Peacemaker – Season 1, Episode 8: It’s Cow Or Never

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After seven anarchic episodes of spraying bullets, squirting gore and more foul-mouthed diatribes than you can shake a shiny helmet at, we finally come to the end of the first season of James Gunn’s spinoff to his own The Suicide Squad. The misadventures of Peacemaker and co. has managed to hold an impressive, almost unbroken standard of quality, consistently delivering shocks, yuks and chuckles at a breathless rate, while keeping the same kind of heart usually found within Gunn’s usual brand of misfit-filled mayhem – but now the end is in sight, can it hold on right the way to the end?
With numerous side plots already wrapped up (both mission commander, the alien controlled Murn and Peacemaker’s white supremacist father have both bitten the big one) all that’s left is to tie up the big one, the thwarting of an invasion of the mind controlling, alien Butterflies by taking out their food supply, but can a rather simplistic final mission still carry the same twisted, emotion weight as the rest of the series?

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As Peacemaker, Vigilante, Adebayo, Hardcourt and Economos (oh, and Eagly) head to the location of the Butterflies sacred “cow” in order to thwart the fluttering menaces by taking out the only creature that can supply them with food, there’s still a few issues left to be ironed out. Peacemaker is still feeling pissed and betrayed by Adebayo for following the orders of her mother, Amander Waller, to frame him to cover up all the carnage this mission has caused. Elsewhere, the fact that he only shot his abusive father in the head only a short time ago is starting to weight heavily on the man under the silver helmet and it’s not long into the final mission that Chris Smith’s already battered psyche starts feeding him hallucinations of his racist father.
Needless to say, the mission doesn’t exactly start well, with Eagly being unable to follow exact instructions (because he’s a fucking eagle) and the continued animosity between the various members of the group. However, when they finally get their shit together and settle on a plan (that requires a terrified Economos to go under cover amidst the multitudes of Butterfly possessed goons and plant a sonic boom helmet) things seem to finally start going to plan – until their plant freaks out at the sight of the “cow” due to him having a nasty experience with “Kaijus” due to the Corto Maltese mission. Due to Economos rabbiting, the fight is on with bullets flying everywhere and during the chaos, each member realises they have to step up, or be forced to ingest an alien Butterfly. However, what exactly is the Butterflies mission and is it as insidious as we were all led to believe? Peacemaker once made a vow to achieve peace at any cost – could the Butterflies plan actually be the answer?

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It’s a tremendous relief to say that Peacemaker’s final episode manages to live up to everything that’s gone before and succeeds in James Gunn’s latest its goal to take a buch of of emotional ravaged shitheads and turn them into a loveable family unit while not actually tweaking the more antisocial aspects of their personality. By the time we reach the final battle, we’re completely invested in this fucked up little troupe and their psychological issues and undoubtedly the character who’s had to most to work through is Peacemaker himself. However, Gunn isn’t the kind of filmmaker to suggest that a single bullet through the brain is enough to undo a lifetime of parental abuse and while Chris has sent his father to attend a Nazi rally in the great beyond (that’s a flippant joke – I don’t actually believe they hold those in the afterlife), the damage has still been done and during a vital moment of the mission, Smith sees an image of the dreadful Auggie taunting him from beyond the grave in an effort to give the game away. It’s obvious that Peacemaker has a long way to go before he’s entirely out from under the oppressive shadow of his dad, but his man-child views on masculinity no doubt will stop him bringing them up. If there’s any salvation at hand for Smith, it’s still in the form of the kindly Adebayo who is undergoing some parental pressure of her own. While I would have liked more bonding from them this season, the fact that she closes out the episode by blowing the whistle on the shifty dealings of her scheming mother to the press (a clear example of Gunn having someone choosing found family over a chosen one), but Peacemaker admits that she’s his BFF, a massive move forward considering his upbringing and the fact that she’s a black lesbian.

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While everyone else gets rather rudimentary finishes to their arcs (Hardcourt leads, Economos gets brave-ish and Vigilante… learns absolutely nothing) the episode still manages to contain some neat suprises such as an impressive cameo by most of the Justice League (Superman and Wonder Woman remain in silhouette while Batman and Cyborg are a no-show) only for Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman to have to field a further accusation of fucking fish from an incensed Peacemaker (“You’re late, you fucking dickheads!”) much to the amusement of Ezra Miller’s Flash. It’s probably the most cross pollination the DCEU has ever had and it’s a genuinely nice surprise – especially considering how up in the air the DCEU is at the moment. Other surprises include the Butterflies master plan being malevolently benevolent (they’re going to save the world by ruling us – Murn opposed this as he believed humans deserve free will) and Adebayo’s repeated traumatic (and hilarious) use of Peacemaker’s human torpedo helmet in order to accidentally save the day and you genuinely believe that some of these guys may not make it out of the final firefight alive.
So with the world saved from the forces trying to save it (ironic, no?), and everyone basking in the warm glow of found family despite Chris’ obvious trauma, where next for this awesomely rambunctious series.

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Well, that’s something of a loaded question these days as, due to my tardiness, I managed to review Peacemaker just at the time when James Gunn was hired as supreme overlord of all things cinematic DC to the usual amount of controversy that any DC news is greeted with nowadays. A second season has already been announced and is due to start filming sometime in 2023 – but considering that Gunn has been allegedly been putting an end to the dreams of Snyderheads everywhere (Henry Cavill’s Superman is sadly no more), wouldn’t presenting a safely protected season 2, written and directed by the boss of DC piss some people off even more?
Whatever happens, I’ll have my fingers crossed that we’ll be seeing the cast once again dancing to the sounds of Wig Wam’s Do You Wanna Taste It in the opening credits as there’s still a fuck-ton of childhood trauma to be mined for tragi-comic effect. But until then: Peace, out.

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