I is perhaps within the minority, however I loved the primary season of the Paramount+ Halo TV collection. Although it stumbled at occasions, I appreciated its makes an attempt to flesh out characters like franchise lead Grasp Chief John-117, broaden upon well-established Halo lore, and provides us greater than only a online game retrofitted into an episodic tv present format. So once I sat down to speak with government producer Kiki Wolfkill, new showrunner David Wiener (who changed co-showrunners Steven Kane and Kyle Killen after the primary season), and stars Bokeem Woodbine (who performs Spartan-turned-pirate Soren-066) and Joseph Morgan (new character James Ackerson), I used to be forthcoming about my affections for the franchise and the collection, whereas acknowledging that many don’t really feel the identical approach I do.
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The Halo TV crew are well-aware of the critiques of season one, which not solely unmasked the often-monosyllabic Grasp Chief, however gave him a intercourse scene (which actor Pablo Schreiber has outspokenly lambasted). However they’re not deterred by the suggestions—they’re spurred on by it, decided to show that they’re all Halo lovers right here, and this second season will present that reasonably than inform it.
Halo season two is a (type of) reset
“Reset might be a robust phrase,” Wolfkill says after I reference feedback made in earlier interviews. “What was unimaginable was getting the season two pickup whereas we’re nonetheless in season one, so figuring out we might have the chance—it’s the identical in video games, proper, you’re making a recreation, you have got the listing of belongings you wish to do on the subsequent model, whilst you’re closing out the sport you’re making. It was much less about reset, as a lot because it was, now that we’ve discovered all of the issues we’ve discovered about making a season, what do we have to give attention to? What can we wish to be sure to execute on?…How can we make it possible for script and that story are absolutely the spine of our season?”
A part of these efforts to ensure the story drives the collection ahead concerned a showrunner swap-up: David Wiener (Concern the Strolling Useless) stepped in to helm Halo season two, bringing with him a extra grounded tone that was impressed by warfare movies like Fury and Saving Non-public Ryan. “It’s thrilling, simply because it’s Halo, it’s a possibility to inform a narrative on a large scale…and we do, it’s a very epic story,” he mentioned. “We tried actually laborious to inform it from a really intimate viewpoint, in order that our Spartans are a subjective perspective that gives a lens into the emotionality of the present. There are only a few properties that present that type of alternative.”
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Two individuals tasked with bringing that emotionality to the display screen are Woodbine (Fargo) and Morgan (The Vampire Diaries), who’re each followers of the franchise themselves. Woodbine’s Soren is a sophisticated character, equal elements indifferent, no-nonsense pirate and damaged former soldier with a cross to bear, who treads a far totally different path this season than the final.
“The problem was to try to perceive the mentality of a man who has completed a lot in his life on his personal, and has carved out a life for himself out of the rock of Gibraltar,” he says throughout our video chat. “But nonetheless right here comes this unknown variable that he has to take care of…how does it really feel to come back to date and really feel such as you’re not getting your reward?” Soren is a “second pores and skin” for Woodbine, although, so he was glad to step again into his boots for season two (boots which, he tells me, are “marginally” extra comfy than they had been in season one).
Morgan, who might be greatest recognized for enjoying sociopath-with-a-heart-of-gold Klaus Mikaelson within the beloved CW collection The Vampire Diaries, is a newcomer to the Halo present—however not the franchise. “I grew up taking part in the video games,” he says throughout our chat. And he’s additionally accustomed to showrunner Wiener, who he labored with on the Peacock collection Courageous New World.
“[Wiener] had a grittier, grimier imaginative and prescient for the present, a bit extra trustworthy to the canon. I’m excited to be part of that new imaginative and prescient,” Morgan mentioned. “I really feel actually blessed to be part of that. And you already know, simply being such a fan of the video games, I grew up taking part in them and that world was such part of my teenage years and my twenties, so it was a thrill to be on these units.”
Halo season two will win over the naysayers
There’s one query I ask throughout every interview: “What do you inform the individuals who didn’t like season one?” Although everybody gives a special reply, there’s a constant theme: it is a totally different tackle live-action Halo, another rooted in its supply materials. However that doesn’t imply Halo season two is totally backtracking on the trail it specified by the primary season—specifically, John-117 isn’t placing the helmet again on, guys.
“With season two, you actually really feel the fruits of that labor of affection,” Wolfkill says. “We needed to supply it up as a present to the followers. I hope they know, for individuals who didn’t like season one, the helmet’s nonetheless gonna come off—that gained’t change. However I do really feel like there’s a lot in season two that can actually hit on these Halo pillars that I hope they attempt to come again and see.”
Wiener expanded upon that, saying that season two is “all of the issues that we love about Halo as followers, with a narrative that I believe treats all of it very severely, and treats the character of Grasp Chief as a very advanced, fascinating protagonist…finally the place we wish to take our viewers is to these locations that Halo takes us. It’s emotional, it’s occurring in your coronary heart.”
Once I pose the identical query to Morgan, his reply surprises me:
I can in all probability be extra trustworthy than different individuals, as a result of I wasn’t even part of season one [laughs]. Look, I performed the video games, and I really like the world. And I’m a fan of the aesthetic. I do know that David Wiener, our new showrunner who introduced me on, is a big gamer as nicely…I believe that is, to a sure extent, a reinvention of the present that’s much more trustworthy to the canon…It’s the world of Halo that I [as a fan] wish to see—if you wish to see a Halo the place Grasp Chief doesn’t take off his helmet, you’re not gonna like this, as a result of he does take off his helmet—spoiler alert, his helmet does come off. But when you will get previous that, it’s cool.
The motion is extra constant, but the present is extra character-driven. We get to actually perceive the backstories for these characters and join with them and relate to them, which makes the stakes very actual as a result of now we care about them. I believe there’s much more of the type of politics of the world of Halo in there…for me, that is the primary season as a result of I’m approaching as a brand new particular person, and for many who possibly weren’t happy with season one, possibly that is your season one.
Halo season two (or season one, in response to Morgan) premieres February 8 on Paramount+. I do know I’ll be tuning in.