Peacemaker – Season 1, Episode 7: Stop Dragon My Heart Around

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There’s always that moment in an action based show where all the build up and teasing leads to that moment we have all been waiting for and while Peacemaker still has it’s main objective (an alien invasion) to deal with, the far more personal matter of an enraged, psychotic parent slapping on a super suit and gunning for his vigilante son has been brewing since episode one. Well, the sad, sordid tale of Christopher Smith, his ill-fated brother and his white supremacist, super villain father finally comes to a head in this episode which finally sees some of our character’s stories come to an abrupt and typically violent end.
Can the show stir up the momentum slightly lost by the previous episode as it starts bloodily tying its threads together as we hurtle toward the season finale?

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Things are getting tight for Chris Smith and his bickering band of team mates as their mission to rid the world of the alien parasites dubbed the Butterflies hits speedbump after merciless speedbump. Understandably pissed that Adebayo set him up on the orders of her mother, the obsessively controlling Amanda Waller, Peacemaker heads out to find the mysterious “cow”, the source of nourishment for the Butterfly army currently on their tail with Vigilante, Economos and Eagly in tow. However their mission his over before it even has a chance to begin thanks to the arrival of the White Dragon, the rolled-up alter ego of Smith’s father, Auggie who comes looking to annihilate his son under the assumption that he’s trying to kill him. As the group try to fend off pulse blasts and Auggie’s KKK-style followers and Peacemaker has to finally confront the man who has crushed him down all these years, the remainder of the barely have any time to respond to the revelation about Adebayo’s parentage when the Butterflies attack, taking out the rogue Butterfly that was puppeteering team leader Murn while Hardcourt and Adebayo hide – however, after narrowly avoiding the aliens, they still manage to run into the escaped Judomaster whom the two women manage to defeat thanks to Hardcourt’s fighting skills and a shit-load of tasering.
When the dust settles, what’s left of the team reconvenes at a veterinary clinic in order to tend to an injured Eagly (God no, please not Eagly) and despite all the secrets and lies that’s driven a wedge between some of the group, they still resolve to track down the “cow” and finish the mission.
However, the “cow” isn’t exactly as bovine as its nickname suggests…

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So after that ever-so-slight dip in quality caused by a need to get all of its pieces in place, Peacemaker gets itself solidly back on the rails as it finally forces its main characters to work through their parental shit in the most violent and awkward ways possible. As we finally find out exactly how Chris’ brother died (he scored a “lucky” punch while being forced to fight as a child), we delve fully into what the true plot of Peacemaker has been all along – trying to survive the trauma inflicted by abusive parents. Everything about Peacemaker, from his blind insistence of obtaining peace by any means necessary ,to his horribly arrested development that’s led to him being a dickish man-child, all stems directly from how Auggie has treated him his whole life thanks to years of constantly being emasculated by him. It’s an interesting concept, especially considering the history of online, toxic behavior that’s been rife around the comic book movie community for what seems an age (and will no doubt continue considering the trials and upheavals DC movies seems destined to endure – but it’s also telling that James Gunn’s series has attempted to breach this macho facade on order to get down to what makes Peacemaker tick as his desire to slaughter (for a “good” cause) is slowly dispersing.
Looking elsewhere and we find ourselves with an incredibly busy episode that contains major deaths (spoiler warnings engaged) and sees us wave goodbye to Chukwudi Iwuji’s Clemson Murn who (or at least his CGI Butterfly parasite) gets a sad send off; but on the bright side, Robert Patrick’s truly odious Auggie finally catches a bullet between the eyes after a good old fashioned superhero scrap that sees Chris finally confront his father about who’s really responsible for his brother’s death. Maybe Vigilante’s joke about mistaking Peacemaker’s obvious grief for face exercises (set up in an earlier episode) is slightly ill-timed, therefore defusing some of the punch this emotional moment has, but elsewhere the episode scores with the boken Murn-Butterfly weakly reaching out as it expires and a moment where Adebayo has an epiphany moment from seeing an unhurt Eagly hug his overjoyed master – a claim she’s refuted as impossible in the past.

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Director Brad Anderson (he of Session 9 and The Machinist fame) balances the ludicrous action and even more ludicrous drama with a deft hand, as John Cena gets to once more flip from a character so messed up inside he can go from angrily debating whether a butterfly is a bird one minute to having a full on emotional meltdown the next.
If there’s any off points about the episode (I said if), then I might suggest that the show walks back its overuse of both Vigilante – who’s utter lack of social awareness is now completely off the scale – and Judomaster who gets into yet another scrap with the team, only to be captured again. While the work of both Freddie Stroma and Nhut Le still remains exemplary, I’m getting the feeling that Gunn’s kind of over using them a little bit which is starting to render them slightly less effective than they were before.
Aside from that, with one episode left and with the aftermath of their encounters weighing heavily on our terminally flawed heroes, there’s only the slight matter of an alien invasion left to deal with, but the reveal that the “cow” is actually a huge creature that looks like a gargantuan tardigrade with Baby Yoda’s eyes, there’ll no doubt be some sort of genuinely sweet (while simultaneously grotesque) punch line that’ll bring the house down.

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Seven down, one to go and Peacemaker has thus far brought the goods with style so the chances of Gunn and co. choking at the final hurdle seem reassuringly remote – but now that his dad’s bit the dust, will there still be that emotional attachment that’s complimented the gonzo weirdness thus far?
If I’ve learnt anything over the past seven episodes, it’s to definitely give peace a chance.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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