Opinion: ‘Halo: The Series’ turns Master Chief into a meme

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in "Halo." (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+/TNS)

“Halo: The Series” began streaming on Paramount Plus last Thursday, but was less of an adaptation of the video game series and more of a show inspired by aspects of the games.

Episode one, “Contact,” focused on the Spartan super soldier Master Chief’s individualism and tried to flesh out a character that seemed different than the one fans may be more familiar with. 

The first episode had some great special effects and did not shy away from showcasing unique sci-fi elements from the games, including a fight scene in the first act that may hook fans. The scene strays from the familiar with its interpretation of Master Chief’s first encounter with the antagonists of Halo: the Covenant, a group of aliens fighting Master Chief for reasons that have yet to be revealed. 

If you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of the Master Chief collection, showing the story of how Master Chief earns the nickname “The Demon” from the Covenant, you’re going to have to hold your breath: this is not that show. 

Instead, “Halo: The Series” is a sci-fi show that is interesting enough to casually watch each week if you’re waiting for a new season of your favorite show or are a Halo fan looking for a laugh.

Minor spoiler alert and eye roll warning if you’re a Halo fan and haven’t watched the show yet:

The most notable deviation from the source material was when Master Chief removed his helmet for a full face reveal during the third act of the episode, which led to screenshots of Master Chief overreacting and left Twitter filled with memes until the next episode. 

Twitter was flooded with complaints about the face reveal, with many viewers saying it was a poor choice to do a face reveal in the first episode rather than lead up to it. Others said it makes Master Chief a joke, arguing that his identity was left to their imagination in the games, but now on Twitter it’s just a series of memes.

Much of the blame lies with showrunner Steven Kane, who publicly shared that the games were purposefully ignored during the process of creating the show at points, with creators instead focusing on a character-driven story.

While Kane may have butchered Master Chief’s reputation due to this decision, he did accomplish his goal of making a show that is character and world driven. With a majority of the characters receiving fleshed out backstories and worlds being shown in-depth, Kane makes a sci-fi that relies on distinct locations and interesting character dynamics to keep the story interesting. 

There are many homages to original games for the fans within the first episode alone, but the writers took many familiar game moves and moments and left behind the context of those moments.

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