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The Ending Of Halo Season 1 Explained

The immensely popular video game series "Halo" finally made its debut as a television adaptation on Paramount+ in 2022. The series stars Pablo Schreider as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, an enhanced super-soldier who fights with the United Nations Space Command in the year 2552 against human separatists across space and the Covenant, a genocidal alliance of aliens mysteriously attacking human colonies. "Halo" went through years of development hell to finally make it as a series on Paramount+, and the streaming platform rewarded it with a second season order before Season 1 even premiered (via Deadline). 

"Halo" Season 1 primarily focuses on Master Chief and the Spartan soldiers of Silver Team learning the truth of their background as super-soldiers, all while the UNSC discovers what the Covenant are looking for out in space: a map to the Halo rings, which have the potential to destroy all sentient life in the universe. John-117 and his allies in Silver Team — Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu), Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy), and Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) — have only known lives as UNSC soldiers and Spartans, but Master Chief develops memories of his life before he was a soldier when he touches the Forerunner artifacts both the UNSC and the Covenant search for throughout the season. 

In the episode "Reckoning," Master Chief has a revelation when he touches one of these objects — that Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone) and the UNSC kidnapped him as a child, removing him from his family and going so far as to replace the real child with a clone designed to die of an apparent illness shortly afterward.

Halo explores the intersection of humans, alien life, and artificial intelligence

Dr. Halsey eventually reveals that all the Spartans were kidnapped as children and replaced with terminally ill clones. The Spartans have proven humanity's best weapon to fight the Covenant, but learning about the traumatic transformations they were put through only creates tension between Silver Team, Halsey, and the rest of the UNSC.  

With the total control Halsey and the UNSC exert over the ultra-powerful Spartans and the introduction of Cortana (Jen Taylor), an artificial intelligence installed into Master Chief's brain as a neural implant, "Halo" explores a strange intersection between humanity and artificial intelligence. The Spartans are humans made subservient to Halsey's commands through genetic enhancement, while Cortana is an AI intended to make Master Chief even more powerful by directly controlling him, but she develops her own sense of right and wrong as she learns about the super-soldier's past at the same time he does.

The series also introduces a brand-new character in Makee (Charlie Murphy), a human who joined the Covenant's ranks as a child. As an adult, Makee helps spearhead the Covenant's search for the Forerunner objects that will grant the aliens a map to the Halo rings. Though Makee is briefly tempted to switch sides and return to humanity when she and Master Chief bond over their shared unique experience with the artifacts, she turns her back on humanity while Master Chief instead feels inspired to help save it by the return of his positive memories of childhood. A human chooses humanity's enemies while an AI chooses humanity's side in the season finale, which sees Cortana take direct control of Master Chief to save Silver Team as a whole. 

The Season 1 finale may set up a more direct adaptation of the Halo games

The "Halo" Season 1 finale, "Transcendence," may clear the decks for the series' already-confirmed second season to strike a balance closer to the story "Halo" fans already know and love. 

Makee, a character who doesn't exist in the original video games, is killed. Cortana takes direct control of Master Chief to save the day, even though both she and John know it may rupture Master Chief's ability to make his own decisions. In the original video games, Master Chief does not struggle with his own purpose in the universe or the backstory of how he grew into a fearsome, Covenant-killing warrior: he's totally committed to serving the UNSC and preventing the Covenant from foolishly unleashing destruction across the universe. Giving Cortana even more control over the series' main character may accomplish that goal, creating a subservient Master Chief more familiar to the point-of-view playable character in the games.

Makee's arc over the course of the season helps Master Chief, Dr. Halsey, and the UNSC understand the Covenant's goal to find the Halo rings. Now that everyone is (sort of) on the same page — Halsey is shown setting her own course after the UNSC brass try to apprehend her in the finale — Season 2 could cover the Covenant's destructive assault on the planet Reach while humanity continues to investigate the mystery of the Halo rings' true purpose. Fans of the games willing to stick around know a further exploration of "Halo" means it's only a matter of time before the parasitic Flood, the universe's real enemy, is introduced.