Believe it or not, Peacemaker 1×04 goes even harder to make the audience start to like the title character, aka Christopher Smith. The writers do this in a surprisingly touching way. Also, this episode ends with an even bigger WTF moment than the last one. So let’s dig into 1×04 of the DCEU‘s Peacemaker!
“With An Attitude Like That, You’re Definitely a Supervillain”
The trick with lead characters on television shows is that the audience has to want to invite them into their home every week. Even with someone like Peacemaker as played by John Cena, who has villainous traits, the viewer must at least be interested in what happens to them. This show accomplishes that. Moreover, the writers unexpectedly create empathy in the audience for Peacemaker.
The character of Auggie Smith, played by Robert Patrick, is the catalyst for this. He is Peacemaker’s father and has already been firmly established as a completely horrible entity who barely qualifies as human. Peacemaker’s teammate Leota (Danielle Brooks) even explicitly talks to Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) about the difference she sees between Chris and his father. You know she’s right given the things Auggie says to his son.
Writer-director James Gunn explores what happened to Peacemaker’s older brother in flashbacks near the end of the episode. They are brief, with no dialogue, but they are impactful and leave the viewer eager to learn more. Chris has been deeply shaped by his family, so I’m now invested in his future. If you watched The Suicide Squad and hated Peacemaker, this show is probably changing your mind by now. It may be a slow process, but it is clearly one of the goals of the show. And it’s working.
A DC fan like me will enjoy every mention of their big superheroes we all know. In this episode, it’s Batman. In these moments, someone will say something positive, and Peacemaker will take the opposite stance, dismissing the hero and insulting them. This shouldn’t be funny, and yet it is. More laughs come from the ridiculous conversations Peacemaker frequently has with other characters about silly things. Peacemaker 1×04 brings us a debate with Vigilante about ducks in human costumes. Yeah, like I said, ridiculous…but still funny.
“We Need a Psychopath.”
The thoroughly entertaining character of Vigilante seems to have become a full member of Peacemaker’s team now, and he gets a sequence where he gets to shine here. He gets himself thrown into prison with Auggie, intending to kill him as a way to make Peacemaker’s life better. This doesn’t go as planned, but we do get something satisfying instead. Vigilante confronts Auggie’s group of white supremacist assholes with facts that demolish their racist viewpoints, then physically knocks them out. This is just a thrilling and memorable wish-fulfillment moment.
The central mission of the team to deal with the alien invasion of “butterflies” also takes an unpredictable turn in this episode. I won’t spoil it, but the final shot will leave your mouth gaping. This development comes on the heels of the henchmen of one of the Butterflies, the Judomaster, saying that the Butterflies aren’t what the team thinks they are. Oh, the mystery! Will the Butterflies end up being allies? Or are they actually evil enemies who still need to be exterminated? If you get me asking questions like this, I’m going to keep watching.
And that’s the kind of thing that leads the story through one episode and into the next: the deepening character developments and plot progression. If you’ve made it past all the obscenities of the tone of this show up to this point, then the final half of the season could have some strong moments in store. I, for one, will be there.
Peacemaker is streaming on HBO Max.