Thursday, February 28

Spartan OPs Episodes 9 and 10 discussed by the lead writer

Brian Reed, franchise writer and author of Spartan Ops once again talks about what went into writing the recent Spartan Ops. Maybe I'm an idiot or maybe it was bad story telling but I hadn't realised Halsey getting shot was the end point of this series. It left me expecting more (and wanting more..) so I guess that's a great sign from a story telling point of view. Over to Brian.

Episode 9: Key

This was, in a lot of ways, one of the hardest episodes to write, because we had so many moving pieces. Palmer’s in one place, Majestic in another, Halsey in another – but we have to get them all in the same place at the same time and do it convincingly. For days and days it drove us nuts as we tried to make it make sense that Thorne and Palmer would get to that room at the same time. And then it clicked – Lasky was just standing there telling Palmer he disagreed with the order from Osman. But he wasn’t doing anything about it. A quick re-write, a last second pick up shot on the mocap stage in Los Angeles, and suddenly Lasky was sending Majestic on another mission – a mission that he’s going to have to answer eventually.

I’m really happy we finally got to put Palmer in the field in these two episodes. I wanted her down there much earlier than this, but the duties of command mean you don’t always get to go run around on the planet shooting bad guys with your friends.

Episode 10: Exodus and Episode 11: Exodus Conclusion 

We couldn’t figure out how the story ended. Room full of smart people, all with storytelling skills and the resumes to prove it, and we could not tie a bow on this story in the outline stage. Then Frank O’Connor says, “Maybe Jul just drives Requiem into the sun.” And we all laughed, because that was so wonderfully absurd. A half hour later we still didn’t have an idea of how the Requiem adventure ended. Eventually we let Jul drive Requiem into the sun because, come on. That’s pretty awesome, throwing planets into suns.

Poor Catherine Halsey. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a monster. A war criminal. A woman who kidnapped and killed children because she thought the ends justified the means. But then we come along and chop off her arm simply because we wanted a spot of ambiguity in her final line. In the original draft, she was shot, but in one piece. Jul asked her what she wanted, she said, “Revenge” and everyone knew she meant on Palmer and the crew of Infinity. But we didn’t want that. Halsey is a woman who is always saying two things at once. To end on a note from her that was so clearly defined just felt wrong.

So I chopped off her arm. Now she glances at her shoulder before answering Jul’s question and you have to ask: Who does she want revenge on? Palmer? Jul? Everyone?

I wrote the words late one night around 2am. The next day in the office I pitched the idea to Halo 4 Narrative Director Armando Troisi.

“Get out of here,” Arm said. “She’s gonna be so mad.”

Yes, Armando… yes she is.

While I can neither confirm nor deny that Halsey is mad, I can tell you that if you missed the second half of Spartan Ops Season 1 or if you want to replay it now that you have several morsels of tantalizing insight at your disposal, we’ll be rerunning episodes 6-10 starting March 4. So tune in on Monday, Tuesday or any day next week to have another shot at episode 6. Halsey, Thorne and Glassman thank you in advance.

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