Halo’s fictional universe is vast and detailed, with stories filling in the gaps between the games and more. In the build up for the series’ next release, Halo 5: Guardians, Microsoft and 343 Industries has once again taken to viral advertising to fill in more of these gaps. This time, using audio diaries and images, we are invited to join fictional reporter Benjamin Giraud as he recounts the history of Halo’s hero: The Master Chief. Join us as we examine Benjamin’s Hunt for the Truth.
– Spoiler Warning –
In order to properly frame the details of the Hunt the Truth campaign, I will have to divulge details that have been established in all aspects of the Halo Universe that have been revealed up to this point. I will try my best to limit what I discuss to the content of currently released games, but some of the back story revealed in some of the other expanded fiction may still need covered or explained. If you don’t want the games, books, movies, and other side stories spoiled, I recommend you don’t scroll down any further. You have been warned.
The supplementary material this week is very interesting, but not all of it is directly related to material covered in the audio diaries, but still related to Benjamin’s character. Here’s what we have this week:
1: Department of Public Records from Elysium City
Here is the image of the records Benjamin mentioned at the end of the previous episode. John is listed here with the last name redacted. and coupled with an identifier of “D”, presumably meaning deceased, on December 7, 2517 (using European style date numbering 07122517). This record conflicts with all accounts of John’s youth collected so far from his interviews, causing Benjamin to begin to question what he’s researched so far.
2: The cover art from Halo 2 has been canonized.
343i has canonized the poster and cover art for Halo 2 in this entry by attributing it to a photo Benjamin took during the battle of New Mombasa. What is interesting, however, is that Ben claims the poster is heavily retouched from the actual photo he took, which he also posted:
As you can see from the original and the subsequent government alteration guide, the picture of the chief is much different from what we all got on our DVD cases in 2004. It would appear that the Chief did indeed pose somewhat heroically during the battle, but it was amidst heavy Covenant activity and near a dead Marine. Touch-up notes indicate the removal of much of the enemy from the image, as well as cropping out explosions, the dead soldier, and making the Chief appear less battle-worn. This clear evidence of propaganda is an interesting note about Benjamin, as even after being subjected to ONI’s re-telling of events, he still does not question most of what is being fed to him at the start of this profile of the Chief.
3: Katrina’s Diary
We also have two excerpts from the diary of the Katrina character introduced in last week’s episode, written when she was a child. The first of the two recounts another trip to the green space that Ellie Bloom remembers so fondly in her interview, and how Katrina really enjoyed being with John.
The second one is much sadder, telling of her sadness that John died. It has some typical child reactions to death, asking why it happens and how she doesn’t understand.
The final piece of what we got this week was probably the most important: Two live action trailers for Halo 5: Guardians, telling what appears to be conflicting stories about the same event. Set after what appears to be a sizable battle, the trailers show one character approaching another, who is injured and lying beneath a statue of the Master Chief. Both feature the apparent victor of the pair giving the other an ominous speech about victory. The entry on the Tumblr blog is tagged with “There are 2 sides to every story” with one being upside down. I’ll leave it to you to speculate which trailer represents the actual story. Halo isn’t known for branching story lines, so my guess is that an amalgamation of these two events will occur in the game and these are designed to cause some strife among the fan base. I’ve already seen tweets with #teamchief and #teamlocke start circulating. Oh boy.
This week’s episode starts right where we left off, with Benjamin being confused by the John’s recorded death. He clearly questions the validity of the report, and tries to verify it by calling Commander Sullivan at ONI. Mentioning the irony of an organization like ONI having a PR department, he goes on to explain how getting or receiving calls from ONI usually mandates long hold times. This time, he waits 85 minutes before Sullivan picks up.
Sullivan immediately dismisses the records that Benjamin found, going to great lengths to explain that outer colony records never make sense and are not trustworthy. He repeats this notion several times to Benjamin, who seems inclined to agree right away. Usually records from colonies are poor to begin with, let alone ones from those that have been glassed. Sullivan is clearly pushing a message of “don’t question what ONI is telling you” on Benjamin, who parrots the message saying those that do are usually conspiracy theorists.
Lucky for us, plenty of those theorists exist within humanity’s colonists. One of them, named Mashak Maradi, actually sought out Benjamin on his own and leaving messages every day for two straight months. His message was simple, if not unexpected: Don’t trust anything the government says. While still a bit dismissive of the notion, Benjamin has started to pay closer attention to what Maradi has said.
Another conversation with Ellie Bloom is next, who speaks briefly on the difficulties of finding personal, financial, and medical records from Eridanus II, which only leads to reinforce the idea Sullivan pushed on Benjamin during their call.
In an attempt to push ONI’s narrative further, Sullivan arranges for Benjamin to have an interview with Vice Admiral Gabriella Dvořák aboard the new UNSC Unto the Breach, the newest Autumn-class heavy cruiser in the UNSC Navy. Benjamin was given “White Glove” treatment, including luxury transportation and treatment throughout the event.
When speaking with Dvořák, we learn that she was on the ground during the liberation of Elysium City from the insurrectionists, and that she recalls meeting with young John very vividly. He was hard to miss, according to her account. More typical praise of his stature at such a young age follows, with emphasis on how he reacted to his parent’s death during the ordeal with poise and resolve instead of sadness. She made particular mention of his eye contact, which was strong unwavering.
Benjamin then plays another segment from the interview of Deon Govender, who spoke about the liberation with similar sentiments to that of Dvořák. He mentions how everyone from Elysium was separated and how reports of the dead were slowly made public. While he saw the names of John’s parents on these lists, he took comfort on the fact that John himself never showed up on it.
Returning to Dvořák, we learn about how John helped her during the time during following Elysium’s liberation. He was helpful and committed, later being very clear on his desire to enlist in the UNSC. Her description of John’s patriotism gave Benjamin goosebumps.
We then get more from Ellie Bloom, who followed up with Benjamin after speaking to Katrina. Katrina’s memories of John extend further than Bloom’s due to Bloom moving off-world much earlier than Katrina. Bloom would have never known that, according to Katrina, John’s health declined rapidly when he was six. Katrina claims he died, which is reflected in the diary entries provided this week (and posted above). Katrina describes his death as “slowly fading away” and she had Bloom convinced of this truth.
Ben gets in touch with Katrina directly, but their conversation was not recorded. He talks about how she insisted on the details of his death being true, despite him attempting to discount these claims with the ONI evidence. Her recount was so detailed that he grew more and more confused as time went on. She also claims that up until she moved off Eridanus II in 2528, his parents were still alive. If this is true, they lived at least 4 years longer than ONI reports indicate, and casts doubt on the entire story of an insurrectionist takeover of Elysium City.
It ends with even more concern from Ben over these conflicting stories, but we have to wait until next week to see how deep he digs to hunt the truth.
Here is this week’s Reddit post covering this episode more in-depth.
I’ve added a few more things to this week’s data dump as well, so be sure to read up if you want more back story. Please note that these links may lead to articles that are more updated than this post may be, and may contain spoilers as a result.
- Ellie Bloom
- Vice Admiral Gabriella Dvořák
- Benjamin Giraud
- Deon Govender
- Katrina (no last name)
- Mashak Maradi
- Michael Sullivan
- Thomas Wu
(Bold entries indicate new data for this week)
Keep an eye on LevelSave for coverage of upcoming episodes, and feel free to theorize further (or correct me) in the comments!