Another week has gone by and that means it’s time again to enter the profane and jocular world of the DCEU’s Peacemaker. Time to find out about the title character’s attempts to be a better person and the latest developments in Operation Butterfly. The shocking reveal that ended the previous episode set up many questions and a sense of intrigue that carries through Peacemaker 1×05 and into future episodes. So, let’s discuss.
“We killed a gorilla with a chainsaw!”
John Cena‘s Peacemaker, a.k.a. Chris Smith, has to overcome his anger about his father’s imprisonment to work with the other members of the team because they have a lead on the food source of the butterflies. The show finally clearly spells out exactly what the butterflies are—a parasitic alien species that looks like the beautiful insect we all know—and what they do to their host.
The butterflies Peacemaker has encountered up until now have been hostile when discovered. Their numbers also look quite invasive. However, after Judomaster, a bodyguard for one of the butterflies, said they are not what Peacemaker and the others think they are, the audience also learned that…SPOILER…team leader Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji) is one of them.
The viewer right now is left wondering (or maybe hoping) if the butterflies are truly evil or not. I think writer James Gunn has paced out this central mystery quite well, and it still has space to go. This storyline also keeps providing memorable moments, whether it’s the unpredictable reveals that end some episodes or strong action sequences. For example, this episode features a notably bloody shootout in a warehouse full of butterflies.
These team moments are some of my favorite parts of the show. Gunn has a knack for character-driven dialogue that bounces back and forth easily. Yes, there are countless curse words scattered throughout, but underneath that is a lot of humor and camaraderie. That has never been more evident than in this episode. Badass lead agent Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) even starts a group text for them! And it’s a, dare I say it, sweet moment. Yes, I just used “sweet” to describe something about this show. Who would’ve expected that?
“People might actually like you.”
The best part of Peacemaker as a whole is the development of the title character. He may be foul-mouthed, self-centered, and other bad things, but he is also eager for acceptance and easily wounded. He obviously WANTS to be a better person. And he talks about this with fellow agent Leota (Danielle Brooks) in this episode, which is a nice counterpoint to her conversation with Vigilante in the previous episode.
She says the same thing to Peacemaker that she said in the other conversation: that she believes he is a good person deep down. This moment works because the audience can tell this is true. The writing has given a deeper layer to the extreme things Peacemaker sometimes says, and Cena’s performance can successfully turn from tossing a bomb to singing in his tighty-whities.
This Peacemaker and Leota interaction is actually the strongest scene in terms of the lead character’s evolution. He becomes vulnerable for a moment and admits he hasn’t had anyone who had his back before the way this team does. There are details in this sequence that add impact, such as when Leota notices the picture of Peacemaker and his late brother or when we see that Peacemaker has saved a newspaper clipping that calls him a “hero” in the headline.
I want to see who Peacemaker is when this season ends. And that’s more true than ever after this episode. Will he be more like the Chris that Leota sees in her teammate? Or will he cling to the Peacemaker persona for some reason? Or will he find a way to balance the two? One thing is for sure: this show has established that he has the potential to be heroic. And the journey there will be fun.
Peacemaker is streaming now on HBO Max.