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The Ending Of Halo Episode 1 Explained

Warning: Contains spoilers for "Halo" Season 1, Episode 1 ("Contact")

After so many years of trial and error, the official "Halo" TV series is finally here! 

The first entry in the series introduces audiences to the world of "Halo" through the eyes of Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), a 16-year-old girl whose home planet is attacked by Covenant forces. Although we spend most of the first hour with Kwan and Spartan super soldier Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), the first chapter is also chock-full of detail when it comes to the political affairs of the "Halo" universe and the scientific research of Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone) of the United Nations Space Command. 

The first episode undeniably throws a lot of exposition at both "Halo" video game veterans and franchise newbies, so it's understandable that some may be a little confused at the end of the first hour. Luckily, if you've got a question about where "Halo" Episode 1 leaves things, you've come to the right place. This is the ending of "Halo" Episode 1 explained.

Master Chief shows his face

Of course, one of the biggest questions many fans have been asking about the "Halo" TV series is the same question that has also long haunted the video game franchise. Will we see Master Chief's face? While the video game version of the character has yet to reveal a complete view of what lies underneath his helmet, the television series is already taking a markedly different approach.

For the first 50 minutes of the nearly 57-minutes-long episode, Master Chief is only ever seen with his helmet securely fastened to the rest of his tactical uniform. Regardless of whether the warrior is in the middle of a battle or relaxing in a spaceship, Master Chief's helmet seems to be as much a part of him as any other legitimate body part. It ultimately takes a big moment in the episode for the legendary Spartan to bare his face.

In the climax of the pilot episode, Master Chief removes his helmet during a confrontation with Kwan, a recently orphaned 16-year-old girl and the sole survivor of a Covenant attack on Madrigal. Although Kwan holds Master Chief at gun point, he confidently points out that the caliber of ammunition in her rifle wouldn't even manage to dent his specially designed armor. However, in order to prove his loyalty to her, Master Chief slowly lifts his helmet off his head, leaving himself more vulnerable to attack than we've ever seen before. As the face of actor Pablo Schreiber is revealed, Master Chief says, "If you want me dead, you'll need to aim up here."

Luckily for both of them, Kwan quickly decides that Master Chief is better as an ally.

Master Chief interacts with the Covenant relic

One of the mysteries at the core of the series so far focuses on a Covenant relic that seems to be uniquely tied to Master Chief. When the super soldier first makes physical contact with the device, a bright light emerges, shocking Master Chief's fellow Spartans and a nearby member of the Covenant. Even more surprisingly, however, the device appears to trigger old memories in Master Chief's head. While this trip down memory lane is visibly noteworthy to the Spartan, it isn't until much later in the episode that the device's true potential is revealed.

For reasons he is unable to fully explain, Master Chief subsequently refuses a UNSC order to execute Kwan. Realizing that a return to Reach would mean a certain death sentence for his new traveling companion, Master Chief scrambles at the last minute to redirect his ship, but only manages to deactivate the autopilot mere seconds before landing. In response, the UNSC fires an electromagnetic pulse at his ship, immediately grounding it. When all looks to be surely doomed, Master Chief simply reaches out to the relic, triggering a flurry of new memories, including what looks to be a child's drawing of the very same device. More importantly, however, the device quickly powers up the recently disabled ship, allowing the duo to escape.

Obviously, this raises a number of important questions. What is the purpose of the device and who made it? So far, a Covenant human named Makee (Charlie Murphy) is the only person other than Master Chief who is able to bring it to life, obviously something which suggests a prior relationship of some sort between the two. Perhaps learning more about the origins of this show's protagonist will also eventually provide answers about this mysterious relic.

Halsey smiles when Master Chief escapes

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that while most members of the UNSC are quite unhappy to see Master Chief's spaceship depart as abruptly as it arrived, a smile appears on the lips of the Spartan program leader in the final moments of the episode. So, why is Halsey smiling while her multi-billion dollar super soldier flies away with a rebel? We think it probably has something to do with the influence the Covenant relic is having on Master Chief.

Although Halsey is visibly astonished at the device's capabilities, she never seems especially eager to see other members of the UNSC get their hands on the device. In fact, while she admits to being somewhat worried that Master Chief unlocking his suppressed memories could produce unexpected results, she actually does her best to cover for him when he initially begins acting out. Notably, Halsey is also rather quick to suggest solving this problem via the implementation of something called "Cortana," a name that all "Halo" video game fans everywhere will surely recognize. 

Although she is obviously unwilling to voice it right now, it also remains possible that Halsey has ulterior motives of some form. In the "Halo" video games, Halsey is extremely dedicated to the members of her Spartan program, especially Master Chief. While it remains to be seen if the TV version of Halsey would ever be willing to choose Master Chief over the UNSC, it certainly seems like something that will be a point of contention moving forward.

New episodes of "Halo" drop on Paramount+ every Thursday.