Warning: spoilers for Halo episode 7 ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the new episode of the Paramount Plus series.
What next for Master Chief? We don’t get the answer in ‘Inheritance’, a necessary evil of an episode that ties up loose ends with Kwan Ha and Soren on Madrigal – but fails to shine thanks to focusing almost exclusively on Halo’s weaker elements.
The episode begins in happier times for the one-time favorite daughter of Madrigal. Kwan Ha’s disposition soon turns sour, however, as she regales a new arrival with a fiery display of how their lives won’t change once the war with the UNSC is over.
It’s a baffling inclusion, not least because it offers the first peek at the frosty relationship between Kwan and her father, a dynamic that would have been far better placed earlier in the series. It’s been a common theme throughout the show: the order in which Halo chooses to tell its story – thanks to its myriad flashbacks – doesn’t always benefit the characters, and it’s the same again here.
Over on Rubble, Soren spins a tale on his heroics on Madrigal, failing to mention he was blindsided and robbed by a teenager. This makes one of his closest allies, Squirrel, suspicious. Spending so much time with Soren and Squirrel (who has about three combined lines in six weeks up until now) makes a large chunk of this episode feel like a weird spin-off.
The two eventually patch things up and head out to score some slipspace engines from a UNSC ship. What could have been a solid mismatched buddy mission is quickly glossed over and, after all that build up, Soren gets a pretty cheap comeback on his one-time partner by crushing his foot. Sure, it showcases the former Spartan’s nasty streak – which plays into whether he’s on Kwan’s side or not later on – but amounts to little more than wasted energy in a season rapidly running out of time.
A date with destiny
Back in the present day, Kwan heads into the desert for a date with destiny. It’s there she meets the Mystics who, iffy wigs aside, offer a welcome peek into a society that isn’t touched by the ongoing UNSC conflict. Their leader then gives Kwan a fire-laced drink to ignite her inner spirit, which causes her to collapse and hallucinate.
The trippy sequence sees Kwan facing off against ‘Master Chief’, dying over and over again in brutal Groundhog Day-esque fashion. Chains, guns, and outright brute force don’t do the trick, as she lands with a shattering thud after each throwdown.
It’s a deeply unsettling scene that proves the show is capable of mixing genres and changing up its tone without feeling too out of place. While Halo should continue down the sci-fi path, this about-turn opens up exciting storytelling avenues in future. Halo is crammed with a cast of characters that demand further introspection, so it’s reassuring to see the first real narrative experiment come off without a hitch.
The episode brings the series full circle, going “back to where it all began” – the outpost on Madrigal that was invaded by the Covenant in the series premiere. The UNSC’s botched clean-up job aside (why did they leave alien bodies scattered everywhere?), it’s a pulsating return to the familiar location. It helps, too, that the scene’s capped off by a dazzling display of close-quarters combat from an arriving Soren, who manages to take down several of Vinsher’s onrushing forces.
In a surprise move, Vinsher and Kwan’s conflict is neatly wrapped up. Instead of a multi-season arc or a season finale, Kwan Ha sneaks up on the ruler without much pomp and circumstance, shooting a gas pipe and blowing the outpost sky high.
So, it’s goodbye to Vinsher. Halo solves its villain problem by killing off its most undercooked, out of place character in explosive fashion. At least Burn Gorman’s swaggering despot has some fun on the way out, delivering a word salad of a monologue and wearing a pair of tiny red sunglasses that even Met Gala attendees would think are a little much. Even if his scenes have been less than solid, his farewell was certainly spectacular.
Yet, it’s not so much what the episode includes than what it doesn’t include that is most glaring. The lack of Master Chief, Halsey, and Cortana seriously hurts ‘Inheritance’. The conclusion of Kwan’s arc on Madrigal only serves to drive home the feeling that the rebel needs to find a way to reattach herself to the main story, lest she feel even more superfluous than she already is.
After the highs of the previous episode, ‘Inheritance’ is a bit of a comedown. Its decision to move away from Master Chief makes for a slow, meandering hour that only acts a buffer before Halo hits the home stretch.
New episodes of Halo stream weekly every Thursday on Paramount Plus.