Halo Season 2 dropped its first two episodes for everyone with Paramount+ subscriptions, and things are not going well for humanity. Add to that a feeling that the Spartans are being railroaded by their new boss, and John was in a definitely mood, even feeling like he'd grown more aloof in the few months that elapsed between seasons. When I asked star Pablo Schreiber for his thoughts, the actor confirmed that his character is "looking at everything differently."
I had the honor of speaking to the video game adaptation's star ahead of the premiere of Season 2, and had to ask if Pablo Schreiber felt Master Chief seemed "colder" in his attitude toward fellow spartans in the opening episodes. The actor shared his thoughts on whether colder is the right word for it, as well as how John's altered behavior is understandable given the context of what's going on. As he put it:
Not necessarily, but I see why I see why you say that. I think his actions can be interpreted as colder for sure. I think he, you know, after the events of Season 1, is looking at everything differently. His eyes have been opened in a lot of different ways. One of the things that makes you feel that more is kind of how the war is going. Humanity is very much on its back foot in the war with the Covenant.
Pablo Schreiber noted to CinemaBlend that new showrunner David Wiener changed up Halo to give it a darker tone than Season 1 had. Planets are getting glassed, and ONI clearly doesn't trust the Spartans, so there's a feeling of paranoia and unease not just with Master Chief but spreading through many other characters as well.
In Season 2, it hasn't mattered much thus far that John has his helmet off given the new lead of the Spartan program, James Ackerson. Master Chief and Ackerson have already butted heads over how the Spartans are being utilized, and there's a sense of general mistrust on Ackerson's end that his best Spartan is fit for duty.
Schreiber spoke about those issues more in-depth and how they feed into the overall feeling of Season 2:
Things are not going well, and it's obvious, and the threat is mounting, and it's getting bigger, and everybody is feeling tense, you know, and the biggest reason I think the team is all feeling quite tense is that they've been relegated to these kind of mop up jobs that are way below their pay grade. And they feel that there's a lot more they could be doing to help the cause and they're not being allowed to do it and they can't quite figure out why. Then it becomes obvious when they're introduced to their new boss and, and then they still don't know why he's running things the way he is.
It's easy to see why Pablo Schreiber welcomed David Wiener taking over, as it seems we're getting more explanation as to how The Covenant was able to become such a major threat. Humanity was already outmatched technologically speaking, and with all this infighting happening, there's more time being wasted on debates than actual solutions to fight back.
At this point, Halo fans may be wondering if James Ackerson is a true ally to the UNSC or another human operative for the Covenant threat. Those who have been waiting for more connections to the games and previous lore likely know what the show is building toward and can grin and nod as Pablo Schreiber talked about the dynamic between John and Ackerson and how it reflects in his actions in the opening episodes:
And you have, John, Master Chief, kind of trying to figure out who this guy Ackerson is and what his intentions are and why he's making the decisions he's making. So everybody is just very on edge in the early parts of the season, and he feels the doubt and the questioning from his team. And so I think that puts him into a place of just kind of getting down to business and pushing people to their limits and making sure everybody's ready.
Overall, it seems like Paramount was listening to what viewers wanted, and Pablo Schreiber wasn't just blowing smoke about the show improving when he dropped truth bombs about Season 1's failings. Not that I expected anything differently, considering that the star of Halo showed grace to the haters criticizing Season 1. It should be exciting to see where this season goes and where it might leave the Spartans heading into a potential Season 3.
Halo streams new episodes on Thursdays over on Paramount+. Those who missed the premiere still have time to catch up before the latest episodes, which would be advised.