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Halo: Nightfall's Second Episode Stumbles

by Mike Futter on Nov 15, 2014 at 09:00 AM

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Watching the Halo: Nightfall series is spurring a conflict between my sensibilities and my delight at seeing Halo realized in live action. This week, my pragmatism weighs out, and I cant help feeling a bit disappointed in the saga's second act.

Note: We've avoided spoilers for episode two, but this does assume you've watched the premiere installment on the Halo Channel (our impressions).

If you're caught up with Halo: Nightfall's first episode, you know that the ONI troops under Commander Locke along with a detachment from the planet Sedra under Colonel Aiken are headed into danger. At the end of the pilot, the team departs Sedra for a treacherous battleground: a remnant of the Alpha Halo.

The episode starts as the team's Pelican dropship moves through slipspace. I can't recall if Pelicans have always been able to enter FTL (and my research doesn't definitively debunk it), but it did catch my attention. (Note: It has since been pointed out that the ship is a Condor, and not a Pelican. Condors have slipspace drives.)

The remnant is as treacherous as it was described in the pilot. The lush green of the intact Halo has been replaced by char and rock.

Immediately, something seems off as the ONI and Sedran troops note that the smugglers have opted for a primitive mode of transportation to get from their drop ship to the dig site. I was expecting that we might get to see a new alien species digging for the material, but it turns out that it's two humans doing the smuggling.

This makes little sense for a substance that supposedly only affects humans. They aren't wearing protective gear, and the fear over the lethality of the material is completely absent.

We move on from that quickly though, as the true threat of the Nightfall saga emerges. If you watched the preview for episode 2 after the premiere, you might suspect that remnants of the Flood survived. I can assure you that isn't what's been teased.

It's too early to say if Nightfall's horror movie-like threat is a neat nod to fans who dive deeper into the lore, or if it's a hackneyed way to shoehorn existing material into the series. The end result apes movies like Pitch Black, while conveniently robbing the soliders of their ability to safely use power armor and even their weapons.

There is still room for Nightfall to angle in the right direction, especially if the exploration of the looming threat is handled correctly. It ultimately needs to pay off in a way that surpasses basic horror movie tropes, though. I'm not yet convinced it will.

Halo: Nightfall episode two will be available on the Halo Channel on November 17. For our review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which includes access to see Nightfall, head here.