Halo Season 2, Episode 1, ‘Sanctuary’ Recap

The Master Chief in Halo Season 2 Episode 1

Warning: The following recap contains major spoilers for Halo Season 2, Episode 1 “Sanctuary.”

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Halo Season 2’s debut episode, “Sanctuary,” opens with John-117/The Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) strapped to a futuristic medical gurney. From off-screen, AI program Cortana (Jen Taylor) begs the Master Chief to wake up before insisting the only way to save his life is to “sever the connection” between them. A single tear runs down the side of the Master Chief’s face.

No Sanctuary on Sanctuary

Several months later, the Master Chief and the Silver Team Spartans under his command are on a colony world, Sanctuary. None of them is particularly happy about the mission. It’s Silver Team’s third civilian evacuation in a row, and they’re eager for action.

Our heroes wind up getting their wish, as the situation on Sanctuary soon turns pear-shaped. Master Chief has to diffuse tensions between the UNSC troops and the locals, who refuse to leave. Meanwhile, Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) and Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu) notice mysterious flashes atop a cliff. The USNC’s comms relay atop the cliff goes offline – just as a Covenant warship arrives.

Related: Halo Season 2 Delivers a Stronger Second Campaign (Review)

Leaving Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) to oversee the evacuation, the Master Chief races to the clifftop. There, he locates some of the missing comms team, only for an invisible force to pick off all of them – except Corporal Perez (Cristina Rodlo) – one by one. This unseen enemy soon reveals itself as a squad of Covenant Elites, who are promptly dispatched by the Chief.

The Master Chief and Perez aren’t out of danger for long, though, as another wave of Elites led by an imposing commanding officer appears out of the fog. It’s looking like game over for Master Chief and Perez, until the Elites inexplicably power down their plasma swords and exit stage left. As the Elites go, the Master Chief notices a smaller, hooded figure among their ranks.

The Covenant then begins bombarding Sanctuary, as Silver Team evacuates all but the resident mystics, who refuse to abandon their planet. As the Master Chief carries Perez to the departing UNSC ships, the mystics’ leader warns him that she has foreseen his death “and it is soon.”

Debriefs and Doubts for Silver Team

On inner colony Reach, Captain Jacob Keyes (Danny Sapani) debriefs Silver Team on the Sanctuary mission. He informs them that what happened there has happened on other outer colony worlds, which were also turned to glass by Covenant bombardments. The Master Chief growls that the Covenant was already on Sanctuary long before it was glassed, however, Keyes insists on waiting for intelligence outfit ONI’s report.

As if on cue, high-ranking ONI operative – and Silver Team’s new boss – James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan) arrives in the briefing room. Ackerson expresses his admiration for each team member and assures them that together, they’ll turn the tide of the war. However, this doesn’t involve any frontline offensives, as Ackerson declares that evacuating outer colony worlds “is the mission.”

Alongside all this, over on asteroid settlement the Rubble, Spartan-turned-pirate Soren-066 (Bokeem Woodbine) attends an underworld slave auction. A merchant’s mate for sale, Felix, attempts to barter his way to freedom with information on the whereabouts of Ackerson’s predecessor, Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). Soren feigns disinterest but signals one of his men to retrieve Felix.

Related: All Major Actors & Cast List for Halo Season 2

Back on Reach, the Master Chief meets with Ackerson. The Chief reiterates his concerns that the Covenant’s actions on Sanctuary point to a larger looming threat. In response, Ackerson asks the Master Chief if he’s experiencing hallucinations and voices concerns that Cortana could’ve damaged his mind while they were linked.

Meanwhile, on the Rubble, Soren and his wife Laera (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) argue over his obsession with Halsey. Laera adds that Soren’s crew is unhappy with him, and the other pirate syndicates no longer fear him. She suggests they take their son and start a new life elsewhere, however, Soren refuses to run.

On Reach, Perez receives a medal for her actions on Sanctuary. Silver Team watches a broadcast of the ceremony from their locker room, before another Spartan unit, Cobalt Team, arrives. The two teams trade barbs, with the Cobalt Spartans mocking the Silver Team for removing their emotion-suppressing pellets. Cobalt Team then exits for a Sanctuary-like mission.

Mysteries abound on Reach and beyond

Joseph Morgan as James Ackerson in Halo Season 2

Convinced his earlier warnings were ignored, the Master Chief angrily confronts Ackerson. Ackerson doesn’t back down, though, and questions the Chief’s report of what happened on the clifftop. He adds that the Master Chief is still suffering side effects from being linked to Cortana, and states that Silver Team won’t be cleared for active duty.

On the Rubble, Soren and his son, Kessler (Tylan Bailey) share a tender moment. Soren assures Kessler monsters aren’t real, before meeting with Felix aboard his ship. He warns Felix not to lie about knowing Halsey’s location, but the merchant’s mate maintains he’s telling the truth.

In one of Reach’s seedier neighborhoods, an incognito Master Chief has a surprise encounter with former ONI director Margaret Parangosky (Shabana Azmi). Parangosky quizzes the Chief on Sanctuary and warns him that Ackerson will never take him seriously. She then instructs the Master Chief to investigate further and report back to her.

Related: What Is The Fall of Reach in Halo Season 2, Explained

In space, Soren and Felix board an abandoned spaceship that Halsey is supposedly on. However, the good doctor isn’t there and the whole thing was a sting operation designed to bring Soren down.

Still incognito, the Master Chief visits an AI peepshow. He boots up a (clothed) holographic companion modeled on Cortana and shares his concerns about his current mental state. The Master Chief then flashes back to the Sanctuary clifftop, where the hooded figure is revealed as Makee (Charlie Murphy) – the Covenant’s human mole who died in Season 1.

In a closing montage, a fleet of Covenant ships takes flight while Soren’s crew delivers the bad news to Laera and Kessler, sending the latter running off into the Rubble’s caves. Here he meets another hooded figure: rebel Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha). It turns out she’s the one filling Kessler’s head with thoughts of monsters.

And that’s our recap of Halo Season 2, Episode 1. Check out additional episode recaps here.

Halo Season 2 is currently streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping Thursdays.

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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance writer obsessed with film, TV, video games, and comic books. His writing credits include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more. Originally from Australia, Leon is currently based in the UK.