Peacemaker Season One Recap & Review: A Thoughtful Ending to a Brilliant Series

Peacemaker (John Cena) leads the ARGUS team on a mission to kill the Butterflies alien cow.
Peacemaker ends its banner first season with a political statement and whopper cameos. Director/writer James Gunn gave us eight episodes of a raunchy, hilarious, and action-packed discourse on right-wing ideology. Peacemaker’s motto of peace at any cost is put to the test in a truly clever way. We learn that the alien “butterfly” invasion has a goal of saving humanity from itself. John Cena led a fantastic ensemble cast that deftly maneuvered between comedy and powerfully dramatic scenes.
Spoiler WarningPeacemaker’s premise has Christopher Smith (John Cena) back under Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) control after the events of The Suicide Squad. He’s placed on an ARGUS black operations team led by Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji). Other members include the bad-ass Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), tech nerd John Economos (Steve Agee), Peacemaker’s sociopathic wannabe bestie Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks); Waller’s lesbian daughter placed on the team as her trusted spy. Their secret mission, Project Butterfly, to thwart insect-like aliens that can burrow into brains and take over human hosts.
Episode four, “The Choad Less Traveled”, reveals Murn as a Butterfly working to stop his kind from controlling Earth. Peacemaker secretly kept the Butterfly leader in a jar after killing Senator Goff, its former host. The Butterflies can only survive on a viscous green liquid. Peacemaker feeds Goff, blows weed smoke into the jar, and talks to the creature. He’s overcome with guilt for killing Rick Flagg and his brother as a child.
Episode seven, “Stop Dragon My Heart Around”, shows Peacemaker’s father, the vehemently racist August Smith (Robert Patrick), forcing his children to fight at their trailer park. Peacemaker kills his father, known as The White Dragon, after he and his white supremacist followers attack the surviving ARGUS team. At this point, Murn has been killed. The Goff Butterfly escaped, took over the body of Sophie Song (Annie Chang), the detective chasing Peacemaker, and called in Butterfly reinforcements. The Butterflies now control all law enforcement in Evergreen. Harcourt becomes the team’s leader. They realize the only way to stop the Butterflies is by destroying their only food source, an alien “cow” hidden in a bunker beneath a barn.
The finale, “It’s Cow or Never”, has the team racing to kill the cow before the Butterflies teleport it to another stronghold. Peacemaker’s furious at Adebayo for planting evidence to frame him. Waller’s plan was to have him take the fall for Project Butterfly. Adebayo refutes her mother and fully commits to their last-ditch effort. They arrive at the barn with a plan. Use Peacemaker’s sonic blast helmet to destroy the entire structure. Adebayo calls her mother for urgent help, but back-up will not arrive in time.
A nervous John Economos infiltrates the barn by posing as a Butterfly. He freaks out when seeing the monstrous, six-eyed alien cow but does drop off the helmet. The plan goes awry when a Butterfly tries to return it to him. Forcing the team to detonate the helmet early. It’s a slaughter-fest as Harcourt, Peacemaker, and Vigilante kill dozens of Butterflies. Harcourt orders Peacemaker to find and eliminate the cow at all costs. She’s shot multiple times. Vigilante also takes a bullet. Economos snaps his leg trying to help. Leaving Adebayo as Peacemaker’s only support.
Peacemaker stumbles and falls deep into the underground bunker. He ends up covered by debris. In a twist, he’s saved by Goff, who’s now in Sophie Song’s body. She implores Peacemaker to help them save the cow. Goff reveals that the Butterflies came from a planet where ignoring climate change and petty infighting resulted in its downfall. They want to save humanity from self-destruction. Sharing Peacemaker’s peace at all costs mantra.
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Peacemaker struggles with his decision. Then shoots Song in the chest. Adebayo arrives wearing his human-torpedo helmet. He activates the helmet and sends Adebayo hurtling into the gut of the caterpillar-like alien cow. She eviscerates the creature. Thus eliminating the Butterflies food source. The Goff Butterfly escapes from Song’s head. Peacemaker carries the injured Harcourt as they leave. Drum roll please, the Justice League shows up. Wonder Woman and Superman’s faces are shrouded. Peacemaker curses Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller) for “being f***ing late.” He also delivers a parting shot about Aquaman’s rumored sexual liaisons with fish.
The season concludes at the Evergreen hospital. Harcourt and Vigilante survive their wounds. But it will be a long road to recovery for Harcourt. John Economos returns to his lonely desk at Belle Reve prison. Peacemaker calls Adebayo his best friend after his eagle sidekick. She gives a press conference that exonerates Peacemaker, reveals Task Force X, Project Butterfly, and her mother’s involvement. The final scene has Peacemaker reflecting on his trailer’s porch. The Goff Butterfly lands beside him. He feeds it with the remaining jar of green liquid. Peacemaker’s father, now a vision only he can see, sits by his side. The three look forlorn together as Eagly gives them a dead possum.
James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Suicide Squad) skewers xenophobia, jingoism, racism, and violence. Peacemaker is not a remorseless killing machine. He’s wracked with guilt and low self-esteem from a lifetime of his father’s abuse. His relationships with the ARGUS team, especially Adebayo, allows a transformation into heroism. Adebayo, a liberal lesbian and political opposite, brought out a different side to his character. They prove that people can get along and work together for the common good. Peacemaker gave humanity the choice to be better or suffer the same fate as the Butterflies. The alien “overlords” were an allegory for fascism. They embodied dictatorial authoritarians who suppress dissent.
Peacemaker’s first season was a hit across the board. The witty banter between the characters never got old. They were deliciously politically incorrect. James Gunn is a masterful director of ensemble comedy. He allows his players to make the characters their own. Every episode was knockdown funny and insightful at the same time. The series has been renewed for a second season. I can’t imagine where Gunn goes after Project Butterfly. But he’s proven to be a creative genius that consistently delivers a fabulous product. Peacemaker is produced by The Saffran Company, Troll Court Entertainment, and Warner Bros. All episodes are currently available to stream on HBO Max.
Starting with Earthquake: Legendary, the specials will feature Dave Chappelle spotlighting four comedians dubbed by Netflix as ‘Dave’s Home Team.’
Film critic, raconteur, praying for dolphins to grow thumbs and do better.


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