Halo Season 1 Ending Explained: Theories and Questions After the Finale

Time to speculate about Halo season 2...

Halo Season 1 Ending Explained
Photo: Paramount+

This HALO article contains spoilers.

Paramount+’s Halo TV series has finished the fight…at least for now. Leaving us with more questions than answers, the season 1 finale, “Transcendence,” is a bumpy ride that may leave fans of the games dissatisfied. In fact, the nine-episode first season ends with the Halo ring itself still a mysterious goal for both the alien Covenant and the human UNSC.

While the show remains frustratingly elusive about storylines we know very well after 20 years of video games, we can speculate about some of the most burning questions after the Halo finale…

Will Master Chief Ever Find the Halo Ring?

Halfway through the season, it was clear the Halo rings that serve as the setting for many of the games wouldn’t be a big part of the show. Instead, characters found a lot of other things in the course of trying to get to a portal to the prophesied ring world. The characters now all have pieces of the puzzle: Master Chief has the two-part artifact that can reveal the way, while Kwan knows a portal on her home planet might have something to do with the ring.

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However, the show also makes the Halo ring a lot more of a spiritual concept than a place. As in the games, the Covenant believe it will bring them to a higher plane of existence (and/or a military victory). Master Chief’s visions of the Halo suggest it symbolizes something almost like a religion for him, too. It’s a place where he can find answers about his own life.

The show will likely send Master Chief to the physical ring eventually — after all, the ring world is pivotal to the entire mythology of the franchise. However, with the series adding so many other sub-plots along the way, it’s entirely unclear when anyone will put boots on a Halo outside of a vision.

What Happened When Chief and Cortana Merged?

Master Chief’s master plan was something he never wanted to do. With the Spartans badly outnumbered during an attack on a Covenant stronghold and Chief unable to touch the alien artifacts as himself, he forced Cortana to take over his mind to save him. After all, that’s what Dr. Halsey meant for her to do: to eventually replace the Spartan’s mind and body, creating a killing machine with no pesky human emotions. Even though Chief now trusts Cortana, it’s still a worst-case scenario for a man who was just starting to discover his own past and decide what life he wanted for himself.

But now that it’s happened, what does it actually mean? The audience and the characters are both not sure. Chief hasn’t spoken yet. When he does, will it be Cortana’s voice? There are, of course, all kinds of sci-fi hand-waving one could do to pull them apart again. Halsey herself, who created the process and might know how to reverse it, is also still alive…

What Is Halsey’s Long-Term Plan?

The doctor is out. Halsey escaped from the UNSC by planting a flash clone, the same kind of ruse she used to trick the Spartans’ parents. She’s a wanted woman in UNSC space, but also still clearly has resources, allies, and a lot of plans. With her desire to create a “perfect” humanity free of emotion, it’s likely she’s going to be set up as another villain searching for the mysterious, but allegedly all-powerful, Halo.

The Covenant may or may not fit into those plans. She’s clearly willing to betray the UNSC in order to try to save humanity, which might also make her strategically interesting to Kwan’s Insurrectionists.

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Are the Prophets Still Alive?

The Covenant’s leaders are still around, and it’s clear they have a whole army to unleash. They don’t have a human to activate artifacts anymore, which is why they wanted to capture Master Chief alive. Cortana’s strafing run that cleared the way for the Spartans to escape didn’t target the Prophets, so they’ll undoubtedly be back next season, but we’ve also lost a Covenant point of view character. Speaking of which…

Could Makee’s Death Make Way for the Arbiter?

Makee’s role as a Covenant agent had led some fans to compare her to the Arbiter, Halo 2‘s infamous second playable character. The Arbiter’s story gave the games a lot more insight into the Covenant, showing how he was granted his title as a punishment instead of a promotion. But he ends up working with Master Chief, creating an early human-alien alliance.

Could the second season adapt this storyline from the games? As a beloved character, he’d certainly make headlines. But the show also doesn’t seem particularly interested in Halo lore… Still, the Arbiter would be the perfect replacement for Makee if the show wants to establish another alien point of view.

Will Halo Season 2 Happen?

Season two will definitely happen. Despite mixed reviews, the streaming service has picked up the military sci-fi adaptation for a second season. But a new showrunnner and executive producer, David Wiener (Brave New World), will be in charge of crafting the future of Master Chief and Cortana on TV, taking over from Steven Kane and Kyle Killen.

No release date has yet been set for Halo season 2, which will once again air on Paramount+.