Welcome back to another episode of the Spartan Ops After Show. Today, we’re sitting back down with the cast portraying Fireteam Crimson. In case you missed it last week, we got to hear about what it was like working behind enemy lines. This week, the cast divulges their secrets about filming onboard the UNSC Infinity in Episode 7, Invasion.
We’re back. So how about that Invasion cinematic? I know it makes me want to get on set and kick some ass.
Jake: “Hold the line?” What is this, Virmire? And where is Palmer’s helmet? What a scrub.
Emily: It’s fascinating to see Dr. Halsey use one of her secret AI override phrases. She gets one piece of information, the bit about “the Didact’s Hand,” and pieces everything together. She’s smart. I adore her.
Sam: Roland did that splitting thing, too. I have to wonder if the artifact pulse from the second episode actually had an effect on him.
Emily: It might just be that smart AIs can split off personality fragments. If the artifact pulse did anything, it would have given Roland a “soul” like Cortana has.
Jake: That tired old trope? Pfft.
Reginald: I think we’re seeing power plays by Jul ‘Mdama here. It’s not a coincidence that the invasion starts right after Halsey makes contact, and the robots are the first wave that come through, starting at the artifact. They’re not attacking Infinity for the sake of attacking Infinity, they’re trying to capture Halsey.
Sam: Moreso since Doctor Glassman has gone missing.
Emily: Yeah. Glassman was willing to work with ‘Mdama to save his life. Halsey is willing to work with ‘Mdama for the Librarian.
Fascinating stuff. Let’s talk about the first chapter, “Backup.” Such a short scene!
Sam: We actually shot this chapter last. This set is called “Apex,” and it’s a gorgeous location. It’s a giant hill on a cliff. There is a side passage that we weren’t supposed to see near the LZ. That comes out about a third of the way up the hill. There’s another third of the location further up the hill from where we started, but that’s completely vacant. It’s quite gorgeous, very green.
Jake: It was cool that there were portals everywhere, and there are buttons to turn them off. Nine outta ten times, the director makes us put our hands on a button in a very specific way. Sometimes I get to just hit the button and keep going. But these buttons, man, they were something else. I had to actually keep my hand held on the button as it powered the things down.
Sam: They required an actual time investment. Would have been great to see these used on the nukes, because that’s a great way to simulate that we’re actually doing complex work. Would have increased the dramatic tension, too.
Emily: There’s no acknowledgment from Infinity command that it does anything. It would be nice if they had said, “hey, shutting down those portals is helping to stem off the tide of Covenant teleporting into the ship. Thanks for doing this thing that we didn’t ask you to do!”
Sam: There were a lot of Ghosts in the area. In two of the reshoots, there was a Wraith.
Emily: Murphy’s Phantom also brings in a Mantis.
Sam: There’re a lot of vehicles to go around, is what I’m saying, which is weird because all of the ordnance dropped is rather generic. Like, literally, it’s basically just ammo resupplies for our DMRs, Battle Rifles, Assault Rifles, and frag grenades.
Tell me about the reshoots.
Sam: The director of photography had us reshoot this scene four times. The Wraith wasn’t brought out for two shoots. On another, the Mantis was struck by a piece of Phantom debris, so we had to fight on foot for the last bit. On another, someone—
Sam: —stole the Mantis and took it into that side passage, getting it stuck in a third portal chamber. Getting a good shot with us hitting the two portals available, using the Mantis, having the Wraith, and some ace sniping took a lot of time. Especially since our designated sniper can’t aim.
Reginald: I think we’re going to be returning to this location. The script, specifically the part with the portals, smells of a last minute rewrite. Crimson is going to have to shut down those portals again to stop the robots and the dudes from getting back to Infinity.
Sam: I liked that Spartan Miller doesn’t tell Crimson what to do for this chapter. We’re dropped in, we hear Lasky, which gives the audience a frame of reference for when all of this is taking place.
Reginald: I didn’t like that we were hearing Roland give Miller status updates. Clear the channel, guys.
Let’s talk about shooting on the Infinity. There are four different chapters, “Home Field,” “Engine of Destruction,” “The Guns of Infinity,” and “Victory Lap.” How was it filmed?
Jake: We shot it in that order, but it was all one continuous thing.
Sam: It wasn’t really continuous. There were some breaks in the action so the sets could be cleared and the extras could be redressed.
Emily: The Infinity set is a single cohesive set. I think it’s the largest interior set, too. It seems implausible for the hangar, server room, engine room, and aft weapons control to all be so close together, but that’s the magic of television.
Sam: Here’s how it went, though. We were brought into the hangar. The extras came in, the director said “action!” We start shooting, and then we were shuffled around from place to place. We kept having these shootouts with the same two dozen extras. It was pretty surreal.
Reginald: The hangar was really open, so rushing in and ripping a new one wasn’t an option. There were shotguns on the way to the server room, though. The Infinity is a weird place to be a close quarters kind of guy.
Sam: There were four SAWs on the way to the server room, too. We each carried one, and we could refill our ammo from any of the crates.
Tell me about the nukes.
Sam: We only discovered the stolen nukes last week. I’m kind of surprised that we’re seeing them brought out so soon.
Emily: It’s funny, there’s about half an hour of cut footage when we find the second nuke in the engine room. Spartan Miller says the nuke is primed, we have to hurry, it’s on a timer. I mean, granted, they can’t have it going off because it’s just a prop, but we really killed the tension there. Hurray for editing!
Reginald: I thought it was an interesting concept that the devices were being cloaked.
Jake: Except that Miller dude calls out cloaked Elite guys all the time.
Reginald: Yeah, that’s pretty weak. It’s still an interesting concept. You actually didn’t see the warheads in the engine room until we took out one of the extras. It helps sell the effect.
Tell me about the engine room defense.
Jake: Sniper rifles and jet packs. This was my time to shine.
Sam: Too bad you can’t aim.
Emily: So uh, what’s supposed to happen is a dozen of the Covenant come out from each door. We split up and each covered a door, and closed it as soon as it opened. We only let two or three out each time, which saved us time and made Crimson look really savvy. There’s really not much else to say.
Reginald: I liked Roland’s quips when we’re in the aft weapons control. “I’m trying to find out why [the guns still aren’t firing], but you humans are awful at writing technical manuals.” And then when he figures out which button to press, “Yes! Why would I tell Crimson to push buttons that don’t do anything?”
Emily: Those are funny lines, yeah.
Reginald: I also saw an Elite with a Scattershot on the way back to the hangar. I hope we start seeing the Covenant use robot weapons more often.
Sam: What makes fighting on the Infinity work is the lack of ordnance. The Infinity can’t send ordnance into the ship, so we have to find power weapons on our own. It’s like, finally, the manuduction is over.
Emily: Manuduction? Way to be ostentatious, Sam.
Jake: Why am I stuck with you nerds and your words?
Tell me about the hunters in the hangar.
Emily: There were six of them at the end. It has to be the finale of the last chapter. There were so many rocket launchers lying around. There were so many explosions! It was amazing. When we hit that last hunter all at the same time, I literally [censored].
We really didn’t need to know that.
Emily: You can edit that out in post. Bleep it, cut it, whatever. I love a good explosion. I [censored] on set and I’m not embarrassed by that.
Sam: Should we just assume that this is being cut?
Yes. We’re done here. Coming up next. . . ugh. Are batteries the currency of the future? One economist thinks so. Find out more, tonight at eleven. Tune in next week as we reconvene with Crimson to hear about Episode 8, Expendable.