Peacemaker: Better Goff Dead

Ok, wait a sec. You said I’d have to kill people. No one said anything about helping you move.

The surprisingly entertaining insanity that is Peacemaker continues its way through the season. We’ve heard the tiniest bit about their mission, and met the team assembled for it. Now, the very odd anti-hero, the team that doesn’t like him, and his stalkerish best friend come together and start tackling the problem. The show started off strangely, and continues down the surreal path in “Better Goff Dead.”

The craziness starts with the team loading up for a mission. Peacemaker rants about something that unnerves him, namechecks another obscure DC hero (a bit more on that later), and gets a weird visit (as if there’s another kind) from Vigilante. The team is, to say the least, unimpressed with the masked wannabe hero. Murn makes a cryptic comment about what their next mission is, and they head out. The briefing along the way covers a lot of ground, including a serious Snapchat faux pas, Peacemaker’s branding issues, and an unexpected side to one of the team’s killers. They also introduce yet another DC character, Judomaster.

Judomater started off as a Charlton Comics character, and was acquired by DC in the 80’s, along with a few others, including Peacemaker himself. There have been at least three different versions of Judomaster in the comics. None of them are notably short or have green in their costumes, so this is, presumably, a completely different take on the character. Interestingly, the character Peacemaker rants about near the beginning of the episode is from another hero universe DC acquired, so either coincidence is popping up or they are focusing on characters that started outside the DC Universe.

While Peacemaker shows that, whatever other skills he might have, artist is not among them, Murn and Economos do some recon and setup work, and have an odd conversation about sharing emotions. Just in case there was any doubt, Murn is just as screwed up as the rest of the team. The team sets up on a very big house and begins a long stakeout, which, I can say from personal experience, is amazingly boring. Peacemaker gets some weird ideas about Harcourt, and the two share some snacks, sort of, while Economos, Murn, and Adebayo wait for their targets to return home. Even this can’t be normal, and the codenames assigned to the targets end up provoking a discussion about some beloved childhood characters. The targets get home, and the inflexible patterns Murn has set don’t allow for the mission to be completed right then. Instead, as they wait longer, Peacemaker draws some details out of Harcourt about her past, and it’s a very DC Comics based background of assorted different intelligence agencies. They return to the matter at hand, and the bit that concerns Peacemaker. Having hit an actual emotional moment, Harcourt leaves to take a break, and we see the team was followed by Vigilante. Even among this group, the man has issues.

Joining the stakeout, Vigilante shows a comprehensive lack of concern for pretty much anyone. He’s a very cheery sociopath. Inside the house, the targets show their true nature, and Murn orders them all taken out. Peacemaker can’t bring himself to do it, which seems a bit at odds with his portrayal from The Suicide Squad, but makes some degree of sense. Vigilante, however, has no such qualms and drops most of the targets. One manages to survive as the group gets attacked by Judomaster. Whatever Peacemaker might have thought of the masked man earlier, he drops Peacemaker, Vigilante, and Harcourt in a very brutal fight sequence. Murn and Adebayo leave to try and help out, while Economos stays behind with orders he’s not at all comfortable with. Adebayo manages to find Harcourt, show she has some morals, and Harcourt ends a situation with some grim efficiency.

Meeting up, Murn and Harcourt go searching for Peacemaker, and find some confusing things via their tracking device. Vigilante and Peacemaker wake up in a disturbing location and deal with their original target, who has some questions for them. What follows is a comically bizarre interrogation scene, where we see misapplied ruthlessness and poorly maintained tools, as well as some unusual improvised throwing weapons and product placement. While Harcourt, Murn, and Adebayo begin searching for their missing teammate, the primary target goes to work on the captured anti-heroes, and it’s ugly.

The main target dispatches Judomaster on an errand while his attempt to learn more doesn’t get anywhere. Adebayo, Murn, and Harcourt find even more proof that things are not what they seem in the house. Judomaster begins his task, leaving Economos with some hard choices to make. Murn finds that his research and development team leaves a bit to be desired while Adebayo makes weird choices and Peacemaker gets to know Vigilante a bit better, or at least in more detail. The tension mounts as there’s some fast cutting among the three different sections of the team.

Economos lurches into action and proves to be surprisingly effective, although it wasn’t exactly a fair fight. Which was a smart choice on his part. There’s an entirely predictable malfunction of Murn’s new toy, leaving Harcourt and Adebayo to try and get to Peacemaker. Down in the evil lair, Peacemaker manages to get at least partially free and has a very lopsided fight with the bad (worse?) guy. Finally defeating his foe, Peacemaker learns why their targets have the codename they do, and it’s pretty freaky to watch. Back in the now abandoned security van, we see just how big this problem is, and this team seems, at best, horribly overmatched. The credits roll after this discovery, and the mid-credit scene shows a bit more detail from the stakeout, and hints at this Vigilante’s origin story.

What I liked: With so many hero teams becoming like family, it makes sense there would be some that were “work friends” who barely tolerate each other. That’s what this grouping is. The name check to yet another very minor DC hero was an interesting choice, and makes me wonder just how broad the DCEU is supposed to be. The Judomaster vs. the team fight was brutal, well done, and shows just how dangerous this new character is. Murn and Economos’ scene was entertainingly bizarre. Adebayo’s hesitation to do what she was supposed to both spoke well of her and made me think she is in the wrong place and wrong line of work.

What I didn’t: On a team of misfits and caricatures, Vigilante stands out as even more weirdly exaggerated. I admit to being biased a bit here, as I liked the character they are very loosely basing this one on. Hopefully his life goes better than the comic version. If the problem is as widespread as it seems, this appears to be a job for a more fully staffed Suicide Squad team, rather than this small, barely effective group. It’s not a matter of them being ruthlessly set up to fail, but more I don’t see how they can be expected to succeed in what’s clearly an important task.

I find myself enjoying this more than I would have thought. I’ll give this a solid 3 out of 5. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for this group of misfits.

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