WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for Halo 5: Guardians’ story, continue at your own risk…
Aside from the perilous cliffhanger at the end of Halo 5: Guardians, with Cortana unleashing her Guardians on the galaxy, and our remaining heroes seemingly powerless to stop her, everything else seems to have fallen pretty much back into place. Master Chief and the rest of Blue Team are back “on-side” with the UNSC, Cortana is placed neatly into the role of the antagonist, and our teams of Spartans know she has to be stopped before it’s too late.
However… Is it really that simple? In a somewhat recent editorial I looked at how much Cortana really is to blame for how events unfolded in Halo 5, and came to a reasonable conclusion that whilst it’s clear her plans don’t spell sunshine and rainbows for Humanity and countless other races, her actions really are intended in pursuit of a greater good. Now, many villains throughout history both factual and fictional have committed atrocities in pursuit of their perceived greater good, but the basic reality of the situation is that Cortana is trying to use her newfound power for good – or at least as far as her experience working with her creators, Humanity, has taught her. In a nutshell, it’s not unreasonable to surmise that somebody akin to an “old friend” of Cortana’s may feel a degree of sympathy towards her in light of her “good intentions”.
Now, who do we know has shared unimaginable trials and experiences with our new galactic dictator? Ah yes, one Master Chief Petty Officer John-117.
It’s true to say that he went to a lot of effort to try and “hear Cortana out,” to bring her home and forgive her for what she’s already done. It’s also fair to say that he was audibly disappointed, even angry with her during the final act of Halo 5, but still he gave her a chance to come home. Now whilst she ignored that offer and attempted to imprison Blue Team, again one can argue she did that for their safety and out of good intentions. The only thing we hear John say following his imprisonment is “Where’s Cortana?” – even after what she did, he’s still not done with her. The question is, does John intend to go after Cortana and end her for good, or will he deviate from his mission and continue to try and save her from herself? Or, as I suspect will happen, will Halo 6’s journey involve a bit of both?
Think about it. Halo 5’s pre-release marketing was very heavy on the Chief-vs-Locke conflict, and the possibility of Chief turning against the UNSC for a more important cause. Yet, as many have pointed out, there was very little of that actually directly explored in the game – sure, there was a small fist-fight, and a few bits of dialogue speculating on why Blue Team had gone AWOL, but very few shows of John being absolute in his choice of loyalties. Most of the marketing can run alongside the game, such as the HUNTtheTRUTH podcast and the Hero Falls commercial arc showing false propaganda reports of John’s death, however one particular production remains unaccounted for – the cryptic Master Chief/Spartan Locke reverse trailers from March ’15. If you haven’t somehow seen these, check them out below:
Yes, it’s likely there’s no more to this than the fact these short videos were simply hype-builders with a whopping heap of creative licence, but even if that’s the case, it does inspire the theory that John’s loyalties are still in question.
These trailers are set in a location absolutely devastated by what we can only assume to be a Guardian blast, something that rarely happens during the game, and certainly not with John and Locke together at the centre of it all. By the end of Halo 5, Cortana has deployed countless Guardians to enforce her new rule, and to do that, they cause massive destruction to subdue the opposition. The Infinity is also under threat from Cortana and vulnerable, yet undamaged in Halo 5, yet in the trailers it appears to have taken some serious hits. Perhaps what we’re seeing in these trailers is not simply creative licence, but a sequence of events yet to happen?
It’s not unlikely that at some point during Halo 6, whilst our heroes are fighting against Cortana’s forces, John is presented with a dilemma or change of heart, and instead of stopping Cortana for good he makes yet another effort (potentially in vain) to save her and stop the chaos she has set in motion. In doing this, maybe he again goes AWOL, this time alone in an attempt to end the conflict but in a way that results in Cortana’s return to his side, a lengthier route to peace possibly resulting in more destruction than would have occurred through ending her outright.
Suddenly, the tables have turned. Once again, John and Locke find themselves at odds, this time for certain. John’s mission is now to end the conflict and bring her home, meanwhile Locke’s only concern is to put a stop to her and her apparent allies, at any cost. Eventually following further destruction, the two former allies find themselves in a final confrontation. John, likely biased in his views, believing Locke has caused more damage than good in his attempts to complete his mission, meanwhile Locke holds John responsible for what has happened, seeing him as a traitor and a threat.
What happens in this conflict is impossible to say, but perhaps that is what these videos are alluding to – this is what Halo 6 will decide, and perhaps both will occur in the end in a manner of speaking. They both may fight to their last breaths, with one or the other triumphing, or perhaps something even bigger than the both of them occurs, and this fight is disbanded exactly where the trailers end.
Locke has been been invested in heavily as a character by the franchise as of late, and I don’t think they’re quite done with him yet. I suspect Halo 6 may take a similar form to earlier Halo games, ditching the fireteam setup from Halo 5 in favour of telling a more personal story of our two main characters – or even exploring all 8 members of the two fireteams as they all are forced to split up and hit Cortana’s forces on multiple fronts. So many possibilities, we will just have to wait patiently and see what the creative minds at 343 Industries can cook up for the game. Regardless of how it all pans out in the end, whether I’m onto something or spouting more nonsense than ever before, I’m super-stoked to see what happens!
Have you got any theories for Halo 6 and beyond? Am I just a raving lunatic?
Let us know in the comments or on our Subreddit!