I’m not sure what I was expecting when I heard that Peacemaker was getting his own spinoff after The Suicide Squad. The character was a very exaggerated caricature of himself, funny in a very dark humor sort of way. But, director James Gunn has a good track record in my book (The Suicide Squad, both Guardians of the Galaxy movies), so I figured I’d give it a shot. What I got was an entertaining trainwreck of a series with action and warped humor that appealed to me. “The Choad Less Travelled” continues the adventures of Peacemaker, his special ops team, and their quest against the bizarre, still not really explained, threat of the butterflies.
Following up on last episode’s mission, the team is returning to their base with a few wounds, a lot of questions, and a prisoner. Peacemaker and Vigilante would be more than happy to take care of one of those issues, but Adebayo and Harcourt talk them out of it. Once they get back, Murn comes in, not happy with anyone’s performance on the team. He barks out a few orders and brings Peacemaker into his office for a conference. They have a very odd discussion about the need for psychopaths, the threat of the butterflies, recruiting Vigilante, and a passing reference to Matter-Eater Lad. Matter-Eater Lad is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes, a large team that operates in the 30th and 31st centuries. His power, as is obvious from both the codename and the reference, is that he can eat literally anything, an ability shared by people from his planet of Bismoll. The Legion has been creeping into live action slowly since Smallville, but this is the first reference to this particular Legionnaire. Murn dismisses Peacemaker, tells him to get some rest, and promises answers later that night.
Adebayo is still shaken by some of the turns the mission took last night, and has a talk with Harcourt. Harcourt isn’t exactly reassuring or inspiring, but she is honest and direct. Not sure what to do with herself, Adebayo wanders their small operating space and finds Economos dealing with Judo-Master, their prisoner. She comments on the nature of their work, and she and Economos talk about some of their teammates. Peacemaker and Vigilante leave together and have a very odd conversation about the torture session they went through after being captured. They go by his dad’s place, pick up some more equipment, visit that strange storage room we’ve seen before, debate the father’s history, and get into an argument with the nosy neighbor who is in the very memorable opening credits scene. There’s a debate comic fans have had before about Batman’s refusal to kill and a few of his villains get namedropped, some for the first time in the DCEU.
The end of the conversation tells Peacemaker about recent developments with his father, which in turn kicks off an angry phone call to Murn. Murn, of course, can’t offer much of an explanation due the bizarre nature of the way the whole thing happened in the first place, but Economos does earn an angry glare from his boss. Vigilante and Peacemaker continue to have odd discussions, and we see again the depth of Vigilante’s sociopathy. He really does have trouble grasping the emotional bonds people have, which makes his insistence on being Peacemaker’s best friend even odder. Murn recruits Adebayo for a new task, and clarifies why he’s giving it to her and not any of the others. In the back room, Judo-Master wakes up and continues to be a formidable opponent.
Determined to try and salvage something from this mess, Adebayo goes to meet Peacemaker and Vigilante as they get to the facility where Augie (Peacemaker’s dad) is being held. She does her best to deter him, and makes a reasonable case, but he insists on going inside anyway. Adebayo, understandably, doesn’t have much good to say about Augie Smith and possibly undermines a bit of her own case. After Peacemaker goes in, Adebayo has an absurd conversation with Vigilante, who is in civilian clothes at this point, while Peacemaker resolutely stays in uniform.
Inside, the visit goes badly. Peacemaker is clearly trying to make an effort to connect with his father, and the man has no pity on his son at all. Augie Smith really is a reprehensible being. Waiting outside, Adebayo engages in some not exactly subtle mind games with Vigilante, but then, he’s not a complex guy. She gets what she wanted out of that exchange, and Peacemaker comes out after Vigilante takes off. Adebayo gives Peacemaker a ride home and continues to show she may be the one decent person in the midst of all this unpleasantness. Vigilante, meanwhile, goes on his own mission, although he does so in a very odd way.
Economos checks in on Judo-Master and gets an unpleasant surprise. He manages to get a call off to Adebayo as a warning before things go badly for him, despite, or maybe because of, his earlier boasts. While Augie shows the despicable man he is, Peacemaker and Adebayo get back to base and see how bad things are. Adebayo continues to be a good person while Peacemaker does what he’s good at, and even gets one of the big “superhero landing” moments before having his showdown with Judo-Master. It’s an ugly fight that gets really brutal, and Judo-Master gets out a cryptic comment just before someone steps in to end the fight. While Vigilante continues his task, Peacemaker finally gets home, touches base with Eagly (who feeds that big bird, anyway?) and then shows both that he’s holding out on the team and has some interesting recreational habits. There really is a lot more dancing than I’d have expected on this series.
The aftermath of the earlier fight gets settled, and Harcourt is actually nice to Adebayo for a few minutes. They talk about the consequences of their line of work, Amanda Waller, and Adebayo mentions what she set in motion, shocking Harcourt. This results in a call to Murn, a tense team meeting, and Economos making even more weird comments. Murn again outlines how desperate they are with their current mission, and Harcourt realizes something about Vigilante. Speaking of, he seems just fine with being in jail, ignores a lot of the taunts directed at him, and then provokes a fight and shows just how dangerous he actually is. Unfortunately, Augie also shows he’s far from stupid, which makes him even more dangerous.
The last few scenes set a few more things in motion. Harcourt is once again drinking alone, and once again Peacemaker interrupts her. This time, however, he has a legitimate question for her, gets an answer, and leaves, although pausing to offer his version of a compliment on the way out. He goes home to indulge himself a lot more, Harcourt meets up with Vigilante, and Adebayo works late and finds a clue. Peacemaker goes through some bad flashbacks as Adebayo reports some of her findings and we learn at least one other member of the team has been hiding a major secret. There is another weird end-credit scene, this one another take on one of Peacemaker and Vigilante’s odd conversation earlier.
What I liked: The warped humor of this series is oddly appealing. Vigilante showed that he’s very skilled, despite his other issues. Peacemaker vs Judo-Master, round two, was nicely handled. I like that Adebayo is holding on to her humanity in the midst of the darkness around her. The big reveal at the end is not at all something I saw coming. The mention of Matter-Eater Lad was unexpected, and makes me wonder which one of them time travelled. Augie is scum, but they let him be smart, which makes him both more complex and more dangerous.
What I didn’t: We’re halfway done with the series and still don’t really know what the butterflies are, what the exact danger behind them is, how the government found out about them, or why Murn has such limited resources for such a big threat. I don’t expect we’ll get to find out, but I’m really curious to know why this Judo-Master is so different from all the over versions of the characters we’ve seen before, especially in the costume choice.
This is some highly entertaining insanity. I’ll give this episode a 4 out of 5. Hopefully, we get more details on the butterflies soon.