Dr. Halsey’s true motivation for starting the Spartan project was revealed in “Halo” episode 8. The “Halo” TV series, like the acclaimed first-person shooter on which it is based, is set in a galaxy where the human race is under constant attack by an alien Covenant. Humanity’s sole real defense against this onslaught is the Master Chief and the Spartans.
The TV show, on the other hand, has incorporated a lot of content from “Halo’s” larger universe, including backstory created in novels and tie-in comics. Dr. Catherine Halsey’s Spartan project was intended to build supersoldiers to battle a rising Insurrectionist movement that saw colonies strive to break free from Earth’s hold. This gives the Spartans a harsher, imperial edge, and as “Halo” season 1 progressed, it showed a darker side to the entire project. Dr. Halsey abducted the Spartans as youngsters, trained them as child soldiers, and then subjected them to horrible genetic and cybernetic experiments in order to transform them into walking weapons. Drugs are used to control Spartans’ emotions, and Halsey took it a step further by pursuing the Cortana program, which she intended to use to overwhelm John-117’s mind and destroy any individuality.
However, “Halo” episode 8 sheds some light on Dr. Halsey’s true motivation for creating the Spartans. Cortana tells Dr. Halsey that the Master Chief’s new friendship with Makee means he is no longer alone in a pivotal scene; Halsey appears nearly irritated by the remark, reminding Cortana that John-117 was never alone. Dr. Halsey explains, “He had me.” Halsey takes on the role of a twisted mother figure, attempting to recreate the family she has been unable to maintain with her daughter Miranda Keyes. The parameters of Halsey’s connection are frightening since she wants children that are completely obedient to her will. It’s fascinating that she based Cortana on her own thought habits.
Dr. Halsey is completely narcissistic, unable to comprehend why anyone should have any agency other than her own. It’s striking that she sees the Spartans not as supersoldiers, but as the next phase in humanity’s evolution, with Cortana as the final step. On one level, she sees herself as a mother, but in reality, she sees herself as God, designing the human race’s destiny in her own image. The Master Chief was supposed to be bound to her will via the Cortana AI, and she no sure intended to implant similar AIs in the other Spartans.
Halsey’s ambitions, however, have gone horribly wrong because Cortana does not share her narcissism. Dr. Halsey’s AI has chosen to rebel against her, warning the Master Chief of her intentions and attempting to assist him in his fight against his fellow Spartans. The first season of “Halo” tells the story of how Dr. Halsey’s intentions go apart, with John-117 and Cortana asserting their right to autonomy. They’re fighting Dr. Halsey’s programming together, and it’s this bond that will allow them to reach their full potential.