In Peacemaker episode 6, a key speech from Clemson Murn hints that the series will forgive Peacemaker for his The Suicide Squad murder.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Peacemaker episode 6.
In Peacemaker episode 6, “Murn After Reading,” a key line from Clemson Murn drives the series further towards asking the audience to forgive Peacemaker for Rick Flag’s death. James Gunn resurrected The Suicide Squad for his 2021 movie with Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag serving as one of the few returning characters from David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad. His death at the hands of John Cena’s Peacemaker came as a surprise, but with the Peacemaker TV series, James Gunn seems to be using the moment as a critical aspect of the titular crime fighter’s character development.
Episode 6 follows on from Peacemaker episode 5’s cliffhanger ending that showed Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji) attacking Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) after she learned that he was secretly a Butterfly. When Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and Murn explain to Adebayo, Leota points out that the Butterfly inside of Murn killed Murn himself. Murn emotionally expresses his regret, saying that he needed a body and he searched for the worst person he could possibly find and that Murn had done terrible things before the Butterfly took him over. However, the Butterfly notes that he still hates having taken Murn’s body as his memories revealed that even someone apparently as far gone as Murn could have been redeemed.
This line from the Butterfly inside Murn makes a fairly clear statement about the possibility of redemption for Peacemaker. Throughout the Peacemaker TV series, characters have made mention of the terrible things that might be hidden in Murn’s past, seemingly making him more of a bogeyman than Peacemaker himself. If an external observer like a Butterfly judged that Murn was not too far gone for redemption, then it narratively makes sense that Peacemaker can be redeemed into a hero by the end of the series. This story does however rely on the audience being willing to forgive Peacemaker for killing Rick Flag and betraying the rest of Task Force X, even if it was under the guise of following Waller’s orders.
While James Gunn might be asking the audience to get over Rick Flag’s death, the Peacemaker TV series doesn’t shy away from the fact that Peacemaker did in fact kill Flag. The scene is repeatedly called back to and included in flashbacks as part of Peacemaker’s introspection at key moments within the series. This helps to ensure that while Peacemaker asks the audience to forgive Peacemaker, it doesn’t ask them to forget Flag, instead reiterating that his death and his final words had a big impact on what came afterward.
While this narrative choice in Peacemaker might seem to take a callous view of Rick Flag’s death by trying to move beyond it, it actually enables the DCEU TV series to provide a surprisingly nuanced perspective regarding what justice can and should be. Socially, the United States is geared towards retributive justice which ultimately takes an eye-for-an-eye stance and has been proven to be ineffective in a lot of cases and leads to increased recidivism. However, Peacemaker’s treatment of its titular character and his past looks instead towards a form of rehabilitation-based justice that is rarely depicted in mainstream media. Despite his villainous actions in The Suicide Squad, there’s still hope that Peacemaker can earn redemption.
Peacemaker releases new episodes Thursdays on HBO.
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