If you can believe it, the DCEU‘s Peacemaker keeps getting better, and Peacemaker 1×06 is the strongest episode yet. The story gives each character something to do without losing the core progress of Peacemaker as the lead. The plot keeps moving from memorable moment to memorable moment as well, and this episode is no exception. Let’s dig into it all, shall we?
“Cut it out with the introspection.”
Peacemaker 1×06 is more explicit than ever about the redemption of the title character after the events of The Suicide Squad. Writer James Gunn is overt about transforming him from villain to anti-hero. And after that, maybe even a hero? Peacemaker is direct about this himself, saying in this episode that he doesn’t want to kill anyone anymore. Fans shouldn’t worry about him losing his vulgar edge, but he is clearly more complex than anyone expected. Maybe even himself.
The moment in “Murn After Reading” that showcases this comes near the end, and it nearly sideswipes you with its gentleness. Peacemaker is alone in one room of the team’s headquarters. He approaches the unused piano that’s always been off to the side. He sits and begins to play, and it’s surprisingly beautiful. Certain camera placement reveals that John Cena is playing for real, and he also adds depth with an effective emotional performance as he does so, only using facial expressions.
Earlier, the situation had become tense between Peacemaker and the rest of the team when he sensed that there were things that they weren’t revealing to him. (Which was correct, but more about that later.) This is also shortly after his admission that he doesn’t want to kill people anymore. So, it hits hard. The piano-playing is also a wonderful expression of the dichotomy going on within the character, as it is different from the music we’ve seen him enjoy up until now.
“Smiling looks different on everyone.”
After revealing that leader Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji) is one of the alien “butterflies” the team is trying to stop, the show moves forward in this episode by presenting him as a dissenter from the rest of his species. He didn’t want to participate in the domination the other butterflies have planned. This is what Peacemaker doesn’t know yet, and this will surely present drama for the remaining two episodes of the season.
The butterflies also take an ominous turn here. The one Peacemaker captured back in episode 1×03 accidentally escapes and inhabits the body of Detective Song, played by Annie Chang, who’s been tracking Peacemaker. This is the first time the audience sees what the butterflies actually do to take over their host, and it is a remarkably violent moment. When the detective coordinates the takeover of the whole police department with her fellow butterflies, it’s downright scary.
You feel more than ever at the end of this episode that Peacemaker and the team are up against a formidable adversary. They have a plan to destroy the butterflies’ food source, but the viewer can tell this will not have an easy resolution. You have to wonder what this plan will mean for Murn as well. How will he survive without the aliens’ only source of nutrition? And what happens to the human body he has occupied? The fact that I’m invested in the answers to these questions means this show has done its job.
On the strength of all this, Peacemaker has delivered what is probably the best episode of the series so far. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the humor in this episode was particularly on point as well. This show continues to exceed my expectations. I’m ready for next week.
Peacemaker is streaming on HBO Max.