Halo Season 2 Review: The Stakes Are High in The Fall Of Reach The Nerdy Basement

‘Halo’ Season 2 Review: Stakes Are High In The Fall Of Reach

It comes to the surprise of many that Halo Season 2 looks much better and feels much more like the Halo video game than its freshman season. It’s apparent that Showtime and Paramount, along with the new series showrunner David Weiner, have taken all of season one’s critiques, both critical and constructive, back to the drawing board to bring to live-action one of Halo’s most tragic stories, The Fall of Reach. One of the biggest critiques of Halo Season 1 was that the series did not fully look or feel like the source material it was adapting.

While the Spartans looked and felt like the Spartans you play in the Halo video game, the Covenant didn’t fully compare and the series followed a character that was created just for the series, Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), who took the main character role and followed her ventures alongside Master Chief rather than putting Master Chief and the Silver Team front and center in the fight against the Covenant. Season 2 changes that and makes the Master Chief/John-117 and the Silver Team the central figures in the sophomore season.

I hate to be one of those people who is happy that a specific character is not as prominent as they were in the previous season, I’m directly speaking about Kwan Ha here. But I’m really glad that Kwan Ha has taken a back seat this season. This isn’t to say that she isn’t in the show or the sort but she was the driving force in season one, this time around she isn’t. She is there and she has something to do, and there’s a nice change in character that is quite welcoming and I’m hoping that the new showrunners and writers can make her a character that by the end of the season is very much liked and one fans can ultimately root for.

Halo Season 2 Review: The Stakes Are High in The Fall Of Reach The Nerdy Basement
L-R Kate Kennedy as Kai, Bentley Kalu as Vannak, Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief and Natasha Culzac as Riz in Halo episode 1, season 2 streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

In addition, the previous showrunners went on to reveal that they did not look at the source material, both video games and companion novels when it came to adapting the series, this was palpable throughout its first season run. Add to the fact that the Master Chief constantly removed his helmet and was involved both sexually and romantically with Makee (Charlie Murphy), the enemy, which led to fans dubbing him Master Cheeks…needless to say, season one of Halo was indeed a mixed bag.

How does that all fair out in Halo Season 2? I can confirm that after watching the first four episodes of the second season, almost every minute of these first batch of episodes was worthwhile. There is clear attention to improvement in storytelling, character arcs and development, and the overall look and feel of the series compared to the first season. This time around the series feels like it’s adapting the source material and faithfully, despite some obvious deviations.

Picking up six months after the season one finale, John-117 is now without Cortana. The Spartans are now going planet to planet trying to save as many lives as possible before the Covenant arrives on said planet to glass it. The Covenant is now a much bigger threat than they were back in Halo Season 1. And a failed search and rescue mission leaves a heap of Marines dead with the Spartans narrowly escaping with their lives.

Halo Season 2 Review: The Stakes Are High in The Fall Of Reach The Nerdy Basement
L-R Kate Kennedy as Kai and Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 3, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+ 2024. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Amid this battle, John-117 feels that he sees his former love interest Makee, commanding the Covenant before sparing his life. Reeling from this John-117 accepts the fact that the Covenant is about to change the tides of the war and risks everything he’s fought for to prove this fact, although to no avail. Not until the Covenant arrives on Reach. Season 2 of Halo, at least these first four episodes, really focuses on the Spartans as humans rather than the super soldiers underneath. Especially the Master Chief/John-117 which sees star Pablo Schreiber leading with a commanding aura.

There’s a clear undertone for the exploration of faith and belief. What is it that we all hold dear, what are we willing to do to protect all that we love and fight for, and how much we are willing to risk to protect it? This isn’t just explored through John-117, this is also explored through Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) as well who has a rather interesting story arc this time around. Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) and Vannak-134 (Bently Kalu) sort of take a back seat for the moment but I’m hoping there’s more to their respective arcs this season. However, the biggest gripe remains which is having these Spartans out of their suits and helmets.

Although I commend the series for removing the helmet and gear to humanize these characters in a better way than they were humanized back in season one. I can also commend the series this time around for showing the duality of these Spartans. There is clear attention to detail when we see the human character underneath the suit which provides room for relatability, understanding, and empathy; and then there’s the Spartan in action that we all watch this series for, and when we see them in their suits fighting on the battlefield it is a joy to see.

Halo Season 2 Review: The Stakes Are High in The Fall Of Reach The Nerdy Basement
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo episode 1, Season 2, Streaming on Paramount+ 2024. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

I have very few gripes with this second season of Halo so far. The production quality has improved vastly, and the character arcs have improved immensely. The action sequences are heavy and feel like they have dire consequences this time around, something season one lacked despite some big action-filled episodes that shift things for the latter half of the first season, and the stakes this time around are high and there’s a palpable sense of desperation. Seeing Reach as a whole have their backs against the wall and on the brink of losing it all drives the point home for the story this season is adapting.

Halo Season 2 breathes new life into a series that lost all fuel during its freshman season. It is a noticeable improvement from season one with very minor hiccups along the way. The stakes are high, the characters feel more real (even if they’re outside of their suits) and the shift in power dynamic paves the way for a season that is sure to please Halo fans of both the games and the novels. Whether you are now venturing into the world of Halo for the first time or revisiting to see if things improved after the first season, I think everyone is in for a treat this time around. It takes some time for things to build up but the payoff is worth it and I couldn’t be happier with how this season has turned out so far.

Halo Season 1 is now streaming on Paramount+, with Halo Season 2 premiering with two episodes on Thursday, February 8th; new episodes will be released weekly.

Want to discuss things further? Hit us up on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram. And for more filmgaminganime, and TV news, trailers, and updates, keep it locked here at The Nerdy Basement. While you’re here, please consider supporting us on Patreon! It’s an easy way of supporting us so we can keep providing you with your Nerdy News!