Congrats On The Sex, Master Chief

Congrats On The Sex, Master Chief
Image: Lonely Island / Microsoft / Kotaku

I genuinely don’t think we’re prepared for what’s coming. If you thought the discourse was A Lot when he showed arse, brace yourself: In the latest episode of the Halo show, Master Chief had sex.

The Halo show, which premiered on Paramount+ back in March, and has since become the burgeoning streaming service’s biggest hit, started strong. Its pilot episode showed a willingness to deviate from long-established source material. The ensuing episodes, released weekly on Thursdays, have been hit or miss. Some have featured thrilling fight scenes and explored truly complex moral grey areas; others have dallied in plot lines that have no stakes, no payoff, and no interesting characterization.

If nothing else, this latest episode, “Allegiance,” is groundbreaking, and not just for its kick-arse combat scene. Like the whole “OMG it’s his butt” thing, I am pretty confident this is the first time Chief has had sex, at least in mainline, bloated-marketing-budget Halo canon.

[Spoiler territory from here on out.]

The scene isn’t weird because it happened so much as because of who’s also in it: Makee, a human who was kidnapped by the Covenant antagonists at a young age, quickly deemed their “chosen one,” and absorbed into their hierarchy as a high-level agent. To anyone with a semblance of intuition (something you’d figure Master Chief has in spades), it is crystal clear that she is a spy with ulterior motives.

And then there’s Cortana, Chief’s AI companion, who kinda just…stands there, watching on with a mixture of emotions that are entirely indiscernible due to the uncanny valley.

As far as sex scenes go, it’s incredibly tame too, relying more on implication than anything else. Chief and Makee kiss a bit. Smash cut, then they’re naked in a bed, appearing to have already done the deed. It’s about as steamy as the iconic Cold Storage multiplayer map. (Side note: 343, please port that one into Halo Infinite.)

By no means does a show need to go all in, of course, but it remains interesting to me how comfortable American filmmakers are with showing graphic violence while shying away from even moderately lurid sex. The Halo show really earns its TV-MA rating. Limbs get blown off. Heads are disintegrated. At one point, an alien soldier, everything below its belly torn to shreds, its torso immolated in plasma burns, spends its final moments trying to futilely crawl to safety. It is a nightmarish image. But nope, gotta tap the breaks at anything beyond a little kiss. I suppose the influence of Game of Thrones’ final season is grander than we imagined. (If you know, you know.)

It’s not just the timidity that deserves backlash. Fans are not pleased with Chief’s total abdication of duty here, with even the most stalwart show supporters criticising his behaviour. Viewers speculate this “allegiance” between Makee and Chief heralds the fall of Reach, which has yet to happen in the show’s timeline. (Reach, in Halo canon, is a key human planetary colony, its sacking the catalyst for the first Halo trilogy, and the setting for Bungie’s terrific 2010 swan song, Halo: Reach.)

The show has “crossed its final line,” wrote Forbes critic Paul Tassi. The Washington Post’s Gene Park, who’s largely been positive on the show thus far, said he’s “actually mad” and is reconsidering his “whole stance on the show.” Credit where it’s due, the headline on Decider’s writeup made me legitimately laugh out loud: “Master Chief Loses His Virginity While His Mum Watches.”

That the Halo show deviates from established lore isn’t what rubs fans the wrong way — in fact, that Halo the show is so willing to reexamine norms is without question its strongest selling point. Any push-and-pull here is attributable to Master Chief’s characterization. Just as Spider-Man must always lose Uncle Ben, there are a handful of immutable maxims for Chief. Key: Pretty much every decision he makes is about saving as many people as possible. Blindly ignoring that, and potentially putting billions of lives at risk in the process, for a brief romance is behaviour indicative of someone who might as well not even rock “117” on his armour.

 

Comments

  • According to canon, MC’s libido should be near zero as a result of the procedures he underwent to become a spartan. Putting aside the abdication of duty thing, it just would not have happened that a spartan 2 would engage in amorous activity whilst on duty. The hormonal surge leading to it wouldn’t occur in them. I get that steamy scenes spice up a show, but this just ignores the physiological realities that have long been established in the universe in which it is based.

    • Since you didn’t watch the first seven episodes, you should be made aware that those ‘physiological realities’ you mention are comprehensively explored by the show taking literally half a dozen episodes to explain that there is an inhibiting drug implant in the spartan IIs which suppresses those impulses, and that two of the team (117 and another) have secretly removed those implants, resulting in them experiencing a whole new world of sensations and feelings along with a corresponding decrease in combat effectiveness.

      So don’t worry friend: the series (which has diverged from the game lore in different and far more significant ways and places to confirm that it is indeed an alternate universe distinct from the game universe) has well and truly spend most of the first season acknowledging an dealing with this exact issue.

      • “the series (which has diverged from the game lore in different and far more significant ways and places to confirm that it is indeed an alternate universe distinct from the game universe”

        I have never understood what the point is of making a show based off a property with a well fleshed out and established universe….. then scrapping all of it to make your own shit… just make a new show if that’s what you want to do.

        I’m not even that big a Halo fan, but between this and pretty much everything they try to do with Resident Evil….. it blows my mind that this shit gets millions pumped into it and they slack jaw wonder why people don’t like it

  • My wacky theory is that if this all does end in the fall of Reach, then season 2 starts with Jimmy Halo being executed for treason and replaced with a clone of John-117 that’s the one we’re more familiar with.

    Ok, it’s pretty unlikely, but what a twist if it happens…

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