In a surprisingly low-key debut, part one begins aboard the wreckage of the Forward Unto Dawn spaceship, whose lone survivor - guess who - has sent out a distress call to the top brass at the UNSC. Blink and you'll miss it, Master Chief's appearance typifies an opening chapter short on action and high on intrigue.
Waking with a jolt, our first taste of Lasky has a distinctly vomity kick, as he and the rest of his crew sick up their breakfasts after emerging from their Cryo Pods for a mission in the woods. Not the most auspicious of introductions, Lasky dons his gear and picks up his weapon, trembling hands and all, joining a squad that includes British actress Anna Popplewell, who was last seen battling wolves, hags and witches in Narnia.
In what turns out to be the only action sequence of the episode, Lasky and company make their way through the woods, dodging weapon fire and explosives before suffering their first casualty. Slick and stylish slow-motion effects illuminate every bullet and grain of dirt, adding extra panache to an impressive cinematic sequence. The soldiers' heads-up display, meanwhile, is pure video game, complete with blue triangles representing the cadets and red dots the enemy.
Ordered to eliminate the insurrectionists instead of forcing a surrender causes Lasky to go rogue, resulting in our young cadet taking a bullet in what turns out to be an elaborate game of paintball. Apparently, Lasky does this kind of thing in training all of the time, which makes him about as popular as a camper in a multiplayer match among his fellow recruits and superiors, including the grumpy Commander Black.
After a brief glimpse of the Warthog, which we can't wait to see in action, and some impressive aerial shots of the local forest area, viewers are introduced to the Corbulo Academy of Military Science, which looks like a cross between a telecommunication centre and an Ivy League University, although it would make for a great in-game multiplayer map.
The remainder of the episode is a little slow going, but lays the foundation for future instalments. A series of not-so-subtle hints suggest that Lasky's health isn't all it's cracked up to be, as we see him lagging behind the rest of his crew in the jog back to the Academy, wheezing away like a 40-a-day smoker. A shot of his blistered body while showering, meanwhile, informs us that Lasky's problems aren't just limited to his lungs.
His complicated relationship with Popplewell's character Chyler Silva also comes under the spotlight. Silva admonishes him for disobeying orders one minute, while knocking on his wall to wish him 'good night' the next. A romance waiting to blossom, or a brother and sister bond, we're not sure, but there's a definite chemistry between the pair.
Speaking of family, we also find out that Lasky is struggling to live up to the reputation of his. He hero-worships his brother but seems to resent his mother, or her absence at least, something which would appear to be linked to his newfound pacifism and sympathy for the insurrectionists. "I miss you too," whispers a melancholy Lasky to a video recording of his bro - we smell tragedy!
The remainder of the cast is introduced through a series of brief shots exploring their reasons for joining the Academy. Some are pushed into it by their parents, while others have been the victims of terrorism. The appearance of the most important character is teased at the very end, however, as the emergence of Master Chief's ship caps off an intriguing first episode of Forward Unto Dawn.
Not quite the explosive opening we were expecting, the first part of Forward Unto Dawn does its very best to introduce the viewer to as many characters and conflicts as possible, presumably so as to clear the path for more explosive battle sequences in the coming episodes. The result is a slow-paced first chapter that feels a little baggy at times, but manages to capture the imagination thanks to a wide variety of conflicted characters.
Will Lasky ever learn to follow orders? Will his blisters clear up before he gets intimate with Silva? And how exactly will Master Chief turn our sickly protagonist into a soldier capable of dealing with the Covenant threat? Join us next time to find out.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will return for episode two next Friday, October 12 at Machinima.
Watch the first episode of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn below: