Halo The Series Season 2 Interview: “The Stakes are High – This Is a War Story”

Halo Season 2 Hero Image

Halo The Series has always been about offering a different perspective. Where the games have always put us inside a helmet, the Paramount+ show pulls back and offers unfamiliar points of view on a story so well-known by millions of fans.

In Season 2 – which sees its first two episodes released on Paramount+ today – that’s never been truer. We know from the trailers that this season will tackle a war with the Covenant that edges ever-closer to human home soil and, crucially, will cover the events of the iconic, epochal Fall of Reach. But we’ll be seeing that from perspectives we’ve never had before and – as we saw in Season 1 – even seeing changes to the game series’ storyline, upping the surprise factor.

We caught up with Xbox Head of IP Expansion and Entertainment (and all-round Halo legend) Kiki Wolfkill to discuss how the show’s creators have gone about putting a new spin on such legendary events, and even shifted the tone of the show from Season 1.

“With Season 2, we edge up against events that we start to see in the games,” Wolfkill explains. “Obviously the events on Reach, which people have seen in trailers, [are] a huge historical milestone in Halo history and chronology, and are also critical [to] the story – because what it does is it marks when the Covenant have really come close to home. Reach is our last stand before they find Earth.

“We really tried to honour that event for what it means for the stakes. But also, what we get to do is see it from a different perspective – we get to see it on the ground. We get to see it from the soldiers’ perspective, outside of Noble team, which is where Halo: Reach focuses. And so you get a very different story that comes out of that by virtue of seeing what it means for a Marine to go through that – what it means for a city to fall and how terrifying that is.”

Chief and Silver Team Image

But Reach is only a part of this story, and learning how we reach that moment will be a major part of Season 2. “We’re about six months or so after the events of Season 1,” Wolfkill explains, “and the environment feels really different. The UNSC has had a lot of changes, the Covenant are edging ever closer. So I would say the big thing with Season 2, where we start off from, is that humanity’s absolutely on its back foot. We saw in Season 1 [that] the Covenant [were] out in the Outer Colonies – they’ve really come close to home in Season 2… So we find our Spartans kind of in a different place while the threat gets ever bigger. The stakes feel higher, but a lot in the universe has shifted in that six months.”

That comes with a shift to the overall tone of the show, too. Wolfkill says Season 2 reflects its more desperate stakes with a shift in how it feels – helped by new showrunner David Wiener (‘Fear the Walking Dead’). “It’s much more grounded, it’s much grittier,” says Wolfkill. “[It kind of goes] back to those Halo 3: ODST TV ad roots, you know? The stakes are high, and this is a war story. We wanted really for the audience to feel the threat, and not just see it.”

Cristina Rodlo as Corporal Perez.

“We really wanted this to be a visceral experience,” she continues. “We wanted it to feel scary, we wanted it to feel intense, and I wanted it to feel emotional with what happens with some of our characters. At the same time, I’m super proud of our action. What I love is that intertwining of really interesting character drama, and also just high action and stakes. We spent a lot of time actually refactoring some of our action sequences in order to get that more visceral feel – and I think that’s something people will be able to see right away.”

Of course, seeing familiar characters in new contexts will remain a major part of Season 2 – Master Chief, Silver Team, and more will return, and Wolfkill says that Chief’s journey to discovering what his role is for humanity will be the key to his storyline here. But Halo The Series is introducing new perspectives along the way.

Joseph Morgan as James Ackerson.
Joseph Morgan as James Ackerson.

“We have some great new characters,” Wolfkill enthuses. “We have Colonel James Ackerson – who is from [the original series’] canon – played by Joseph Morgan, who’s extraordinary. What’s exciting about bringing Ackerson in is it’s a character we get to see in books and in comics, and has always been sort of a shadowy foil for [Cortana creator Catherine] Halsey… It lets us sort of dig into that in a way that we don’t actually experience in the games.

“And then we also introduce a character named Corporal Perez, played by Cristina Rodlo – who we see early in Episode One is a Marine – getting back to that Marine perspective and, again, how terrifying it is to see an Elite or Sangheili for the first time and encounter them in battle. There’s, there’s sort of a horror aspect to that.”

It all adds up to make Season 2 of Halo The Series a very exciting prospect – a storyline that helps push forward an intriguing tale for those already invested in the show, and a new reflection of events from the games already firmly in the hearts of millions of Halo fans. You can start that journey right now by streaming the first two episodes of Season 2 on Paramount+ today, with new episodes coming weekly.

To celebrate the release of Halo The Series Season 2, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can now claim a 30-day trial to Paramount+.

This interview has been edited for context and clarity. It was conducted by Malik Prince.