Halo Season 2 Poster Proves Paramount Doesn’t Give a Damn About Fans of the Game

3 months ago 51

For those who do not know, a Halo television series began releasing in early 2022. Fan response mostly panned the series as it took drastic liberties with the franchise’s lore, replaced beloved characters with new OCs of… varying quality, and, to the point that it became a meme, relentlessly portrayed the iconically-helmet-clad Master Chief without a helmet. Fans hoped Season 2 would take these responses into consideration. In response, the poster for the season portrays Master Chief with his helmet at his feet.

Being one of the most important video game franchises of all time, one would think a big-budget Halo television series would be largely built around the strongest hallmarks of its source material, building upon its most iconic elements and creating something that reminds people why the series brought blockbuster gaming to the forefront of pop culture, to the point that even box office results would drop because so many people would rather play Halo. Instead, the series that was released reminded everybody why they would much rather play Halo.

The Halo Show Is A Monument to All Our Sins

The Halo TV series shows a lot more than Master Chief's face. The Halo TV series shows a lot more than Master Chief’s face.

The Halo TV series does a lot more than just take a few creative liberties. Changes when adapting a story are to be expected, after all, otherwise, the result is just a rehash of something that already exists. However, it is easier to list what the show has in common with the wide universe it is based on than what it does not.

Representative of the deep disconnect between adaptation and source material is the show’s portrayal of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. While many have made a big deal about how the show relentlessly shows the character without a helmet, frankly, that is not itself inherently the issue.

Fans of the franchise’s vast extended universe know that John’s face is, in fact, not a total mystery. He is depicted without it in books with detailed descriptions, visually in comics and animated films without his helmet, although mostly as a child and early teenager, and he even takes it off a few times throughout the games, just off-camera.

The issue is not so much that he takes it off at all, but the execution of the choice. The Mandalorian effectively portrays a character with a range of emotions and depth while keeping his face obscured for the majority of the story, but the show seems to insist that such a task is impossible.

The series is so insistent about showing his face that once John removes his helmet near the end of the first episode, he rarely puts it back on after, even in battles where he, unsurprisingly, takes several hits to the head, seeing a rise in fan mockery through memes during the first season’s run. But his face is not enough, so he even gets naked (multiple times) and at one point sleeps with a captive prisoner of war while Cortana watches, giving rise to the community nickname “Master Cheeks.” Yes, I am serious.

It is claimed that the series shows Master Chief's face more to better humanize him, despite Halo 4 doing so far more compellingly while still retaining the core of who the character is. It is claimed that the series makes such deep changes to John’s character to better humanize him, despite Halo 4 doing so far more compellingly while still retaining the core of who the character is.

This all runs completely counter to who John is in the source material. He is often stoic, though he has a sense of humor to him that gives way to many of the series’ best one-liners and small moments. He has a depth to him that, while explored more in the books, is still touched upon a bit in the games, especially in Halo 4. In the TV series, as soon as he strips and removes his “no emotions pellet”, he turns into a short-fused powder keg, with an emotional inconsistency that might fit better into a soap opera than a military sci-fi series.

These are all symptoms of the series’ refusal to embrace the elements of Halo‘s lore that set it apart and make it engaging, instead changing core ideals for the sake of cheap, shallow drama. The Spartans of the original canon are kidnapped children, stolen from their homes and trained for war mostly from the age of six, with horrific body augmentations that killed many of them before they even turned 13.

The Spartans are all well aware of these horrors committed against them in the original canon. Their creator, Dr. Catherine Halsey, justifies the decision not to lie to them quite compellingly, in fact, knowing that lying to them would all but guarantee they eventually turn on them should they discover the truth.

How this trauma affects these characters and their emotional states is one of the most basic foundations of the Spartans. Spartan-IIIs were sourced from children orphaned by war, and Spartan-IIs such as John were stolen from their beds and replaced with sickly clones doomed to die so their parents would not ask any questions, and naturally taken from “outer colony” worlds because, well, those kids lives don’t mean as much as Earth kids.

Compelling stuff. Instead of that, though, in the show’s canon, Halsey did lie to the children and embedded pellets in them so that they would have all of their emotions inhibited. The human-genocidal Covenant raises a human baby to hate humans, who eventually sleeps with John (again, as a prisoner of war,) and even the city New Alexandria from the planet Reach is renamed “Reach City” for the show. Yes, it is now Reach City on Reach.

A consistent theme of the series, seemingly, is removing depth and intrigue from the source material to facilitate cheap drama. Hey, at least the Covenant are fittingly brutal for what is show, and the show looks like Halo usually.

This is the message that the poster sends. Even a simple poster cannot appease the most widely criticized aspect of the TV series. While the games only show John’s eyes once, in a Legendary ending post-credit scene, at the apex of an arc wherein it thematically fit, the show can’t hide it even for a poster (which actually would have looked really cool otherwise.)

Paramount sends a clear message with the poster for the show’s second season. The most frequently brought-up criticism, a source of constant anger and memes, was Chief never wearing a helmet, and the main poster for the season still shows him without it. Granted, it may be weird at this point to keep it hidden after showing it so much, but they couldn’t even leave it equipped for the poster.

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