The pilot episode “Why Are We Here?” starts off with a shot of Grif and Simmons standing on the top of Red Base. Simmons asks Grif if he ever wonders why they’re there. Grif starts discussing the question on a deep, philosophical level, wondering about the existence of God. Simmons explains that he meant there in the canyon, prompting an awkward moment.
Simmons goes on to question why they’re fighting a war in a box canyon with no way in or out. He points out the only reason they have a base is to fight the Blues, and the only reason the Blues have a base is to fight the Reds. Even if the Blues were to take control of Red Base, there’d still be no victory justifying the conflict. Grif interjects that he joined the army to fight aliens, but Master Chief blew up the Covenant armada and so he was stuck fighting against the Blues instead.
Meanwhile, Church spies on the two with his sniper rifle’s scope. Tucker crouches next to him and annoys him by constantly asking what the Reds are doing, which is always going to be that they’re just standing there and talking because that’s all the Reds ever do. Tucker then annoys Church further by asking what the Reds are talking about.
Cut back to the Reds, still ranting about their pointless conflict. Grif points out that it’s a huge waste of resources and they should be putting those resources into discovering alien life… because aliens are a sensible choice of people to fight. Then Sarge pops in from ground level and yells for them to come down on the double.
This is a classic episode. It sets the stage for all of the show to come. It pokes fun at Halo multiplayer and in doing so has the absurdist theme about how their conflict is pointless. Just about every line is quotable and is referenced in later episodes. However, the characters are very different from what they eventually turn out to be.
For example, Simmons and Grif have practically traded roles. Through most of the series, Grif is the simple-minded one and Simmons is the smart one, but this one seems to be the other way around. Grif is the one who talks about God and whether life has a purpose, and Simmons is the one who talks about the most obvious question of why they’re even fighting the war.
Tucker and Church just swear a lot. There’s not much of their characters at this point. All we have is that Church is antisocial and Tucker is annoying. And they swear a lot. There’s none of the charm of the characters later on and they both come off as rather gruff.
Grif’s line about Master Chief and the Covenant is a clear connection to the Halo universe, which following this episode is abandoned for five seasons. From Grif’s story, it sounds like they’re all members of the UNSC and were just placed into this weird situation with no explanation. Later episodes make it seem like the Halo world doesn’t exist and that they’re fighting a United States civil war that may very well be a hoax set up by the people in charge for unknown reasons. Season 6 eventually retcons all this by saying that the UNSC fabricated the Red vs. Blue conflict for a training exercise.