‘Halo’ Season Finale: EP Talks [SPOILER]’s Death, Season 2 Plot & “Controversy” Around Master Chief’s Love Life

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details about the Halo season finale “Transcendence.” 

Halo bounces back from a conflicting moment with an action-packed finale that’s reminiscent of the games and sets a new path forward for John, Cortana, Halsey and more.

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Written by Steve Kane and Kyle Killen, “Transcendence” picks up after the brutal Spartan-on-Spartan battle. John (Pablo Schreiber), bloodied and bruised, stumbles around the rubble to reach Kai (Kate Kennedy) and search for Makee (Charlie Murphy). The Covenant spy and his one night stand escaped via Phantom with the artifact to the Covenant base.

Amid the chaos on Reach, Vannak (Bentley Kalu) threatens to kill Kai but John tells his fellow super soldiers about Halsey’s brainwashing, with the help of Captain Keyes (Danny Sapani). John convinces them to work with him to regain the artifact. Before they could leave for the Covenant, Kai pursues Halsey and demands details of her personal life and identity. Before she can get anything substantial, Halsey makes a quick exit through an escape pod. With that, the UNSC has yet another fugitive to hunt down.

John, Cortana (Jen Taylor), Miranda (Olive Gray) and Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) meet to talk strategy. They look to find the Covenant planet and John promises that Silver Team can make it to the planet. Parangosky supports John, but encourages him to set his personal feelings aside. Keyes apologizes to John for his complicity in Halsey’s experiments, but John promises a reckoning in the future. Silver Team boards the Forward Unto Dawn while some UNSC Marines detain who they think is Halsey after her pod crashes.

En route to the Covenant base, Cortana comes clean about Halsey’s plan to takeover John’s body completely. She explains that she disobeyed orders to save John’s humanity. After a turbulent journey, Silver Team reaches the Covenant base.

Back at Reach, Miranda sits down with her mother, and shares that the court has decided to execute Halsey. In the process of the execution, Miranda realizes that her mother left a clone in her place and that she continues to roam free.

Chief and his team face off with Covenant Grunts, picking up needlers and various Covenant weapons on the way to the artifact. During the Covenant ritual, Makee and John reconnect at the Halo, revealing Silver Team to Covenant forces. A horde of Elites emerges to fend off the Spartans in a battle that feels reminiscent of the games’ brute combat. Silver Team struggles to hold their own, with John failing to best Covenant forces. Makee manages to stop a fatal blow by touching the keystone, which which transports her and John back to the Halo. While trying to convince John to help her activate the Halo, Makee collapses after Kai shoots her. With Makee down, the starmap to the first Halo’s left incomplete.

Now, Chief must decide whether to save the artifact or his team members, who fight for their lives. He surrenders control to Cortana who will accomplish both. Master Chief, but not John, returns with renewed strength and impeccable killstreaks. He easily demolishes all the Covenant troops, with the help of Cortana remotely controlling the Forward. Without a word, he carries out the artifact.

Undetected by the UNSC, Halsey muses about the “unguided evolution” and the “true potential” of humankind on the outskirts of Reach. “I suspect the Halo will be the key,” she hypothesizes.

Master Chief steers back to Reach. But noticing a silent, seemingly emotionless and once again faceless Chief, Kai asks what viewers may be wondering as well: “John, is that you?”

Executive producer Kiki Wolfkill spoke to Deadline about Season 2, weighed in on the Episode 8 moment that left fans split and working with new Halo showrunner David Wiener. Read the full interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, below.

DEADLINE: It seems like you were saving one of the biggest battles for last with the Spartans really going head-to-head with Covenant forces. How did this finale come together?

WOLFKILL: We definitely wanted to end with a huge Spartan moment, and I think what we’ve seen through the season is this race to get to understanding where the Halo ring is. We understand that’s the thing that these artifacts are pointing towards and that’s the thing that the Covenant are trying to get to, and ultimately, we in UNSC understand that that’s the thing we want to get to as well. I felt it was inevitable we would get to this point where we would understand sort of the power of these artifacts together.

It was important for John and Cortana and their relationship, which in season one is quite new, to have that trust relationship solidified. It felt like there’s a lot of things we had been taking our time to get to through the season, and I think we always knew that they were all going to come together in this finale moment.

DEADLINE: What were some of the challenges, if any, of putting this massive battle together? Audiences saw Needlers, Covenant Grunts and a number of other easter eggs.

WOLFKILL: The thing that’s most important to start off with crafting any of these battle sequences is there’s still a story to be told. It’s not just action. There’s a story you want the audience to be able to follow through the actors of the whole battle.

Then, you layer on top of that the complexity of bringing these CG, the Covenant to life in a way that feels believable. The Spartan action, people probably think of as being easy because we’ve done it for so long in the games. Doing it in live action and doing it with real physical, practical armor in sand with real actors and stunt actors with pyro going off and blue screens – it’s madness. It’s literal madness.

The funnest part of that is the sights and sounds of Halo. The easter eggs, and how do you create a battle that somebody can watch and because they have such a visceral understanding of how it feels to play through a battle like that, how do you relay that feeling to a viewer when they don’t have the controller in their hand and have that same intensity and excitement? The thing about Halo is that you have such much muscle memory around it. Those battles are really, really insane to produce.

DEADLINE: The finale comes after a very intimate moment between John and Makee. The two sleep with each other in Episode 8 and that elicited a very strong reaction from Halo fans. What did you think about that reaction?

WOLFKILL: There was a lot of conversation leading up to whether to do that or not and it was a tough one. I mean, I will say that there’s a lot of different opinions and voices.

I will say from my perspective, having the audience getting to understand what it means for him to make sort of a human connection with someone, with Makee, was important. There’s a lot of different opinions on how to do that, and ultimately, we ended up with that path and I think a lot of us feel conflicted about it and that’s not a bad thing.

I think ultimately what we’ve been able to deliver on with this season is a Master Chief who is wholly the soldier, and hero, and leader that he has always been and we also leave the season with a character in John who is really a fully defined character. It’s super interesting to be able to see his journey, and you know, admittedly some controversy along the way in getting there.

My hope is that we can all sort of rise beyond that and sort of look at where we end up with Chief and with John going into season two. I believe really strongly that we have an amazing story to tell with him and we’ll continue to do so, and sometimes as we know with the Silver Timeline that it’ll be different than we’ve seen him before. But who he is as a character both as Master Chief and as John is wholly the same.

DEADLINE: What does the finale mean for Makee? Is that all we’ll see of her?

WOLFKILL: Kai is a good shot. That’s all I can say. I don’t think I’m allowed to spoil anything for season two yet.

DEADLINE: Missing from the finale were Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) and Kwan (Yerin Ha), who seemed to tie up their season plots in episode 7. Are they going to continue on separate roads? How do you see them reuniting with Chief, if they do?

WOLFKILL: I think if I’d had my way, which I wish I did all the time, we would have had more episodes in season one to kind of bring them all back together. I’ll also say that we do see this as a multi-season arc, and the universe is so big. In some ways, them finding their way back to each other down the road makes more sense because it’s not a small world if you will.

We’re still working on season two obviously from a script perspective. I will say we love all three characters – the Master Chief, Soren, and Kwan – and they all have such an interesting dynamic together. To me, that’s something that I would love to see more of.

DEADLINE: Season 1 was like an origin story in that it delved into John’s past pre-Spartan life, how might that approach carry over to Season 2? In the finale, the very last scene, John goes back to the quiet, emotionless Master Chief.

WOLFKILL: It’s so funny because as a character he’s not as far away as it can sometimes feel from the Chief we know from the games. We’re just seeing different situations and scenarios with him. What’s important for season two is that  John continues to grow and evolve and his understanding and his role as Master Chief should continue to grow and evolve. He should continue to be a bad-ass Spartan, but I also think that there is sort of a journey he’s still on as a person in the suit, which ultimately, the idea is that that’s part of what makes him such an extraordinary soldier as well.

We see him in game continuity sort of farther in the future than where we sit with the show right now. I will add that part of who Master Chief is sort of the things that you don’t see in the games with John and the man inside the armor. I think that’s something that we definitely want to continue to explore in season two.

DEADLINE:  In the finale, Cortana finally takes over Master Chief. We’re most likely going to see Pablo’s face again in Season 2, right? Or is that helmet stuck on?

We’ll definitely see Pablo’s face.

DEADLINE: It wasn’t just John learning about himself. We had Kai have such an arc in her self-discovery, and at the very end of episode all the other Spartans learn about what Halsey did to them. How will that continue into season two?

WOLFKILL: There’s such a rich story, right, in the Spartan origins and Halsey herself and it’s a super interesting way to understand it and learn about it through their eyes. Halsey and the Spartans, they are a family, and Cortana. Then sort of separately Keyes and Miranda, but there is a dynamic with all of them, and I think that’s still rich soil to stay into because Halsey created them and we all have complex relationships with our families. We also know each other better than anybody else does, and so, I think that sort of unique dynamic is something we’ll continue to explore.

DEADLINE: David Wiener is set as showrunner for Season 2. What initial conversations have you had with him about where exactly you want season two to go?

WOLFKILL: I’m really excited to have David on board and I think with season one there was so much to pull together. How do we kind of figure out the right kind of Halo story to tell? How do we navigate ultimately what became the Silver Timeline? How do we navigate audience expectation from playing the game as well as just sort of bringing the universe to life? I boil it all down to we learned how to make a Halo show. Now we can really, really dig into and start to fine tune and bring in other universe elements. We have done a lot of grittier, more military feel Halo pieces in the past and Halo elements. All of those are part of our DNA.

I think we have a little bit of a stronger footing because we have a season under us, and we can really start to explore. David is really a brilliant writer and I feel like we’re so well aligned on the aspects of the universe that we want to explore and some of the tone.

DEADLINE: Pablo previously said that you guys are set to start shooting Season 2 this summer in Budapest. Is that still the timeline?

WOLFKILL: Generally, we’re on a good path. The crew is together, and we have so much of our crew from season one, which is amazing because I can’t begin to express what a talented and passionate crew it was. We have some new folks who have come on board beyond David that I’m really excited about, and we’re pretty deep in it. So, we’re definitely going to be shooting. I’m just going to say before too long, but I’ll say we’re on a path.

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