WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Peacemaker, “It’s Cow or Never,” now streaming on HBO Max.

Throughout its first season, Peacemaker has frequently referenced the events of The Suicide Squad, with its titular anti-hero constantly haunted by his actions on Corto Maltese. The season finale, “It’s Cow or Never,” puts a spin on Peacemaker’s darkest moment from that film, demonstrating how much he has evolved over the course of his spin-off show.

In his first outing, Christopher Smith (John Cena) was tasked by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) with destroying a hard drive proving America’s involvement in Project Starfish, stopping Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) from taking it to the press. Even with the drive in his grasp, he pushed himself to be “thorough,” apologizing to Ratcatcher 2 as he prepared to shoot her.

RELATED: The Suicide Squad: HBO Max Boss Calls the Second Spinoff a Different Genre From Peacemaker

Although Bloodsport (Idris Elba) prevented Ratcatcher 2’s murder, the attempt still demonstrated how committed Smith was to being Peacemaker, trying to kill someone begging for her life in case what she knew triggered global chaos. At this point, he was willing to ensure peace at any cost, a dilemma which he faces once again in “It’s Cow or Never.”

Having bonded with the Butterfly that once inhabited Senator Goff (Antonio Cupo), he is torn when she, now in the body of Det. Sophie Song (Annie Chang), reveals that she wishes to take over humanity to prevent them from destroying their planet as her species did. Goff likens Smith to the Butterflies, given his own vow to save the world regardless of how many deaths it took, and urges him to fulfill his calling to “Be the Peacemaker” by joining her.

RELATED: Peacemaker: Vigilante’s Ultimate Goal is Funny But Startling

Instead, he completes his mission to kill the alien cow whose amber fluid keeps the Butterflies alive, before grabbing Song’s gun and aiming it at her. He says, “Sorry, Goff,” which mirrors his “Sorry, kid” to Ratcatcher 2, but this time succeeds in pulling the trigger. He shoots Song’s body, forcing the Goff Butterfly to fly away defeated.

Despite the bloodier consequences this time around, Smith’s choice is the greatest sign that he is moving past the rigid definition of being Peacemaker, which defined him until recently. His motivation in The Suicide Squad was to protect humanity from itself, afraid of what would happen if the horrible experiments on Corto Maltese became widely known. He was fully capable of believing that Goff’s plan would likewise prevent inevitable destruction; in fact, he later asks Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) if his rejection will “kill the world.”

RELATED: The Suicide Squad’s Post-Credit Scene Was Filmed as Part of the Peacemaker Show

However, it is Adebayo and the rest of Smith’s team that moved him to reject peace on Goff’s terms, knowing that doing so would likely result in their deaths. He ruined his chance for the human connection he desperately craved in The Suicide Squad, but in Peacemaker, he lets go of his loftier aspirations for peace when that threatens the people he cares about. He even lets Goff escape and later feeds her the remains of the amber fluid he kept for her, having lost the urge to clean up loose ends that put a gun in Ratcatcher 2’s face.

The Suicide Squad ended with Peacemaker hospitalized, having been shot in the neck and buried under rubble for putting his murky principles before his teammates. In contrast, his spin-off leaves him with friends that bring out the best sides of his personality, moving him away from the villain he forced himself to be and towards the hero he aspires to become.

To see Christopher Smith’s transformation, stream all episodes of Peacemaker Season 1 on HBO Max now.

KEEP READING: Peacemaker: James Gunn Explains Why Those DCEU Stars Missed the Finale’s Big Cameo

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