Paramount+‘s Halo live-action series is starting to answer the questions that the series has opened up over the last few episodes. Still moving forward at a slow pace, the series is making strides to build out a foundation for the series to elaborate on in the back half of the season. As the title “Homecoming” suggests, Halo Episode 4 is about our main characters coming back to where they began.
Having removed his emotion inhibitor last episode, John is seeing the world with new eyes in Halo Episode 4. Guided by his visions that are beginning to seep into his life even without the artifact, John takes Halsey and Cortana back to his home planet. As he tries to retrace the visions, looking for answers, John realizes that his present and past connect deeply.
For the episode’s b-plot, with Soren for protection, Kwan goes in search of her father’s army. Dedicated to saving Madrigal, Kwan returns in the hope to welcomed by revolutionaries but instead returns to a planet that has forgotten her father’s dream. And finally, John’s behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed among his crew. Having seen John remove his implant last episode, Kai begins her own journey of self-discovery while Miranda discovers a possible link between the artifact and something much larger.
Halo Episode 4 is better than the last and the way it pulls together various story elements that we’ve been introduced to so far is well executed. That said, the main problem still remains from Episode 3: too many stories and not enough time. It isn’t that Kwan and Madrigal aren’t interesting, they are. However, they seem nearly lost in the series’ overall focus on John, the Spartan program, and a hunt for both connection and emotion.
While Kwan and Madrigal present an exploration of the immorality of the USNC, the time dedicated to her story is too much to allow John’s story to dive below surface level elements and yet, is too short to hold a large impact. And this is truly a shame. On its own, the Madrigal subplot is interesting, and Kwan is a character I love to see interact with others. Specifically, Halo Episode 4 features emotional moments where Kwan shows her rage and disappointment which works extremely well.
Kwan is looking to pick up her father’s mission, but at the end of it, she is still a kid, and that adds complexity to her motives. That said, when her story begins to pick up, we shift gears back to John, or the other Spartans and it feels like the emotional momentum built up in Kwan’s story is lost. Add in the fact that Makee is nowhere to be seen in this episode and new things happening with the Spartans and Miranda, I’m curious as to how Halo can keep balancing all of these characters.
That said, when you look beyond those elements of the series, Halo Episode 4 does offer enough story progression for John to make it valuable. Here, John gets answers about his past, his connection to the artifacts, and proof that he was someone before he was a supersoldier working on the orders of others. This continues to add depth to his character in a way that makes me interested in his story despite how much it has departed from the existing canon.
Dark past, uncertain future, and completely surrounded by lies, John is quickly becoming tragic hero who is learning to deal with it all. That journey so far has been good, but I do wonder how much longer we can continue down this path. Especially with other plot points getting more exploration.
That said, Halo is taking too long to get where it needs to go. While it may come together by the end, as a weekly show, the slow pacing and too numerous side-plots not woven neatly into the main one are distracting. I’m here for the ride, but unless the pacing picks up, I may fall asleep before we reach the destination.
Halo Episode 4 is available now exclusively on Paramount+.
Halo Episode 4 - "Homecoming"
Halo is taking too long to get where it needs to go. While it may come together by the end, as a weekly show, the slow pacing and too numerous side-plots not woven neatly into the main one are distracting. I’m here for the ride, but unless the pacing picks up, I may fall asleep before we reach the destination.