“John takes Kwan to an old friend and learns more about the mystery object, which the Covenant and Makee are determined to steal. With the alien threat growing, Dr. Halsey has a plan to deal with John’s unpredictable behavior.”
Here we are again. It has been a minute. Safe to say, I was happy for the refresher at the start of the second episode. Halo‘s follow-up to its fairly positive but wobbly optimistic premiere is titled Unbound, and that is going to be the first problem when we get to the end of it.
Let’s just get this out of the way now. This episode was not strong. It was boring for the majority of the time and the world building that was done seemed dragged down by an attempt to humanize Master Chief. We are introduced to a new landscape and a new character, but the sprinkles of freshness can’t cover-up and middling viewing experience.
Unbound begins with a flashback of a young Master Chief in Spartan training. He is sneaking around the compound and meeting with a friend of his, Soren. John’s buddy is in his Spartan gear ready to get out of this lifestyle, but John himself can’t bring himself to leave. There is a conversation between the two that all centers around the idea of training vs. programming. Soren wants to have the freedom to do what he wants, but John has the dedication to finish the process he has started. John lets Soren, but only gives him a five minute head start before alarming the proper authorities. It is a clear sign that Master Chief is dedicated to what the UNSC are putting him through.
Now we are back in the present and John is steering himself and Kwan through an astroid field on the way to a place called The Rubble. Kwan is asking a ton of questions and Jon does not have all the answers. He has his own questions about this artifact that he found on Madrigal, and he is hoping that The Rubble will bring him answers. This Mos Eisley feeling place is filled with bandits that all don’t trust a Spartan in uniform, but the tension is dismissed when Soren emerges from the shadows and speaks to the crowd. Even after all this time, John still trusts Soren even through their values shifted. It is a relationship that is not two-dimensional.
Let’s take a quick detour off The Rubble. We return to Planet Reach and doctor Halsey is talking with Fleet Admiral Hood about the Master Chief scenario. Halsey mentions this abstract object from Madrigal that Master Chief escaped with and Hood notes how they can not lose the moral and militaristic leader that is Master Chief. There is an alliance between these two figures. They share the same mind set. This handshake relationship grows larger later in the episode when everyone important on Planet Reach is in a board room getting a run-down of important events. We learn how and why Vinsher Grath is the new leader of Madrigal, but more importantly we see that the Master Chief problem has the room divided. There are questions of trust and whether or not Master Chief can be controlled. As the arguments are beginning to get more vocal, Dr. Halsey speaks up (with the blessing of Admiral Hood) and says that she has a solution…and that solution is an bit of artificial intelligence that can help control the thoughts of Spartans.
COUGH, COUGH. They are talking about Cortana.
There are two important underlying things to point out about Halsey’s AI pitch. Firstly, Halsey is speaking so openly about Cortana despite being told directly by Admiral Margaret Parangosky that she was not too. Secondly, there are members of this board that note how this type of technology can only be completed by doing some illegal cloning/science practices…and Hood saves the doctor from answering by diverting attention away. Halsey is someone who is not bound by the regulations set forth, and that makes her dangerous and unpredictable.
Leaving Planet Reach and heading to High Charity, we are reintroduced to The Covenant and Makee. The female human working with The Covenant learns from the survivor of the the violence on Madrigal that Master Chief is one of the few select individuals who can activate the power of the ancient artifact found there. There are talks between Makee and The Covenant leaders about how to handle this news, and Makee gets her way. She will be infiltrating the humans in an attempt to get this relic. We will be getting a Makee and Master Chief somehow, someway, in the future.
Alright, now we get back to The Rubble. Soren has invited Kwan and John for dinner at his place. It is a shocking revelation to our hero that Soren not only is married to Laera, but that they also have a child. Have to point out here that Laera seems to be much more high class than Soren…or least she is more high fashion. She has the vibrant colors where everyone else is muted. It is a choice, and one that I not completely understand. It also should be noted that Soren has mentioned John to Laera before.
There are many a conversations happening in the residence of Soren. Laera is talking with Kwan about the difference between justice and revenge and how those things can be different. Soren is telling John about how his trusted people in the UNSC are actually preventing him from reaching his emotional ceiling by forcing him to take hormonal neutralizers. Both Kawn and John are in search for what to do next with their original belief system faltering around them.
In the midst of all this emotional fallout and therapy sessions, John and company are looking for answers on this ancient relic with mystifying power. Soren recommends that they go see this man called Reth, who is one of a few to get captured by The Covenant and survived. Reth is a wild card. He lives in what looks like a prison but rather is a containment facility for those who are a bit unhinged. John is skeptical when he first enters Reth’s caged domain, but soon he becomes deeply interested.
Reth sees the artifact that John is lugging around and immediately has a drastic reaction. There are important questions raised:
- What is a Blessed one?
- Why is John supposedly a blessed one?
- The Covenant have a Blessed one (we learned this…it is Makee), but how is John different?
- What type of weapon is this artifact? Or part of a weapon? What is the full picture?
- There is this quote: “Destroy the artifact, then destroy yourself.” which is a darker quote than the rest of the show emulates
This part with Reth giving out some exposition on The Covenant, the Blessed Ones, the artifact, the weapon and the stakes is easily the best part of the episode. Part of the credit has to go to Johann Myers for playing the craziness and zaniness factor up big time. When he slammed the object into John’s hand, that was a nice little moment that I didn’t see coming and it was a drastic cause and effect in his behavior.
So with all this new knowledge, but a lot of new questions, John decides that he knows what he must do. He storms out of Reth’s confines and is making his way towards the exit of this particular astroid belt. He needs to return home to Planet Reach because it is his duty to ensure that this weapon does not get into The Covenant’s hands. He exclaims to Soren how he has seen what Covenant weapons can do, so if this weapon is as dangerous as Reth says, then nobody should get their hands on it.
Before John leaves The Rubble, he does ask Soren to watch Kwan. He obliges, and this is for sure not the last time that we see John, Soren and Kwan together.
THIS IS WHERE THE EPISODE SHOULD HAVE ENDED. WHY IS JOHN RETURNING TO HIS HOME (WHICH MAY VERY WELL HAVE BEEN MANIPULATING HIM, HIS MEMORIES AND HIS EMOTIONS) WHEN THE TITLE OF THE EPISODE IS UNBOUND? IT MAKES NO SENSE!
So John turns himself into the UNSC. There are the dramatic shots of him being escorted in handcuffs and Halsey acting gleefully and seeing the artifact now in front of her. Can she be trusted with it? Probably not. We should note that Miranda Keys was complaining to Admiral Parangosky that Halsey gets too much leeway and is taking away projects from certain departments.
Halsey doesn’t seem bothered when she walks into the detention room that John is being held in. She is super duper relaxed and her Spartan is explaining what happened…that is until John mentioned the memories he has been having again. Halsey drastically changed the subject, and if John’s antennas aren’t raised, then he needs to get his head checked. John admits that he “is different” and the major question is whether or not Halsey will let him be that way.
The ending of the episode is Halsey awakening her secret project that she accomplished via shady means. Cortana is coming.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND / RANDOM THOUGHTS
- In the opening scene between young John and Soren, John mentions that he has not dreaming anymore which is a call back to episode one.
- The spaceship zipping through space reminds me about hyperspace from Star Wars. I did like the yarn talk that John was explaining it.
- WHY THE HELL ARE WE STILL DOING THIS CUT TO BLACK THING? Why are we making this show like it is on basic cable with built in breaks? I hate this and it genuinely is messing with my viewing experience.
- The look of Burn Gorman is perfect for a villain. Him playing Vinsher Grath is the best casting thus far.
- I have enjoyed the politics more on High Charity. I want to know more about what The Covenant want. Why do they have Makee? Why do they want the weapon?
- Why did we not end the episode on Master Chief leaving The Rubble? The extra add on 10 minutes of him going back to Planet Reach seemed unnecessary for the story of this episode.
- Kwan is super pissed that Vinsher is ruling Madrigal and that it is back under UNSC rule. That will be something that will addressed.
- I enjoyed the first episode way more than this. Without the action to keep the seams glued together, my interest in the show wains.
- John says that he returned to the UNSC because there is “no one else I can trust.” JOHN, NOT A SMART TAKE BUD.
- Will the smiley face on John’s hand still be present in later episodes to remind him of his humanity and his choice to be an individual?
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