This Halo article contains spoilers.

At long last, Master Chief has arrived at his destination. It wasn’t a fake out, it didn’t end in an annoying rug pull at the last minute. John-117, Cortana, and unfortunately Makee have landed on the Halo ring. The next phase of the story is truly ready to begin! It took Halo two seasons to get to the events of the game it’s based on, but it did so in rip-roaring fashion in a finale full of twists and turns and…lots of death. In fact, the Halo season two finale basically clears the board of most non-essential secondary characters as it moves to its new ringworld setting. Even the manipulative Admiral Parangosky meets her demise in shocking fashion.

But despite the vast improvements this second season has made to the series as a whole, its finale also makes one questionable storytelling choice by introducing the Flood parasite much earlier than expected. The episode basically turns into a space sci-fi version of Resident Evil once the parasite gets loose in ONI, with Soren and the gang having to shoot their way out of the base before they’re infected. While it’s cool to see Flood tentacles sprouting out of their infected human hosts and stalking the dark hallways of the base, the sequences also feel devoid of the tension and shock that made the introduction of the Flood in the original game so great. In fact, the TV version of the reveal feels a bit ordinary by comparison. You could hardly call it an improvement.

If you’ll recall, the arrival of the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved remains one of the best twists in gaming history. About midway through Combat Evolved, Cortana learns a terrible secret about the Halo ring and sends Master Chief on a mission to stop Captain Keyes from unlocking what the UNSC officer believes is a weapons cache.

The tension builds as Master Chief makes his way through an eerie Halo structure littered with Covenant corpses, although it’s unclear who killed them. Chief hears creepy noises in the hallways and encounters a crazed Marine who shoots at Master Chief when he approaches, screaming that he won’t allow himself to be “turned into one of those things.” It’s becoming increasingly clear that this sci-fi shooter you’ve been playing for hours now is about to mutate into something else: a horror story.

Then John enters a room littered with dead, dismembered Marines, their blood smeared on the walls around you. It’s there that Chief finds the recording that reveals the terrible truth: Keyes and his men encountered something much more horrifying than Covenant forces at this site, which is actually a containment area and not a weapons cache at all. In the agonizing final seconds of the recording, you watch as the Marines are swarmed by a horde of creatures unlike any you’ve faced so far. And it’s just after you learn the fate of Keyes’ men that the game gives you back the controls and sends the Flood your way.

While the game’s dated graphics perhaps dulls the reveal a bit in 2024, it was terrifying stuff on the original Xbox in 2001. The Flood storyline doesn’t let up from there either, essentially turning everything you thought you knew about the Halo ring on its head. It becomes the real thrust of the second half of the story, as Master Chief first works with AI frenemy 343 Guilty Spark to activate the Halo ring and then later to stop the ring from firing and wiping out all sentient life in the galaxy. Along the way, you have to fight your way through increasingly bigger parasite hordes, including one level that essentially leaves you in the dark except for the light of your flashlight and the flying AI guiding you through the map.

There are of course hints in the Halo season 2 finale that we’ll still get to see a version of the Master Chief and Guilty Spark stuff on the show and that the Flood is still waiting in the depths of the Silver Timeline‘s version of the ring.

“I’m glad you’re here, although I knew you would be,” Guilty Spark tells John in the final seconds of the finale. “It’s awake because you are here. You are here because it is awake. It’s been down there all this time, waiting to meet you in the dark. I’ll be watching.”

We know what’s down there, but something’s been lost by letting the Flood loose so soon beyond the confines of the ringworld. An outbreak on Onyx means that no matter what Chief and Cortana do on the ring, the Flood’s already escaped and is spreading, robbing us of the frantic third-act race against time that the game did so well. Even if we always knew it was coming, the heightened tension as the characters inched closer to that terrible discovery could have potentially made for some great sci-fi horror TV. Instead, we got a pretty paint-by-the-numbers base under siege sequence that I’ve seen on The Walking Dead countless times.

Credit where credit is due, of course. The creative team attempted the unexpected by bringing in the Flood much earlier, and there’s something to be said about an adaptation pulling off a big twist in a way that surprises longtime fans of the source material. But this wasn’t it. The TV series has deviated from the games so often, and made so many underwhelming changes to this world and its characters, that it’s difficult not to feel disappointed about the show skipping one of the game’s best moments.

Still, now that we’re finally on the Halo ring, I’m hopeful that a third season will truly kick things off.

Halo is streaming now on Paramount+.

The post Halo Season 2 Episode 8 Wastes One of the Best Parts of the Game appeared first on Den of Geek.

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