Anger, Sadness and Envy Episode 10: Cortana (MP3)

Blackstar of Blackstar Productions and Narcogen of Bungie fansite cover from beginning to end, the "Cortana" level of Halo 3, discussing art, gameplay, story, and comparisons to Halo 1.

Also in this episode: special guest, Bungie's official #1 fan, Miguel "Freewill" Chavez.

Show highlights:

  • Fans of Halo or fans of Bungie?
  • In the Background
  • Rampant!
  • A Sphincter Door Says What?
  • To Hate the Flood is to Love the Flood
  • Being OCD in HALO
  • Flamethrower vs Flood: Well Done
  • Play or Skip?
  • Getting Lost
  • Sniperflood!
  • Rescue on High Charity
  • Pillars of Game Design
  • Dashboard Cortana vs Hentai Gravemind
  • You've Saved Me... Who's Going to Save You?
  • Must-See Content
  • Anger, Sadness, and Envy

This is the MP3 version of the podcast.

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Audio file: 
ASE Episode 10 Cortana


Great podcast guys,

but, cmon, its obvious that they were lovers.

Contact Harvest has established that Johnson has known a female commanding officer before (was it in the cockpit of a Pelican?) So he has form.

My memory of h2 is hazy but I picked up vibes from that. Maybe it was his playing the gallant gentleman, escorting her to her ship when she had crewmen with her and Johnson had other things to do. but my memory of that game is poor.

So lets move onto Halo 3.

They spent a lot of time together between h2 and Halo 3. That doesn't prove anything but they have had time for a relationship to develop.

Why did she hesitate to kill him? How soft was she? Did she hesitate because she finds it hard to kill a human? Or a friend?

Or did she hesitate because she couldn't casually kill HIM, her lover, HIM!

Johnson's reaction: did he cry out because a good plan was foiled? Did he cry out because it was a waste of an opportunity, because her death was wasted?

Or did he cry out because SHE had been killed? (right in front of his eyes)

When we reach the control panel we find him cradling her body and doing nothing productive in the battle. He mumbles to us to stop the rings but does nothing himself. He knows what needs to be done and he knows how important it is to press the stop button before the array activation. Why doesn't he care enough about the destruction of Earth to act? Is it because his world has already been destroyed?

Johnson has always been indefatigable, always chipper and cheerful. After Miranda's death he became a broken man. Yes we have the usual combat dialog from him when he is giving cover in the Halo level but look at him the rest of the time.

Don't ever let her go. I mean, cmon.

What about his bitter, 'Deal with it!' when Sparky tells Johnson of his woes. Johnson is not in the mood to pander to 'trivial' concerns. And his tone is bitter, its not flippant.

If the old Johnson had the strength to fire off one shot from the splazer then he would have had the gumption to fire off more. He would fight until he drew his last breath.

This CAN all be explained by saying that the game play needed Johnson to be passive. But why is everybody SO reluctant to give the lovers idea any credence? People are fine with John and Cortana being 'lovers' why not Johnson and Miranda?

Is it because Cortana isn't real and nothing sticky could happen between John and her?

Is it the age difference? The rank difference?

I just get the impression that people are falling over themselves to say noooooo. No way man!

Is it just too soppy?

Do the male players have a little thing for Cortana and hence are willing to accept the idea that they have a relationship?

Is can't be because nobody finds Miranda attractive, people on HBO have said that they found her attractive, even in h2. I never found her attractive and I never got over the shock of turning round, as the Arbiter, and, unexpectedly, finding her on the same platform as myself whilst fighting Tartarus. In the red glow she looked scary enough to make me cry out. :-)

Jason may have been surprised about Joe's suggestion so the idea may not have been in Jason's mind. But who directs the cutscenes? I thought that Jason says things like, 'the cable, it must be cut!' And its up to the other writers to fill in the blanks.

Edit: Joe could have had Johnson get to know a femle colony administrator. Joe could have written anything. Instead, Joe had him get to know his female commanding officer. I think that is very telling.

Basically I agree. I think Joe always saw things that way, and he's probably got more sway over what goes in the books than in the games. So everything in the games is consistent with there being this relationship, but Jason vetoed actually coming out and saying it within the context of the games.

Keep in mind, there's PLENTY that is never specifically stated within the games, and plenty that still remains open to interpretation and spin even when it IS specifically stated (such as the human-forerunner thing).

Obviously the "never let her go" comment in the next level only really makes sense in the context of a Johnson-Keyes relationship. I myself think it was perhaps going a bit too far (at least for players who didn't read the novels) but c'est la vie.

It also does make more sense out of Keyes' hesitation. But that is making knowledge of the novels (or of the cutscene commentaries) necessary for understanding an important plot point of the game, and I think that's a no-no.

Glad you liked the 'cast. All this (I think) is gone over in more detail in the next episode. At least, I think it is-- it's been months since we recorded so I barely remember!

Rampant for over se7en years.

I see what you mean about the game story needing to stand on its own.

People may not have picked up on anything before the point were she dies. Their behavior there kicks off our spidey senses and maybe we pick up on their dynamic but I suppose that it could come as a shock so late into the story.

Its hard for me to tell because I always suspected that something was going on right from the first level of h2. So, for me, it wasn't unexpected.

It was two silly things that did it.

1) I bumped into them near POA but I didn't realize that they were near the ship when I first encountered them. I hadn't noticed the guys with them. I didn't even notice the pair until I was right upon them. I was thinking, 'What on earth is Johnson doing here? and with Keyes? Shouldn't you be back there fighting the Covies where I left you?' and at that point Johnson and Miranda gave their feeble excuse that he was escorting her to her ship. Because of the timing it felt that they had read my expression or were guilty about something.

Its nonsense but it got me thinking.

2) He was my pal in Halo and we had lots of jolly japes together. Now he's spending most of his time with HER and boasting that he knows what the ladies love. Are those two an item? He's always with her, its not fair. :-)

Yes I had Cortana but that never stopped ME from hanging out with my mates.

Was I the only person on the planet that was thinking those things? (I suspect I was, how embarrassing)

[quote=scarab]Its hard for me to tell because I always suspected that something was going on right from the first level of h2.[/quote]

You know, I could go that way, too, but for one thing. The best way to illustrate that without coming out and saying it would've been for the "You look nice" line, to which both the MC and Johnson respond, to be delivered by Keyes and not Cortana.

That would've achieved a lot. It sets up the Keyes-Johnson relationship with very few words, and it paints the MC as a pretty businesslike guy who doesn't pay attention to that sort of stuff.

As it is, the line's good for a joke. Take it away from Cortana and give it to Keyes, and you keep the joke and add extra depth.

Rampant for over se7en years.