The third episode of the Paramount+ Halo series, “Emergence,” further worked to continue laying the foundation from the previous two episodes.
The big takeaway from this episode is that we finally get a first look at Cortana, but it also digs into the backstory of Makee.
At its open, we get a flashback of an oppressed society on Oban trying to survive the world of slave labor. Makee is listening to her friend read a book as chaos reigns around them. It’s a strange sense of a kind, childhood friendship/relationship that is blossoming in exactly its opposite. As most shows go, one of them dies and the other must live on without. In this instance, the Covenant take Makee. The showrunners are clearly trying to humanize a villain, and doing a more than adequate job at that.
In the present, however, we know Makee is fully embedded within the Covenant. In this episode, we truly see her villainous undertones rise to the surface. Makee infiltrates a UNSC Corvette and murders everyone on board with Lekgolos, aka alien snakes. Her turn from acting innocent to the UNSC to down right murdering a moment later was quite the shock. The whole scene further juxtaposed the killing done by the UNSC (the “good guys”) and killing done by the Covenant. I love the contrast they are playing with by one set of scenes being heroic and the other horrific.
Until now, we really had little reason to care about Makee. These scenes, of which she probably comprised a little less than half the run time of the episode, did wonders for creating a relatable, yet terrifying villain. I’m still uncertain of what her end game could be, but I am jonesing for her face off with Master Chief.
Cortana + John’s Homecoming
The moment we’ve all been waiting for. This was the pivotal episode where we were introduced to John’s AI, Cortana. Again, my experience with the Halo lore really stems from that of The Weapon in Halo Infinite. Just hearing Jen Taylor’s voice and mannerisms was… somewhat comforting? Her acting was tremendous and provided a new wrinkle to the show. There wasn’t any levity to any situations prior to her creation, but her dry humor really filled that gap. Visually it is very close to what I’d have hoped for, but I do wish her colors contrasted with the environment more than they did. The big question now turns to how Halsey is going to leverage the AI planted in John’s consciousness. If Halsey is anything, she is always at least two steps ahead.
I also really enjoyed John’s scenes throughout, especially when he had visions after touching the artifact. Digging into John’s backstory could provide some interesting moments highlighting the fracture between his duty and his service. This is only enhanced since he dug out the emotion-suppressing chip in his spine. Will John become more distant to UNSC than he already is?
Kwan Ha’s Short Scenes
I’d be remiss not to discuss Kwan Ha’s continuing storyline, but it just really hasn’t had much movement. Her few scenes did help to further convey her warrior spirit and love for Madrigal, but her interactions with Soren were just kind of there. I do believe that her plotline will accelerate once reaching Madrigal, but right now it is clearly playing second fiddle.
This episode, while light on traditional action, did a great job of working through characters in different areas of their lives. John is experiencing his past, Makee is getting closer and closer to the Artifact and Cortana begins to play a pivotal part in the Halo Universe.