Halo season 1 ended with a final battle against the Covenant – but its Master Chief and Cortana twist betrayed the original Halo games.
This article contains spoilers for halo episode 9.
One scene from Halo Infinite shows how the halo TV series failed in its handling of the relationship between the Master Chief and Cortana. Many viewers were surprised by Cortana’s origin in the halo TV series, which revealed the smart AI was created from a flash-clone of Dr. Catherine Halsey herself. This is, however, actually canon to the game timeline – although one major element of Cortana’s story was rewritten substantially.
halo introduced a degree of conflict between Cortana and the Master Chief. in the games, Cortana was installed in the Master Chief’s armor; in the halo Paramount+ TV series, each chip was implanted in John-117’s brain. Dr. Halsey planned for Cortana to expand and take over the Master Chief’s mind, believing that by doing so she would create the ultimate super-soldier – a man with all the enhanced skills of a Spartan and the intelligence of Cortana. halo episode 9 saw Cortana forced to fulfil her programming to ensure Silver Team survived a confrontation with the Covenant on Aspero. the halo season 1 ending appeared to suggest Dr. Halsey was right; the combined power of the Master Chief and Cortana truly made them a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately, this very idea works against everything the relationship between the Master Chief and Cortana is supposed to stand for. That’s perfectly symbolized by a crucial cut-scene in Halo: Infinite, in which the Master Chief remembered his introduction to the smart AI in the main timeline. Dr. Halsey explained that Cortana would reside “between” the Master Chief’s mind and his Mjolnir armor, directly communicating with his neural interface. “Think of her as a new set of eyes to aid your reactions and upgrade your reconnaissance,“she observed.”She is not the driver but a way to level the playing field.” in the main halo timeline, it is the cooperation between Cortana and the Master Chief – the synergy between two individuals working together – that makes them so formidable.
The Master Chief’s improved combat performance under Cortana’s control feels at odds with this idea, as though the halo TV series considers humanity to be a weakness in a soldier rather than a benefit. All the things that make the Master Chief who he is-his combat instincts, his skills, his luck-are dismissed in the face of greater efficiency and processing power when Cortana is in charge. It’s hard to think of a greater betrayal of the halo franchise’s core concept – that the Master Chief is himself the ultimate soldier, humanity’s last line of defense.
hopefully halo season 2 will correct this. The new status quo cannot last, simply because the erasing of the Master Chief’s own brain pattern means he is now unable to use the Keystones to locate the Halo Rings both the UNSC and the Covenant believe are key to winning the war. The thematic damage has been done in halo season 1 – but it must be undone.
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