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HALO: Forward Unto Dawn, Episode 5 – My thoughts…

November 3, 2012 Leave a comment

The FINAL episode!

I actually watched this very early this morning, right before going to bed before it was announced everywhere (I think they put it up like two mins before I happened to stumble on it). I was waiting all week for this, thinking about the other four eps and how bad-ass the fourth one was, I was giddy with anticipation. But…

As much of a HALO fanatic as I am, I should pretty much love anything related to it (which I do, for the most part). And for the first four eps of this awesome series, I was enthralled.

However, for some reason, the finale to it, this last episode, doesn’t feel…right. I’m going to post some major spoilers so if you haven’t seen it yet, do so and then come back or whatever.

You’ve been officially warned…

The very beginning, like with the rest of the eps, starts with Cortana in the ‘present’, as in where the series is at right now after the end of HALO3, which is on-board the frigate (destroyer?) ‘Forward Unto Dawn’…or, well, what’s left of it. Master Chief is in cryo, as they drift through space waiting for some kind of rescue. Four years have passed and Cortana is suffering the effects of an illness that all A.I.’s experience after 7 (or so) years – Rampancy (which basically means that all the knowledge she’s gathered and collected over the years reaches a ‘critical mass’ and emotions start to run…rampant…as the A.I. breaks with reality and begins to succumb to the notion that it is better than everything else, it’s amassed enough ‘power’ that it no longer thinks it has to be subservient to humans and becomes extremely dangerous and unstable. There is no known treatment or cure and the A.I. has to be…destroyed, for lack of a better word). It’s now been 8 years since Cortana came to be and she’s trying desperately to hold on to her sanity, which features heavily in the new game. I’m not quite sure what place that part of the story has with this series, other than to explain some back story before the game comes out and the fact that for four years Cortana has sent out distress calls, which are eventually picked up by the UNSC Infinity (also in the game), which is apparently commanded by Thomas Laskey, who is the main character in this series.

Whew! Still with me? After the bit with Cortana in the very beginning (where we finally actually see her instead of just hear her voice. Her look changes with each game to a certain degree and personally I liked the very first look of her in HALO: CE, though she looks good in this one too. She has a very young looking face but a body that looks to be older to relate the fact that, in ‘A.I. years’, she’s practically past middle-age), we return to where we left off in the fourth episode, in ‘the past’. The Covenant have invaded the planet where the cadets of the military school are training and Master Chief, along with some of his squad (who we read about pretty extensively in the books, especially ‘Kelly’) are fighting them off so he can save these four cadets that are left, apparently on the planet. In the previous episode, one of the cadets, ‘Sully’, had been hit in the leg and they finally found a Warthog and took off into the woods to an extraction point being held by the other members of Master Chief’s squad. The Chief is in the back manning the gun turret and the rest are in the Warthog itself. Basically, they get ambushed along the way and stop. It’s then we find out that Chyler, Laskey’s best friend this whole time at the school, is hit in the chest and badly wounded. After some more shooting and running, they get to a small area where she dies. This is one of the points that I feel doesn’t quite ‘work’. The other two cadets are a little shocked but don’t say anything, Chief is watching out into the woods and Laskey starts crying – hard. All that is fine, but for some reason I just didn’t ‘feel’ it. His tears didn’t look ‘real’ enough for me, honestly. It looked as if he was forcing it, from an acting point of view, rather than really trying to convey the feeling of the scene. On top of that, he comes off as being a bit ‘whiny’. The whole scene just didn’t work for me. It’s moving, yes, but just not in the right ‘way’ for me. I dunno, hard to explain I guess. Then after checking things out, Chief comes and kneels down and just says, ‘I’m sorry’. But even that felt somehow ‘wrong’. In all the games and books, for the most part, Chief is a man of very few words. Especially in the first few games, he says very little and conveys that image of a tough, ‘macho’ type. And it works perfect. In these two episodes we see him, I feel he talks way too much for what is considered ‘normal’ for him, at least in my eyes. Granted, yes, this is supposed to take place years before his appearance in (most of) the books and games, so he may have been somewhat different then. War has definitely been known to harden a soul.

Also, as we see in the end, it appears that Chief may not be much older than the cadets he’s saving. After Chyler dies, they run some more through the woods, trying to evade a Covenant Hunter. They stop at one point and we find that they have no more ammo for their guns and only one grenade. We run into another problem for me right after this as Laskey announces that he’s going to run off to get the Hunter’s attention so Chief has a chance to use the grenade. When he says this, the other two cadets start yelling at him not to run, pleading emotionally that it will be suicide. Yet just a few mins before they were absolutely silent as Chyler died. Laskey goes for it anyway and runs in front of the Hunter and into the woods as fast as he can, all slowed down for dramatic effect. Again, I have a problem with this too. In the third episode, it became apparent that he couldn’t run because of his allergy and that if he did, he would pass out. He doesn’t here, nor does he show any concern about it. Also, the Hunter is able to get off a shot from his Fuel-Rod weapon and nearly vaporize Laskey before the Chief even moves from where he’s crouching. After the first shot, Laskey is knocked down but gets back up as the Hunter powers up for another and this is when the Chief takes off to somehow lodge the grenade on the Hunter and blow it to pieces. It does, however, fire off another shot which sends Laskey, who should be out of range and probably out of line of sight in the thick woods, flying through the air and into a bush and weeds. It’s cool looking, don’t get me wrong, and I liked it for the action but for what it represented story-wise, it was just another thing that didn’t feel ‘right’.

After the Hunter is defeated, they all get to a Pelican dropship/transport and meet up with two more Spartans in Chief’s team, one of them being ‘Kelly’. They briefly (and oddly) converse (it just felt a little ‘stiff’) and all get seated in the open bay in the back as it takes off. We see that the Covenant have already begun ‘glassing’ the world and the area where the school had been is now a scorched and burning wasteland.

It’s here where they throw an unexpected, but nonetheless absolutely awesome, surprise at us. While the Spartans sit on a bench seat on one side of the bay and the cadets sit on the other side of the bay, and the Pelican continues to climb up into the sky, we see the two other Spartans in Chief’s team, one being ‘Kelly’, take their helmets off. This is something amazing as, for those that don’t know or are unfamiliar with HALO, we almost never see the Spartans out of their armor or helmets off (HALO Reach being somewhat of an exception, which apparently takes place after this time-frame). And to date, we have never seen what Master Chief looks like. (there’s a huge rumor that he’s Black but it hasn’t been confirmed, at least to my knowledge. For the sake of clarity, the voice for Chief in the games is White, as is in this series) But, after they take their helmets off (Master Chief does not, of course), we see that his squad mates are just kids! Probably no older than the cadets themselves! ‘Sully’ even asks how old they are, to which ‘Kelly’ replies that “it’s classified’. I got a chuckle out of that.

After this, we flash forward to Thomas Laskey as an adult and we see him as we did in the first part of the first episode, on board the UNSC Infinity, listening to the distress call from Cortana. He then says that everyone is to go into Cryo-sleep for the journey to Master Chief and Cortana’s location and we see the scars from the allergic reactions of the Cryo on his chest as he suits up for it. We see the battle-group make the jump and it’s over. I’m assuming that HALO4 picks up right after this ending.

It really just feels, to me, that they built the whole thing up over the first three episodes, drawing it out to establish all the characters, only to kill most of them off in the last two and run at a blazing pace from there to the end. It felt like there should be another few episodes in between the second, third and fourth to keep the slower pace established in the beginning. It might be they wanted to convey the confusion and feelings of everything happening at once, so fast you can hardly understand what’s going on when the shooting starts. But in the last episode, it starts then slows, then starts again, then practically stops, and follows that to the end. Add to the uneven pacing, the somewhat awkward emotional scenes and I feel like they very unfortunately missed getting this absolutely perfect. It was close, SO close, but the ending just doesn’t work for the story being told, in the manner it started in. It almost feels like a ‘Mass Effect 3’ kind of ‘opportunity lost’ situation where it could have been so much more epic and meaningful, but for some reason, it just…wasn’t. That isn’t to say it’s not a wonderful series and a fun thing to watch. It certainly is. In fact, I’ve watched the whole five episodes, in order, a couple of times now already and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’m definitely geared up for HALO4 (as if I wasn’t already!) and if I can get my PS3 sold, I’ll be playing it for a LONG time, no doubt. I would also say that anyone with even a remotely passing interest should watch this series. They won’t be sorry.

Categories: Online

BluesNews Gradients…

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Just an idea I’ve been foolin’ with for some time. I decided to make some quick mock-ups to illustrate my idea.

Blue-to-Black gradient

Blue to black gradient, probably the most tolerable.

Black to blue gradient...

Black to blue gradient. Notice the loss of the blue bar on the top. May or may not look better than the other way around.

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