In this episode of Peacemakerstakes get higher, characters grow closer, and it’s clear that trying to grasp who these characters are or what’s going on is a waste of energy because more gets revealed that throws everything into question.
During the time between the start of this episode and the end of the last, Chris (John Cena, WWE Smackdown!) had made the rest of the crew aware of the alien tech he had stolen from the butterfly’s apartment in the last episode, though he doesn’t play much of a role in this episode.
That being said, this detail being brought up so early on is important because, contrary to the previous episode, the characters feel more inclined to communicate with each other rather than keeping secrets and bottling things up; Chris still doesn’t know what this entire operation is about, but it’s a start.
This episode centers around the assassination that Chris was hired to conduct in the premiere. While that premise would lend itself to a very plot focused episode, the show actually does a great job of still keeping the characters at the forefront, which is key to any successful story.
The assassination attempt itself was less about the actual act and more about Chris and how he was being impacted and what that said about him. The same goes for the other characters, and a lot more was revealed about them, even in just simple action, which was very impressive.
The most overt was example of this is the conversation between Chris and Hartcourt (Jennifer Holland, Sun Records) while they waited to assassinate suspected Butterfly Senator Goff (Antonio Cupo, Blood & Treasure), and potentially the rest of his family. It first starts out with Hartcourt silently offering Chris some of her trail mix, and there’s a moment when it seems that Chris had paid attention to the pieces she had been picking out and put them back in the bag for her to eat; of course, that wasn’t his intention at all, but at least it seemed to be for a moment.
The two then get to talking about their traumatic childhoods where their parents exposed them to violence at a young age and probably didn’t treat them well—probably in regards to Hartcourt, it’s crystal clear how abusive Auggie (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) was to Chris.
The scene was as painfully cheesy as it meant to be, but the comedy was meant to offset the more emotional moment the two have; Hartcourt really doesn’t like Chris, for valid reasons considering how he’s acted, but the two opening up to each other is finding them neutral ground to connect better as teammates.
In general, this episode was all about getting the team to grow closer together, especially after last episode where everyone started accusing each other about being a rat.
This team building and character development was also shown when Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji, The Split) and Economos (Steve Agee, Superstore) were setting up for the assassination. Economos tries to get Murn to tell him about his past as a mercenary, but instead he learns that Murn is actively trying to sluggish for his past actions and become a more well-rounded person and unlearning all his toxic mindsets about feelings and emotions; it was as tender as it was comedic.
However, despite it being comedic, that tenderness was there for a reason, as later on in the episode, when Chris asks whether Murn wants him to take out a bodyguard just to get to the Senator, Murn shares a look with Economos before calling Chris off, that stating he doesn’t kill people who don’t deserve it, unlike Amanda Waller.
This is also an example of how trying to understand these characters and their roles is near impossible, as the man went from auditioning for the role of Amanda Waller’s clone to being an emotionally healing babysitter to a group of adult toddlers.
The other character who is near impossible to pin down is Vigilante (Freddie Stroma, The Crew).
In the first episode, he seemed like a little wannabe fanboy of Peacemaker who wanted to be his friend and was generally just awkward and comedic relief.
In the second episode, he seemed to be a more unhinged Deadpool who is still awkward and wants to be Peacemaker’s friend, but actually fills that role, and could be a future antagonist due to his intense views and code of ethics.
In this episode, he’s a mixture of both, but with his more positive attributes emphasized and the concerning attributes minimized; whatever antagonist-type inclinations his character may have had in the previous episode were thrown out the window in this one.
All the times he’s come on screen has been because he’s worried about Chris and wants to make sure he’s okay, and the only time he talks about killing is in a purely comedic sense when he says that he mainly kills white people but is now being seen as racist by association because of Peacemaker’s racist reputation; it’s still dark humor, but there isn’t that threatening edge to it that there was last episode.
That threatening edge does come back somewhat, but it’s similar to Harley Quinn in that it’s definitely off, but there’s no worry he’s going to randomly turn on Peacemaker and try to kill him.
That happens when Chris is unable to pull the trigger to kill the family of Butterflies because the trauma of the events of The Suicide Squad, as well as the instruction to kill children, was too much for him to handle. Vigilante actually steps in to take over Chris’ job, and his entire demeanor with Chris is very soft and understanding, and all he does when he goes to kill the family is hum to himself; it may just be because of his kind nature towards Chris in that moment, but that scene really shifted perspective on his character.
Of course, Chris had the same experience when they were kidnapped later on by Senator Goff and Judomaster (Nhut Le, Stardumb), who is the epitome of “short king,” and hopefully didn’t die of blunt force trauma from Economos and will continue to be a character that beats up people twice his size.
It was during the semi-successful information gathering torture session that Vigilante was unmasked as Adrian Chase, and when Chris finally realized it, he made a point to compliment Adrian and not criticize him or act too surprised that he’s the man behind the Vigilante persona; like Senator Goff said, he has empathy.
Overall, it’s just difficult to grasp who these characters are and what they can and can’t handle, such as Leota’s (Danielle Brooks, Close Enough) reaction vs. Hartcourt’s when they had to take out the human bodyguard, and it will be interesting to see how they develop as characters and a team, especially when it comes time for the shocking betrayals.
Something to note is that this show must be praised for the little details, specifically with dialogue and production design.
In terms of production design, the most striking feature was Economos wearing the iconic Three Wolf Moon shirt which has become a meme since it went on sale on Amazon in 2008. While it didn’t necessarily impact his character or the plot in any way, the fact that they had it just adds to the humor for viewers who recognize it, as it adds to the comedic energy given to the show.
Other examples of production design details are the little snacks that Judomaster and Hartcourt eat, as well as the phones they all use and what kinds of backgrounds and screensavers they have—such as Chris’ blue iPhone 5C.
As for dialogue, there are lots of moments that are prolonged for the sake of both comedy and character development. That’s expected of any TV show, but the execution is why these characters feel so real and grounded despite being in the same universe as Superman and Aquaman. The arguments over the Mandala Effect of The Bearstain Bears and whether or not Chris is a lesbian ally were completely unnecessary, but they made the characters feel like real people.
This episode was truly a turning point in the series from both a plot and character interaction standpoint, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.