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The Halo TV Series Just Killed Off An Iconic Character

The latest episode of the Paramount+ Halo series is an action-packed throat punch from the moment it starts. That punch to your windpipe will sting a little more if you’re a big fan of a certain character from the games, who bit the proverbial dust this week.

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Halo season 2 episode 4, titled “Reach,” marks one of the bigger deviations from the game’s established canon since the series announced it created its own timeline. This deviation doesn’t necessarily detract from the episode, as it’s perhaps the strongest yet, but the specific way in which it opts to get rid of a well-known Halo figure is strikingly unceremonious. If people were mad about Master Chief taking his helmet off (and it staying off in the second season), if they were irate about him getting his gravity hammer wet, they’ll be angrier than a freshly kicked hornet’s nest about what happens in “Reach.”

Spoilers for Halo season 2 episode 4 and the Halo game series follow.

This episode kills off Commander Keyes (Danny Sapani) during the Covenant’s invasion of Reach. In the first Halo game (which takes place after the Fall of Reach in the series’ timeline), the Commander is captured by the Covenant, tortured, rescued by Master Chief, and then infected by the zombie-like Flood. Master Chief mercy-kills Keyes when he discovers that the Commander has been subsumed along with other human minds into what would eventually become the Gravemind, a Flood with near-omniscient powers. It’s a brutal death for a beloved character, but the Halo series really said, “nah, let’s have him die because he forgot how to fuel up a ship.”

Read More: I’m Not Afraid To Say It: I’m Excited For Halo Season Two

Yes, Commander Keyes, in the midst of trying to evacuate Reach with others, realizes that the ship they’re on is still connected to the dock via its fuel line. Even though Keyes knew that the Fall of Reach was nigh, he didn’t get a getaway car ready. And for that planning error, he got smoked. At least he got a great speech beforehand, delivered with impressive gusto by Sapani, and a funny, final one-liner.

But Keyes’ death sucks because he isn’t nearly as compelling here as he is in the games, mainly due to the series’ laser-focus on the Spartans. While I maintain that the Halo show is strongest when it focuses on John and the Spartans’ struggle to both protect the human race and reckon with who they are and what the UNSC made them, that choice means that other characters get less fanfare. Less fanfare means deaths are less impactful, and when a beloved game character unceremoniously dies at a point when he’s, canonically, not supposed to, it stings.

Aside from Keyes’ untimely death, “Reach” is a badass, action-packed episode. There are some great nods to the games, including a huge Covenant Wraith tank decimating the city streets, a crunchy, messy hand-to-hand fight between an armor-less Chief and an Elite, and a few messy, goopy explosions courtesy of some good ol’ UNSC frag grenades.

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