DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Peacemaker season finale episode “It’s Cow or Never” has spoilers. Prepare to rock out with Eagly and proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, arbitrators of peace! Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never,” is, hands down, the show’s best outing. James Gunn pens one of his strongest scripts to date, excitingly tying loose ends and closing this chapter of our titular character’s life on a high note. We’ve got Season 2 on the way, baby!

“It’s Cow or Never” perfectly balances action, adventure, comedy, drama and heart with Gunn’s trademark flair. Plus, those cameos might be the most significant I’ve seen in a comic book property thus far. Gunn brought the big guns (Get it?).

Ready to dig deep into “It’s Cow or Never”? Let’s get to it.

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We open with Leota (Danielle Brooks) attempting to apologize to Chris Smith, a.k.a. Peacemaker (John Cena). But Chris isn’t interested in apologies, so he and Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) proceed to make fart noises while Leota expresses her sincere remorse. 

Viggy ranks his besties, and we learn that Peacemaker and Eagly are numbers one and two, respectively, while Leota sits at number five. I’m guessing Economos is number three, and Harcourt is four. 

When the gang arrives outside the ranch, Leota calls Amanda Waller for further assistance. She impresses the importance of working quickly as the butterflies prepare to teleport the cow off the planet. Waller dubs Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) the leader while Economos (Steve Agee) and Leota stay behind if the team needs backup. 

Peacemaker lays out his helmets and explains to Leota what each one does. Leota believes they should plant the helmet that emits a sonic boom (the one Chris used to kill Annie Sturphausen) on top of the barn and activate it, thereby destroying the butterflies and cow inside. 

Chris tries to assign Eagly the task of planting said helmet on the barn’s roof, but, instead, Peacemaker’s BFF misunderstands and drops it further in the woods. 

Danielle Brooks in Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8 It's Cow or Never

Pictured: Danielle Brooks in PEACEMAKER Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never.” Photo credit: Katie Yu/HBO Max.

The group splits up to find the sonic boom helmet. Chris encounters a vision of Auggie (Robert Patrick), taunting him and taking up residence in his head. Peacemaker unflinchingly reaches for a weapon, unafraid to kill his racist, abusive father again. Harcourt bears witness to Peacemaker’s interaction with a ghost. 

Thankfully, we see the sonic boom helmet nestled in some leaves near where Ghost Auggie stood. 

After killing one of the butterflies standing guard some distance outside the barn, the group persuades Economos to disguise himself with a police uniform and deposit the helmet inside the barn. Economos reluctantly leaves the safety of the forest to execute the task at hand. What happened to “Economos, Motherf**ker”?

Butterfly Fitz (Lochlyn Munro) stops Economos before the latter enters the barn, asking him why he’s going inside. Economos shows him the duffel bag (the helmet’s inside it), and that’s all Butterfly Fitz needs to see to grant Economos access.

Economos descends the wooden stairs to the lower level, wherein the butterflies hold the cow captive. We see the creatures secure the cow with harnesses as they prepare to teleport it. Economos, flustered, tosses the duffel bag with the helmet on the staircase and flees.

Butterfly Fitz stops Economos again once the latter emerges from the barn. Fitz asks Economos about his beard — why did his human husk dye it so strangely? Economos explains that he dyes his beard and delves deeper into his issues. Economos fights tears as he confesses this, and it’s a beautiful, emotional beat from Agee. Peacemaker looks remorseful out in the woods while listening to Economos.

Suddenly, one of the butterflies finds the duffel bag, and we see the horde of butterflies, including Butterfly Song (Annie Chang), descend upon Economos. 

After a brief slip-up, Leota activates the helmet inside the bag, causing the barn to explode and even taking a few butterflies down in the process. Leota sets off a few more sonic booms until the helmet loses its charge. 

Butterfly Song, heartbroken over the thought of losing the cow, climbs through the debris to get to it. 

Peacemaker, Harcourt and Viggy arm themselves for a showdown with the butterflies. They saunter out like the badasses they are to the show’s theme song, and it’s perfection personified. Chris even boasts a fancy new shield!

The fight sequence here is top-notch, and there’s one extended take showcasing the brutal action featuring our heroes and foes. I love me some long-take action scenes!

Jennifer Holland in Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8 It's Cow or Never

Pictured: Jennifer Holland in PEACEMAKER Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never.” Photo credit: Katie Yu/HBO Max.

Harcourt urges Peacemaker to find the cow while she and Viggy fend off the butterflies topside. Unfortunately, he slips on debris and falls to the barn’s lower level, said debris burying him. Outside, Viggy succumbs to a slew of bullets after killing Butterfly Fitz, collapsing on the ground. Harcourt also suffers a few shots and falls. We see blood dripping out of her mouth. Uh oh. That doesn’t look good.

Leota watches Harcourt fall and decides to barrel headfirst into the action. Economos follows suit, but he trips over a wooden fence and injures his leg severely. It’s gross. 

Leota notices a butterfly attempting to gain access to Harcourt; thankfully, Leota pulls the alien out in time. Harcourt tells Leota to assist Chris with the cow situation. Leota puts on Peacemaker’s helmet that morphs the wearer into a human torpedo.

She locates Chris under a massive pile of debris, but when we think Leota finally saves him, it’s Butterfly Song, a.k.a. Goff, on the other side. 

Peacemaker and Song duke it out while Leota activates the human torpedo helmet. However, in her bid to help her friend, Leota flies uncontrollably into the wall, falling unconscious. Butterfly Song reveals she doesn’t want to fight Chris; she wants him to help her. 

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We see Butterfly Locke (Christopher Heyerdahl) tending to the cow while Butterfly Song explains what Judomaster attempted to tell Peacemaker. The butterflies left their homeworld because it was dying. Earth proved better suited to their needs.

However, the butterflies learned that humans didn’t care for their planet. They didn’t listen to reason and science and refused to make even the smallest sacrifice because it was an “inconvenience.” 

Does this sound familiar? Hats off to Gunn for penning an honest, uncompromising, steadfast review of humanity, especially that dig at folks who selfishly refuse to take the pandemic seriously. Cue the incoming “I can’t believe Peacemaker spewed leftist, political rhetoric!” 

Lochlyn Munro in Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8 It's Cow or Never

Pictured: Lochlyn Munro in PEACEMAKER Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never.” Photo credit: Katie Yu/HBO Max.

So, the butterflies thought it best to take control of humans to save Earth. But Murn disagreed with their methods — he didn’t believe they should overtake human bodies, even if it meant protecting the planet. Butterfly Song thanks Peacemaker for his kindness and asks him to help fulfill their mission. 

Instead, Chris activates the human torpedo helmet, which Leota still wears. Suddenly, she flies into the cow, killing it. Aw, poor cow. It was kinda cute! Peacemaker promptly shoots Butterfly Locke and Butterfly Song. 

Later, Chris and Leota emerge from the barn wreckage to find Viggy alive and Economos sitting with Harcourt. It looks like Harcourt might be dead, but here’s hoping she’s merely unconscious! Chris cradles her in his arms, and the gang takes her to a hospital. 

Then, we see the Justice League arrive in, undoubtedly, the most significant moment of the episode. While Superman and Wonder Woman remain in the shadows, Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) are visible. Peacemaker chastises the team for their lateness, revealing that the fight is over. He also criticizes Aquaman for forking fish. 

Jennifer Holland in Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8 It's Cow or Never

Pictured: Jennifer Holland in PEACEMAKER Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never.” Photo credit: Katie Yu/HBO Max.

Aquaman complains about that rumor, but The Flash counters that it’s all true. Hey, Green Arrow also attends brony conventions. Everything Chris says is unequivocally true. 

While at the hospital, the staff wheels Harcourt and Economos away. Viggy collapses on the ground after asserting he doesn’t need medical attention. Leota and Chris get some much-needed one-on-one time, wherein the pair make amends, and Leota vows to do the right thing. Before she leaves, Chris informs her that, after Eagly, she’s his bestie. Don’t tell Viggy that! Anyway, this scene tugs at the heartstrings.

We see Leota go on camera to reveal Project Butterfly to the world and publically exonerate Peacemaker and Vigilante of their crimes. She informs the reporters of how much the heroes assisted the mission and that Peacemaker didn’t write that diary. 

Viggy watches while in the hospital and promptly escapes. 

Leota also blows Waller’s (Viola Davis) cover and reveals Belle Reve’s system, and we see Waller’s reaction to her daughter throwing her under the bus. 

Next, Peacemaker visits Harcourt, who’s now conscious. We learn that he waited days for her to wake up. Harcourt, touched by Chris’s devotion, reaches for his hand. Something’s brewing between these two, and I’m here for it. Speaking of love, Leota returns home to Keeya (Elizabeth Faith Ludlow), and the pair get the cinematic, 360-degree panoramic smooch they deserve. It’s beautiful. 

Economos returns to work at Belle Reve, and we see him place a framed picture of the 11th Street Kids on his desk while smiling warmly at it. 

Judomaster (Nhut Le) finally makes it to Coverdale Ranch, only to find everyone dead. He sobs while munching on his Cheetos. 

John Cena in Peacemaker Season 1 Episode 8 It's Cow or Never

Pictured: John Cena in PEACEMAKER Season 1 Episode 8, “It’s Cow or Never.” Photo credit: Katie Yu/HBO Max.

Viggy and Chris go back to doing what they do best: blowing sh*t up. Harcourt makes progress with her physical therapy. 

Later, Peacemaker finds Goff, who escaped Song’s body, flying outside his window. He gives her what’s left of the amber goo for sustenance as Eagly drops a dead animal at his feet. The ghost of Auggie sits next to Chris on the porch, a sign that he’ll always carry that darkness with him.

RELATED: Catch up on all the peaceful violence and Eagly goodness with our Peacemaker recaps!

“It’s Cow or Never” boasts top-tier performances across the board, notably Cena, Brooks, Chang and Agee. Everyone brings their A-game and delivers the goods. Gunn also does a brilliant job of creating tension and putting characters at risk without killing them. After watching The Suicide Squad and bearing witness to that bloody body count, I’m shocked (and elated) that none of our heroes perished here. 

Peacemaker‘s carefully crafted character development pays off in the season finale as we see the fruits of Gunn’s labor regarding Chris Smith’s inner turmoil serve as a turning point for the titular hero. Goff and the butterflies’ mission gives Peacemaker a mirror into which he sees his reflection.

This whole season explores what it means to bring peace and whether human collateral damage is justifiable so long as the mission is pure. Every main character embarks on a well-written journey. Hats off to Cena and Gunn for breathing life into a multifaceted, messy and endearing hero. 

Peacemaker Season 1 will forever be one of my go-to shows when I need to laugh and escape. It’s bold, bawdy, raunchy, poignant, beautiful and badass. Bring on Season 2!

You can now stream Peacemaker Season 1 on HBO Max

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Melody McCune
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