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Halo Episode One – Contact – Impressions

Having recently set up the Paramount Plus app on my Samsung TV, I was browsing the TV shows last night and was reminded that the first episode of the Halo TV series had just launched a couple of hours earlier. I was super excited being a fan of the game series, my wife though, not so much. Being the awesome wife she is, we watched it together and both enjoyed it. I kept pointing out all of the game references, quickly explaining what they meant, while my wife nodded and went back to checking her work laptop. The first episode’s description states:

“In the year 2552, humans on the planet Madrigal have been fighting for independence from Earth, but a fatal encounter with the Alien Covenant changes everything.”

Image courtesy of Paramount

It is clear from the opening scenes that the colonists have a hatred of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and fear of the Spartans who are super soldiers. A group of young colonists are off playing beyond the settlement when one of the central characters in this episode, a young girl named Kwan Ha (played by Yerin Ha), notices a strange ship as well as gunfire sounds coming from a cave. She runs back to tell her friends, but gunfire erupts amongst them. It’s here where some gruesome scenes occur which I found jarring at first. In the Halo games, you’re always blowing up the aliens but when marines are shot and killed, the characters just ragdoll and lie on the ground. In this TV show, there is full on blood splatters and limbs blasted off which I wasn’t prepared for. I adjusted quickly, but it was certainly different from playing the games.

The first time we see the Covenant aliens, I was impressed at their level of detail and later close-up shots show the incredible animation work. The Covenant start attacking the colony and when hope starts dwindling, we see a UNSC ship fly in and the spartans do a hero landing, with the instantly recognisable number 117 on the chest plate of the one and only Master Chief (played by Pablo Schreiber). Hearing Schreiber’s version of Master Chief’s mechanised voice for the first time was jarring and I missed the iconic voice of Steve Downes, but I knew this going into the show and you get used to it.

Image courtesy of Paramount

Using their advanced weaponry and melee attacks to take out the Covenant, there were a couple of moments that had me whooping with delight. One was seeing a spartan pick up a Covenant’s plasma rifle and kills them with it. It was also very cool to see the energy sword for the first time, which was used with lethal result in these first combat scenes. The other was when the combat flashed briefly into Master Chief’s field of view in first-person, and as he was getting shot, the iconic sound of his shields failing, then whirring back up to capacity. “That’s just like the game,” I would excitedly say to my wife. There were numerous moments for me where I thought they got it right and were faithful to the games.

Remembering this is only the first episode, I think if you have never played a Halo game and know nothing about the epic series, you will likely miss a lot of the references and connection between the characters. The show does it’s best to represent these, such as Dr Halsey’s relationship with Master Chief and the spartans of Team Silver, which causes a stir amongst the UNSC leadership as the episode progresses. Dr Halsey was instantly recognisable with her white lab coat and the blue glow of the screens around her.

Image courtesy of Paramount

My first reaction when the 59-minute episode wrapped up was, “that was awesome!” My wife’s reaction, “it wasn’t too bad. It’s a very boy show and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of story yet.” I am super keen to see how the series progresses and will now settle into a Thursday night ritual for the next eight weeks. If you haven’t signed up to Paramount+ yet, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will be able to stream Halo through an exclusive offer of Paramount+ for 30 days free via Perks, available to claim now.