Warrior Nun Deserves Another Season

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.

The logo for Warrior Nun season two.Fans — and even some members of the cast — have been running a guerilla campaign to try and keep the show alive by spreading the word and streaming it as much as possible.

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.

No one does slow motion walking toward the camera like this show.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.

Kristina Tonteri-Young as Sister Beatrice in Warrior Nun season two.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.

Star Trek: Prodigy Is Shockingly Good

I have not, as a rule, been terribly impressed with the newer crop of Star Trek shows. Discovery starting out appallingly bad, and after years of improvement has only clawed its way to “watchable, just barely.” Picard had some very high highs, but also some major lows, and overall it felt too bleak and cynical to really feel like Star Trek. I watched one episode of Lower Decks, and that was one too many.

A promotional image for Star Trek: ProdigyI’m also not generally a fan of shows aimed at younger audiences. I can make occasionally exceptions, but usually I find them dull.

So it goes without saying that I had pretty low expectations for Star Trek: Prodigy, a new cartoon aimed at bringing a new generation of kids into the franchise. It’s perhaps a bit surprising that I even gave it a chance at all.

But what’s even more surprising is how incredibly good it turned out to be. As of the mid-season finale, I think I’m ready to declare it the best Star Trek show since Enterprise.

It’s not perfect, of course. There is a lot of very forced humour aimed at young kids that I find just plain cringe-worthy, and the half-hour format does leave some of the stories feeling a bit rushed (though somehow still less rushed than most of Discovery). It also tends to play fast and loose with the continuity of the Star Trek universe — not to an extent that really bothers me, but I know some people are off-put by the show’s fuzzy chronology and geography.

But despite these flaws, it still manages to be a very strong show.

Alone of all the new Trek shows, Prodigy feels like it’s hit a balance of being both fresh and faithful to what’s come before. The fact that none of the characters are Starfleet — none of them had even heard of the Federation before stumbling upon a derelict ship — gives us some fresh perspective on the universe, and allows us to have a more fractious and flawed cast, as opposed to the squeaky clean Starfleet crews we’re used to.

The Diviner, villain of Star Trek: Prodigy's first season.At the same time, we see the crew learning to come together and triumph despite their differences, and nothing could be more true to Star Trek than that. Prodigy is bringing back the franchise’s trademark optimism in a way that feels natural and earned.

I will also make another bold claim: Of all Star Trek shows in the franchise’s long history, Prodigy is doing the best job of balancing episodic stories with ongoing arcs. Every episode feels like its own satisfying adventure and advances the meta-plot in at least some small way. It’s neither the breathless sprint to the finish of Discovery and Picard, nor the “reset button” formula of The Next Generation and its spin-offs. I’m not sure even Enterprise struck this balance so well.

And to all that an endearing and diverse cast of characters, lots of action, and truly alien worlds courtesy of the animation format, and you have a formula for a thoroughly enjoyable show.

I even like Janeway now! I never liked her before. Turns out she’s a solid character when she has consistent writing.

I don’t do reviews on this blog much anymore, but Prodigy deserved some gushing. I’m not ready to declare it the best Trek series ever or anything; it still has a ways to go before I rank it alongside The Next Generation or Enterprise.

But I can say this much: Counting the Abramsverse movies, Prodigy is the fifth new installment of Star Trek since Enterprise was cancelled, but it’s the first time out of all of those I’ve found myself thinking, “Yes! Star Trek is back!”