Now that you’re up to speed with the last few episodes of Halo, and with Cortana as a vital part of the narrative, you may have questions about her dynamics with Master Chief. First of all, if you’ve played Halo, I know hearing Jen Taylor’s voice in the show must’ve made you feel like you’ve traveled back in time!
But that’s all the familiarity and nostalgia you may get for the time being, as Cortana and Master Chief’s relationship is quite different from what it was in the games. The way she’s been complying with Dr. Halsey’s orders makes us wary of the AI.
So is it possible that Cortana will betray Master Chief? Will they ever become friends?
Honestly, I think that Cortana may initially follow Halsey’s orders that involve deceiving Master Chief. But as her relationship with him strengthens, she will switch sides and support him, betraying Halsey in the process.
John Tests Cortana’s Limits
In Ep 6, John locks Halsey in a chamber that can kill her with UV radiation. When Cortana realizes what’s happening, she pleads with John to release Halsey.
Master Chief’s anger is not misplaced—he has all the right to be angry at Halsey for kidnapping, lying, and inducting him into a dangerous super-soldier program, basically taking away his free will. So, there is some truth to it when he implies to Cortana that he wants Halsey to die in that chamber.
But, of course, he releases Halsey at the very last moment revealing that his true intentions were to test Cortana’s limits. Or rather verify how much control Cortana really has on him. If Cortana couldn’t “force” John to open Halsey’s chamber and save her, she may not be that big a threat to him.
I hate to say it but it feels like Cortana and Master Chief’s relationship has taken a step back. We know they’re quite the power partnership in the games. But with just two more episodes to go, we may only see their relationship take an amicable turn in Season 2.
Will John and Cortana ever be friends?
You see, the first game starts at a point where the Chief and Cortana are already far along in their friendship and completely trust each other. But the show is giving us a chance to examine how they got there, by showing us the initial days of their partnership.
While Cortana was an “upgrade” Master Chief willingly got in the games, in the show, he’s quite reluctant about the AI and the idea that he needs to be babysat. Still, I was pretty amused at how they were bickering like kids, and even at the scene where she tries to introduce herself to the Silver Team without his “permission.”
Episode 3 was also rife with instances where the newly activated Cortana kept Halsey’s agenda a secret from Master Chief. This particularly doesn’t sit well with what we know Cortana’s personality to be. In canon, she’d never do this to him. But it’s understandable, natural even, for her to behave this way, given the show’s setup.
At the end of the episode, however, you can see that Cortana looks quite doubtful of Halsey’s ideas. In fact, she has been quite vocal whenever she hasn’t agreed with the doctor. She is, after all, one of the smartest AIs out there. She’ll be smart enough to catch Halsey’s bluff and decide whose side she wants to be on.
Cortana and Master Chief may have had a rough start, but I’m willing to bet she’s going to pick him in the long run.
I’m not saying Cortana is going to flip sides all of a sudden—she may even deceive Master Chief further and incur his anger, but they’re going to have some semblance of a friendship by the end of the season. This journey of building trust is how they get to the solid partnership they have in the games.
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.”