The Following Recap/Review Contains Spoilers for Episode 4 of ‘Peacemaker’. For a review of Episodes 1-3, click here.
After it’s three episode premiere, Peacemaker returns this week with an emotionally charged fourth episode. Upon discovering the true intentions of ‘Project Butterfly’, Peacemaker (and now Vigilante) move forward with the team following the almost botched mission from last week. Directed by Jody Hill and written by James Gunn, this weeks episode adresses a lot of the insane ending of episode 3. With Judomaster captured and Goff killed, Peacemaker is confronted by team leader Murn. Chukwudi Iwuji continues to demonstrate his abilities as a powerhouse actor in this weeks episode. As team leader Murn, Chukwudi displays interesting sensibility and a held back demeanor. Murn is one of many highlights this episode, as he tries to keep Project Butterfly on course.
Murn’s frustration with Peacemaker leads to Chris being force to confront his issues from episode 3. After not being able to pull the trigger on the Senator and his children, Peacemaker has to think about why he does what he does. Meanwhile, Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) is unwittingly made a part of the group after the torturous results of the last mission. Murn’s dependency on ruthless killers really helps sell the stakes of the mission. Moreover, Chukwudi plays an amazing leader with a sense of urgency that makes things feel that much more serious.
Now that the threat of “Butterflies” have been revealed as the antagonist of Peacemaker, Gunn as a writer continues to showcase his love of the grotesque. Butterflies are nasty creatures, with the ability to kill and take over their hosts. While not the focus of this episode, the aftermath of the reveal of episode 3 is the focus. Peacemaker has moments with almost every member of the team save for Economos in this episode. First with Stroma’s Vigilante, who is upset with Peacemaker. Nearly losing his pinky toe last episode, Adrian becomes upset with Chris for not giving up information to save him. The dynamic of their friendship is explored a little deeper in this episode. Vigilante clearly cares of Peacemaker, and the idea of him not reciprocating that care clearly upsets him. Their discontent with each other transforms into a criticism of Peacemaker’s white supremacist father.
As Peacemaker goes to his father’s house to collect new helmets, Vigilante confronts him with just how bad of a father Auggie Smith is. Peacemaker’s denial of how bad his father really is makes for a wonderfully depressing highlight of the episode. It’s in this moment of the episode that Peacemaker also learns his father is in prison because of Economos framing him for something Peacemaker did. Upon reconciling with Vigilante, they then decide to go to the prison to talk to Peacemakers father.
Adebayo gets some time to shine in this episode as well. As Peacemaker attempts to reconcile with a father who already hates him, Adebayo tries to reason with Chris. Adebayo serves as a sort of mirror to Chris. Whereas Chris seeks the love of a father who has no love in him, Adebayo has just as tense of a relationship with a mother who is as ruthless as they come (Amanda Waller). There is s sort of kinship between the two that Christ attempts to push away from. Instead, he goes to his father in prison, who just ends up berating him and threatens to derail Peacemaker’s entire mission.
Meanwhile, Vigilante, out of an act of caring for Peacemaker, gets himself arrested. Manipulated by Adebayo, he wishes to murder Peacemaker’s father. Hoping to free Chris from the shadow of his racist father. Every scene with Vigilante in prison attempting to kill Auggie Smith/White Dragon makes for hilarious and also tense television. Freddie Stroma brings so many layers to the character of Vigilante. He clearly tries to do the most with the role, and it works spectacularly. His actual mission in the show, though? It ends poorly. Vigilante is unable to kill Auggie, and the elder Smith threatens to compromise the entire mission.
There’s also a rematch between Peacemaker and Judomaster. The choreography is incredible. Moreover, it adds intrigue to Judomaster’s role in the butterfly conspiracy. The welcome change of pace helps to add levity to the show as well. The humorous difference is size between the two is a plus.
Stroma shows a vulnerability and sadness to his failure. Unable to help his “best friend” while being bailed out by Harcourt. Troubled by the conversation with his father, Chris also confronts Harcourt about what files on hims ay about his past. The episode ends with a night of reflection for Peacemaker, the only way he knows how. By Getting high and listening to ‘House of Pain’ by Faster Pussycat on vinyl. Unbeknownst to the rest of team, Peacemaker kept the Butterfly from episode 3 alive in a jar. In some absolutely incredible editing by Greg D’Auria, Chris’ cathartic dancing to the song is intercut with traumatic memories. Form being force to kill by his father when he was just a child. To his murder of Colonel Rick Flag.
The Colonel’s last words continue to echo through his head. Peacemaker. What a joke. As Chris collapses on the floor in a flurry of emotions, Cena puts on a level of vulnerability that is truly commendable. He’s come a long way as an actor, and this episode showcases it better than anything else. The episode ends on an incredible cliffhanger, with the revelation that team leader Murn, who has desperately tried everything to keep the team together, is a butterfly himself. It’s an incredible way to end an episode that, while not advancing the plot that much, definitely develops our characters in emotionally satisfying ways. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 9/10
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