‘Peacemaker’ 1×03 Review: “Better Goff Dead”

**Spoilers Ahead**

The last of the three Peacemaker episodes released simultaneously gave us a satisfying continuation of the story that has been set up by the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The continued focus on a minor DC character is serving this story very well, and is allowing the actors to explore their characters in a really interesting way. John Cena continues to prove himself and why he deserves to be center stage in a major superhero series.

Finally in this episode it seems, we have some direction for our misguided team. They continue to be basically incompetent, as was illustrated by Leota’s (Danielle Brooks) revealing a…compromising photo of her wife in the middle of her official work presentation. However, we finally got to see an actual mission to our bumbling idiots, the assassination of United States Senator Royland Groff (Antonio Cupo) who is suspected of being a Butterfly. We still haven’t fully been told what being a Butterfly actually means, but it really doesn’t look like anything good.

This brought up a fascinating moral dilemma that Peacemaker had to face. He continues to bill himself as a man who pursues peace at any cost, regardless of how many people need to be killed to achieve that goal. However, he can’t bring himself to assassinate the family of a Butterfly including the children, even when it’s clear that they too are Butterflies. His panic at the prospect of assassinating the remainder of Senator Royland’s family is such a strong character moment for Peacemaker, and hopefully it can be re-visited and have larger implications in the context of this story.

(L) Danielle Brooks, (R) Jennifer Holland. ‘Peacemaker’. Photo Credit: HBO.

The characters we have already met were given even further. Emilia (Jennifer Holland) and Peacemaker got to further spend time in their complicated relationship while on a stakeout and just sit with one another. We also met a new opponent for the team in this week’s episode in the character Judomaster (Nhut Le). His chemistry with Peacemaker and Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) is obvious, and they riff off of each other in the best possible way. This character has so much potential to fit into this story. It also must be acknowledged that there is a very real possibility that this character could devolve into a racist caricature that we would absolutely not support. According to IMDb, this character will be a part of 7 episodes in total. Hopefully, his character will be done justice.

The violence in this show and in this episode in particular is used so effectively. The fact that Peacemaker is airing on HBO means it has a lot more leeway to portray violence. So far, the violence shown has never been used simply for shock value. It’s been used to tell the story and develop the characters. It’s commendable that with the ability the show has to use violence, it uses it so precisely. The DCEU has a track record of using violence with little to know context or consequences, and it’s great to see that this might be coming to an end.

Photo Credit: HBO

The violence in Peacemaker, again particularly in this episode, was paired perfectly with humor. In particular, the scene with Vigilante getting his toe sawed off by Judomaster. Their continued banter during the process was jarring but absolutely made sense in the context of what we know about both of these characters. It’s a big risk pairing violence and humor, and it definitely doesn’t always work. It seems that the DCEU has tried to do this in so many of their properties with…limited success to say the least. This might be the first time it’s worked out in this universe, and honestly, good for them. 

Peacemaker continues to tell an interesting story with interesting characters, and that alone is great to see. This was the first episode in the series so far with an after-credits scene which…really? Was that necessary? But aside from that, there was really strong character development, along with a story that is engaging. Now that we’ll be seeing one episode per week, it will no doubt change the dynamic of the show, very hopefully for the better.

New episodes of Peacemaker air Thursdays on HBO.

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