Peacemaker Has A Crisis Of Conscience In 'Better Goff Dead'

We're two episodes into "Peacemaker," and absolutely nowhere closer to learning what a "butterfly" actually is or how the team's going to achieve peace. Thankfully, the third episode of James Gunn's rip-roaring superhero-adjacent series answers at least one of those questions. In the episode, titled "Better Goff Dead," Christopher Smith, AKA Peacemaker (John Cena), is faced with a foe he cannot defeat: his budding conscience. 

The first two episodes didn't take the crew anywhere crazier than an apartment complex or the local Fennel Fields restaurant for some dope mozzarella sticks, but now the members of Project Butterfly go on their first real mission to assassinate U.S. Senator Goff. The congressman is believed to be a butterfly, and of course absolutely nothing goes as planned. This episode is more electrifying than a pair of jumper cables attached to your nether regions, so prepare yourself for a jolt. 

SPOILERS for episode 3 of "Peacemaker" from here on out.

A Quick Recap

While rescuing Peacemaker from the aftermath of his hookup with a butterfly was certainly full of adventure, it wasn't technically a mission for Project Butterfly. Their first job is to kill Senator Goff and potentially his wife and two children as well. On the way to the job, the crew have an awkward conversation that starts with climate change and eventually ends with Peacemaker explaining the concept of "butt babies." According to his older brother, some babies were born vaginally and others anally, and those who came out the second route were worse in every way. Apparently his brother told him that he was a butt baby, and he believed it until he was 14. After Peacemaker discovers that Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) is married to another woman, he asks her about scissoring and she tells him that she suspected he was a butt baby all along. So much for team bonding. 

Peacemaker, Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), and Adebayo watch through a window as the Goff family grow proboscises and begin sucking a honey-like substance from mason jars. When it comes time for Peacemaker to take the shot, he can't do it, even though he knows that the creatures in front of him are clearly not human. He has a crisis of conscience, and Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), who had been lurking nearby, ends up taking the shots for him. Vigilante hums while he kills the mother and two children, but Judomaster (Nhut Le) dropkicks him out of nowhere before he can kill the senator. What ensues is another absolutely bonkers battle between Harcourt, Peacemaker, Vigilante, and Judomaster, and the martial arts-inclined bodyguard ends up disabling all of them before taking a car and leaving. Thankfully, Economos (Steve Agee) is waiting in the van, and he rams Judomaster's getaway vehicle before clocking him over the helmeted head with a pipe. 

Meanwhile, Goff captures both Peacemaker and Vigilante. He's hooked up jumper cables to Vigilante's genitals and starts electrocuting him whenever Peacemaker refuses to answer his interrogations. Goff also attempts to cut off Vigilante's pinkie toe, but bone is tougher than his garden shears could handle. When they finally manage to get free of their bindings and Peacemaker shoots Goff in the face, we discover what butterflies actually are. A tiny, butterfly-like alien flies out of the still-smoking hole in Goff's head. What is it with Gunn and brain parasites? That means anyone could be a butterfly, anyone could become a butterfly, and a map at the end of the episode shows us that there are potentially thousands of them across the globe. 

The Sweet

There's not a lot of sweet in this episode, though the commiseration between the members of Project Butterfly at being stuck with one another is at least starting to become more endearing and less hate-filled. 

Perhaps the sweetest thing about this episode is that John Economos got a chance to shine. Gunn has always had a soft spot for misfits and weirdos, and he gives the most unsuspecting characters heroic arcs on the regular. Watching Economos, a bright spot in the already excellent "The Suicide Squad," get a badass moment was a lot of fun. 

There's also a delightful mix of folks represented within Project Butterfly, and watching them try to do superheroic stuff is a blast too. Any time Adebayo gets a gun or Economos is told to use "whatever means necessary," it's sure to turn out hilarious. Just as Peacemaker and Vigilante are terrible at being human beings, the human beings in the crew are pretty terrible at being mercenaries. Only Harcourt seems to have figured out the balance, though Adebayo and Economos are on their way toward earning their own licenses to kill. 

The Spicy

Adebayo's wife Keeya (Elizabeth Faith Ludlow) sends Adebayo a sext that includes a flash of full frontal nudity that pops up on an iPad mid-briefing before the mission. She's embarrassed, but Peacemaker makes it worse by making a bunch of lesbian jokes. The rapport the two had been building last episode seems a bit damaged, at least for the moment. Harcourt is completely fed up, though she didn't really have much patience from the beginning. 

The fight with Judomaster is as brutally hard-hitting as the one Peacemaker had in his hookup's apartment, and it's pretty impressive seeing the tiny green guy beat the crud out of two much larger men. Vigilante even tries to run from him, which is brilliant and a little sad. Vigilante's torture is somewhat graphic, though the worst of it is definitely the failed attempt at removing his pinkie toe. Throughout the interrogation, Peacemaker keeps promising his friend that he won't give up any information, and Vigilante begs him to give up "just a little." Goff explains that the best way to hurt humans, who are "creatures of empathy," is to hurt their friends. Unfortunately, Peacemaker's sense of empathy is still very new, and he lets Goff torture Vigilante without much struggle for far too long. 

The deaths of the two kids are not shown onscreen, but they do happen. Even if we know they had butterflies in their brains, at one point those were human kids. Vigilante humming while killing them is some seriously twisted stuff. 

Best Lines and Post-Credits Sequence

If this episode was short on sweetness, it more than made up for it with hilarious dialogue. Here are some of the best lines from this week:

  • Adebayo questions some hilariously meta logic:

    "Why do all people who think pro wrestling is real think climate change is a hoax? It's not a hoax."

  • Peacemaker shares his source on climate change facts:

    "Yeah, okay, Facebook's lying to me every day for no reason."

  • Peacemaker explains that he's not that shallow:

    "Just because there's an unattractive child doesn't mean I want to kill him."

  • Adebayo burns Peacemaker in more ways than one: 
    "Having a lesbian haircut doesn't make you an ally."
  • There's really no context here, but:

    "Wookies have teeth on their a**hole, that's canon."

The post-credits sequence shows Harcourt talking to Vigilante when he managed to sneak his way into the mission. She warns him, "If you f*** this mission up, I will kill your family." To that, Vigilante cheerfully replies, "Too late!" I sure hope that origin story is tragic and Vigilante didn't kill his parents or something. But I don't think I would put it past him. 

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