NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Peacemaker” are present in this review
The White Dragon and his forces may have been eliminated, but the threat of the Butterflies still stands, as Christopher Smith and his team must undertake one last mission to save the planet. “It’s Cow or Never” carries the unenviable task of having to wrap up a superb TV offshoot for the DC Extended Universe in appropriately spectacular (and ridiculous) fashion, though fortunately, it manages to do this with aplomb. Thus, Peacemaker is cemented as a truly masterful action-comedy series in its debut season. The action does take a while to truly kick into high gear, granted, but once it does, Peacemaker doesn’t let up with its first season’s glorious climax, as only the massive Butterfly Cow stands in the way of victory for Team Peacemaker.
The early stretch of this season finale is built entirely around character humour, as Chris and his team naturally fumble a few early ideas when it comes to destroying the Butterfly Cow. Many of these sequences do manage to be very funny, though it is sometimes easy to feel a little frustrated that Peacemaker has to spend half of its season finale chasing its tail, even if it is in service to some standout gags. The series has been officially renewed for Season 2 at this point though, so it’s not like we won’t eventually have more action-packed mayhem to look forward to in the future, even if one may wish that one didn’t have to wait so long for this episode’s proper events to unfold.
Once the long-plotted final assault on the Butterflies is put into action however, “It’s Cow or Never” excels on every front. We even get a surprisingly melancholy payoff to Chris’ ‘Dye-Beard’ insults toward Economos at this point, after Economos is sent to sneak one of Chris’ sonic boom helmets into the Cow’s barn, only to be forced to confess that he dyes his beard in order to keep his cover. This is another surprisingly sobering emotional moment in what’s otherwise a delightfully absurd climax for Peacemaker’s first season, one that eventually gives way to a full-scale battle between the Butterflies and several members of Chris’ team.
Peacemaker’s title theme, “Do You Wanna Taste It?” playing as Chris, Harcourt and Adrian chop up and blast away a small army of Butterfly hosts is the perfect final action flourish for this season to boot, delivering a lot of cathartic carnage, as the trio finally gain a true advantage over the Butterflies. Even Adebayo eventually gets to participate in this climactic battle, eventually accepting that she is, “Made for this”, though Economos humourously trips and breaks his leg pretty much immediately, taking him out of the climax before he can see any real action. Fortunately, Adebayo alone is enough to save her friends in the end, after Harcourt ends up critically wounded, very nearly becoming a Butterfly host herself in the process, while Adrian is eventually shot, and unable to fight further.
Chris, meanwhile, is left to confront the Butterfly Queen and Butterfly Cow single-handedly, at which point he learns that the Butterflies are not trying to conquer humanity, but are instead trying to possess them in order to force humans to make less self-destructive choices. This might elicit some eye rolls from long-running DC fans, since DC TV villains have tried this trite plan before (i.e. Supergirl’s Season 1 climax, which involved rogue Kryptonians brainwashing humans for the same reason), but this finger-wagging fortunately doesn’t last long, as Chris quickly rejects the Queen’s offer of alliance, instead sending Adebayo through the Cow and killing it via a ‘human torpedo’ helmet.
This fateful choice kicks off a series of important, highly rewarding payoffs for Peacemaker’s narrative. In rejecting the Butterflies’ plan, which is built around the same ideology of, “Peace at any cost”, Chris proves that he’s ready to rise above his formerly primitive thinking on heroism, though at the potential cost of dooming humanity. This action also eventually leads to Chris and Adebayo reconciling at the hospital however, where Harcourt, Economos and Adrian all thankfully survive their injuries. This in turn leads to Adebayo publicly blowing the whistle on her mother, with Project Butterfly and the existence of Task Force X/the Suicide Squad publicly outed by Adebayo at a press conference, no doubt making a swift enemy of Amanda Waller next season. As exciting as this prospect is though, Adebayo’s confession does probably put a potential third Suicide Squad movie on ice, at least for now, since I doubt that Waller’s actions are going to go unpunished by the U.S. government, not to mention the court of public opinion.
What’s really going to intrigue DC fans during this season finale though is, surprisingly, a throwaway gag that takes place immediately after the Butterfly Cow is destroyed, albeit one that fills in some key blanks regarding the immediate future of the DCEU. After Adebayo begs her mother to call in the Justice League beforehand, only to seemingly be refused aid over the phone, an injured Chris, Adebayo, Adrian and Economos eventually walk away from the ruins of the Butterflies’ farm, carrying the wounded Harcourt, only to be greeted by the Justice League! Well, most of them anyway. Batman and Cyborg are curiously missing, and even then, Superman and Wonder Woman are merely stand-ins that are kept in silhouette. Even so, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller at least reprise their roles as Aquaman and The Flash, respectively, complete with one more humourous nod to the ‘rumour’ that the DCEU’s Aquaman has his way with fish, something that Miller’s Flash appears to verify is true, only to be told off by Momoa’s Aquaman.
Not only is this a very funny joke that should have DC fans especially in stitches, but it also answers some key questions about the current DCEU continuity that this franchise’s movies have been frustratingly vague about recently. On top of this Justice League bit finally firmly placing Peacemaker, and by extension, The Suicide Squad into the DCEU’s current timeline in general, this scene also confirms that there is indeed still a Justice League presence in the DCEU’s canon, one that’s now officially called by its proper name, and one that appears to answer to Amanda Waller and the U.S. government in some way. The fact that Miller’s Flash is now actually referred to as, “The Flash” is also important, since it confirms that Miller’s cameo during The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event has also taken place already, whereupon he was told his superhero name by Grant Gustin’s small screen Flash. Finally, the events of 2018’s Aquaman movie are also given a nod, since Momoa’s Aquaman is sporting his updated costume and trident from that movie, confirming that he’s now the King of Atlantis in the current DCEU timeline. It would seem then that the DCEU’s Justice League has become very busy, not to mention more publicly recognized and adored, during the years since their formation in 2017’s Justice League, though like I said, it’s a bit annoying that most of these major developments with the DCEU’s League have happened off-screen.
Despite the DCEU still being unable to properly unite its foundational Justice League ensemble however, Peacemaker would seem to further indicate that the giddily insane smaller-scale arm of this cinematic universe is currently more interesting than its central Justice League presence anyway. On that note, “It’s Cow or Never” caps off Peacemaker’s first season with heart, humour and plenty of action, even if this season finale’s pacing can be a little uneven. What was initially billed as a limited series quite easily lends itself to a now-confirmed second season as well, between Adebayo exposing her mother’s operations, Economos returning to Belle Reve, albeit with fondness for his new friends, and Chris simply returning home to his trailer, still haunted by the memory of his father, though also ultimately making peace with the currently host-less Butterfly Queen. The vague, uncertain final note that this season ends on feels fitting for Chris in particular, not just because it more easily sets the stage for Season 2, but also because the journey to being a hero is far from straightforward, or easy.
Chris may have come to terms with his issues for now (even if he certainly hasn’t ‘grown up’ in the process), but that doesn’t make said issues disappear. Peacemaker finding a way to acknowledge that uneasiness while still keeping its cheeky tone intact thus ends up being the ultimate testament to what a surprising slice of mad genius this first DCEU series ended up becoming. The show also somehow created the DCEU’s most lovable and endearing hero to date in the process, even though he’s definitely a work-in-progress.
Peacemaker sticks the landing with a hilarious, heartfelt and gleefully violent season finale, even if it takes a little while to fully get going.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Superb character resolutions that balance heart and humour
Violent climax against the Butterflies
Teases a promising new era for the DCEU, even if partially in jest