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‘Peacemaker’ Season One Finale: James Gunn On Christopher Smith’s Alternative Ending & “Repercussions” For DC Hero In Season 2

Warning: The following interview contains spoilers from The Peacemaker season one finale “It’s Cow or Never”, now available to watch on HBO Max.

So, Peacemaker wins and the world is safe from alien butterflies. For a moment there, it seemed that the possessed Detective Sophie (Annie Chang) made a persuasive argument to Christopher Smith to keep her species alive, that they were good for the betterment of the world.

The butterflies were looking to survive on Earth after their planet was uninhabitable, however, they couldn’t survive, which is why they brought the cow.

“The cow would help the last of our people survive for another hundred years,” says a possessed Sophie, “But not long after we arrived we realized that people of Earth were on the exact same trajectory as our people had been: Ignoring science in favor of populist leaders who tell you that the floods and fires and the disease are unrelated to your own actions. Valuing profit over survival. Treating minor inconveniences as assaults on your freedom. And so we made a vow to do anything we could to change your future. We made a vow to make the choices for you that you were incapable of making in your own, to save your people, and your world, no matter how many lives it cost us,” says Sophie.

Peacemaker lets this soak in for a minute, that is until he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He shoots Sophie, and activates Leota (Danielle Brooks), who is wearing a Peacemaker helmet, to blast like a torpedo into the alien larvae cow, killing it.

Peacemaker creator, EP, series scribe and the director of tonight’s finale James Gunn tells us below at one point he was considering an alternative ending for Smith during his writing process; read on.

Also in the last episode of season one, Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) lives, and has a tender connection with Chris. And Leota outed to the world that her mom is really Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Season one closes with Chris sitting on his stoop, pondering the complexity of life, next to the ghost of his racist dad, Auggie (Robert Patrick), who looks like he’ll be hanging around like an acerbic Obi-Wan Kenobi into season 2. And Goff, the butterfly who was possessing Sophie, has been kept alive by Chris. But remember, dear old dad left behind a house with an arsenal of weapons and costumes.

Yesterday, Gunn and Peacemaker star John Cena announced a season 2 of the series on HBO Max. Here’s Gunn’s breakdown of the season one finale:

So, Chris taking out Sophie. Even though she’s possessed by Goff, she’s making what I thought was this convincing argument to keep the butterflies around, but then he shoots her. Tell us about that.

JAMES GUNN: I think it’s really what the whole show is about. I think that the beginning of the season, we see a guy who’s sort of trapped in the prison of his own ideals, and these ideals, as we go through the season, we discover that they are the result of childhood trauma, which is his reaction to that. He tried to escape that trauma and deny the reality of death around us at all times. He’s taken on this ridiculous vow that he believes is the right thing to do, but also, I think he’s using it as a way to try to reconcile the fact that he killed his own brother.

And at the end of the show, he is, and through the process of this show, I think he starts to let go of who his father is and who his father turned him into; this own belief that he’s a piece of shit, which his father has superimposed upon him. And through the season, we see this character who has taken on his father’s beliefs about himself. Not necessarily all his father’s beliefs, but his father’s beliefs about him, and we see him start to abandon some of those things and form connections for the first time with some of the other characters, in particular, Adebayo and Harcourt.

The last shot on John’s face is great: It’s content and melancholy. It’s very complex. Was that how you always envisioned the ending?

GUNN: I went through different endings then just what I was going to say in that moment. I think that Peacemaker is making the choice that is — it’s a step forward for himself and his own vitality, his own spirituality. Maybe it’s not the right thing to do for the world, and so, yes, that complexity is something that I thought of as being part of the ending of the show. Until that time, I thought different things. I thought that there was a chance that it would end with Peacemaker joining the butterflies, you know?

Really?

GUNN: But I think by the time I got to the ending, I went through the journey with them, getting connected to these characters, I didn’t see him doing that. I think that he feels in that moment, it’s a choice between the lives of these people he’s come to love and this choice to stick with his old way of doing things.

When did you make that decision? Was that during your writing process, or was that while you were shooting?

GUNN: That was very early in the writing process. By the time I had already kind of knew where I was going, by the time I started writing, actually physically writing, I wrote down tons and tons of ideas for a couple months beforehand, but once I started writing the script, I knew where it was going to end.

His dad’s house — that tees up the series so greatly into season 2. What’s in there? Is Chris going to find some wild stuff? Is there another family member that could take the house away from him?

GUNN: I was thinking about that last night. I have some cool thoughts on all of that and how his father got that and how he’s able to use it so well.

In the comic book, does he actually shoot his dad? Because I thought that was a great touch in turning him into this evil Obi-Wan Kenobi.

GUNN: No, he doesn’t shoot his father, but Peacemaker’s had a few incarnations in the comics. There’s a writer by the name of Paul Kupperberg who made Peacemaker. His dad was a Nazi, actually from World War II, and this was written in the ‘90s, and he’s haunted by the ghost of his father, who’s a Nazi, who’s constantly yelling really racist, f*cked-up shit at him.

Tell us about landing Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller for the Justice League cameo

GUNN: Jason, I have known for a while. So, we had a preexisting relationship, and also Peter Safran, who’s the producer on the show and he’s one of my closest allies and friends, he’s friends with Jason because he produces the Aquaman movies. So, we asked Jason. We knew Jason was probably going to do it very early on. Ezra came in as more of a surprise. I found out through a couple of friends that Ezra liked my films, and so then I connected with him and asked him to do it, as well. So, yeah, we were just lucky with the two of them.

That was just a great, great touch, and then to hear Aquaman go blue was just great.

GUNN: I know. You hear Aquaman just cursing. I think both of those guys deserves total props because he does f*** with both of them the whole season, and so the fact that they have such a great sense of humor about themselves, I really appreciate both those guys and what they did. The Ezra outtakes are probably the greatest things I’ve ever had. He literally went on for 30 minutes, and he hadn’t seen the show. I just showed him the scene of them walking away, and he kept calling Harcourt the little blonde boy. The best outtakes of all time are from him.

They have to put that on HBO Max.

GUNN: I know. Marvel shot it for us, which was really nice of them.

Marvel did? 

GUNN: It was nice because we shot it on the set and with the crew of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. You know, they were kind of paying us back, though, because DC, Chukwudi Iwuji, we used the Peacemaker crew to shoot Chukwudi’s screen test for Guardians 3, and DC was really cool about that, and then Marvel was really cool about letting us use our crew to shoot Ezra.

Watching this show feels like I’m watching a facet of you and what you’ve weathered with the right wing bullying; the series is a really smart commentary on a divided nation. Can you talk more about that?

GUNN: I really think that is what it’s about. First and foremost, it’s just a story of these characters, and that’s the most important thing to me, but in terms of being a reflection of our own society, the difference between Peacemaker’s father, who’s pretty much a repugnant, irredeemable asshole, Christopher Smith, who is not irredeemable — I think he’s a sensitive individual who’s just been kind of f*cked by his surroundings and by his own stupid choices in life, but I think that the connection between him and Adebayo is something that I believe, in this country and in this world, that people can talk, who have incredibly different opinions, and it’s probably better to talk in person than it is over Twitter.

Now, Judomaster, going forward…he was never really a friend, never really a foe?

GUNN: I don’t know if he was ever a friend to anybody in the Peacemaker crew. I love Judomaster. He’s great, and he was written as just this asshole. He’s, like, an asshole, but that is so funny, and so he just brings this sort of arrogance to this character, of this dick that loves Cheetos, and so, I love the character, so I’m sure we’ll see more of Judomaster in the future. He’s revealed that he does have good intentions at the end. We see him sad at the end. He does care about something. He’s not just an evil little jerk. He’s just a little jerk.

One or two words that might describe season 2 for Peacemaker? What can you tease for us?

GUNN: I think we’re going to just continue the story of Christopher Smith, and there’s going to be repercussions for things that’ve happened, but also I’m not saying repercussions in bad ways. I think there’s a lot of good things that happened in season one.

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