DC’s flagship TV show Peacemaker continues with what might be the strongest episode to date. James Gunn continues to prove his talent as a storyteller, and why he’s the right man for this project. Peacemaker really made use of it’s status on HBO in the best possible ways, and continues to prove why it’s one of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) most compelling properties.
First thing’s first, this show needs way more of Peacemaker’s (John Cena) loyal sidekick, Eagly (Dee Bradley Baker). That bird is so compelling and is truly there for our favorite anti-hero in his hours of need. The opening scene so effectively distilled the relationship between Peacemaker and his beloved pet. Don’t we all rely on our pets when we’re in our lowest moments to ground us and bring us back to the present moment?
We finally have more answers to what Butterflies are, and how they fit into the story the series is trying to tell. It makes sense why the team was so haphazardly thrown together, and had to operate as a black-ops. The shadowy nature of the mission also lends itself perfectly to the development of all sorts of conspiracies. This gives the episode a flavor of political drama that is particularly timely in the era of Q-Anon and other internet conspiracies that continue to invade the real world.
The character moments through this episode are the strongest of the series so far. It’s clear the emotional toll this job is taking on Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) and how much it impacts her marriage. The team bonding in this episode is incredible, and as Peacemaker proclaims, “it’s like a real team out there”. Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) is fast becoming one of the series’ most compelling characters. Even Economos (Steve Agee) is being emotionally developed which is great to see. Finally, Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) continues to hold the entire team together as the real leader that can be followed.
This entire episode is also a tribute to the body snatcher genre, in particular Invasion of the Body Snatchers and They Live. There’s even a reference to the x-ray vision technology of They Live, with Peacemaker suiting up with a specially designed helmet. The gore and horror of this trope was played to perfection by the cast. This was a perfect venue, Peacemaker being on HBO. Gunn’s appreciation for this particular brand of horror is clear in every moment of this episode. This is where the show shines, in balancing graphic violence with emotional development that makes us care about these characters.
This episode was also the most of a police procedural we’ve seen in the series so far. Annie Chang’s and Lochlyn Munro’s return as Officers Sophie Song and Larry Fitzgibbon respectively is just what the series needs at this moment. Chang especially so clearly portrays the futility of being a good cop in a corrupt system, even if the show’s stakes lean more toward the more fantastical, science fiction variety with the Butterflies. Her quest to clear an innocent man’s name, despite how despicable that man is, really is what cops are supposed to be in theory only.
Peacemaker is very much hitting its stride, and it never loses its grounding in the chaos it creates. At its core is a man who uses the veneer of being a terrible person to push everyone else away, who is just trying to belong to this group of misfits. This could so easily be a show justifying horrific views that Peacemaker and his father hold, and it never is. They are never allowed to hold these views unchallenged, and Peacemaker especially is given room to grow and change, and leave his previous views behind. Now that truths have been revealed, Peacemaker has set fans up for a story that we care about and want to follow.
New episodes of Peacemaker air Thursdays on HBO.