Peacemaker Episode 5 Review: Monkey Dory

The Peacemaker team bonds over some Hanoi Rocks while the seeds of betrayal are sewn.

Peacemaker (John Cena) and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) in Peacemaker episode 5
Photo: HBO Max

This Peacemaker review contains spoilers.

Peacemaker Episode 5

Music has obviously played quite a big role for Peacemaker thus far. Along with scoring the brilliant opening credits sequence (which again: cannot be praised enough), Peacemaker’s preferred glam metal has served as a spiritual accompaniment, giving the show a thrashing, playful spirit. It’s in this week’s episode, “Monkey Dory”, however, that the Peacemaker soundtrack goes from tone-setter to plot-driver…with mixed results. 

In addition to a great taste in music, one thing that Peacemaker showrunner James Gunn excels at is turning the group dynamics of a found family into his own personal storytelling playground. Taking familial bickering and transforming it into begrudging familial family-ing has been a hallmark of Gunn’s previous superhero projects like Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and The Suicide Squad. Thanks to a profound respect and appreciation for his characters, this route is almost always successful for the writer/director. When it comes to Peacemaker though, the team bonding over Hanoi Rocks en route to kill some bugs feels like one forced kumbaya too many. 

Not to besmirch the great name of the ‘80s Finnish hair metal pioneers, but one group singalong does not a family make. “Monkey Dory” seems to go out of its way to introduce internal strife among Amanda Waller’s team just so it will have something vaguely emotional to solve mid-episode. Don’t get me wrong – it leads to plenty of entertaining moments. Peacemaker’s criticism of John Economos’s PowerPoint skills at episode’s beginning is funny. Even funnier is the seemingly improvised riff of John Cena naming every single celebrity who comes to mind (including Bill Cosby since he’s out of jail now) to prove to Economos that he could have thought of a human being to falsely imprison other than Augie Smith. 

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Peacemaker and Economos’s beef also does help to illustrate the former’s qualities as a bully and continue him on the path to self-improvement. But those qualities were already apparent beforehand and the show is better when delving into the paternal origins of them as it did at the end of last week’s and at the very beginning of this week’s. The solution to the team’s chemistry problems being one successful mission and Peacemaker and Economo’s shared love of Hanoi Rocks is more than a bit too pat. 

This added investment in the supporting non-heroic characters around Peacemaker is sure to pay off at some point. Fundamentally, it’s decent storytelling to make audiences care about the fate of even its background characters. But this show (or at least what we hope is only the first season of it) has a finite amount of hours. Is spending those hours on a perfunctory team-building moment the best use of that time? We shall see.

 It is refreshing, however, to finally get a superhero show in which the characters are confirmed to be part of a group chat. That is such a pervasive aspect of modern life that even the most “modern” superhero stories rarely address for whatever reason. Unfortunately though, the 11th Street Kids group chat is unlikely to thrive much longer thanks to Adebayo’s actions in planting a false diary in Peacemaker’s home at the behest of her mother. 

Aside from the conventional moments of camaraderie in the van to and from Glam Tai, this is another entirely enjoyable episode of Peacemaker. It feels like years ago that Peacemaker was unwilling to shoot innocents. Within moments of arriving at Glam Tai, Peacemaker explodes an old lady’s face with a high-caliber blast at point blank range. Thanks to his X-Ray vision helmet he knows she has a butterfly in her brain but the sudden violence is the episode’s most darkly funny moment. 

Equally as absurd, of course, is Peacemaker, Adebayo, Vigilante, and Economos’s battle against Charlie the gorilla. A background joke in last week’s episode teased that a gorilla had escaped from a local zoo and that joke pays off in glorious fashion here. Steve Agee chainsawing a gorilla in half isn’t the best moment featuring an ape on a DC show (that honor will always go to this), but it’s exactly the kind of violent nonsense you love to see.

The mystery of the butterflies also grows satisfyingly deeper this week. Murn meets with a fellow butterfly and suggests that they have different approaches to world domination. He also uses his connections and power to keep Auggie Smith in jail despite the exonerating evidence uncovered by Detectives Song and Fitzgibbon. Meanwhile, the continued references to Auggie’s former (and perhaps current) life as white supremacist “hero” White Dragon serve to even further hype up the inevitable confrontation with the son he treated so poorly. 

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Even in a relatively “down” episode, Peacemaker is one hell of a TV series to experience. Apparently audiences agree as at least one analytic firm has pegged it as the streaming world’s most-watched show. Hopefully those viewers appreciated learning that Superman has a poop fetish and Poison’s preferred pronouns are “long live rock” this week.


3.5 out of 5