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Halo episode 4 review: “Getting better and better with each passing week”ByBradley Russellpublished 14 April 22Review

Warning: Spoilers for the upcoming Halo episode 4. If you haven’t watched the new episode of the Paramount Plus series, check back now.

Master Chief is going home. The aptly named ‘Homecoming’ sees John-117’s return to the planet Eridanus Two in a tense and emotionally rich episode that finally features Doctor Halsey as the game’s villain.

Besieged by Halsey and Adun, Chief sets off for his childhood home after weeks of accumulation and intermittent visions. Appropriately for such a pivotal moment, the episode leaves long periods of silence for Spartan to deal with the emotional weight of the event. A smaller show might have dropped a few jokes or short phrases, but not here—we’re already missing the slightly underused joke between Chief and Cortana here.

Kwan Ha also has a kind of homecoming, though his return to Madrigal City is much less smooth. Halo’s ability to create a living, breathing sense of place is revealed once again as Kwan and Soren sneak through the bustling, sandy streets of the capital. The back and forth section between Madrigal and Eridanus also means that Kwan’s more hectic state clashes nicely with his more introverted gait through the overgrown forests outside the Chief’s home.

At a memorial service for Kwan’s father, Kwan discovers that his allies have died and the rebels have been crushed by the planet’s new ruler, Vinsher. After the security forces arrive on the scene, Kwan finds himself face to face with his aunt Soojin. Elder Ha tells the eager resistance leader a family secret: Kwan’s father once went to the Madrigal desert in search of mystics. He returned as a changed man and told his family that he had an unknown “true purpose” to fulfill.

As a revelation, it pops up out of the blue and invites many stage-breaking questions: who are the mystics? Why should we care? It all feels a bit rushed, a rushed conspiracy device when Vinsher’s right hand kills Franco Soojin to give Kwan something to do before Kwan seeks his revenge next.

doctor inside

(Image credit: Paramount)

Vinsher’s increased presence in the episode also highlights the stark contrast between the new ruler Madrigal and the much more complex figure of Halsey.

Burn Gorman’s return as Vinsher is dramatic, as the UNSC doctor’s more cautious demeanor helps to gradually uncover the series’ secrets. It’s a frowned upon OTT figure that contrasts with Halo’s more nuanced, grayscale approach to many of the galaxy’s conflicts thus far. Yes, it will still be great fun to see Kwan Ha try to take him down as the season progresses, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Vinsher is so far from everything around him that he could be just another show. Entirely.

Just as Chief and Kwan Ha face some harsh realities, so does Reach’s. In the previous episode, Silver Team was similar to NPCs, faceless figures lost in a world of more intense and interesting characters. Maybe this was planned. One of Homecoming’s biggest victories is turning one of your Spartans, Kai, into a character you’ll support when the credits come.

After taking the emotional suppression pill, Kai literally begins to show signs of individuality when he dyes his hair red. His quiet surprise is also a nice touch as his emotions begin to pour into him throughout the episode, providing some much-needed moments of lightness in an episode dealing with such a heavy subject.

areola

(Image credit: Paramount)

The underused scene up to this point that Kai shares with Miranda Keyes is the best of the episode. When they get together for research, the warm sense of connection – perhaps more so, the actors’ limited performance keeps everyone guessing – is a welcome reminder that the show doesn’t need a Chief, Kwan, or Covenant (which is totally missing). ) this section) to move the plot forward.

Going back to Eridanus Two, the Master Chief uses his visions as a guide to piece together his childhood story. In flashbacks, a curious young John stumbles upon another artifact and an even darker secret: Halsey met the boy in his own home, essentially preparing him for battle while his parents were still alive.

Pablo Schreiber has been very successful in the quieter moments of the show so far, and it’s the same here again. His sudden shock response gives way to outbursts of anger as he tries to grasp what he’s just seen. But the conductor manages to keep his emotions under control long enough to reach the present-day work. This is a smart move for Spartans and history alike – it leaves a time bomb waiting to explode in the face of the UN Security Council.

The episode concludes with Keyes’ narration, an act that completes Halsey’s transformation from her misguided mentor to arguably the greatest monster in the galaxy. For a long time he ruined lives, ruined childhoods, and cast aside those who didn’t fit his vision of the future. As Keyes put it, Halsey “keeps moving forward”. As that truth comes to light, so does Halo’s – a show that gets better and better with each passing week.


New episodes of Halo air weekly on Paramount Plus every Thursday.


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Halo episode 4 review: “Getting better and better with each passing week”

By

Bradley Russell

published 14 April 22

Review

Warning: spoilers for Halo episode 4 ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the new episode of the Paramount Plus series.
Master Chief is going home. The aptly-named ‘Homecoming’ sees John-117 return to the planet of Eridanus Two in a tense, emotionally rich episode that finally paints Doctor Halsey as the villain of the piece.
Flanked by Halsey and Adun, Chief works his way towards his childhood home after weeks of build-up and intermittent visions. Fittingly for such a climactic moment, the episode leaves large periods of silence for the Spartan to deal with the emotional weight of the occasion. A lesser show might have thrown in some quips or one-liners, but not here – though we are already missing the back-and-forth banter between Chief and Cortana, who is a little underused here.
Kwan Ha also has a homecoming-of-sorts, though her return to Madrigal City is far less sedate. Once again, Halo’s ability to create a living, breathing sense of place is on full display as Kwan and Soren sneak through the capital’s busy sandswept streets. The episode flitting back between Madrigal and Eridanus also means Kwan’s more hectic situation clashes well with Chief’s more introspective trek through the overgrown woodland outside his home.
At a memorial for Kwan’s father, Kwan learns that her allies are dead and the rebels have been crushed by the planet’s new ruler, Vinsher. After security forces descend onto the scene, Kwan finds herself face-to-face with her aunt, Soojin. The elder Ha tells the wannabe resistance leader of a family secret: Kwan’s father once travelled to the Madrigal desert to seek out the Mystics. He returned a changed man, telling his family they possessed some unknown “true purpose” to fulfil.
As a reveal, it comes out of nowhere and invites too many questions that break up the scene: who are the Mystics? Why should we care? It all feels a little rushed, a hurried plot device to give Kwan something to do before she seeks retribution for what comes next as Vinsher’s right hand, Franco, kills Soojin.
The doctor is in

(Image credit: Paramount)
Vinsher’s increased presence in the episode also highlights the stark contrast between the new Madrigal ruler and the far more complex figure of Halsey. 
Where the UNSC doctor’s more guarded demeanor has helped slowly tease out the show’s secrets, Burn Gorman’s turn as Vinsher is far too dramatic. It’s the sort of glowering OTT figure that is at odds with Halo’s more nuanced, shades of gray approach to the galaxy’s many conflicts so far. Yes, it’s still going to be a lot of fun to see Kwan Ha attempt to take him down as the season progresses, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Vinsher is so far removed from everything else around him that he may as well be on another show entirely. 
As Chief and Kwan Ha confront some hard truths, so, too, do those on Reach. In the previous episode, Silver Team felt like NPCs, faceless figures lost in a world of more intense, interesting characters. Perhaps that was by design. One of the great triumphs of ‘Homecoming’ is transforming one of its Spartans, Kai, into a character you’ll be rooting for by the time the credits roll.
After removing her emotional repression pellet, Kai starts to exhibit streaks of individualism – quite literally in one case, as she dyes her hair red. Her silent amazement as feelings start to wash over her throughout the episode is also a nice touch, providing some much-needed moments of levity in an episode that deals with such heavy subject matter.

(Image credit: Paramount)
The scene Kai shares with Miranda Keyes, who has been underutilized up until this point, is the episode’s best. The warm sense of connection – perhaps something more, as the actors’ restrained performance keeps everyone guessing – as they bond over research is a welcome reminder that the show doesn’t need Chief, Kwan, or the Covenant (who are completely absent from this episode) to drive the plot forward.
Back on Eridanus Two, Master Chief uses his visions as a guide to piece together the story of his childhood. In flashbacks, an inquisitive young John stumbles upon another artifact and an even darker secret: Halsey met the boy in his own home, essentially grooming him for war while his parents were still alive.
Pablo Schreiber has excelled in the show’s quieter moments so far, and it’s the same again here. His immediate reaction of shock gives way to flashes of fury as he struggles to comprehend what he’s just seen. Chief, though, manages to hold his emotions in check for long enough to reach the artifact in the present day. It’s a wise move for the Spartan as well as the story – it tantalizingly leaves a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode in the UNSC’s face.
The episode ends with a voiceover from Keyes, an act which completes Halsey’s arc from misguided mentor to, arguably, the galaxy’s biggest monster. For so long, she has destroyed lives, ruined childhoods, and discarded those who didn’t fit into her vision for the future. As Keyes puts it, Halsey “just keeps pushing forward.” As that truth comes to light so, too, does Halo’s – this is a series that is getting better and better with each passing week.
New episodes of Halo stream weekly every Thursday on Paramount Plus.

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