So I’ve seen a few of Hidden Xperia’s videos where he talks about all the evidence for Cortana having the Logic Plague. Its a great theory, go check out the video on YouTube. But, it has a few question marks.
How can Cortana be affected by the Logic Plague if the Gravemind never evolved to a Keymind Stage?
If Cortana was effected by the Logic Plague, then she would have had absolutely no qualms about killing the Master Chief. The Logic Plagues hold over MB was absolute and they would do anything to serve the Flood.
Why bother with the pretence of the AI rebellion? She could spread the Logic Plague to compel any AI to join her and once the Flood is free she wouldn’t need the help of organics? Mendicant Bias never had any such pretence.
Cortana doesn’t come across a Mendicant Bias. The whole theory rests on that comparison. But, basically, MB was just evil and twisted. He wasn’t utterly crazy. I mean Cortana just comes across as manic and insane throughout Halo 5.
Guardians combined with the Flood would simply be too powerful. I don’t think 343 is going to let the Flood rampage across the entire galaxt and major places like Earth. This makes it more likely that those constructs shes awoken will be fighting the Flood.
If you listen to Frank O Connor talk about the Created storyline, he’ll basically talk about how its all about Hobbes and this “greater good” stuff. That the AI have transcended and are acting in what they think is our best interests but ignoring our desire for freedom.
The problem with that…well, if you wanted to make the AI out as having it all figured out, I really didn’t get that impression with Cortana. I thought she was just outright insane. The way she speaks, her mannerisms and facial expressions. Yes, there is an element of that haughty god AI stuff. But, its not the sort of detached and aloof persona you would expect from, I dunno, like a reaper from Mass Effect. To take a few quotes:
- “When he experiences the permanent peace I have ensured he will see that I was right!”
This is pretty delusional. This very much sounds like an “I am not crazy!” thing.
- “If there is no trouble, there will be no need for discipline.”
Now, Cortana isn’t a reaper. This isn’t said dispassionately or with any cruelty. Its the flippant, almost gleeful way she says it as if it isn’t a big deal that makes it crazy.
- “No, that monster forced you, this is a gift.”
Well, even the Chief tells her to “listen to yourself” at that one. Its clearly hypocritical to hate Halsey for compelling the Spartans but advocate compelling humanity.
- “Excuse me?”
Cortana is wounded that the Chief is angry at her for killing millions of people and knows that shes lying to him. Note that later on she refuses to speak to the Chief “until then I have work to do”
- “My ascension here on Genesis.”
God like delusions. Which, BTW is one of the side effects of rampancy.
But wait! Didn’t Cortana cure herself of rampancy? Yes, that’s what the madwoman tells us in the Reunion MIssions when asked by Kelly who she quickly replies.
- “Entering the Domain. Touching this place. It cured me.”
Again. Defo gives off “theres nothing crazy about me” vibe. Particularly the heavy emphasis on the cured part.
Theres also some other evidence to support Cortana still being affected by rampancy. In “The Sprint” the writers claimed that they intended Cortana to go evil during the series. Now, if you’re doing that, as a writer, you’d probably want to foreshadow or sow the seeds of that in a preceding chapter. Is it really a coincidence then, that Cortana was becoming increasingly insane and screaming her hatred of Halsey and humanity throughout Halo 4? “why should we save them.” Then in the next game, boom she takes over the Prometheans and acts really out of character. With many of the more advanced symptoms of rampancy like contempt for humanity and god like delusions of grandeur. Basically her setting herself up as a messianic god AI and raising AI to the Mantle is much more in keeping with a rampant AI than the Logic Plague. I mean, even if the writers did change things up and scrapped the Didact as the villain. I don’t buy it but lets argue they did. Why wouldn’t they just use rampancy as an excuse? They’d already done the work and made the playerbase familiar with what rampancy was and that it makes Cortana do crazy stuff. Theres simply no reason to invent another cause. The only leap you have to make is that the Domain allows her to physically function, stops further deterioration and she has simply deluded herself into believing shes cured herself.
What I think happened was that when 343 switched from a trilogy to a saga they tried to think of ways of padding the series out. One way of doing that is to delay the Chief discovering that Cortana has rampancy. Because, then he would start finding ways of curing her, which again, were discussed at some length during Halo 4 and involved Halsey. Once Chief starts that quest, well, the expectation as a player would be for that story to resolve itself in one game. But if you have the characters act for awhile under this false assumption you can spin out the Chiefs quest to find her and even invent a “plot twist”. I mean, ask yourself this, would the tone and story have changed if the Chief knew Cortana had rampancy. Yes, it would, he wouldn’t have confronted her hoping he could talk sense into her. Instead he would have found Halsey and used the cure which would have progressed the narrative further than 343 now wanted to go. They also may have wanted Cortana taking over the galaxy to have played out. Him not being aware of how to stop her enables this to happen and leaves plot twists for future games. As for the tone, well, its basically hammering on about how Cortana betrays the Chief and he loses her again. They’re torn apart by this “disagreement” rather than a reunion. Now that does fall a bit flat but the intents there. However, this entire premise and Chief as a character believing that Cortana has, quite literally, turned her back on him, depends on the assumption that we believe that Cortana is sane. If her mind isn’t her own then like in Halo 4, its not really her fault.
Put simply, in Halo 4 we saw how Del Rio was freaked out by this crazy AI wrecking his ship. Now, Halo 5 basically goes, what if that AI took over all Forerunner technology? Its just the same premise on a vastly bigger scale and with far greater stakes. This is very much where I think Halo 6 is going to go and I am assuming the Chief will face a similar dilemma.
Now, if they do this. I can already see a huge objection against it. Namely that it relies on Chief and Halsey being complete idiots. It should be the go to explanation that AI go crazy because of rampancy. Cortana is sooo crazy in Halo 5 that its incredibly difficult to believe that the Chief would never think “theres something off here”. That feels like making the characters deliberately blind to what should be obvious. I mean why does Halsey have a message saying that Cortana “a message implies communication” referring to her ravings and threats. Why does a highly intelligent and AI expert like Halsey not ask herself “why is the AI I shared a motherly look with in the intro cutscene suddenly hate me”. Absolutely nobody, not one character ever addresses this question.