Halo episode 8 review: “Tees the show up for an explosive finale”

Warning: spoilers for Halo episode 8 ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the new episode of the Paramount Plus series.

‘Allegiance’ is going to get everyone talking. It’s a good, sometimes great, episode that tees Halo up neatly for an explosive finale – but is ultimately an instalment that will prove divisive. As well as acting as a microcosm of the first season’s successes and failures, it includes a controversial scene that the show’s naysayers will surely use as a stick to beat it with.

The episode begins with Master Chief and Makee walking through Reach City. Halo seems intent on making up for lost time with the pair, and uses an extended scene where the two lost souls bounce off each other to help cement their chemistry.

A smitten Chief is only too glad to introduce her to a world she never knew – the scene is backed by ice cream sellers and the sound of children laughing – but the happiness doesn’t last. He’s brought crashing down to Earth by Makee’s declaration that she wants to use the Halo planet glimpsed at the end of the previous episode to ascend to godhood.

As a volte-face, it’s far too close to the realms of comic book villainy. Makee is a character whose intentions are blurred beyond the point of recognition. It may not have been too clear whose side she was on, but it was at least offering a reason to keep watching and guessing. Her opening salvo in ‘Allegiance’, then, gets things off on the wrong foot and is far too one-note for what has, up until now, been a far more complex character.

Halo goes all the way

Halo TV series

(Image credit: Paramount)

Back at UNSC HQ, the top brass are left to deal with the wreckage on Criterion. The Covenant, who have been a little gun shy in recent weeks, up the ante in a major way by glassing the planet and killing millions. With Halo spending so much of its energy on Soren, Squirrel, and Kwan Ha, it almost forgot to make the Covenant a notable threat. Here, it’s achieved in one fell swoop – though it might be a little late in the season for the event to hit as hard as it could have done otherwise.

But we need to talk about the seven-foot elephant in the room: In Allegiance, Master Chief has sex with Makee. The scene itself is about as tasteful as this sort of thing gets – no, we don’t see Chief’s Spartan Laser – but the intimate moment never really connects. There’s something inherently absurd and funny about – say it out loud – Master Chief having sex. Throw in a shot of Cortana silently watching and it becomes outright ridiculous in its execution.

If it’s designed to shock, job done. As a piece of storytelling, it’s a little flimsy. At best, these are two outsiders who have known each other for days. There is some connection there – but Halo has kept them apart for so long (and, weirdly, coded them as siblings up until now) that it feels rushed compared to the slow burn of Chief and Halsey’s breakdown in past weeks.

By comparison, Makee’s post-coitus fingernail removal is a far more effective and visceral story beat. As Charlie Murphy’s Covenant spy rips out the last remnants of her past, her motivations suddenly come sharply into focus. The contrast between the walk in the park’s ethereal, dreamlike quality and the harsher shots here almost say as much as the bloody nail left in the sink – and should operate for a blueprint in how to use the camera simply and effectively to embellish the action moving forward.

Halo TV series

(Image credit: Paramount)

From there, Halsey intrudes on Makee’s solitude and, in a fascinating collision of worlds that is far removed from the show’s tendency to keep storylines separate up until this point, manipulates her into doing her bidding.

Thanks to Halsey’s machinations, the closing sequence is as exciting as any in the show’s short history. It’s a thrilling pressure cooker of a finale that sees every Reach-set narrative converge in thrilling fashion.

While John and Makee head for the artifact, Halsey triggers Protocol Zed, bringing all the Spartans under her command. It all culminates in Silver Team’s anomaly, Kai, being taken out by Riz and Vannak, who then face off against Master Chief in a brutal, hard-hitting action scene that really hammers home the sheer power of the Spartans.

Kai manages to save the day – and it speaks volumes to Kate Kennedy’s performance that she’s turned a fairly minor character into someone who, whisper it, is probably deserving of a spin-off – and, though the battle is won, the war may be lost. Makee activates the artifact, unleashing a power blast across UNSC headquarters. She departs with little more than a solemn goodbye to Chief, who lays unconscious.

The Great Journey, then, awaits. The noise around Master Chief’s sex scene might make up a considerable amount of discourse surrounding the episode, but it masks a solid – if slightly rushed – bolt to the finish line. The Covenant, especially, aren’t involved enough for their big moments to land and Makee’s allegiances – ironically, given the episode’s title – are erratic. Yet, Halo is all set up to stick the landing in decisive fashion. Few could have predicted that would be the case when Master Chief first took off his helmet all those weeks ago.

New episodes of Halo stream weekly every Thursday on Paramount Plus.

The Verdict


3.5 out of 5


The Master Chief sex scene may raise eyebrows, but the pulsating third act deserves most of the attention thanks to its breathless placesetting for the season’s endgame.

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