It's more than a little funny. "Master Chief? You mind telling me what you're doing with that woman?" "Sir, finishing this fight."

But the reality is, it kind of makes sense. I think the implementation here is a little messy, but these two have been through a fair bit of trauma. Both are trying to understand what it means to be human. This isn't the stoic warrior of the games anymore. He's a different version of Master Chief, with (at least right now) a different struggle. I haven't talked about differences between the games and show a lot, but I think it warranted a mention here.

Makee also agrees to help John with understanding the artifacts under UNSC supervision, even secretly removing the plasma knife embedded in her finger.

Source: Microsoft / Paramount+ (Image credit: Source: Microsoft / Paramount+)

As Cortana relays her findings to Halsey, the latter only piles on the subtext by insisting that John was never alone; he had her. Halsey is then informed by Captain Keyes that she's being removed from Reach ASAP and to quickly pack anything important. Ever the schemer, Halsey makes her play, using a hacked device created by her assistant Adun. Ignoring Keyes' warnings that her ambition has cost her every relationship she has, Halsey quickly hacks into Makee's room, telling the woman to not trust the UNSC and instead abscond with her.

As Makee understandably panics, Halsey uses Cortana to shut down communication across the base, telling Kai, Riz, and Vannak to report only to her and grab Master Chief as she prepares her ship to escape. When Kai questions these orders, she's quickly knocked out and handcuffed to a stone seat by Riz and Vannak.

Miranda, meanwhile, has made some progress with her decryptions, isolating one particular voice. A woman's voice. With horrific realization, she sprints away to warn Parangosky and her father. Cortana, clearly feeling conflicted about what's about to happen, warns Master Chief of his impending abduction. Kai breaks free from the stone seat in a limber display of strength, smashing through it with her armored boots.

Heeding Cortana's warning, Master Chief engages Vannak and Riz. Being unarmored, he's at a significant disadvantage, even with Cortana's assistance. Kai joins the fray, and as multiple members of Silver Team get their hands on Magnum pistols, it becomes a dangerous standoff.

I have to say that I loved this fight scene. The weight of the Spartans can be felt as they smash, grapple, and slam into each other. It's brutal but coordinated.

Less enjoyable is how Miranda bursts in on Makee and the assembled UNSC. When Miranda explains that it was Makee who led the slaughter of the crew on the stranded cruiser, Makee begs for forgiveness but is brutally shocked. It's frustrating and heartbreaking, watching any chance of happiness or steps along the path to recovery being brutally snatched away. Whatever connection she's made with humanity is burned out in these moments.

As Makee desperately grabs the alien artifact, a pulse of power ripples across the base, ending the stalemate and knocking the Spartans unconscious.

With only one episode left, I'm thrilled to see where the story is going, especially for Silver Team. Unfortunately, I'm also convinced we won't physically see the Halo ring this season, meaning I'm not quite sure where the show wants to hang its audience until we get to the officially confirmed Season 2.

Halo Season 1, Episode 8 is available now, exclusively on Paramount+. For a better experience, watch it on one of the best 4K TVs available.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.