Following up on the first look fans got during the CCXP 2023 convention last month, Paramount released the official trailer for Season 2 of the Halo TV series earlier this week. The action-packed trailer is even more intense than the first, and strongly suggests the central focus of the video game adaptation's new season will be the Covenant's devastating invasion of the planet Reach, which is one of the most well-defended strongholds humanity has in the galaxy.
To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for Season 2 initially, as the baffling story decisions, mediocre production value, and abundance of meme-worthy scenes (Master Cheeks, for example) in the show's debut 2022 episodes left me feeling incredibly disappointed. These last two trailers, though, have been surprisingly excellent — and while we won't know anything about the quality of the new season's story until it kicks off next month, what we've seen so far of the show's presentation looks to be a significant improvement.
One thing that still vexes me and many others, however, is that Paramount and new showrunner David Wiener seem committed to keeping Master Chief's helmet off frequently. Indeed, in both of the second season's trailers as well as other marketing materials like posters, he often appears without it, just as he did in the first.
For viewers introduced to Halo through this TV show, that won't seem at all like a big deal. But if you've been a longtime fan of the series like me and you've played through its games and/or read its novels, you'll know that this approach to depicting the character contrasts sharply with the source material.
That drew the ire of many in Halo's community, prompting the show's star and Master Chief's actor, Pablo Schreiber, to respond. A few days ahead of the first season's premiere in 2022, he spoke with TechRadar, asserting that "a television show of quality" demands being able to see the face of its main character.
"When you play a first person shooter, the way that a character is developed is very different than what's necessary when you're making long form television. To go on this journey with your protagonist, you're not going to be able to bring an audience along in a long form story without having access to a character's face, which tells you what they're feeling, how they think about everything," Schreiber said. "That access to a character's emotional life, over the course of time, is what makes you empathize and connect with a character."
"I'm sorry, but it's the only choice for long form storytelling in television," he continued. "What I would say to anybody who disagrees with that, I totally respect that opinion. But it's a pretty basic place to start when you're talking about making a television show of quality."
In most cases, I'd actually agree wholeheartedly with Schreiber. But if The Mandalorian has proven anything, it's that there can be and are exceptions to that rule — and Halo, with its previous portrayals of Master Chief and his Spartan comrades, is one of the best examples of this.
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Because most Spartans almost never remove their helmets while on-screen, the franchise's narratives make a great effort to show or describe their every movement and overall body language. Without a visage to inform viewers what they're thinking or how they're feeling, these are the things that we naturally look to next, and the greater emphasis on them is what makes much of Halo's character expression stand out compared to many of its sci-fi peers.
It's undeniably unconventional, especially for television. But incredible in-game cutscenes like the ending of Halo 4 or this opening sequence in Halo Infinite show that it's every bit as compelling as more standard approaches to character presentation when it's done well. And frankly? The Halo TV series could use a unique element like this to make it more distinctive, as its first season was largely quite generic.
Unfortunately, it appears all but clear that Master Chief and the Spartans of Silver Team will spend much of Season 2 helmetless. But even so, I'm hoping the showrunners took fan feedback on Season 1 to heart and made at least something of an effort to bring the Spartans of the show in line with their game and novel counterparts.
We won't know for sure until the show's second season premieres next month on Feb. 8, 2024. It, like Season 1, will be on Paramount+ exclusively. Its first two episodes will be available to watch immediately, while the remaining six will release weekly.
Are you a fan of the Halo TV show interested in playing through the game series that started it all? Don't miss Halo: The Master Chief Collection as well as Halo Infinite on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC. They're both some of the best Xbox games you can play, with the former covering the story from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 4 and the latter taking you straight into Master Chief's latest adventure. Notably, both games are playable through Xbox Game Pass.
Halo: MCC is the best way to experience the classic Halo games on modern systems, as it gives you access to eight different titles and all of their modes for less than the price of a single modern AAA game.
Halo Infinite — $28.98 at Amazon (Xbox, Digital)
Master Chief's latest adventure takes you to the massive open world of Zeta Halo, and features an expansive story campaign in which you'll rally UNSC survivors to fight the fearsome Banished faction for control of the Forerunner ringworld.