Halo TV Series: What are the Cole and Zed Protocols? 

Halo TV Series: What are the Cole and Zed Protocols? 

As the penultimate episode, Halo’s Ep 8 was a boiling pot, waiting to overspill. It filled the narrative with a bunch of intersecting arcs, emotions, and lore, throwing around words like “glassing” and “protocols” without fully explaining what they mean.  

Let’s take it one step at a time. For now, let’s look into the two major protocols mentioned in the episode.   

The Cole Protocol ensures that no details of the human homeworlds are made available to the Covenant, while the Zed Protocol means that Halsey’s orders to the Spartans supersede the UNSC’s commands.  

That was the long-story-short version of it. But don’t worry, I’m going to explain them both in more detail below. 

The Cole Protocol 

So, while we hear the term Cole Protocol only in Ep 8, it’s the second time it’s being used on the show. Remember in Ep 3, when Makee got on the UNSC ship and ended up killing everyone? The captain then too initiated the Cole protocol and wiped the ship’s data.  

So what exactly is it? 

We know that along with the Halo artifacts, the Covenant is also actively hunting down humans and glassing their planets. The Cole Protocol is a preventive measure to stop the Covenant from discovering the human homeworld, Earth, or any other inner colony world. 

Halo TV Series: What is the Cole Protocol and Zed Protocol?
The Covenant | Source: IMDb

Like wiping the ship’s data, there are a bunch of other measures taken under the protocol. For example, since the Covenant were smart enough to track ships or calculate their destination data, any compromised UNSC ships are forbidden from setting a slipspace course that would take them to any human colonies.  

Most often than not, any compromised UNSC ship would also be programmed to self-destruct.  

In Ep 8, the UNSC initiates the Cole Protocol and refuses to help another human planet that has been glassed, in order to keep Reach’s location safe.  

The Zed Protocol 

I’ve done my homework and gone through a list of protocols that were in the games. It seems like the Zed Protocol does not exist in the original lore and could be something made up for the show.  

From my understanding, the Zed Protocol means that Halsey’s command over the Spartans overrides every other command in the UNSC base. This is like her ultimate fail-safe if her employers turn against her… which they did. Trust Halsey to have a backup plan with a bunch of beefy soldiers ready.  

Halo TV Series: What is the Cole Protocol and Zed Protocol?
Dr. Catherine Halsey | Source: IMDb

In the Halo finale, we’ll see just how effective this protocol is and how long the Spartans will continue to follow her commands.  

Watch Halo on:

About Halo

Halo is an upcoming American live-action sci-fi television series based on the Halo video game franchise. The series has a budget of an estimated $200 million. It is scheduled to premiere on Paramount+ in early 2022.

The series stars Pablo Schreiber, Natascha McElhone, Charlie Murphy, Jen Taylor, Shabana Azmi, Bokeem Woodbine, Kate Kennedy, Natasha Culzac, Yerin Ha and Bentley Kalu.

Halo will focus on the 26th-century war between the United Nations Space Command and the alien Covenant. The series will “weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.”