Microsoft’s new holiday ad for 2020 is a mix of sad, adorable, and surprisingly dark, all wrapped up in a dog’s desire to become a gamer to win their owner’s affection that has been stolen away by a nasty Xbox Series S. The dog goes up to their owner, who is so enraptured by Halo that they ignore their furry little friend entirely. After walking around the house and the entire family ignoring the pup for their various Microsoft products and video games, from Halo, Minecraft, a video call, and Microsoft Flight Simulator, the dog looks longingly out the window at their friend across the street, who seems to be suffering from similar Microsoft product-prompted neglect. Feeling dejected after their owners wanted to play with their Xboxes, PCs, and tablets instead of them, the two go to sleep.
Then the two dogs enter a collective dream state where they get to experience the holiday magic of being inside a Microsoft device. From piloting planes in Microsoft Flight Simulator, existing in a Minecraft world of their own making (you can tell a dog made it because they have a built bones to eat and fire hydrants to pee on), jumping on a video call to talk to all their dog friends, and even helping Halo protagonist Master Chief on the battlefield.
It’s here where things go from sad, to adorable, to the surprisingly dark. Master Chief threw a grenade while the dogs were helping him fight aliens, and it seems that these little canine friends are well-trained, because they played Fetch and brought it right back to John-117 like the goodest good boys they could be. However, the grenade is certainly armed and moments away from blowing up in an explosion that could take out a group of enemies. So at this point blank range, none of that fancy armor is going to save Master Chief from the combustible package sitting at his feet. Instead of panicking and running in the opposite direction, Chief looks at the camera Jim Halpert style and is wasting what few precious seconds he has to escape the blast radius.
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The question becomes did the dogs know what they were doing? They have the capacity to pilot a plane, as well as create a Minecraft world that is functional and solidly built. So one must assume they know what a grenade is, right? Perhaps this was pent up rage from when their owner refused to acknowledge them as they played Halo. Maybe, despite the Microsoft allegiance their family seems to have, they know about how Ellie from The Last of Us kills a bunch of dogs in Part II, and wants to ensure that they get ahead of any shenanigans Master Chief might be plotting and get him before he has the chance to act on said plotting.
All of this is to say that if the first kid who was playing Halo had given the dog some love and attention, Master Chief might still be alive today. Perhaps this is why Halo Infinite was actually delayed, 343 Industries is trying to find a new protagonist.