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Halo - Unbound - Review

So Master Chief and Kwan's intergalactic road trip didn't go on for quite as long as I was expecting.

There are some interesting themes forming around the concept of trust. The other Spartans trust Master Chief has a plan, Soren begs him to trust him over Halsey in both the past and the present but in the end, Master Chief still decides to run back to her, believing she is the only person who can help. 

Perhaps it's to do with the memories Halsey so mysteriously suppressed but I think it's also to do with his inherent values. She asks him why he ran from the UNSC with Kwan, telling him he's supposed to be a symbol for the people to protect them from the Covenant threat but that's exactly what he did with Kwan and that's exactly what he's doing when he returns to UNSC with the Covenant artefact. 

We learn a few more hints about what the artefact is meant to be used for in this episode as well with the Covenant mentioning the eponymous Halo ring (though the word Halo isn't explicitly used) as well as referring to keystones that can be used to activate it. 

Makee implores the Covenant council - if that's what they are - to let her go and find the keystone, arguing that she will be more conspicuous due to her human heritage. I'm wondering if at least part of her motivation is because of a secret wish to be around the culture of her species, another indication of her fascination with human culture which mirrors the struggle Master Chief is going through as he's subjected to more of his memories due to the artefact. It's interesting that both have people in their life who discourage any talk of their past.

The strongest part of this episode for me is Soren, an instant hit with his charismatic nature as he represents everything Master Chief has either run from or lacked in his life - namely freedom and emotion. He looked genuinely flummoxed at the idea of Soren having a family after all. At the moment, he feels like both the end goal of Master Chief's overall arc as well as an unattainable future that he could never hope to have. 

I'm looking forward to where Kwan's story goes from here as well. Burn Gorman is delivering a chilling turn as the villainous Vinsher Grath who has taken over Madrigal after the massacre in the last episode, essentially destroying everything Kwan's father stood for. In a show so deeply rooted in the effects of the past on the characters in the present, Kwan's fight for her father's legacy will hopefully provide a compelling look into the tensions the UNSC stirs in its wake. I'm definitely more invested in her story than the Covenant artefact one at the moment. 

But despite the insidious threat Garth poses, he doesn't hold a candle to the horrific implications of Halsey's proposed plan to replace Spartan consciousness with the Cortana AI to make more effective soldiers. It makes it crystal clear to us - and Soren - that she doesn't actually care for the Spartans beyond what they're capable of and what they can do for the war effort. 

There is, however, a hint dropped by a woman on the UNSC council regarding Halsey's papers theorising about the integration of an AI with a human mind, allowing for co-existence. I have a very strong feeling that because of Master Chief's connection with the alien artefact, if Halsey ever tries to wipe his mind to put Cortana in its place that he will instead achive co-habitation with the AI, saving him from effectively being wiped from existence.

Once again, Halo has delivered a steady episode of adventure that leans into the relationships between characters and plants the seeds for some good development especially concerning Master Chief and his relationship with Soren and the other Spartans. Hopefully, the next episode digs into the latter dyanmic more as I think they could turn out to be crucial allies.

What did you think of the episode? Did you like Soren's introduction? What about the unethical implications of Halsey's clone Cortana project? Sound off in the comments below!

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