Peacemaker Is A 'Best Friend, For Never' In The Middle Of Sci-Fi Insanity

The first episode of James Gunn's series "Peacemaker" helped set the stage in the wake of "The Suicide Squad" and introduced us to Peacemaker's new world-saving, crime-fighting team, but the second episode, "Best Friends, for Never," ignites the dangerous new plot that will be unfolding on HBO Max. After a rather eventful one-night stand, Peacemaker (John Cena) must rely on his newfound teammates to help him out of a seriously sticky situation. It appears that Peacemaker's really gone from the frying pan of Project Starfish to the fire of Project Butterfly, and he's still clueless as to what it all means. Meanwhile, we learn more about the other members of Project Butterfly, get to know Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) a bit better, and are introduced to police investigators Larry Fitzgibbon (Lochlyn Munro) and Sophie Song (Annie Chang). 

With the exposition and tone set by the first episode, the second is able to open up and go wild. Prepare your butts, "Peacemaker" fans, because it's time to rock 'n' roll. 

SPOILERS for "Peacemaker" episode 2 from here on out!

A Quick Recap

After Peacemaker's hookup with the butterfly woman, whom he exploded into a pile of goo with his new helmet, he decides to go back up to her apartment to retrieve his things. He manages to grab his clothes and can't help but steal some of her hair metal albums, and then he discovers an alien-looking bit of technology and snatches it as well. 

Unfortunately, the police show up after the helmet explosion, and Peacemaker has to find a way out that doesn't involve the front doors. He ends up in the apartment of Evan (Lenny Jacobson) and Amber (Alison Araya), and he ties them up so he can escape. Amber and Evan have an argument because Amber flirts with Peacemaker, and then he manages to escape by jumping from balcony to balcony on the backside of the building. Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) and Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) are waiting, and they speed away in a hail of bullets as soon as Peacemaker and Eagly get in the backseat. 

In order to protect Peacemaker, John Economos (Steve Agee) changes the vehicle registration for the totaled Peacemobile to Augie Smith (Robert Patrick), Peacemaker's dad. He also switches out their fingerprints, which sends Song and Fitzgibbon to his doorstep. They arrest Augie, and we later see him arrive in general population at the prison. He challenges a young Black man for his seat, and after taking it, the white prisoners start kneeling before him and doing a Nazi salute, shouting "Hail/Heil!" That's, uh, not good. 

The members of Project Butterfly continue to have supergroup growing pains, with lots of infighting between Economos and Peacemaker. This leads Peacemaker to an emotional breakdown, though he's interrupted by his old buddy Vigilante, and the two of them have an appliance-shooting romp that ends with a threesome with Amber. Vigilante keeps his mask on, if you're wondering. 

The Sweet

While there is a brief moment of team bonding when Adebayo, Harcourt, Peacemaker, and Eagly escape the hail of bullets, most of the episode sees Peacemaker pitted against his fellow Project Butterfly members. He's kind of a jerk, and they're not really interested in tolerating his bullying. Thankfully for Peacemaker, he has Vigilante, who doesn't care about being bullied. The two have a great time blowing up and shooting appliances out in the woods, and their camaraderie is apparent. Sure, they might both border on being sociopaths, but at least they understand each other. Their friendship is surprisingly pure, given their personalities, and watching them go ham together is a lot of fun. When they have a ménage à trois with Amber, both Peacemaker and Amber share a joint, and Vigilante comments that he would have killed them for that "just a few years ago." Apparently Vigilante takes the letter of the law very seriously, as long as those laws aren't related to murder, property damage, or gross bodily harm. 

Vigilante and Peacemaker's friendship is a joy, though it has potential to cause the now-reflective Peacemaker some problems. As he tries to reassess after the events on Corto Maltese in "The Suicide Squad," Peacemaker finds himself developing a newfound sense of empathy. Can his friendship with a genuine sociopath survive that journey? 

The Spicy

The second episode of "Peacemaker" is a little spicier than its predecessor. We see Auggie's white supremacism at its scariest, Amber and Evan's argument is quite vulgar, and Economos and Peacemaker's bickering gets genuinely mean. But perhaps most importantly, Peacemaker's breakdown is somehow truly sad. Peacemaker wasn't exactly a likable character in "The Suicide Squad," and his heel turn at the end made him even easier to hate. Somehow, in only two episodes, Cena and Gunn have made us care enough about this damaged man-child that it's absolutely brutal when he starts sobbing and punching himself. 

"Everybody f***in' hates you. You push him away like you push everybody away because you're a f***ing d***. You killed Rick Flag. Flag was right. Peacemaker, what a joke," he sobs, punching himself in the shoulder with guilt and grief and self-loathing. Peacemaker's self-hatred is somehow relatable, his pathos defined by the horrors of his father and his limited worldview. It's not going to be easy for some viewers to find themselves empathizing with a character like Peacemaker, but that's part of the brilliance of the series. Gunn is exploring who gets to decide who is worthy of redemption, and determines that in the end, it's only truly up to the person in need of redemption. While some people, like Peacemaker's dad, are still beyond redemption, the series posits that maybe we don't give people enough of a chance to grow and change. 

This episode also features one of the nastiest gore gags on the series, when a police officer picks up what's left of Peacemaker's hook-up's face thinking that it's a slice of pizza. Ewww.

Best Lines and Post-Credits Sequence

This week's one-liner MVP is John Economos, whose responses to Peacemaker's bullying are on-point and understandably pointed. Here are this episode's best bits: 

  • Economos lets Peacemaker know he doesn't have to worry about extraterrestrial STIs:
    "You're not a dick vampire, you're just a dick"
  • Officer Song responds to Auggie's racism:

    "Walking scrotum here doesn't like Egg Foo Yung, you got that?"

  • Economos shares his, um, testicular preferences:

    "I don't even like when my balls are in someone's mouth. It gives me the wrong kind of chills!"

  • Economos tells Peacemaker which DC hero he'd prefer to work with:

    "I'd rather be with f***ing Bat-Mite than you."

This episode's post-credits sequence features Amber and Evan in interrogation rooms, picking the face of their attacker out of a spread of photos. They scream obscenities at one another and Amber states that it's "definitely not the hot guy." She asks if she can keep Peacemaker's photo, and slides it into her jacket pocket. 

The first three episodes of "Peacemaker" are on HBO Max now, and new episodes will arrive on Thursdays.