Natascha McElhone, Pablo Schreiber, and Ryan McParland in "Halo".

Halo: Episode 4: The Commemorative Song: The Sermon

Watching all the Halo, a botched franchise
Mediocre space show, characters minimized

I would like to disavow
yet reserve the right to complain
I can still hear my brain think
That I only have disdain (like eating ptomaine)

Master Chief’s been trapped somehow
written into the wrong campaign
I hear Cortana zinging
“My brain is still in your brain” (explains this eyestrain)

Incommunicado: with fans’ insight
Master Chief is pseudo, should violate copyright
Waste a license, does fanfiction a slight

And how is it this damn show
is convoluted yet mundane
one-liners are arising:
this sure as hell ain’t “Arcane” (that show entertains)

Ninety million dollar slough
bisecting canon into twain
A fanbase is apprising
A brand deal in suzerain (forgive this quatrain)

Wait McElhone’s found me now
and I try to escape in vain
She heard me criticizing
hey why’s she got novocaine (it’ll stop the pain)

Brain, keep it together (McElhone’s in the shadows)
Brain, log my displeasure (her clone does a quick cameo)
Brain, what’s a trepanner (that’s how you get brain juice to flow)
Brain, what’s she got straws for (she tells me that I’m next to go)
Brain, she’s got a blender (she pairs me with a nice Bordeaux)
Brain, hold still while she stirs (there goes my cerebral marrow)

Thank you, Halo Nation. The above was inspired by the show’s rhyming dictator. I wanted to commemorate this moment in “Halo” to the tune of an ancient traditional song.

Halovers, we left episode three’s rundown with the “Halo” question on everybody’s mind: whose ass will we see this time? Well today, I have a special treat for you. This week’s “Halo” features no less than two asses. I do not mean the showrunners who said they neither looked nor talked about the game when adapting a series from the game. (Quote: “We didn’t look at the game. We didn’t talk about the game”.)

Always aiming to subvert the format, they deliver unto us an ass right out of the gate. It shall not be eternity to wonder, “How patient must we be”, for lo! An ass was given unto them. Choosing consistent visual themes like this is what truly makes “Halo” the show that it is.

Do you sit there and think to yourself, “No, they are not HBO yet”? Do you doubt that Paramount Plus is going to continue to deliver asses until you do? O viewer! Consider your fearful suspicion. Consider your sinful wicked manner. They shall not give you anything else. They shall not give you other bits. This is not mid-70s British television.

And should you have missed a previous week in “Halo”, how dreadful it must be to have not read our coverage of the first, and the second, and the third episodes that shall enlighten your circumstance.

So check it: the freshest episode of “Halo” features Kai, one of the Spartans under Master Chief’s command. She saw Master Chief dig out his emotion suppressor last episode, so she decides to do the same.

What I love about this scene is that fellow Spartan Riz walks up behind Kai, talks to her, and leaves, all without noticing the bleeding wound at the base of her spine. We see it as the camera pulls away to give you that HBO shot, but the most attentive, detail-oriented, super-sense designer soldiers in the universe completely fucking miss it. Cool, cool.

What is Kai’s first action as a newly feeling Spartan? Well, Master Chief went for a walk, listened to music, gave a ball back to a kid, you know, he really connected with humanity before convincing Natascha McElhone’s Doctor Halsey to take him on a super important mission to save the universe. Kai’s a woman, though, so apparently all she’s got to do to communicate to the audience that she’s a new person is dye her hair.

Kai does get to do more later, like connect to Dr. Halsey’s scientist daughter, whose father is also the general in charge. His duties are chiefly to show up every other episode to read a snippet of Halsey’s biography to the audience in a totally organic way. But Dr. Miranda Keyes realizes Kai knows the Covenant language, so the two buckle down and translate…their feelings for their shared mother figure.

What’s Master Chief up to? He’s gone to the planet he was raised on to dig up his drawings of a big alien wotsit the alien wotsit they already have fits into. Master Chief, Dr. Halsey’s Natascha McElhone, and Cortana are joined by Adun, whose job is to be utterly useless in every situation. Literally the only thing we know about him in four episodes is he was about to get supercreepy with McElhone’s clone before getting interrupted. I don’t know if we’re supposed to care that he’s here, but he does nothing and I’m just hoping a large rock falls on him in the background at some point.

My favorite single moment this episode is Master Chief digging up the box of drawings he buried as a kid. Adun is drilling a few feet away. It’s all loose soil. Suspiciously loose, like production assistants just dumped a bunch of fresh soil there so that Master Chief could dig it up easily while wearing six feet of bulky space armor. But it’s loose soil. Why the fuck is Adun drilling? The drill isn’t even going in straight, it’s just sort of sliding around because it needs a shovel, but despite knowing they had to shovel something up on this excursion, they only brought one shovel for three people. Why does this feel so familiar?

Master Chief finds his drawings, which McElhone wants to go back to the ship and analyze despite the entire point of last episode being that Cortana is installed in Master Chief’s brain so that she can analyze right there so they don’t have to keep going back to analyze shit and…where was I? Right, they find the drawings, which everyone immediately forgets about because Master Chief redrew them all from memory last episode, so…why do they even need to be analyzed? Well, McElhone’s worried Master Chief might remember too much and she wants to get him out of there.

She insists one drawing’s new and guys? My fellow Halonlookers? It’s a circle. She’s like, “We have to go back and analyze this”. And it’s a circle. Just a plain circle. Not a fancy circle. Not a circle with extra fixings. Just a circle on a white page, no dimensions, no notes, no addendums, no other shapes, no accoutrements, it’s just a circle. She’s like, “We have to go back and analyze” a circle a kid drew on an otherwise blank page. I’ve seen more interesting fucking coffee rings.

I mean, look, fucking multifuck, I’m out here selecting “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” keywords, and when “Benny Hill” went on its nudity kick so I can make a British TV joke that references the right decade, and reading articles on all the production foibles, and I wrote a parody song to Fleetwood Mac. It’s not like I’m saving lives or anything but, guys, I’m trying. I really care about making some stupid jokes. And they drew a circle on a piece of paper and had Natascha Fucking McElhone read the line, “We have to go back and analyze this”. A fucking circle. A fucking circle. They had a guy drilling loose dirt.

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be salty even though that’s what Halophiles love. Let’s take a lesson from the show and just not care. Let’s just have complete anarchy and guys drilling randomly in loose soil in a future where I assume they have metal detectors, and future supercomputers analyze a single shape on a white page like it’s Steve Kornacki trying out for “Marvel’s What If” on midterm night.

So Cortana uses her brain juice to juice Master Chief’s brain juice so that he can VR some memory times into his helmet and see his house as it once was. This helps him determine that his parents used to dress him like a Newsie.

He wanders around the Williams Sanoma catalog until he realizes what the showrunners don’t: that he’s just wasted 10 minutes of everyone’s time. Then he has a flashback about where the new alien wotsit he’s looking for is, which is a completely different place that didn’t necessitate these scenes in any way. Except! He briefly glimpses a younger McElhone with his child self. You can tell she’s younger because she’s got super long hair and they did her makeup differently this episode to highlight the rings under her eyes in the present.

McElcomb’s having Newsie Chief guess how a coin will land and apparently he’s gotten it right 11 times in a row. So…he’s precognitive now? Yeah, sure, why not?

Master Chief comes back to the present to realize McElcomb visited him before his parents died, when she’s always insisted they only met once he was an orphan. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, you guys. The most badass supersoldier in the galaxy who’s only gotten one action scene in four episodes realizes he’s been betrayed his entire life and he…gives her a nasty look. And then when he turns his back, she gives him a nasty look. You thought those conference meetings in the earlier episodes were spiteful?

There are some action scenes in this episode. Kwan Ha – remember her? She’s the kid that Master Chief spent the first two episodes saving from everybody before realizing they were just being “The Mandalorian” and dumping her off on his old friend Soren so he can be “The Mandalorian” instead. Kwan Ha and Soren have traveled back to her home planet of Madrigal, that she spent the first two episodes doing everything she could to escape. Her plan is to find freedom fighters to rebel against the rhyming dictator who was my favorite character except now he doesn’t rhyme anymore so I’m like what’s the point?

Well, turns out they held off on her dad’s memorial until the night she got back, which is awfully convenient and totally isn’t a trap. But it’s a trap! Motorcycles speed in from exactly one direction. And these fighters? You’ve never seen anything like them. They jump off and start attacking the gathered crowd with…canes? Sure.

This leads straight into the second ass. Whose could it be? I’ll give you a hint. He rhymes (or he used to). And he’s a dictator. That’s right, Rhyming Dictator’s back in the house!

Or rather, his pool. Did you want to see Burn Gorman who played the uptight, narcissistic scientist in “Pacific Rim” or the uptight, narcissistic womanizer in “Torchwood” play an uptight, narcissistic guy in a pool in “Halo”? Cause at first you’re like, “no, they’ve already showed the ass of the day in this episode, that space on my Halo bingo card is filled”. But after minutes of will-he or won’t-he that create the most sustained tension in “Halo” to date, he steps out of the pool while talking to his assassin/towel retriever and we cut to a prolonged shot of his ass. That’s right, there isn’t just one ass in this episode, there’s assassin this episode.

You did it again, “Halo”. Just when I thought I was done, you managed to pull me right back in. I never could have predicted this amazing twist. I mean, nothing else the fuck happens. Master Chief got to see a preview of the Williams Sanoma summer collection, Cortana showed up once to ask him if he knew about their monthly financing options, McElhone McElphoned “Ooh, look a circle, gotta analyze this exciting circle”, Kwan Ha got three chase scenes without ever actually escaping but lucking out that she ran into an edit to another character’s story each time.

Wait, wait, what about last episode’s best part? Makee and her carnivorous space worms! Who do they eat this time? Who does she go all Molly from Johnny Mnemonic on? Well…she’s not in this episode. They spent three episodes establishing her place with the Covenant culminating in her going full evil Sabrina, forfeiting people’s faces, and capturing a cruiser. And then they just forgot her.

I like to imagine Makee’s out there doing awesome shit in some other series. Maybe the Covenant’s production of “Halo”. That shit’s probably on HBO. Bet it’s awesome. Just Makee smirking and filleting humans for the crime of making this version of “Halo”. Going home and arguing with Space Dad who’s all like, “Makee, where were you this late at space night?” and she’s like, “I was out waging your war, Space Dad”. Probably a mockumentary so it cuts to him on the couch being like, “I didn’t realize she could capture a UNSC cruiser single-handedly. It’s cause space worms don’t have hands.” Ty Burrell can play any role.

OK, trying to stay positive, we’re almost halfway through this season of “Halo”.

What will we be Haloquacious about next time? Well, Kwan Ha’s off to see the Bene Gesserit so “Halo” can shove three full chosen ones into an adaptation of something that had zero chosen ones. Master Chief is in a cave with McElhone searching for a couples therapist. Cortana’s back in her bottle – can’t wait for the episode where she accidentally shrinks Master Chief and they almost get kicked out of Cocoa Beach.

Alas! What exquisite, horrible misery can make you suffer for eternity? You can watch “Halo” on Paramount Plus.

Brain, give me a tenner (just click my Patreon to go)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s