NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Peacemaker” are present in this review
Peacemaker exploded out of the gate with a thoroughly fantastic first episode, and fortunately, the series remains a violent, irreverent delight in its second episode. “Best Friends, For Never” doesn’t quite have the same level of outstanding momentum that the series’ first episode did, but it still offers quite a lot of laughs, as the action takes a backseat in favour of more character development. We also get a more definitive antagonist for the season by the end, as a surprising twist is revealed surrounding Chris’ father, after Economos tries to shift the blame for Chris’ apartment mayhem on to Auggie.
Most of this episode’s first half is dedicated to Chris having to escape the apartment complex where he was attacked by the Butterfly woman that he’d just hooked up with. Seeing as Chris is anything but a stealthy vigilante, you can imagine that this is hardly a smooth process as well. Apparently, Peacemaker is just as skilled with slapstick humour as it is with goofy violence and verbal mischief, with Chris practically bashing his bad shoulder on every balcony on his way down the complex, before Harcourt and Adebayo have to bail him out of a police presence anyhow. At least Chris manages to endear himself to an unhappy apartment wife in the process though, whom he later hooks up with at the end of this episode, alongside Vigilante. More on that later.
The police investigation into Chris’ destruction also provides a good excuse for us to meet Peacemaker’s key cop characters, Sophie Song and Larry Fitzgibbon. Sophie and Larry serve as detectives on the Evergreen PD, with this revelation finally placing exactly where Peacemaker takes place in the world of the DC Extended Universe. Devout DC fans will likely recognize Evergreen as the hometown of famous Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, plus its placement within ‘Charlton County’ also serves as a cute reference to Peacemaker originally being owned by Charlton Comics, before he was ultimately sold to DC alongside Charlton’s other flagship characters.
Chris’ frequently hilarious apartment escape eventually gives way to an extended dialogue scene at the team’s HQ, and honestly, this is the one point where this episode can drag a tad. The pacing gets pretty slow here, as the team debates with one another as to whether they were sold out by Amanda Waller, or whether someone else has betrayed them, due to Chris being targeted by a Butterfly. Nothing is really accomplished throughout this fairly lengthy scene, and instead, the team’s arguing simply boils down to Adebayo going to bribe the couple that Chris had to briefly take hostage in order to evade the police. You know, before Chris bangs the wife with Vigilante.
Speaking of Vigilante, we finally get an opportunity for he and Chris to interact for the first time, thankfully allowing Peacemaker to become engaging again, namely by returning to its whip-smart parody of toxic masculinity. Seeing the two men argue about whether Vigilante is trying to trick an emotional Chris into looking at his penis, before the two decide to destroy a bunch of appliances in the woods, and bang that aforementioned apartment wife, cements these characters as true social reprobates that you’ll love to hate, but also can’t help but root for. Perhaps the timing of this sexual encounter is fortunate as well, seeing as it allows Chris to determine that the mysterious Butterfly machine from his last hook-up’s apartment actually appears to be some kind of spaceship.
This episode also ends with a pretty surprising twist, one that deviates considerably from DC Comics lore, but still presents an opportunity for Peacemaker to keep delivering interesting new interpretations for DC’s more awkward, cringeworthy characters, as writer-director, James Gunn also strove to do with The Suicide Squad. After Economos humourously shifts Chris’ trail of evidence to point to Auggie, Auggie ends up being arrested by Sophie and Larry, and eventually dropped into the local prison, where the inmates are awestruck by him, and eventually hail him in an extended chant. This is where we learn that Auggie is the DCEU’s version of a more controversial DC Comics villain, White Dragon, a white supremacist and terrorist that served as an enemy to the Suicide Squad, as well as the Justice Society of America, particularly Hawkman and Hawkgirl, in the printed panels. DC Comics’ White Dragon, at least the white supremacist version, was a mantle held by two men, William Heller and Daniel Ducannon, but Auggie Smith is obviously an original take on this uncomfortable villain, one crafted specifically for the DCEU, and one that clearly has a much heavier emotional connection to John Cena’s Peacemaker.
The revelation of the DCEU’s White Dragon being in our midst would appear to create an over-arching antagonist for Peacemaker, one that goes beyond the apparent threat of Project Butterfly. That payoff presents plenty of promise for what’s to come, even though Chris and his team didn’t achieve much forward movement in this episode. “Best Friends, For Never” nonetheless greatly excels with its humour however, particularly now that Peacemaker and Vigilante have finally met each other, and quickly gotten into trouble together. It’s tough to complain too much about some of the slow spots in this episode anyway, seeing as it premiered simultaneously with Peacemaker’s first and third episode. Even then, this show is still currently running circles around the competition, and continuing to cement James Gunn as the mad genius that the DCEU’s adult-oriented arm always deserved.
- Hilarious apartment escape sequence
- Peacemaker/Vigilante rapport is already sublime
- Auggie Smith being revealed as the DCEU's White Dragon
- Slower middle stretch
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