Welcome to Noble Team- UPDATED
UPDATED: I’ve added a few more shots and notes to the breakdown now that the extended version of the trailer has been released. Some shots will be out of order due to the additions.
By now, you’ve no doubt seen the new live-action trailer promoting the upcoming Beta for Halo: Reach, and if you’re like me, you drooled over every frame. As I watched it, I felt like I had to write up a break-down in the vein of my “Brothers” break-down for the recent Gears of War 3 trailer. Welcome to Noble Team.
This is the most important shot in the entire trailer. It opens with Carter’s hands fiddling with some kind of information card. Granted, the layperson doesn’t know it’s Carter a-259 just yet, but those of us who’ve been eagerly anticipating this trailer already know. Anyway, after Carter finishes contemplating this little electronic device in his hands, he sits up and inserts it into a sort of card-reader. This is pivotal to me because it shows that for the Spartan III’s, the choice to become a Spartan is literally put into their own hands. No one straps them down, no one performs the procedure on them. They must choose to initiate the physical transformation themselves. The final test, indeed.
After making the choice to become a super-soldier, Carter lays back down and is introduced to his two new drill instructors.
As Carter goes through the procedure, we’re treated to some of his flashbacks, including a holographic photo of his parents. Unlike John-117 and his fellow Spartan II’s, it appears as if the Spartan-III subjects clearly have knowledge of who their parents are, or were. I don’t have my Halo books in front of me, so I can’t explicitly remember if anything like that was ever discussed. Either way, it’s a great moment of humanity for a young man who is about to become so much more than the boy his parents will remember.
UPDATE: Another flashback we see of Carter’s road to being a Spartan gives us what I think is our first appearance of CPO Franklin Mendez. We know that a Spartan-II, Kurt, trained the Alpha Company of Spartan-III’s with help from CPO Mendez. This man looks too old to be Kurt, but one could easily see this to be Mendez, a character I’ve been wanting to see on screen for a while now. His name tag isn’t visible, so we may never be certain. @Tapio pointed out to me on Twitter that Mendez has been visually represented very recently in the Halo: Bloodline comic from Marvel. You can see their version of him here. I still think the officer above is intended to be CPO Mendez, and we’ll chalk up the differences to artistic expression.
In the next flashback, we’re seeing Carter being transferred to some sort of military facility. It’s unclear whether this is on Reach, Earth, or some other UNSC planet. If I was a betting man, which I’m not, I’d bet this is intended to be on Reach. But as you’ll see in a moment, I’m not entirely certain.
Our next shot takes us inside the transport vehicle. My initial reaction was “Oh, it’s Noble Team!” until I realized that there was a decided lack of Catherine. Now, it’s entirely possible that this is some early band of brothers that made up Noble Team, but as you’ll see in two more shots, I don’t think it is. I do, however, suspect that the young man sitting closest to us on the left side of the vehicle might be one of the members of future Noble Team, Jun. I’ll tell myself it is, anyway.
UPDATE: Well, it’s not Jun. As you can see in this shot, the other young Spartan’s name is Kai. I can’t make out his number.
So now is about the time that the layperson realizes that this is Carter. Surprising, right? So beyond the name badge, note some of the details of how his jacket is put togheter. It’s the same pattern of layered elements as Kai in the image above, so we can conclude that at least these two young men are Spartan-III’s. But…
… this guy’s no Spartan. While he’s similar in age to the other two, he’s wearing a completely different uniform and that stylish beret. I suspect this young kid is an ODST, or working on becoming one, and that’s why he’s eyeballing the Spartans across the aisle. He should know better.
The young men are all launched into space in a Pelican, after which they approach the above space station orbiting the planet. This is where I question if this is actually intended to be Reach. This station isn’t quite like the Orbital MAC Platforms that we saw orbiting Earth in Halo 2, but I’d buy it if you told me it was a MAC platform with two MAC cannons, one on each side. However, it’s clearly one of a very few, if not the only station orbiting this planet, and there’s no UNSC fleet to be seen. I’d also venture to say that this planet isn’t Earth, for the very same reasons. To that end, I suspect this planet is some other distant rock in the far reaches of UNSC territory. Perhaps it could even be Onyx. We know that the Alpha company of Spartan-III’s, of which Carter is a member, were in fact trained on Onyx. The circumstances were a bit different, to be sure, but I’m chalking that up to artistic expression. If it is intended to be Onyx, then some explanation would be required for the non-Spartan young man on the troop transport. To my recollection, there were no non-Spartan-program personnel on Onyx, as the project was a secret.
Halo has always been generous with it’s references and homages to other science fiction greats, including Aliens, Star Wars, and Firefly. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but post this obvious reference to one of Star Wars’ iconic shots of the Millenium Falcon being pulled into the Death Star hangar bay. This also represents, as the shot in Star Wars did, the mythological journey of the hero into the inmost cave, where he must face his inner battle to come out the other side as the hero he’s meant to be.
And it’s after the entrance into the maw that we come back to Carter’s transformation. Here we quite literally see him transforming into a more muscular version of himself. While I doubt the transformation would be quite so instantaneous and obvious, I’ll give this one another pass on the artistic expression. The shot clearly demonstrates in a few short seconds that this process is about physically enhancing this young man to an alarming degree.
We’re treated to a shot of some of the vitals for Carter as he’s going through the transformation. Of note are his name in the upper corner, accompanied by a cool UNSC medical logo and the title “Project Chrysanthemum.” In Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, written by Eric Nylund (who coincidentally also wrote Halo: The Fall of Reach) Project Chrysanthemum was in fact the augmentation procedure for Spartan-III’s. The film-makers get an A+ for fictional fidelity. To see a whole list of the drugs likely being injected into Carter’s body, and their intended results, look no further than Halopedia.
UPDATE: I decided to add this shot in. It was in the original version of the trailer, but I wanted to discuss it’s significance. In the Halo books, there’s a good deal of time spent discussing that a Spartan is a Spartan whether they are in the armor or not. I think that this shot, in which Carter’s eyes become brigheter blue after the chemicals are introduced to his body, symbolizes that. The drugs have clearly enhanced him, but they’ve only taken what he already was and amplified it. He was, for all intents and purposes, already a Spartan before he entered this operating room.
After the procedure, Carter awakes in a different uniform than the one he wore oh his trip to this orbiting facility. He stands up and walks down a long hallway to see his armor, presumably for the first time. As I mentioned before, it is in the inmost cave that the hero must come face to face with himself to find out who he really is. Mission accomplished.
And finally, after a somewhat truncated Heroes Journey, the identity of Carter, the young man we met just 50 seconds ago, begins to blur into that of Carter-a259, the leader of Noble Team. A Spartan.
UPDATE: I didn’t notice this while watching last night, but the identification on the armor says “CARTER S-259”. In the Halo: Reach VGA trailer, the armor simply said “CARTER-259”. Kat’s armor was similarly missing any letter designation in the VGA trailer. The “S-259” designation fits with the original Halo: Reach annoucne trailer, however, in which Carter’s voice is heard over the radio saying, “This is Sierra-259. You’ve got Spartans on the ground, sir. We’re not going anywhere.” It’s not clear why he wouldn’t be labelled or refer to himself as “Alpha-259,” or some variation.
Overall, I quite liked this trailer. What I particularly enjoyed was getting a reasonable sense of cohesivness between the books, the videogames, the anime, and the elements introduced by this trailer. I feel like with each new outing, the Halo universe gets tied a little bit more tightly together.
While not as action-packed as previous Halo live-action trailers have been, I still think it told a clear story about a boy’s journey to becoming the leader we’ll all see in Reach. I also think that, given the relativelty low budget of this trailer (when compared to the previous Halo endeavours), we could possibly see a sequel to this released closer to the launch of the game. In fact, it may even jump ahead to a time when we’ll see Carter meeting the rest of Noble Team, or getting into some action somewhere. Who knows. What I do know is that the release of Reach is still a ways off, giving us plenty of time to imagine where Carter’s story could go from here.