Why That Big Cameo In Peacemaker Episode 1 Is So Important

(This article contains spoilers for the first episode of "Peacemaker." Proceed with caution.)

In the lead up to the premiere of James Gunn's HBO Max original series "Peacemaker," we basically got the gist of what was going on from the trailers and synopsis. Reprising his role from "The Suicide Squad," John Cena would return as the government-sanctioned assassin/murder himbo Christopher Smith, aka Peacemaker, to go on another black ops mission that involved targets called "butterflies." Jennifer Holland and Steve Agee also reenlist for another go as Emilia Harcourt and John Economos. But rather than call in the rest of Task Force X and their handlers, this time Freddie Stroma as Adrian Chase/Vigilante, Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo, and Chukwudi Iwuji as Clemson Murn round out the rest of the team.

With Viola Davis' Amanda Waller absent from the cast listing, one could assume that someone else is in charge of this operation. To an extent you'd be right, as Iwuji's Murn is the head honcho of this team. However, he reports directly to the Director of ARGUS, so Waller's influence is still present in the series. That's probably all we'll hear of her, since the award-winning actress is likely busy with other projects right? 

Wrong! The star of "How To Get Away With Murder" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" actually does pop in for a little cameo in the first episode. But her appearance does way more than just bring another fan favorite DCEU character to remind everyone that we're dealing with a shared cinematic universe.

The Wall

After initially appearing in the recap of "The Suicide Squad" at the top of the episode, Waller shows up around 36 minutes into "Peacemaker" episode 1. We hear her speaking first, then quickly see that she's talking to Leota Adebayo, the rookie of Peacemaker's team. Up until this point, Leota's backstory is pretty ambiguous. The character (played by Danielle Brooks of "Orange Is The New Black" fame) is a new recruit to ARGUS who took the gig as a temporary measure to build up some savings for her, her wife, and their dogs. It doesn't appear that she has a ton of experience in this line of work and she doesn't exactly act like she's acclimated to being mercenary or killer adjacent, but she landed on this highly sensitive op anyway. During this video call with Waller, we find out exactly why.

Just as Peacemaker had a separate mission in "The Suicide Squad," Leota Adebayo has ulterior motives of her own. In addition to being a trusted informant that acts as eyes and ears for the boss, Waller has also tasked Adebayo with planting a journal in Peacemaker's home. They don't go into details about what's in there, but nothing about a forged journal being planted in someone's house sounds good to me.

Oh yeah, and Amanda Waller is Leota Adebayo's mother.

Gunn's Blazing

This huge reveal holds importance on multiple levels. On the surface, it confirms what we already know about Amanda Waller: She will pull every dirty, underhanded, sketchy play in the book to accomplish her mission, even if it means manipulating her own daughter to do it. She's the best at being the worst and she definitely doesn't care whose feelings might get hurt while she lives her version of her best life.

Plus, it's always great to see Viola Davis. This appearance reinforces that everything is connected in this cinematic universe. It was very unexpected, but it was a very pleasant surprise. Also, it throws a good old-fashioned swerve at us that makes things more interesting. This cameo marked an integral moment in the story where business is really about to pick up.

Not only that, but it does a lot for Danielle Brooks' character. Adebayo seems like a very sweet and empathetic woman. She also appeared to be comic relief based on her little speech to the team when they first assemble in Peacemaker's trailer. Beyond that, it looks like she earns Peacemaker's trust pretty quickly because of how endearing she is. Despite this empathy, we learn that her espionage and black ops skills are much better than we initially anticipated, thanks to this call with her mother. She can slip seamlessly into a mode where she's okay with providing intel on her team, their mission, and her bonus mission. There's more than meets the eye with Adebayo, who definitely seems to be her mother's daughter when it comes to manipulation. Lying is just second nature in this line of work, but some people prove to be much better at it than others. Like Waller says, her daughter has a God-given gift for this sort of thing.

Thanks to this cameo from Davis, the stakes are raised to another level, with the threat of Amanda Waller constantly looming in the background. We see that Leota Adebayo is capable of so much more than anyone first thought, and the seeds of the toxic family thematic element are skillfully watered by Gunn's script. Between Adebayo and Peacemaker, there's certainly a lot of sustenance for those seeds to grow in the upcoming episodes.