I’m trying to come up with all the ways I can reiterate the same idea of Halo: Nightfall: bland, mediocre, sub-par…I think you get the idea. On paper, the idea of a show set within the dense, rich, and sweeping universe of the Halo games sounds like an awesome idea, but somehow, the first substantive episodic take on that franchise in live-action has managed to be just so…bland.
There’s that word again! Much like the first episode last week, the second episode of Halo: Nightfall is, quite simply, poorly written, and doesn’t give you much of a reason to actively care about the characters and their mission. Largely, the element that can be identified as contributing to this overall sense of apathy is the chemistry between the various cast members, of which there isn’t any (or at least very little). While actor Mike Colter’s Jameson Locke character still manages to easily rise above his fellow characters and maintain a semblance of being interesting, the writing of other characters around him is dunderheaded and simple. A show with a relatively strong protagonist and some genuinely beautiful production values just isn’t taking advantage of these elements well enough, and as a Halo franchise fan, that’s really disappointing to see.
The plot of the episode picks right up after the end of last week’s show, where after discovering that an element lethal to humans is being harvested from the remains of the first Halo ring destroyed by Master Chief in the original game, ONI operative Jameson Locke takes a few of his fellow operatives along with militia members from the attacked planet to journey to the remains of Halo, and put a stop to the harvesting of the element so that the Covenant can’t kill anymore people inside of their tenuous peace agreement.
The episode tries in a few places to inject an element of suspense into some of the moments where things start going downhill for the team, but it largely fails due to the aformentioned writing problems, and a pace that just generally feels off. There was one 15-second moment of tension that was genuinely enthralling involving a cool creature effect on one of the characters’ helmets, but beyond that, this episode contributes to the overall idea that Nightfall is doing the absolute bare minimum story-wise to get by.
Part of the reason that the pacing feels off is that this story doesn’t seem to lend itself particularly well to an episodic format. Instead, this feels like it should maybe last all of an hour tops, and instead a rather thin idea is being stretched and dragged out to fill two-and-a-half hours over five episodes. The very basic idea of the story is interesting, but its the pacing over these last two episodes that have just killed it, taking a good idea and contorting it into a mediocre mess.
Its unfortunate that this is the case, because Nightfall does continue to look very good. It’s also interesting that the story is returning to the first Halo installation that started it all. A couple of good ideas stretched into five episodes, though, does not make for a series that’s particularly enthralling. Maybe it’ll turn out to be surprising, but you may not want to hold your breath. 4.5/10
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