A star rating of 2 out of 5.

Paramount Plus's Halo TV series has been controversial pretty much from the off - and season 2 will be no different.


As a disclaimer: I'm not a gamer, and I don't have tons of experience with the Halo games, unlike other viewers - and, undoubtedly, that means many won't agree with my judgement of it.

Purely as a TV viewer, I enjoyed Halo season 1, but that certainly wasn't the case for everyone. From the decision to remove Master Chief's (Pablo Schreiber) helmet to genuine criticisms from the leading actor himself about certain plot lines, season 1 didn't exactly go down a storm with everyone.

But, for all its faults, there's no denying that season 1 was incredibly compelling, introducing us to a lead character we can't help but root for - especially when we discover the shocking truth about his past - and supporting characters that brought genuine heart to the story.

Pablo Schrieber as Master Chief in Halo season 2, holding a person over his shoulder and surrounded by orange light
Pablo Schrieber as Master Chief in Halo season 2. Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Unfortunately, with a new showrunner, a new focus and quite the time jump since the cliffhanger at the end of season 1, Halo season 2 has lost a lot of what made it special.

More like this

We pick up with Master Chief and co months after the events of season 1, when he and Silver Team have seemingly faced a demotion for reasons that are beyond them. But rather than moving the story on, the time jump makes it feel like we've missed a lot.

To make that worse, in the first four episodes of Halo season 2 that were made available for review, it feels like we're very static.

For good reason, John is cold, powerless and broken after the events of season 1 - but that feels like a regression for his character, who had a complex and nuanced journey in season 1.

Season 2 can't rely on its supporting players in the way that season 1 did, either.

While season 1 boasted compelling characters in the likes of Natascha McElhone's Dr Halsey, Kate Kennedy's Kai-125 and the newly introduced Kwan-Ha (played by Yerin Ha), season 2 suffers from taking some focus away from them.

One merciful exception is Soren, played by Bokeem Woodbine, and his family - who benefit from a more interesting story in season 2. If only we could say the same about the rest of the supporting characters.

Nor can season 2 rely on its new entrants. Our introduction to James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) is tepid, especially because it's impossible not to compare him to the vastly more interesting Dr Halsey, who's quite literally stuck in place in season 2, similarly to the re-imagined Cortana who, despite her importance in season 1, has barely spoken a word four episodes into season 2.

Jen Taylor as Cortana in Halo smiling and looking just past camera
Jen Taylor as Cortana in Halo. Paramount Plus

Then there's the "wall to wall" action. Many fans are sure to love the increased focus on action in season 2 and, in some places, it proves to be a well thought-out decision.

However, especially at the beginning of the season, when fans will be looking for answers to the questions we were left with at the end of season 1, it takes away from some of the character-driven stories, leaving little time for anything else.

All of this results in a less meaningful season 2 that's lost some of its heart. Of course, a lot of it will depend on how it sticks the landing with the final half of the season, but, a few episodes in, it's not looking good.

That's not to say there aren't redeeming elements. Despite less of a focus on the supporting characters, the cast still hold their own with what they're given - with some stand-out performances in there.

Cristina Rodlo is a particularly great addition to the cast, immediately making Talia Perez one of the most interesting characters of season 2. In places, the action works incredibly well, and it's clear new showrunner David Wiener has got a vision for where the show should go.

It won't be a huge surprise if many fans of the game prefer season 2, either. It seems many of their criticisms have been addressed, and there are clear parallels from the game that are designed to pay homage to the source material.

But, in a landscape where the video game adaptation curse has very much been broken with some spectacular pieces of television, I'm not sure that's enough.

Halo season 2 will begin on Paramount Plus on Thursday 8th February. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.