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Spoilers are ahead for Halo season’s finale.

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Summary

  • Master Chief’s coin story in
    Halo
    season 2 reveals his deep understanding of his own destiny and the ability to take control of his fate.
  • In the finale, John prioritizes saving his friends over his mission, showcasing his growth as a hero who makes his own luck.
  • The coin story serves as a powerful thematic element in season 2, highlighting Master Chief’s transition from a symbol to a true hero.

Several times throughout Halo season 2, the show references an anecdote from Master Chief’s past — one that involves him flipping a coin and calling “heads” or “tails.” Although it might seem like a throwaway memory at first, Master Chief’s coin story is actually incredibly meaningful. The sophomore outing of Paramount+’s adaptation reevaluated its approach to Halo‘s narrative and characters. While Halo season 2 insists on keeping John-117 (Pablo Schreiber) free from his Spartan armor for the majority of the installment’s runtime, it seems to understand Master Chief’s beloved character on a much deeper level.

From standing up to Dr. Halsey’s replacement, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan), to grappling with whether he’s more of a weapon than a human, John goes through it in the second season. From the very first episode of Halo season 2, “Sanctuary,” John finds himself teaming up with Corporal Talia Perez (Cristina Rodlo), a Marine who specializes in communications and linguistics. Although Perez has seen her fair share of action, she and Master Chief bond during the Covenant invasion of Reach — a truly tragic conflict that pushes Perez to reassess herself as well as what makes the heroic John tick.

John-117’s Story About Flipping A Coin Returns In Halo Season 2, Episode 7 & The Finale

John-117 Flips A Coin Before Saving Perez

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief wielding an energy sword in the shadows in Halo season 2-1

In the Halo season 2 finale’s ending, Master Chief makes more than a few decisions that surprise his higher-ups. As Makee (Charlie Murphy) and the Arbiter Var ‘Gatanai (Viktor Åkerblom) race toward the Halo, John is meant to cut them off. Admiral Margaret Parangosky (Shabana Azmi), a calculating ONI officer, believes Master Chief is her insurance plan. If Perez and the many, many waves of Spartan-IIIs fail to destroy the Covenant ship near the ring, the Chief will make sure to claim the Forerunner superweapon for humanity.

But ONI tried to kill off Master Chief during the Fall of Reach episode, and the Spartan hasn’t forgotten. Even before being left to die — without his armor — the Chief was dismissed by Ackerson and manipulated by Parangosky. They had planned to make Master Chief into a martyr for their cause, but John learns to take control of his own destiny in the Halo season 2 finale. When deciding whether he should pursue Makee or save Perez and his fellow Spartan Kai (Kate Kennedy), John flips a coin. Ultimately, he abandons his primary mission to save his friends.

Perez Questions Master Chief’s Attitude During The Fall Of Reach

Master Chief Claims To Know The Outcome Of His Battles

During the Covenant invasion of Reach, Perez questions Master Chief’s ability to remain so calm and focused. For the Marine, there was no training that could have prepared her to lose her family — and countless other civilians — in one fell swoop. Perez is insistent, hoping to crack some kind of code. Eventually, John reveals to the Marine why he’s so at ease while dodging plasma and tackling invisible Elites. In his childhood, a woman told John to call heads or tails on a coin; he made the right call every time — though not because of luck.

Perez tells him that it must be a nice feeling — to enter a conflict knowing you’ll live — but Master Chief disagrees.

While sharing the memory with a shocked Perez, Master Chief insists that he knew the outcome of the coin flip every time. It wasn’t luck or a feeling, but something more certain. Similarly, on the battlefield, John knows that he’ll suffer losses, but he’s sure he won’t be the one to die. Perez tells him that it must be a nice feeling — to enter a conflict knowing you’ll live — but Master Chief disagrees. In the Halo season 2 finale, John knows that he’ll be okay if he stops to help Perez, Kai, and Cortana (Jen Taylor; Christina Bennington).

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Master Chief’s Coin Story Reiterates Halo Season 2’s Theme Of Control

John Learns To Have Faith In Himself As A Real Hero

Not only does Master Chief’s coin story serve as a compelling anecdote and a relationship-building moment between him and Perez, but it also emphasizes some of the sophomore season’s major themes. During season 1, Master Chief was used by the UNSC and ONI as a symbol of heroism, encouraging humanity to believe in the fight against the Covenant. The Spartan is literally the poster boy for the Human-Covenant War. After losing Cortana and discovering his “blessed one” abilities, the Chief starts to question his nature — and his identity — more deeply.

Dismissed by Ackerson, Master Chief finds himself losing the trust of his comrades. When the Covenant finally invade Reach, just as he’d predicted, John is set up to fail. While the events on Reach take out the remaining members of Silver Team — Vannak dies, Riz is gravely injured and retires, and Kai chooses the wrong side of things — it’s Master Chief who makes it through the battle. Instead of being used and controlled by ONI, John takes his fate into his own hands. Knowing he’ll be okay, Master Chief chooses to be his own kind of hero.

Does Master Chief’s Coin Story Hint At His Special DNA?

Master Chief Makes His Own Luck

While Master Chief’s coin story seems to be more thematic than connected to the show’s lore, there is a slight possibility that Master Chief is able to influence fate. If he knows the outcome of the coin every time, there’s some possibility that the Forerunner “blessed one” is making that result happen. The Halo series has certainly dipped into more of the franchise’s fantastical lore, so nothing is really out of the question. Season 2 even revealed what sets John and the Spartans apart from other humans. However, the coin story may just be an indicator that John makes his own luck in a metaphorical sense.

All 8 episodes of

Halo

season 2 are now streaming on Paramount+.



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