The morning after the first major dramatic peak in Peacemaker’s very short but chaotic history is appropriately hard to watch.
This isn’t about John Economos’ janky PowerPoint presentation towards the beginning of “Monkey Dory,” but rather that old-man concoction Christopher Smith gulps down to ease his dehydrated suffering and the look of agony that erupts on John Cena’s mug right after. (We’ll explore this libation more in Stray Observations.) Miserable under the dull gray sky where Eagly hunts a savory breakfast for his best friend (I think it was a squirrel?), Smith’s hangover is a sobering moment for Peacemaker just before it barrels towards its finale, and fertile ground for Chris’ raw détente with John to flourish into an unexpected friendship.
For the sake of fairness, Economos’ try-hard PowerPoint presentation, which finally fills Peacemaker and Vigilante in on exactly what the Butterflies are, is also really hard to look at. It’s a breezy enough scene with a strong undercurrent of foreboding (considering we know what Clemson Murn is hiding between his ears), and packed to overflowing with the mostly successful ad-lib rallies that often take place between Smith and the other members of Task Force Hacks. Here, Cena and Steve Agee riff on all the other people in the world Economos could have framed for Chris’ crimes in episode two instead of, say, Auggie Smith, Chris’ white nationalist father. (Despite all, Chris still loves his dad.)
The back-and-forth goes on for longer than it probably needed to (Cena links Joe Montana’s and Joe Mantegna’s names together, so there’s that) but it does underline how downright mean Chris has been to Economos since the very beginning of the show. Maybe Chris saw an easy mark when John went rooting through his fridge back in episode one; maybe it’s because John refuses to admit he can use a more sophisticated helping hand when he dyes his beard. John did send Auggie to the hoosegow, a reasonable excuse for Chris’ ire. But Economos is a hipster dingus and Chris is an emotionally-stunted choad—surely they would make natural allies?
John and Chris’ word-war is the most recent example of how friendships in Peacemaker aren’t enjoyed, but waged. This latest battery of insults does prod some diplomacy from Leota Adebayo, who points out how unnecessarily cruel Chris has been to Economos; that no matter how funny it may be to call him “Dye Beard,” the hundredth time was enough. “Being a bully is just part of his personality,” offers Vigilante, whose own recurring nickname from Peacemaker used to be “Thimble.” (“Yeah, I was a late bloomer,” he explains, alongside Chris’ oh-so helpful visual aid.) Insults from Chris are deliberately revealing, grossly so in some cases, but they can also be terms of endearment. It just depends on who’s on the receiving end.
Also included in the PowerPoint scene is a bit of foreshadowing concerning the team’s imminent blood-spattered mission: There is a gorilla in their midst. (It may also be foreshadowing an unfortunate entry point for a Butterfly to commandeer a human being further into the series, who can say.) Unsubtly hinted at last week, Charlie the silver-backed gorilla makes his titanic first—and final!—appearance this week in the gnarliest show of viscera and gore we’ve seen from Peacemaker yet.
Chris, fitted with a horned x-ray helmet and a right bastard of a shotgun, cuts out any gentle hand Leota might have brought to the Task Force’s front-door infiltration of the Glan Tai Bottling factory, in reality a crucial Butterfly facility. (What does Gan Tai bottle? The delicious viscous goop favored by Butterflies everywhere.) Peacemaker’s extermination of the alien horde is the first display of unrestrained havoc we’ve seen from the character since his pissing contest with Bloodsport in The Suicide Squad (accentuated magnificently by his jury-rigged “grenade tied to a Russian tank shell” apparatus), but the real shock of “Monkey Dory” is that the brutality of Chris’ massacre is matched and then wildly exceeded by none other than Economos himself.
Charlie, the Butterflies’ “guardian angel,” has a chainsaw shoved through his back by John, an act of violence which would have come from out of nowhere had we not already witnessed his glee over beating Judomaster within an inch of his life back in episode three. (Also, Vigilante’s brandishing of said chainsaw earlier on was a nice twist of expectations, and one that metatextually irks poor Adrian Chase.) That car crash/tire iron beat-down was just a primer for what John is truly capable of: Turns out his propensity for mayhem, and his unabashed love for the Finnish glam rock outfit Hanoi Rocks (“Only the greatest band of all time!” says Chris) is how our mercurial Peacemaker finally makes peace with Economos.
That tracks; Chris almost exclusively bonds with people over their passion for rock music and zeal for irreverence and violence. The former brought Amber Calcaterra to his bed and the latter are but a couple of reasons why he continues to tolerate Vigilante. Leota’s patience and kindness might lead Chris to a more well-rounded maturity in time; letting her into his humble abode for a cocktail without the promise of sex or a mutual appreciation for Poison is clearly a step in the right direction. (Though whatever dark purpose Amanda Waller’s forged Peacemaker diary will ultimately serve will likely end up derailing Chris on this path, especially since Leota just stashed it in his trailer.)
Cruising away from their latest mission without a single casualty, jamming out to Hanoi Rocks’ “11th Street Kidzz,” this Task Force finally has their baptism by blood. Even Harcourt finds some joy in this moment, nodding her head in unison to the jams and snapping a photo of the team’s revels. She even starts a new group for her teammates on her phone; thus the motley crew of Peacemaker are slapped with a proper nom de guerre.
The newly-christened 11th Street Kids ride a euphoric high this week. Which in a show like Peacemaker means, like Chris’ rough hangover from before, they are definitely heading towards a debilitating crash.
- Detective Song’s warrant + Leota’s betrayal = tough stuff ahead for Christopher Smith.
- Egg, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, salt, pepper: Ah, The Prairie Oyster. Speaking as a former bartender, it doesn’t do shit for hangovers but if you add a shot of gin and/or vodka to this concoction, it will at least get your jitters closer to normal. (This is not actual health advice, I am not a doctor, let’s not be ridiculous.)
- Henenlotter’s Video, so-named for Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter, has a couple Troma Easter eggs in there if you squint: There’s a Terror Firmer (1999) film poster over by Murn’s office and a The Toxic Avenger, Part II (1989) poster lurking around there somewhere.
- R.I.P. Judomaster??!
- “Whatever happened to the good old days when you could non-stop fuck with somebody without them claiming to be a victim?”
- I’m just figuring this out, but Vigilante’s red visor definitely has his prescription. (Ulp! Gunn confirms this.)
- “I would rather listen to Vigilante’s quiet farts back there than jazz.” “No, I didn’t!”
- Along with this week’s explainer on the Butterfly situation, we come across another wrinkle in Peacemaker’s mission: Any time somebody officially attempts to intercede with the Butterflies, a governmental bigwig shuts the whole thing down. Chris, who gets his news from the ceaseless stream of ass-clownery on Facebook, points out that this sounds an awful lot like the “Deep State,” scourge of conspiracy psychos like Auggie Smith and nebulous bogeyman for the InfoWars set. Harcourt admits the comparison is sound. Fiction can be a cruel mistress.
- Charlie, the silver-backed gorilla: “Die, Human!!!” Now. *pauses* Did Charlie speak because that Butterfly was living inside his brain, or did the zoo that housed him procure Charlie from Gorilla City? I’m just saying there’s a chance, don’t dismiss this out of hand!
- Mock Vigilante’s all-purpose mermaid emoji all you want, but all-purpose emojis are great and come in handy when you’re texting as you board a train.
- I’m placing this unlikely Kite Man renaissance at the feet of comics writer Tom King, who gave recurring-DC-punchline Chuck Brown a second life during his 70+ issue run on Batman. Enjoy Kite Man on the Harley Quinn animated series? Tom King’s fault. The Kite Man headline here? Possibly also Tom King’s fault, who can say. But also, who can’t say?
- Gin, vermouth, vinegar, peppercorn, maple syrup, and “some yak butter” (replaced here with normal butter): The Peacetrain. Sounds absolutely vile.
- Where are you at with “Monkey Dory,” group? What other ways do you think Captain Locke (Christopher Heyerdahl) will impede Song’s investigation? Is Leota about to become the newest Butterfly? Have you ever gulped down a Prairie Oyster, as I have? Let’s trade hangover cures in the comments below.