The SeriesTaking place several decades before the gunplay of the Halo games, we follow the training of Thomas Lasky, future commanding officer of the UNSC Infinity, and his fellow cadets at the Corbulo Academy of Military Sciences. At this point in Halo history, these recruits are honing their skills to battle a variety of insurgents who seem to have a case against the mighty forces of Earth. The show plays with the validity of the rebels' plight through Lasky, who's sympathetic having lost his brother to the conflict. In the opening shots of the series, a headstrong and reckless Lasky causes his squadron to fail a deathmatch-style exercise. Lasky's performance is compared to his mother's, a legendary officer, and he ends up getting his brow beat by not only his superior officers, but his fellow trainees as well. Seeking to redeem himself, he leads his squad to success through a sly Kobyashi Maru-style victory, only to fall victim to his allergy to cryo sleep. Of course, being able to be suspended and quickly revived from space travel is a critical component to a soldier's career, so he's granted a legitimate discharge. Before he can make his decision to stay or leave the academy, their planet comes under fire by some strange, new alien foes – the Covenant. SPARTANs, including a one Master Chief, are deployed to rescue Lasky and his fellow recruits, the only survivors of the attack.
The show feels a lot like Halo without diving too much for the series' traditions. It reminds me of an old FOX show called Space: Above and Beyond which was also about future soldiers fighting a new, alien villain, and I'd like to see more of this. It's beautifully shot and looks more like Gears than Halo at times although it draws directly from the previous live-action work that lead up to the releases of Halo 3 and Halo Reach. The production's smaller budget rears its head when it comes to some of the special effects or the set designs, but this isn't some Blomkamp Halo movie. The first half of the film, dealing with the cadets and their academy life, is pretty interesting, but features little rising action. It's only when the planet is suddenly under siege that the pace picks up. The Master Chief is here, but it's a little disorienting as another voice actor is used and he has a huge, dopey '117′ on his armor when he's clearly a different model than his fellow SPARTANs. He feels like another character when, at one point, he rushes to the cadets he's protecting, who are now gushing over the loss of their prettiest member to Covenant fire, and asks for ammo with the tact of a friend bumming for cigarettes. The series' back half also feels weird as the show's established look gets injected with a bunch of neon greens, purples, and blues as they escape the Covenant onslaught. It's not really the producers' fault, but it's a little odd.