The long lingering shot at the end of the season finale of Peacemaker felt appropriate. Christopher Smith had found what felt like a modicum of peace. He had Eagly by his side and the relationship he built with Goff (the last living butterfly) felt like an agree-to-disagree but closing with friendly terms. In watching that moment, there was an ease in Smith as he came to grips with who he is and is ready to move on. It was short lived however, as his father reappeared as a ghost. There can be speculation about what that means for season 2, but there’s something that James Gunn nailed in this moment. Sometimes we are left to carry our trauma as if a butterfly was sitting in our heads.
The closing montage to the season found Peacemaker and his crew dealing with new realities. Adebayo outing her mother Amanda Waller; Harcourt recovering and rehabbing her injuries in battle; and Economos right back to Belle Reve. Vigilante gets to be Vigilante so at least there’s that, but the point is the fight doesn’t just end. There’s more. Peacemaker, as it seems, doesn’t get to move forward. Even though he killed his father, that part of it doesn’t end in his death.
In a lot of ways, whether intentionally or not, Gunn’s writing reflects the time we’ve spent since 2020 sitting and wading in our collective trauma. As the global pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, it’s illuminated the weight we carry. Like Peacemaker, we all have had to keep moving despite those effects. Whether mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual it feels like a price has been paid. As Economos is baring his soul to a butterfly just to attempt to stay alive, you can’t help but feel the weight of that. These are the words we’ve all held onto because life doesn’t wait for us to recover.
Adebayo speaks poignantly to Peacemaker at the beginning of the episode, referring to the accidental death of his brother: ”Don’t forgive me that’s fine, but don’t let that shit define who you are.” It feels like great advice, in fact it is. However, like all things in life, these are easier problems to think about than the act of forgiveness. The familiarity of trauma for Peacemaker allows him to stay in it because its the easy thing to do. It’s a hard truth for many of us in life to just move on instead of dwell.
The beautiful thing, whilst heartbreaking, is these characters continue to fight. Adebayo battles Amanda Waller’s influence and voice to become something more. Harcourt grows to understand that while the job is the job, there is room for others in her life. Economos, much so the same, finding friends in the midst of trouble.
Christopher Smith has been through a great deal, and that last shot of the episode felt like what peace could potentially look like. He can forgive himself for his brother’s death, and feel like there’s a chance for redemption. He can find and cultivate friendships, meaningful ones, that grow through honesty. There was a feeling of accomplishment in that shot. Seeing Auggie again was a reminder of the passengers we carry. It was sad, yet so identifiable. In ways that we can all understand, this is peace in our time.