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Film / Halo: Nightfall

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Survival is a choice.

Halo: Nightfall is a 2015 five-part film set in the Halo universe. It stars Jameson Locke (Mike Colter), the co-star of Halo 5: Guardians.

In the aftermath of the Human-Covenant war, with a very tentative peace between the two factions, Office of Naval Intelligence agent Jameson Locke and his team track some rogue Covenant activity to the colony planet Sedra. There, a Sangheili (Elite) activates a mystery item in the middle of a populated area, unleashing a bioagent that only targets humans. In retrieving the shipping origin, Locke's team learn that the key element in the bioagent is being harvested from a fragment of the Halo ring Master Chief destroyed in Halo: Combat Evolved, which has taken up a close orbit to a nearby red giant.

Because of treaty agreements, the UNSC cannot officially go to the fragment, but nevertheless, Locke and his team join with a squad from the Sedran Colonial Guard to investigate the activity on there. The thing is, the fast rotation of the ring gives it a day-night cycle of only 16 hours, and temperatures will rise up to 900 degrees during the day. So the mission is to get in, capture the smugglers, destroy the deposit, then get out before everyone fries. In the words of the Arbiter in Halo 3, "Were it so easy."

Halo: Nightfall contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Personality Change: The Alpha Shard's Hunter worms act less like the Covenant's Lekgolo gestalts (aloof, ruthless, and often contemptuous, but otherwise fairly civilized) and more like Feral Stage Flood (surprisingly intelligent, but rather animalistic and focused solely on consuming anything they see). This has led to theorizing that Nightfall's Lekgolo were heavily modified by the Forerunners (in-universe) and/or were originally written as Flood (out-of-universe), but had their species changed because the creators either felt they couldn't do the Flood justice on-screen or simply didn't want to reintroduce them (yet).
  • Asshole Victim/Karmic Death: By the end of the events of the film, it is extremely hard to feel bad about Horrigan's death, since he's consistently been the most abrasive (and throughout the events on the Alpha Shard, selfish) character.
  • All There in the Manual: Each episode comes with a few "Second Story" short videos which expand on the background plot.
  • Almighty Janitor: Macer is technically a navigator, but dabbles in advanced physics on the side, theorizing how the element came into being on the fragment, and pointing out the deadly consequences of its rotational cycle.
  • Ascended Extra: Randall, who existed long before Nightfall was even thought of, having already been mentioned a few times in the novels as being one of the few SPARTAN-IIs who were genuinely MIA, and had a minor on-screen role in the short story "Pariah".
  • Bald of Authority: Jameson Locke, commander of the ONI squad.
  • Continuity Snarl: One of the given reasons for going to the Alpha Shard is to find proof that "the Covenant's broken the treaty". The issue is not only that the Covenant has long been split into multiple opposing factions by this point, but that a number of these factions are openly vocal about their hostility to humanity; the entire plot of Halo: Spartan Assault was about a Covenant remnant attack on a UNSC colony that happened about two years before Nightfall.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Let's just say getting eaten alive by Hunter Worms seems like an extraordinarily painful way to die.
  • Cunning Linguist: Locke quite easily gets the information they need out of Axl by speaking Axl's native language.
  • Debate and Switch: With only space for two people to survive, will Locke put his survival ahead of his morality? Luckily for him and Macer, everybody else manages to get themselves killed, allowing them both to escape without sacrificing anything.
  • De-power: Randall is a former SPARTAN-II (the same series as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117), believed dead for years. Once contact was made he struck a deal with ONI to have many of his Spartan augmentations removed in agreement that they would no longer pressure him to rejoin with the UNSC. Thus while he has the experience of a Spartan and the natural physical strength that came with being a SPARTAN-II candidate (he lifts the Havoc nuke onto his shoulder and carries it for several kilometers unaided), he is no longer a Super-Soldier.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The cast spends most of their time on the Alpha Halo Shard being stalked by swarms of feral Lekgolo worms, with most of the group getting eaten by them. In fact, there's only two deaths on the Alpha Shard that don't directly involve this trope.note 
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The feral Lekgolo are this for the franchise as a whole, displaying behaviors and abilities that are rather different than what we've seen from Lekgolo gestalts like Hunters and Scarabs in the rest of the series. 343 later clarified that the Lekgolo are one of the rarer gestalts called "Thanolekgolo"note  and were placed on Alpha Halo by the Forerunners as a relic of one of their anti-Flood strategies that didn't go anywhere.
  • Dirty Bomb: A Sangheili extremist attacks a shopping mall on Sedra with a transuranic element that acts similarly to a dirty bomb, releasing radiation that poisons and kills surrounding people seemingly at random.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Locke's ONI teammates, who certainly aren't shy about it, complaining that the Sedrans will only slow them down with all their equipment being "200 years" behind the regular UNSC's.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Locke fearlessly attacks and defeats an Elite Zealot, who are physically about as strong as Spartans in MJOLNIR armor, with nothing but light armor and a pistol.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Played painfully straight. Ramos constantly pulls out video clips of his kids, even while being hunted by electricity seeking, carnivorous worms. He is eaten by the Lekgolo with the freighter in sight.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Even with the Anyone Can Die tone, it's known that Locke will survive to become a Spartan IV, meet the Arbiter as seen in Halo 2: Anniversary and appear in Halo 5: Guardians. Hell, you originally needed Halo: The Master Chief Collection in order to watch Nightfall, so unless you watched this first, you'll know Locke gets out okay.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: An impromptu but very effective variant when Locke and Aiken interrogate Axl. After Randall beating the crap out of Axl doesn't work, Locke addresses Axl rather amicably in his native language to work at talking the information they need out of him, then comments that if he doesn't cooperate Locke can always let Randall have another go at him.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Hunter worms that assume the form of Wisner after they kill her in an effort to bait in the rest of the squad. But the disguise is not perfect, considering that Worm-Wisner's form shifts and shimmers in an unstable manner.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Locke, Macer, and Aiken pick beads to determine who will be left behind to manually detonate the bomb, Aiken says the one who draws the red bead will stay behind. All the beads were white and Aiken had Locke and Macer pick first. Never mind the moral question of letting the Old Soldier die to save the young, it's a good decision on purely practical terms because, as a SPARTAN-II, Aiken has the strength and stamina necessary to hand-carry the bomb to the detonation site.
    Aiken: As it should be.
  • It Can Think: The Lekgolo are pretty damn smart for what seem to be feral offshoots, assuming that them taking on Wisner's form to lure in the rest of the squad for lunch wasn't just natural instinct.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Randall tries and fails to beat information out of Axl.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The Sedran squad and the ONI team don't get along, despite Locke's and Randall's efforts to get them to cooperate.
  • Last Stand: Averted when Ramos' leg was broken by Horrigan to be used as bait. He raises his gun at the cloud of worms about to eat him before realizing how futile it was. He lowered the gun and was quickly eaten.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Sedrans' belief in Valhalla is cited as one of the reasons Locke's ONI team, or Horrigan at least, looks down on them. Locke himself doesn't seem to share this disdain.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Axl the Yonhet is pretty clearly an actor wearing a costume, in contrast to the other aliens, who are all CGI.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Locke is an extremely unusual ONI agent, in that he actually shows respect to the Sedrans.
  • Remember the New Guy?: This series officially introduces us to a previously unseen Covenant-affiliated species through Axl the Yonhet. The backstory justifies it to an extent by noting that his species did not serve in the frontlines of the Human-Covenant War, and was too small in population to be of much note to the core Covenant races.
  • Retired Badass: Randall Aiken, formerly SPARTAN-II Randall-037, who went missing-in-action on Vodin during the war and stayed with the locals since there was no way to contact the UNSC. When contact was reestablished, he got ONI to remove his augmentations, and moved to Sedra. Though he still sees action as a colonel in the Sedran Colonial Guard, it's a far cry from the days when he fought against Covenant and high-level Insurrectionists on a daily basis.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: In an early scene Randall Aiken tries to beat information out of an alien prisoner who supplied a radiological weapon (something like a highly selective dirty bomb) to a Sangheili terrorist (it's worth noting Aiken's daughter was one of the victims, so he may not have been thinking too clearly here). This doesn't work, and Locke quickly gets the information they need by playing the good cop to Aiken's bad cop and talking to the prisoner in his own language.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the first episode, none of the locals seem to find unusual the sight of a fully armored Elite Zealot walking through Sedra City, even though their world is mostly human and Zealots tend to be rare in general. Heck, not even the armored ONI agents get much of a reaction, despite Sedra's relative isolation from the rest of the UNSC.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Given how little time we have to get to know the cast, it's more a case of Plot Armor a la Nominal Importance, but Macer is a pilot and scientist more than a field soldier, and wears a more fanservice-y tank top when everyone is forced to strip off their gear, while Wisner is an expert markswoman who keeps her jacket on. Of course, Wisner is the one who bites it. However, their backstories invert this a bit; Macer is a Former Teen Rebel and Military Brat who is shown to be interested in a full military career, while Wisner had a relatively privileged upbringing and has no intent for any further involvement in the military or law enforcement after her short contract with the Sedran Colonial Guard is over.
  • What You Are in the Dark: It becomes increasingly clear that only two people are going to get off the ring. Locke and Randall assert "Lifeboat Rules," where until that decision has to be made the entire team works as though everyone will make it. This does not turn out well, as the backstabbing starts soon and almost everyone but Locke and Randall crack under the pressure.
  • The Worm That Walks: At one point, the Lekgolo assume Wisner's form to lure prey (aka the squad) to them.


Video Example(s):


Interrogating Axl

Following a chemical terror attack against the independent human colony Sedra by Covenant Zealots, UNSC ONI Agent Jameson Locke walks on on Sedran Militia Colonel Randall Aiken beating up an alien smuggler to get him to talk (without success). After some trading of barbs between Aiken and Locke's team, Locke addresses the prisoner, Axl, in his own language and quickly starts getting him to open up... before casually mentioning he can always hand him back to Aiken if he doesn't keep talking. Axl spills everything he knows in a hurry.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodCopBadCop

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