Episode 3 features the long-awaited reveal of Cortana, but the episode underwhelms and needs more time devoted to the series villain, Makee.
This recap of Paramount+ series Halo season 1, episode 3, “Emergence,” contains spoilers.
Halo season 1, episode 3 recap
The episode “Emergence” opens with the story of planet Oban, a UEG Tier 2 waste salvage colony. There are dozens of men and women working on sorting the dump, including two children, a boy and a girl, reading the story, The Dawn of Angels. That’s when the guards come chasing them. They beat the boy to death with their weapons as they catch up. Then, two members of the Covenant are transported down from their ship. They bat away the guard like a fly and look upon the scared girl. This is the creature we seek, the aliens say. The little girl understands and grabs the book she was reading with the boy before her first kiss. As they leave, the scene cuts to the girl as an adult.
Makee (Charlie Murphy), and now we know how she came to be on the Covenant ship. But why was she chosen? And why is she still alive? As she talks to the elders, they ask if she will continue searching for the keystone and the “demon,” who possesses the same power as her. Who could that be? Well, Master Chief, of course. Of course, there was some payback from last week’s episode. At UNSC headquarters, the admiral (Shabana Azmi) has taken it upon herself to let her daughter, Dr. Keyes (Olive Gray), study the keyhole because she wants to rely less on Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone).
That introduces us to Cortana (Jen Taylor). Dr. Halsey pulls out her clone, not Cortana, and they have a very existential conversation even though she is a carbon copy of her. She has memories of Dr. Halsey as a young student to create the Spartan program. So, they ask Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) to go through an “upgrade” of sorts. When they hook him up and power him down, they extract the brain from the clone. When that is complete, the body of the Halsey double is vaporized. Then, Cortana appears as a digital AI that is there to start her mission.
What is her mission? Cortana is to fully integrate herself into the Master Chief to optimize his physical and mental performance. But Dr. Halsey has prevented her from doing this temporarily because they still need to see how the artifact affects him and, when she integrates, affects her. It does not go over well when she is introduced to Master Chief. Even if she is designed to enhance his abilities, he has no intention of having his own little Alexa annoying him at every moment. Later, when Cortana has control of Master Chief and touches the artifact, Cortana can’t see anything he sees.
“Fasciating,” Dr. Halsey says quietly.
Later, when the Master Chief is trying to remove his emotional regulator, which he sees as an issue with his visions causing him to have untimely emotions (or blocking them), Dr. Halsey asks her to help him gain his confidence. Now, Master Chief, for some reason, is trying to remove this pellet from his lower back while being buck-naked in front of a public locker room mirror, but to each his own. He removes it after she guides him, sticking a large knife into his back. He then goes for the artifact and sees that, as a child, he kept drawing it over and over. And it turns out he drew a second artifact that the one he is touching goes inside. But where is it?
He remembers burying something with his father against his will, and what if that is the second artifact? After a process of elimination, they feel it must be on Eridanus II. Master Chief has Cortana do a data check on why Eridanus II became uninhabited. Why? A cargo ship carried in a virus that swept through the population. In accordance with protocols, the planet was sealed off. We can assume everyone died.
But how did Master Chief survive?
Then we have a “trojan” ship of sorts as Makee invades UNSC air space and pretends to be a victim of a Covenant kidnapping. Makee claims the aliens abandoned the ship when the engines went cold and left her dead. Of course, the man in charge of the UNSC vessel falls for it and sends a pod to grab her. As they pat her down for weapons, and the man in charge wants to bring her aboard with a handshake, giant worm-like creatures invade the ship, choking the entire ship’s command.
The episode ends with three ships going to alternate destinations. Makee sends a message to UNSC taunting them and how she is going to find the artifact and demon. Kwan Ha, who has been trying to escape back to her home planet, offers to pay Soren-066 money if she gets her back so she can rejoin the resistance. Finally, Master Chief, Dr. Halsey, and Cortana head off to Eridanus II to see if they can locate the second artifact.
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