Thanks to the long gap between seasons and a total lack of promotion from Netflix, there’s been a bit of a pall hanging over the second season of Warrior Nun. There’s this perception that it’s a dead show walking, not helped by Netflix’s long history of cutting down its own shows in their prime.
It’s a shame there’s this feeling of needing to fight for the show, because it puts a bit of a damper on a truly excellent season of television.
I’ve said in the past that I think the mark of true greatness is not a lack of any flaws, but when the strengths shine so bright as to drown out the flaws. Season two of Warrior Nun fits that description to a T.
Objectively, I can find many faults with this season. Most notably, it often feels rushed. I get the impression the writers wanted more than eight episodes, but this was all Netflix was willing to give them. Or perhaps it’s an over-correction to the criticism of season one’s slow-burn (a criticism I disagree with). Either way, a lot of things move too quickly. Most notably one character changes loyalties so often and so quickly that their arc ceased to make any sense at all.
There’s one side-plot that has the opposite problem — it feels too drawn out, especially given the outcome has pretty much been a foregone conclusion since last season. The resolution is very satisfying when it comes, though.
You also need to suspend your disbelief extra hard for a lot of things this season. The sci-fi elements are extremely implausible this time around, even by the standards of a show about “undercover tactical nuns.”
But you know what? I don’t really care about any of that. This season was just too damn enjoyable for any of that to get me down.
When I watched the original season the first time, I came away feeling that Ava and Beatrice were carrying the show. Not that I disliked the other characters, but they didn’t feel that memorable compared to Ava and Bea. When I rewatched season one, I found the supporting cast members a lot more compelling than I remembered, and in season two, Warrior Nun has established itself as a show where the entire ensemble is more than carrying their weight.
Sister Camilla is at least as lovable as before, if not more so. Jillian also puts on a strong performance, and there’s some new faces that hold their own admirably.
But the real breakout star this season is Mother Superion. She is a character I very much did not want to like because of how abusive she was to Ava when first introduced, but despite my best efforts, she won me over. She has a lot more screentime this time around, and across her various scenes, she gets to show pretty much the full range of human emotion, from righteous anger to sorrow and even some humorous scenes. And she kills it every time. Major respect to Sylvia De Fanti for an incredible performance.
All that’s not to say that Ava and Beatrice aren’t still great, because they absolutely are, both individually and in terms of their dynamic together. Their friendship gets a bit turbulent this season, and they often find themselves in conflict, but there’s always the sense that they maintain respect and affection for one another throughout. Characters who can handle conflict in a healthy way are depressingly rare in popular fiction, and it’s so refreshing to see it here.
While there are parts that feel rushed, as I’ve already noted, the fast pace of the season can also be quite exhilarating.
I initially gave Warrior Nun a try purely because I found out it was the work of Simon Barry, the mind behind Continuum, a strong contender for my favourite TV series of all time. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to say that Warrior Nun has yet reached Continuum’s quality level, but this season did give me the same brain-blasted, pleasantly overwhelmed feeling that Continuum’s later seasons did. So much happens so fast it feels almost supernatural that they’re able to fit so story in a relatively short run-time. It displays an incredible economy of story-telling that most writers can only aspire to.
Oh, yes, and this season also happens to feature some of the most inventive and beautifully shot action scenes I’ve had the pleasure to witness.
The second season ends on a pretty satisfying note, so if the series is to end here, it won’t be so jarring or heart-breaking as some shows that are left unfinished. But I still hope it does continue. There’s plenty of potential for more story in this universe, and it just plain deserves it. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s moving, and while it’s subtle, there’s a maturity to the characters and their relationships that most popular media lacks.