Jameson Locke. Orphan turned assassin. Assassin turned ONI Agent. ONI Agent turned Spartan. We know his name, but there’s more beneath the helmet than just a face for Spartan Locke.
Halo 5: Guardians’ launch is imminent and we know very little of the narrative 343 Industries has already crafted in this intergalactic space opera. We do know this: Master Chief, now assembled with Blue Team, the last remaining Spartan-IIs and Chief’s closest family, is being hunted by Spartan Locke and Fireteam Osiris. But who is Locke? What are his intentions? Can we consider him a friend, or is this man a foe?
Not much is known about Jameson Locke. The character was first brought into the Halo Universe just a year ago when the live-action web series, Halo: Nightfall, launched in November of 2014. The web series only lasted five episodes, but it helped establish Locke as a determined military leader who would go to extreme lengths to see his mission complete. On top of that, his character displayed feats of great morality when the time arose. Before analyzing his character in Halo: Nightfall, a bit of background, or as much as is provided by this point in time, is necessary to understand Locke’s militaristic career and eventual position as the Spartan-IV leading Fireteam Osiris in a hunt for the Master Chief.
Born on the colony world of Jericho VII on March 15th 2529, Jameson Locke was orphaned when the Covenant invaded his home world just years later in 2535. Losing his entire family, Locke was placed in a state orphanage with other children who shared his predicament. When they were finally of age, these children enlisted in the UNSC. Locke, however, deferred, claiming the UNSC incapable of protecting the lives of humans. Thus, he took a different route, becoming a freelance tracker and assassin before ONI, the Office of Naval Intelligence, took notice of his actions and offered him a position as an Acquisitions Specialist.
Nearly three decades later, and after several deployment missions across human space lead by ONI, Locke and his team were sent to the colony world of Sedra, where they were to investigate signs of terrorist activity. During the investigation, a Sangheili Zealot managed to unleash a foreign element that only targeted and killed humans within a certain distance of the blast radius. Though Locke survived the attack, two of his men, Agents Gaines and Hundley, suffered infection. What was this element and how could it be destroyed? With the help of the local Sedran guard, ONI managed to trace the element to a shard of Alpha Halo, the ring world the Master Chief destroyed in 2552 (or during the events of Halo: Combat Evolved).
There was one problem though: the shard was in dangerously close orbit with a red giant, leaving Locke’s team only six hours to deploy to the surface, locate the element’s deposits, arm a nuclear warhead, and flee the ring fragment.
The mission was green-lit under Locke’s persistent command and a team of eleven ONI and Sedran personnel traveled to Alpha Shard. There, the teams found two smugglers beyond a stowed away Alerian Tug (a small two-person dropship) and while escorting the prisoners to their incoming Condor Dropship, a new threat appeared: Thanolekgolo, a meta-colony of dangerous Lekgolo (Hunter) worms starving and desperate. Unfortunately, the team’s Condor was the first victim of the Lekgolo attack; the colony swarmed the dropship and crash-landed the extraction vehicle into a gorge further down the Shard’s open valley.
With the Condor down, the only way off Alpha Shard would be the two-person Alerian Tug the miners had used to get to the ring fragment. As the night went on, members from both teams began to fall victim to the Lekgolo that were hunting down the shard’s unwelcome guests. ONI Agent Horrigan suggested they kill the prisoners, as the men were slowing down their travels. “Nobody is putting anybody down,” Locke commanded, showing a brief moment of what can only be seen as humanity. “We don’t panic like that. It’s not an option.” Eventually, Locke makes it to the downed Condor, recovers the nuke and draws straws with the remaining party members to see who would stay behind an arm the warhead and who would flee in the Tug.
Yes, Halo: Nightfall has been out for a year already, and yes, that basically makes it permissible to drop spoilers if necessary. But I won’t do that here. What I will say is that Locke completes his mission and at some point following the events on Alpha Shard, ONI offers Agent Locke the opportunity to join the Spartan-IV Program. Spartan Locke is born.
Which brings us back to where we began this discussion. It’s late 2558. Blue Team has gone AWOL. Human colonies are falling and ancient Forerunner Machines are waking up from beneath the surface, wrecking havoc across the galaxy.
“He’s gone AWOL and the UNSC want him back,” Spartan Locke tells The Arbiter during the preliminary cutscene of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. “I’m going to bring him home.”
But how much of this is true? It’s a valid question. Is Locke truly out to “rescue” the Chief and bring him home? Or does ONI have bigger plans? If you’ve had the chance to listen to Season 1 of HUNT the TRUTH, you’d know ONI is full of it. They’re trying to bend the media into making the Master Chief less than the hero we know him to be. And if you’ve caught the latest live-action TV commercials, it’s clear that ONI is trying to suppress humanity’s hope that Spartan 117 is their destined savior.
But none of that applies to what Locke’s motivations could be. We don’t know much of his character beyond Halo: Nightfall, but what we do know is that he isn’t your typical ONI goon. He’s more than that. He’s shown authority and compassion, the latter of which established ONI personnel seem to deliberately lack in the franchise’s lore. But will ONI’s orders override Spartan Locke’s morality, and more important, his humanity? If the following trailer is any indication, then what could that mean for the Master Chief?
We just don’t know. We don’t know the full story of Halo 5: Guardians and that’s deliberate. We don’t know much about Jameson Locke and that’s deliberate. We keep getting two sides to every trailer, showing the differences between John and Locke, Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris. That is undoubtedly deliberate as well.
We may not know much, but I know one thing is certain. October 27th, Halo 5: Guardians is going to answer an endless amount of questions that Halo fans around the globe have been clamoring about for over sixteen months. This isn’t the end of the Master Chief, and seems to be just the beginning for Spartan Locke.
“It’s not over. Not yet.”