Tag Archives: Natascha McElclone

Cortana Bad Romance

“Halo” finally nails the CGI and it’s complete rubbish. I mean it’s literal trash. We open on a garbage planet, and its effects are pretty cool. I forget what it was called, but the trash cops (is it Chicago?) are after a trash boy and a trash girl.

The garbage pail kids are hiding in a tent reading a book. The boy tells the girl, “There are worlds out there with grass and clouds” and she’s all like, “Cor blimey”. Then he goes, “See this word? It’s ‘kiss’ and when you read it you’re supposed to kiss someone”. I’m not sure if the “Halo” writers know how creepy this is or if it’s their idea of sad Dickensian romance, but either way that’s not how reading works.

Or is that how they got this show made?

STEVEN KANE: Please read that part of the script out loud, Mr. Spielberg.

SPIELBERG: “And then Master Chief gave Cortana ten million dollars an episode and didn’t mind when the producers spent it all on Five Guys and renewed them for a second season anyway.” Guys, this script doesn’t even make–

KANE: You read it aloud!

SPIELBERG: What? Oh no, not again!

KANE: You read the words, now you gotta do it. That’s how reading works!

SPIELBERG: Aw, this is exactly how David Koepp roped me into “Crystal Skull”.

The trash cops (really doesn’t narrow it down) find the Children of the Trash and scream at them, “Get back to work” (is it an Amazon facility?) so there’s a chase and the kids don’t fare too well. Meanwhile the Covenant have dropped in, but the absolute garbage cops (I give up, could be anywhere) are more concerned with beating the kids than with the 10-foot tall aliens tromping up loudly behind them. It doesn’t communicate as this kind of commentary, I think it’s just shoddy editing of the two things happening at once, but hey – even a broke clock’s right twice a day.

Turns out this is all a flashback for that little girl, who is now Makee. She’s skedaddled around the edges of “Halo” so far, but I guess I haven’t talked about her yet. Makee is a unique human capable of activating ancient extraterrestrial technology, just like the wotsit Master Chief spent the last two episodes accidentally activating. She’s been raised by the Covenant expressly for this – wait, did you forget who the Covenant are? It’s cool, so did “Halo” for two episodes. Out of two.

(Behind? Read the ramblings for the first and second episodes of “Halo”.)

The Covenant are the bad CGI aliens Master Chief and the Spartans came in feet all aflutter to fight at the beginning of the first episode. Actually, their leaders have pretty good CGI. Must be a hierarchical thing; you gotta earn your render time.

The Covenant covertly covet the wotsit and like the UNSC, they love a good conference meeting. Last episode, Makee yelled at alien dad until he signed her field trip slip so she could go hunt the wotsit and do a murder to Master Chief…just as soon as she briefly undressed to show that Paramount Plus can be like HBO, too.

At least they’re equal opportunity – if you want to see Master Chief’s ass, this is your episode. What’s he doing in the buff? Trying to spur online convers– trying to dig out his emotion suppressor. Oh boy, this gets complicated.

Master Chief tries out for Titane.
Master Chief tries out for the Vincent Lindon role in “Titane”.

Natascha McElhone’s Dr. Halsey had a brilliant idea to clone herself to cut her conference meeting time in half, but instead she’s going to extract her clone’s brain and put it in Master Chief’s to help control him. As you do. “Halo” briefly shows the heights it could have reached if Natascha McElhone played every part when she talks to herself. McElclone’s all like, “You gonna drink my brain juice” and McElhone’s pretty Daniel Plainview about it.

Why extract a brain and inject it into another brain? Because that’s how you get more brain. Master Chief’s new brain is Cortana, a spunky manic pixie dream girl written like the unattainable classmate Malcolm in the Middle is gonna embarrass himself in front of by the end of the episode. Life is unfair.

Despite being implanted in Master Chief’s head, Cortana can appear as a hologram who everyone else also sees. This raises a lot of interesting ethical questions, like is Master Chief rigged with projectors now? Imma just assume he’s been converted into a walking home theater, which means you could feasibly watch “Halo” on Master Chief to punish him for making “Halo”.

Cortana’s also made to look like a younger version of Dr. Halsey for reasons that aren’t super totes Freudian. She’s played by Jen Taylor, who also played Cortana in the game series (no relation).

The stoic Master Chief becomes so explosive on meeting Cortana it feels like Gordon Ramsay being upset the brain juice isn’t minty fresh. He insists she’s not the boss of him now, so our hero decides to strip down, ask if they’re HBO yet, and plink his emotional suppressor out of his own spine. McElhone wants his drama so she’s into it, and she orders Cortana to help.

"Halo" TV series Cortana design.
Centuries in the future, CGI faces massive budget constraints.

How is our brand new, emotional Master Chef? He’s basically the same. Mostly just blinks more. He does like wandering the city taking in the sights and sounds while blinking at them. And a kid accidentally loses his ball at a concert so Master Chef gives it back to…the high school kid who’s only wandering around with a nondescript ball so we can have this scene.

Meanwhile, Makee’s being a lot more productive on her field trip. She’s already grand theft spaceshipped a UNSC cruiser, which is the level of awesome shit Master Chef is supposed to be doing, and she does it by using giant carnivorous worms. Huh. She’s clearly seen this series and wants it to get a move on.

Master Chef is like, “Do I give you your ball back? I’ve never had emotions before so despite being called the most coordinated supersoldier in history earlier this episode, apparently I don’t know how to fucking toss an object”, while Makee’s all, “You want your spaceship back? I filled it with a writhing mass of betoothed worms. Also laser knives come out of my fingers”.

At this point, it’s not a tough choice. I’m rooting for Makee and the Covenant. Kick Master Chef’s ass! Oh wait, is this what British people who like Jamie Oliver feel like?

Do we see the rhyming dictator this episode? Only in a few posters. He’s taken over Kwan Ha’s home planet of Madrigal. Having seen Master Chef negate all his decisions in the first two episodes and abandon the kid he spent all that time saving, Kwan Ha thinks, “That’s a good trick” and decides that after two episodes of begging to get away from Madrigal, she’s going to make it everyone’s problem to go back.

Why did we have the first two episodes if all the characters from the first two episodes are motivated by the impulse, “Oh man, those first two episodes were a mistake”? That was two hours of my life. For what? Why do– Oh… Oh no. They’re doing this to melt my brain. They melted her brain…and then they’re going to melt my brain…oh my god! (If you make me into a GPS, I’d like to use port and starboard instead of left and right, please.)

Where does this leave us? Despite the bad CGI, inconsistent editing, and lack of action in this action series, the biggest problem remains the writing. Master Chef’s dialogue comes off with the numb insistence of Ben Shapiro tweeting about how his wife definitely thinks he’s good in bed, don’t ask her, why would you check he already told you he just told you! Or as this phenomenon was termed when the scientific community first observed it in 2010: writing Scott Caan’s dialogue in “Hawaii Five-0”.

The episode ends with McElhone, Master Chef, and some people who have names but are probably just there to die next episode heading to Master Chef’s birth planet cause now he remembers he grew up burying magical alien wotsits with his family, which is…convenient.

McElhone offers some mustache-twirling moral equivocation which starts as dialogue she’s saying in the scene but must turn into a voiceover mid-sentence because she talks about using Cortana to neutralize Master Chef while he’s standing right next to her. He’s used his ears to listen to the things people in the same room say to him thus far, but I guess he decided that was overrated as soon as McElhone said, “Next item: murdering Master Chef”.

In summation: Makee wants to murder Master Chef, McElhone wants to replace his brain with McElhone Pixie Twee Girl, Master Chef doesn’t really seem to mind either way, and he’s such a nonentity at this point neither do I, in which case it seems like all the major parties are in agreement. I do have to admit that “Halo” has achieved some spectacular suspense so far: I have no idea whose ass we’ll get to see next episode.

You can watch “Halo” on Paramount Plus if you’ve already watched all the “Star Trek” on it and for some reason don’t just wanna do re-runs.

If you like this, buy me a coffee for my suffering.