Our new favorite team of anti-heroes are back at it this week as Peacemaker continues it’s quest to stand apart from other superhero TV shows. Episode 4 was directed by Jody Hill, who fans may know from his appearance in Superbad, and his co-creation of The Righteous Gemstones and Vice Principals among other projects. His previous work has a distinct flavor of dark comedy, which made him a natural choice to be a part of Peacemaker.
It has to be said from the beginning of this episode, who knew we could get such nuanced, heartfelt performances from John Cena? The former pro-wrestler has established himself time and again as a talented comedic actor. However, in this episode, we got less of a look at Peacemaker, and a more in depth examination of Chris Smith. Smith is a classic victim of abuse, committed to defending his father Auggie (Robert Patrick). For Chris, the issue isn’t that his father is a horrific racist who abused him all his life and is an all-around terrible person. The issue is that Chris still thinks he can earn his father’s love and that his father’s abuse was done in the name of love.
We also saw the development of Adrian Chase (Freddie Stroma). Until now, we’ve mostly seen his alter ego Vigilante, a fast-talking Peacemaker fanboy. This time, we saw Chase unmasked and called upon to be the friend he wants to be to Chris Smith in his hour of need. His sarcasm and sardonic wit are put to excellent use confronting Auggie in prison, although he comes away from the interaction devastated he’s unable to kill his best friend’s abuser. Stroma is more than able to carry the charisma of this character, so hopefully we will get to see more of Adrian Chase going into the second half of the season.
This episode also really focused on developing the friendships we’ve had set up so far. This is another reason Peacemaker has distinguished itself from other DC Extended Universe (DCEU) properties. The friendships are allowed to develop organically, giving them a greater depth than most of what we’ve seen in DC’s movies to date. Leota (Danielle Brooks) was able to confront Peacemaker as a friend in a compassionate way, to try to help him see the truth about his father. She was also able to bond with co-worker Emilia (Jennifer Holland) over her inability to kill a man in the previous episode. Emilia was supportive in her own unique way, and we’ll hopefully see more of these two supporting one another through this incredibly screwed up mission they’ve both gotten involved in.
We also got more minor characters in this week’s episode. Judomaster (Nhut Le) survived his encounter with John Economos (Steve Agee), and he survived again after being shot directly in the chest this week. Who knows what’s in store for this character. He’s been introduced, and the character we’ve seen definitely has potential. Auggie’s Neighbor (Mel Tuck) also came back in this episode. This man is so endearing, and the fact that he doesn’t even have a name of his own just makes him even more hilarious every time we see him.
We also aren’t really any closer to finding out what Butterflies are by the end of this week’s episode. After claiming that he shot the bug the bug that emerged from Senator Royland Goff’s (Antonio Cupo) shot off face. However, the bug is in fact trapped in a jar, as Peacemaker (and the audience) continue to wonder exactly what these freaky bugs are. The big reveal at the end of the episode, however, is that Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), the leader of this ill-fated squad, is himself a Butterfly. What does that even mean?
There are only four episodes left in Peacemaker, which means this episode marked the halfway point of the season. There are many more stories left to tell that have been set up. Hopefully, Peacemaker won’t fall into the trap that Marvel TV shows have, sacrificing a satisfying ending in the name of tying the show into future properties. If any superhero series can do it, it might just be the glorious chaos project that is Peacemaker.
New episodes of Peacemaker air Thursdays on HBO.