Halo, the live-action series based on the tentpole Xbox video game franchise from Paramount Plus, has been slow-moving. Not only that, I’ve found myself wondering how all the story threads connect and when the series would bring back the gameplay-inspired action we got in Episode 1 —you know, the stuff that made me excited to see this iconic video game brought to life. Now with Halo Episode 5, titled “Reckoning,” we get everything I’ve been wanting from the series.
Last episode, we got to see John’s impact of removing his emotion inhibitor in Episode 3 with Kai beginning her own journey of self-discovery sans-inhibitor. Kwan Ha got to return to her home planet with Soren only to realize that everyone has given up on her father’s dream of freedom. But most importantly John was back at his home and unlocking memories that led the UNSC to the location of the second artifact. In Halo Episode 5 however, the revelations that John discovered back at home impact the relationships around him and changes how he views the world he was pulled into.
Thankfully Halo Episode 5 is light on b-plot. While we do get to see a little of Kwan and Soren on the run on Madrigal, it’s not the focus of the episode, and man, does that work in its favor. Instead, we get to see Makee’s story collide with Johns as her search for the artifact leads her and the Covenant she controls directly the artifact and the UNSC team. Here, there are two elements at work in the story. The first is a tension built up between John and Halsey as he discovers new secrets, well lies, that he was told as a Spartan. The second is the physical danger John finds himself in as he has to protect his team and finish his mission.
For what its worth, I hadn’t entirely checked out of Halo, though I was getting close. That said, the final act of Halo Episode 5 has me buckled in and waiting for the next half of the series. Now slightly over the halfway point, the stakes have been raised and the series has embraced the sci-fi action that hooked me in Episode 1. In fact, if Halo video game fans wanted to see the game they love on screen, this episode’s battle is it.
Not only do we see a variety of weapons, Warthog fighting, and UI that puts you back into the franchise’s HUD, we also get enemies that we haven’t seen in the live-action before. Additionally, the way Cortana is integrated into the battle works perfectly to both immerse you and John into the scene. Particularly at the beginning of the battle, Cortana is instructing John on when to switch to his secondary, to which he responds “I know how the play the game.” It’s small, it’s a little camp, but hey, I appreciated it. Particularly because while the series is doing something drastically different than the storytelling we’ve gotten in the games, it is keeping the combat intact. As an action fan and a Halo fan, I appreciate it.
My only issue with Halo Episode 5 is one that has been brewing since Episode 2. No, I have no problem with Master Chief revealing his face. I get why he does so narratively and from a series perspective. Also, I completely buy into Schrieber as Master Chief and John, both with and without the helmet. That said, the helmet removal seems to happen abruptly in scenes. Instead of feeling like a natural thing that John is doing, it feels like the showrunners don’t trust Schrieber to deliver emotion while in the helmet and it ultimately disrupts the flow of the episode. In fact, it makes the helmet feel like an obligation for the series instead of a part of the character.
That said Halo Episode 5 has me invested in the series again and delivers pay-off on at least one storyline I questioning. With action that works and nods to the game that made me happy, this is my favorite episode to date for the series and I can’t wait to tune in next week.
Halo Episode 5 — "Reckoning"
- Rating - 8/108/10
Halo Episode 5 has me invested in the series again and delivers pay-off on at least one storyline I questioning. With action that works and nods to the game that made me happy, this is my favorite episode to date for the series and I can’t wait to tune in next week.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.