Peacemaker might be one of the least popular characters from The Suicide Squad after he killed fan-favorite Rick Flagg, but he is winning over the hearts of DC fans everywhere as proven by the fact that his show, DC’s Peacemaker, is the number one show in the world. This eight-episode series from the brilliant mind of James Gunn dives into why this character is the way he is and allows audiences to relate to him in ways they never expected to.
Yes, Christopher Smith, AKA Peacemaker (played by John Cena) is sexist, misogynistic, rude, vulgar, and a little bit racist – but that is largely in part because of his upbringing. He was raised by Auggie Smith (Robert Patrick), man who is probably the worst man in the entire world. As viewers learn in the second to last episode of the season, he pitted his young sons against each other, literally, in a fighting ring so that he could encourage the rest of the trailer park they live in to place bets on them. A money scheme that never worked out for him because poor Chris accidentally killed his brother during one of these fights, and that is something he has had to deal with his entire life.
Peacemaker season one does have a complete, crazy, storyline about alien butterflies that come down to Earth and take over human bodies, very similar to the Starro plot from The Suicide Squad, but it is so much more than that. Chris slowly starts to realize that everything he thinks is right, might not be. He may not end the season as a perfect person, but he has come a long way from calling a waitress “sweet cheeks” at the beginning of the season.
This show has a whole lot of action, and some of the best fight scenes in a DC property ever. The team takes on a lot of butterflies, and even a gorilla butterfly. Peacemaker’s x-ray helmet comes in real handy when they need to start identifying them. Eventually, the team learns that there is a large cow providing the honey-like substance that butterflies eat, and without the cow, they will all eventually perish. Once they track down where it is, they know they must do everything in their power to take it out.
There is a surprising amount of heart involved as we see this ensemble group grow to become a family. While the series is named after Peacemaker, the story surrounds a Black Ops team put together by Amanda Waller – the one hinted at in the end credit scene of The Suicide Squad. This team consists of Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), John Economos (Steve Agee), and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks).
They are led by Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), who as it turns out, is a “good” butterfly eager to stop his fellow butterflies from murdering everyone on planet Earth. In episode 7 Murn is murdered by the Queen Butterfly, who goes from inhabiting Senator Goff to inhabiting Detective Sophie Song, after a brief stint living in a glass jar in Peacemaker’s trailer.
Freddie Stroma plays Adrian Chase, AKA Vigilante, who ends up on the team just because of his obsession with Peacemaker. He becomes too involved to be sent back into the wild, and as Murn points out, he must be kept close so that they can keep an eye on him. Vigilante and Peacemaker have some of the best scenes together, as Vigilante is brutally honest, and Peacemaker doesn’t always like that. In Adrian’s eyes, Chris can do no wrong, and he will always be there to stand up for Peacemaker and help him when he needs it. If you look to the middle of the season, Adrian literally gets himself arrested so he can get the chance to kill Auggie, knowing how much he degrades Chris.
In the end, it is Chris who gets to off his father though, despite it being incredibly difficult to do. In the second to last episode of season one, it is clear that he has hit his breaking point. His father, in full White Dragon garb, rips into Chris, tearing him apart with his words about all the reasons he hates his son – including that he killed his brother. This, on top of the fact that Auggie has just seriously injured Peacemaker’s sidekick Eagly (the best boy CGI eagle that is brutal but lovable), causes Chris to fight back. He tells his father that he didn’t kill his brother, Auggie did, before shooting him in the head and killing him. Clearly, this is something Chris will have to deal with, but for now, there is a cow to track down.
Another important plot point from the start of the season that carried all the way through is that Leota is actually Amanda Waller’s daughter. She lost her job and so Waller offered to make her part of this team. In true Waller fashion though, she had her own motives as well. She sent Leota in with a secret mission, to plant a diary in Peacemaker’s trailer that would make him take all the blame for what goes down with the butterflies. When the team learns what she did, she loses almost all trust with them, but especially with Peacemaker.
Harcourt has an amazing character arc throughout the season as well. She starts off as a hardened agent who just wants to do her job and get out of there, but by the end of the season, she truly cares about these people. She starts to loosen up and allow herself to have a good time – something that slowly unravels as the episodes go on. Harcourt is a fan favorite, which is apparent on social media, and rightfully so. Holland is an absolute talent, right along with the entire cast of the show.
The finale episode is jam-packed with everything that fans wanted, and more. The team had to band together to get rid of the cow in order to stop the butterfly invasion. The best part though is all of the callbacks from things that were sprinkled throughout the season.
Economos must admit the fact that he dyes his beard when called out by one of the butterflies. In his explanation, he confesses how Peacemaker mentioning it over and over made him feel (not good). Both Harcourt and Vigilante get shot, but luckily they both live to fight another day. Although Harcourt’s journey will be much longer than Vigilante’s.
The finale has some of the best action of the season, with several large-scale fights. After Harcourt goes down, she knows she must go help her. Seeing her transform into a complete badass, taking out multiple butterflies to get to Harcourt – and even ripping one out of Harcourt’s throat as it tries to possess her – is incredible. Every character in this show has an amazing arc this season, and the finale is pretty much perfect.
In a deep conversation with Sophie, Chris learns what the butterflies are up to. When they arrived on Earth, they saw that humans were going down the same path their species was. Destroying the Earth and listening to bozos in the government who tell us to look away, and that these things are not due to our actions. The butterflies made a vow to save the planet, no matter how many lives they had to take to it.
She asks Peacemaker to help them in their mission, and it is here that he must make a decision. He ends up not siding with the butterflies and when asked why later, he admits it is because he knew they would hurt the team if he did. Obviously, he can relate to the butterflies and their mission as he himself made a vow when his brother died, to kill in the name of peace.
In what is sure to be the most talked about cameo of the year, the Justice League – Superman, Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman – arrive just a little bit too late to help out. And Peacemaker is unafraid to let them know that. In another brilliant callback to the very first episode, Aquaman and Flash discuss those rumors – and Barry says they are true.
During the final few moments of the episode, viewers see Peacemaker sitting at the hospital for days in support of Harcourt, and the two hold hands as he sits by her hospital bed. Leota holds a press conference to not only admit that she planted the diary, but to expose Task Force X and her mother. Economos returns to work, and places a frame with the photo from the group rocking out in the van together on his desk. Peacemaker sits outside his trailer with Eagly, Goff/Sophie butterfly (who he gives the last bit of stolen nectar to), and the ghost of his father.
Peacemaker season 1 is filled with brutal action, ridiculous humor, bloody kills, vulgar language, and a whole lot of heart – making it quite the emotional roller coaster. This show is so very clearly James Gunn, and continues the look and feel of The Suicide Squad. Warner Brothers was smart in allowing him to fully dive into these characters. He uses the length of the series to explore each and every one of these people, their motives, their relationships, and their troubles.
With a season 2 officially confirmed, to be written and directed by James Gunn, the possibilities are endless. Fans can’t wait to see what this ragtag group of people get into next.
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: HBO Max.
Tessa Smith owns MamasGeeky.com and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.