Halo – Season 1, Episode 7: Inheritance

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Over the last six episodes, I’ve repeatedly given Paramount+’s Halo series the benefit of the doubt despite constantly having to muscle through endless subplots in order to get to the real draw of the story – namely the war between humans and the hostile alien army known as the Covenant. However, with the seventh episode I can’t hide my frustrations any longer thanks to the show doing the most annoying thing it possibly could – donate an entire episode to the plot adjacent antics of wannabe resistance fighter Kwan Ha and grumbling space pirate Soren as they take up valuable screen time while fighting the corrupt leader of the mining planet of Madrigal, Vinsher Grath.
Ducking away from Master Chief’s constant issues with his past, Halsey’s latest cold-hearted plot and Makee’s infiltration of the UNSC, we take a huge sidestep away from Halo lore in order to follow characters who currently will have no effect on the main plot. Buckle up – we’re in for a pointless ride.

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After being outwitted by the young and crafty Kwan, Soren has returned back home to the Rubble while he tries to get back to the far simpler job of basic space piracy and reassuring his standing among his peers as confidence in his abilities to lead has slipped a little.
Meanwhile, back on Madrigal, Kwan realises she no longer has anywhere else to turn except to seek out a tribe of mystical nomads that are so reclusive, they make Stanley Kubrick look like a Kardashian and so off she heads into the deep alien desert while she reminisces about her family back before their efforts to stand against the UNSC were brutally cut short by the invading Covenant.
Finding the nomads (that sure was easy) and questioning them about the true purpose of her family’s true purpose on Madrigal, Kwan is put into a trippy trance in order to engage on some sort of vision quest that assaults her with such metaphorical imagery as a fist fight with Master Chief in order to reveal that her family’s ancestors where once charged with an AI created by the mysterious Forerunners to protect a valuable portal located somewhere on the seemingly desolate dust ball.
Meanwhile, Soren, having straightened out any doubting Thomas’ among his men, finds he can’t get Kwan’s struggle out of his head and heads back to track her down and help her out, but if he can find her so easily, so can Grath who wants to eliminate her before she manages to stoke up the flames of Insurrection once more. Outnumbered and outgunned by Grath’s forces, both Kwan and Soren have to cook up a workable offence before they’re riddled full of bullets, making everything Kwan has learned utterly useless.

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Before I launch into a Halo-related tirade that’s been building within me episode after episode, I’ll concede a few details first.
Inheritance contains good production values, has good action and gives Yerin Ha and Bokeem Woodbine a chance to stretch their legs in a couple of roles that often has felt surplus to requirements when placed alongside the big picture. Its weird, because the bond that popped up between the young, headstrong and idealistic Kwan and the hulking, gruffly cynical Soren often feels like the relationship we all thought the girl was going to have with Master Chief when she was introduced back in the first episode and while their back and forth is admittedly kinda fun, it just goes to show that Halo’s efforts to create a sprawling universe is only getting in the way of the main focus.
So while we have mystic nomads that hint about Kwan having some super secret connection to the Forerunners, at this point it carries all the weight of that feather from Forrest Gump and doesn’t leave you feeling particularly enthused about where this plot thread could possibly lead. Worse yet, forging these characters out further than they ever have before makes their original roles (Master Chief’s hanger on and training mate respectively) despite being instrumental in the Spartan deciding to break protocol and remove his emotion suppressor.
There’s no UNSC, no Cortana, no Covenant and no real impact to the main story that’s still currently ongoing and so has quite the same effect as that infamous Stranger Things episode during its second season when, one episode from the end, we annoyingly switched gears to go to a flashback episode that ended up  being universally derided by everyone. It’s even worse when you consider that Halo doesn’t have all that momentum to disrupt in the first place, once again slipping back down into a lower gear after the awesomeness of the fifth episode.

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Whether the effect of the flow of the entire season is terminal, it remains to be seen, but it ends by putting Soren and Kwan in something of a strange position. You see, by the end of the epidode, the odd couple manage to square up to the tyrannical Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman, milking his limited role for all he’s worth) and actually succeeds in blowing up this threat that’s been set up as a major threat since the first episode. However, with Grath reduced to little more than a cinder (Burn being quite the appropriate name), it essentially writes out the need to either characters completely in one stroke. So with their own threads essentially finished, any further appearances from either of them in the final two will only feel more intrusive and unnecessary as the main plot plods on.
There’s still good things to be found of course. The final shootout is perky enough with Kwan using one of those sticky Covenant grenades to satisfying effect while Gorman deploys some blustering, scene chewing, old school villainy lacking in the show thus far, but it all still feels painfully like filler despite admirably finding further use for the Madrigal set. Hey, it’s important to recycle.
Taken on it’s own merits, Inheritance is plainly acceptable television, but when plonked in the final third of a story that’s supposed to be about super soldiers twatting aliens, it’s a narrative road block that diverts attention way too much from the main story in order to pour precious time and effort into finishing off a subplot no one honestly gave a toss about in the first place.

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If Soren and Kwan never show up again, it won’t be that much of a loss – but if they do manage to crop up again, they need to enhance the main story instead of being the equivalent of being an unskippable cut scene from an entirely different game.
Halo can you go?

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