At the start of Two Betrayals, Chief quite pointedly calls Spark a “friend”.
Not “ally”, or any sort of neutral word that implies more of a function than an emotion.
He calls him a friend…
That’s a really fascinating word choice for Chief, which Cortana chastises him for - so it’s not just a word picked without thought on the part of the writers, there is intent in that.
Chief has what is literally one of the most traumatic experiences of his life in encountering the Flood, escapes into a swamp, then meets this floating glowy orb who teleports him to hell in order to retrieve the key to a doomsday weapon, and Chief is like “he’s my friend now, he’s our friend, Cortana!”
Lasky: Chief, I won’t pretend to know how you feel. I’ve lost people I care about, but never anything you’re going through.
Why is this important?
Because Lasky has lost everyone. His brother, Cadmon. His squadmates: Chyler, Dima, JJ, Vickers. His instructor, Colonel Mehaffey. His Commanding Officer General Black. All of his schoolmates save for Michael Sullivan and April Orenski. And at this point in the universe, he has probably lost his mother too. And this is just the ones we know. We know nothing of his time as a Navy pilot, or really anything between Corbulo and the UNSC Infinity.
So here we have this character who has gone through so much pain and suffering comforting John, who, in retrospect, only lost an AI. Not a flesh and bone person, not someone who lived a long life, or had a life cut short or anything really comparable to the losses Lasky has suffered. Yet, he still finds it within himself to genuinely and truthfully sympathize with John, and acknowledge John’s emotions without any prompting, and know when he’s pushed John just enough.
This is by far the main reason why I love Tom Lasky so much. His selfless, empathetic persona is a fantastic contrast to the grim and stoic UNSC personnel we’ve seen. Tom is someone deeply in tune with his emotions and unafraid of them; a rarity in the military (that comes from personal experience). His emotionalism almost destroyed him at Corbulo. He let his anger towards Cadmon’s death reign, but Mehaffey saw the value in it. A soldier with empathy and compassion…a unique trait that set Tom Lasky apart from the rest of his squad and later, from the rest of the Infinity crew.
Lasky has a trait that balances him perfectly against John, who vehemently rails against his emotions at an increasing rate through the game. And this, I think, is something often overlooked within Halo 4.