If you’ve been invested in the Halo lore then chances are you’ve at least come across the theory that John-117, the Master Chief, contains the geas of the Iso-Didact from the Forerunner Trilogy. It seems a lot of people seem to assume that this idea is true and I think HaloFollower’s “Master Chief’s Darkest Secret” video led the initial charge in presenting this idea to the point it became as widespread as it did. No disrespect to HaloFollower, I’m just saying that when people bring this topic up his video tends to come up a lot as the source. Having re-watched HaloFollower’s video, I have to say that argument is a pretty weak one to the point that I am at a loss as to how it became so widespread.
The first half of the video itself is essentially a recap of parts of the Forerunner Trilogy novels, but towards the end of the recap, he claims that the Chief has an imprint. At around 4:25 do we encounter something that I feel HaloFollower might be in error as far as his interpretation of the Librarian’s words to Master Chief in Halo 4 go. He seems to believe that the Librarian planned for the Chief specifically and placed an imprint on. I feel this is too literal a reading of the Librarian’s words. Yes, Chief was the culmination of a lifetime of planning down to his augmentations, armor, and interactions with his AI. Yet that could be said for the rest of the Spartan-IIs minus the AI interface (but it’s my belief this would have been expanded to the rest of the S-IIs after Chief and Cortana’s successful companionship). After all, we see how the first two parts of the Librarian’s plan has extended to the Spartan-IVs. With that in mind, I think the Chief being the end-all-be-all of the Librarian’s schemes is too narrow a focus. She certainly doesn’t seem to think that making one single uber-Reclaimer is an option in the Forerunner Trilogy as it never crosses her mind to mention such a thing and I can’t imagine she’d logically think that was a good idea.
Getting past that, it’s where HaloFollower goes next that needs careful attention. Just as a reminder, he believes that the Chief contains an imprint or geas of somebody. That somebody, as you probably already gathered by now, is the Iso-Didact. He basis this off the interaction between Chief and 343 Guilty Spark during the introductory cutscene of Two Betrayals in Halo: Combat Evolved:
“More or less. Technically, this installation’s pulse has a maximum effective radius of twenty-five thousand light years. But, once the others follow suit, this galaxy will be quite devoid of life, or at least any life with sufficient biomass to sustain the Flood. But you already knew that… I mean, how couldn’t you?”
“Last time, you asked me, if it was my choice, would I do it? Having had considerable time to ponder your query, my answer has not changed. There is no choice. We must activate the ring.”
HaloFollower naturally concludes that this means that 343 Guilty Spark is referring to the Iso-Didact and that Chief has his geas within him. After this, HaloFollower calls this “irrefutable evidence” and that because of this evidence there is no way it isn’t true. Those are some pretty bold statements. To be fair, this video was posted in 2014 before Halo 5: Guardians was released and HaloFollower ended that video on a statement saying that this could be a major plot point for Halo 5 (though the title now references Halo 6…curious that) and it’s the video that plays on his YouTube account’s official page.
Personally, I don’t know if he ever made another video providing any supplemental evidence to his theory, but I wouldn’t say this is irrefutable evidence in the slightest. I already mentioned how an analysis of the Librarian’s line on HaloFollower’s part could be too literal. One thing I want to tackle on the offset is that Chief having the Iso-Didact’s geas doesn’t work given what we know about how geas work and the timeframe of the Forerunner Trilogy. First, we have not seen a cross-species geas implantation. Only Chakas, Riser, and the humans on Installation 07 seemed to have ancient human imprints from the composed essences the Forerunners created from the defeated ancient human forces at the close of the human-Forerunner war. That isn’t to say a human could not have a Forerunner imprint, but it isn’t mentioned as possible at any point. Further, the fact these imprints needed to be composed is another factor that gets in the way of HaloFollower’s theory. The Iso-Didact was never composed and Halo: Silentium‘s Rebirth epilogue, Halo: Fractures‘ short story Promises to Keep and the untitled epilogue show the Iso-Didact alive and pledging to not interfere in the affairs of the galaxy again. Halo: Fractures’ epilogue goes so far as to show the Iso-Didact, Chant-to-Green, and their son on a planet far away from the galaxy living as simple farmers. To be fair, HaloFollower wouldn’t have access to most of these materials as they came out this year, but he would have had access to Silentium and Rebirth as those were released in 2013.
Right out of the gate, HaloFollower’s theory runs into the problem of the Iso-Didact’s geas not even existing to be implanted in the Master Chief’s ancestors. I’ve seen some argue that the Librarian AI on Requiem may have placed it in Chief in Halo 4, but then that presents the problem of how Spark could read the Iso-Didact’s geas within Chief in Halo: Combat Evolved if the geas was added after the fact. A simpler explanation for Spark’s confusion can actually be seen in Halo: Primordium. In it, ONI recovers pieces of 343 Guilty Spark’s frame and manage to recover his personality. However, the person primarily narrating the book is Chakas, one of the Iso-Didact’s human companions from Cryptum, who was composed to save his life by the end of Primordium. However, we see the Lord of Admirals, one of the ancient humans composed by the Forerunners from the human-Forerunner war, break into the narrative. Furthermore, the Librarian tasks Chakas to carry the millions of other ancient human imprints within him after being composed. Finally, in Halo: Silentium we see the Iso-Didact compartmentalize Chakas’ personality in order to create 343 Guilty Spark. Needless to say, this would present personality and memory issues on our poor Monitor. One quote from the Halo: CEA terminals points to this problem:
“To immunize…to cure. I still struggle with multiple layers of memory of fighting the Flood, but I know this cure is possible, even though the full genius of the Forerunners was unable to achieve it. The Forerunners’ ancient enemy held and used that knowledge once. But it was denied to us. And without samples to further study, that cure will never again be found. Of course, I have no reason to believe that here lies the entirety of the parasite. It may be waiting in the frozen void beyond this galaxy, or worse… inexorably drifting toward us.”
– Halo: CEA Terminal Six
With this context, it is easy to see why Spark mistook Chief for the Iso-Didact. Spark was already suffering from his isolation from any meaningful contact for 100,000 years and a similar event about firing the Halo to stop the Flood could trigger such a memory from his past. No doubt we have to remember that Bungie and 343 would have had different ways that the human and Forerunner connection would have gone, but with what 343’s published since they took over I don’t see the Iso-Didact connection that HaloFollower maintains.
That is pretty much all I wanted to say on this subject. I understand HaloFollower’s video is two years old at this point, but it certainly still carries influence on members of the Halo community and with the title mentioning Halo 6 I can only assume he intends for this to still be a major theory he advocates. I simply wish to offer points to consider before just accepting this theory as “irrefutable” when there are gaps that can very well refute it. Food for thought.
“When the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”