Warrior Nun’s Ava Is a Hero for the Disabled

After a painfully long wait thanks to the pandemic, the second season of Warrior Nun is finally almost here, and I’m hyped. I’ve been rewatching season one to prepare, and I’m finding it at least as good as I remember, if not better, and I’m realizing this is a story that appeals to me in a very personal way.

Minor spoilers for season one to follow.

The logo for Warrior Nun season two.In contrast to my raves, overall reception for the first season of Warrior Nun seem to have been a little lukewarm, with particular criticism given to the first half of the season, where Ava is simply learning to adjust to her new life after being confined to a hospital bed since childhood.

A lot of people felt this was a waste of time before getting to the inevitable demon-slaying, but for me, this was probably the best part of the show. I’m starting to think maybe this is because most people lack the life experience to fully appreciate this arc.

As a disabled person, I can feel Ava’s palpable joy as she finds herself able-bodied once more. Now, granted, my disability is primarily mental rather than physical (though it does have physical effects, which people usually ignore when talking about autism), but it still holds me back all the same. I may not have the same set of challenges as Ava, but I still identify with her plight.

My disability has robbed me of an incredible amount of experiences other people take for granted, but there have been moments over the years where I got to truly live in a way that I don’t normally, and in those moments I felt the same joy you see in Ava when she runs on the beach for the first time.

The writers and directors really seemed to get what moments like these are like. Everything about the way these scenes are shot captures the experience. Ava looking up at the stars and seeing them in incredible detail, the way she throws herself into every sensory experience.

Ava adjusts to her second chance at life in season one of Warrior Nun.Now, in her case she literally couldn’t feel a lot of these things prior to her transformation, but even in my case, I feel like I’ve had similar experiences. If you live most of your life trapped by disability, feeling like you’ve overcome it, even briefly, changes your entire view of reality. Colours shine brighter, food tastes better, you find yourself awestruck by the beauty of sights you see every day.

Once again I also have to give major credit to Alba Baptista for her incredible performance. The childlike joy she exudes in these scenes is palpable.

I imagine some people might prefer a character who manages to be the hero while still fully affected by their disability (a la Professor Xavier, for instance), and that could also be good to see, but for my part at least I still very much see Ava as a disabled person, even now that she can walk and run. She just has a very powerful assistive device in the form of an angel’s halo.

At any rate, for my part, I feel represented by Ava, and I think that’s a large part of why I’m so excited to finally see new episodes of Warrior Nun on the horizon.

Still Alive

I apologize for not posting more often the last few weeks (I seem to say that a lot lately). I’ve been struggling a lot with motivation these days.

The extravagant combat of Nier: Automata.Partly it’s that my new D&D writing gig has taken a lot out of me. It’s probably a bigger workload than I’ve ever dealt with in my life up to this point. Given my disability, that’s not saying as much as it might, but still. I’ve had very little energy left for any other forms of writing, and most of what is left over goes to maintaining my column at Massively Overpowered.

The other factor is of course the pandemic.

On the one hand this hasn’t really changed that much for me. I already work from home and don’t go out that much. Really everyone else has now been forced to live their lives how I’ve lived most of my life.

But then of course that was something I wanted to change. I’ve been working very hard the last few years to go out, experience new things, and form social connections outside of the virtual realm, and now thanks to the plague all those doors are closed to me, and I’m back where I started, at least for the time being. It’s demoralizing.

The monotony of every day being the same is starting to get to me, and that is also really killing my motivation for a lot of things, including blogging.

But I don’t want my blog to die altogether, so let’s try to throw together an update.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons via Roll20.My D&D group is still going, albeit online. We’re using Roll20. It’s bad. I won’t sugar-coat it. Roll20 is bad. Like I want to respect it for having so many features, and we are managing games with it, but it’s so clunky and buggy.

Wanting something comforting and unchallenging, I’ve been binge rewatching Star Trek: Voyager lately. I’m not watching every episode; just the ones that jump out at me, which is roughly half of them, I’d say.

I’ll stand by what I’ve said in the past: It’s not great, but it’s not half as bad as people make it out to be. I think the worst criticism you could make of it is that it could have been so much better. It’s a show rife with missed opportunities, underdeveloped characters, and failures to live up to the potential of its premise, but if you just take it for what it is, it’s decent.

Season two was probably the best. At that point they’d gotten over the opening jitters but hadn’t yet completely betrayed the premise of being lost and struggling for survival in a harsh frontier. After that it was slowly downhill. The show lost a lot of heart when Kes left.

As far as video games, my favourite new discovery in recent months — as you might have seen from my MOP column — is Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem.

Much to my own surprise I’ve continued playing for quite a while after finishing the storyline, just grinding dungeons. I love the combat and the build system so much. The nigh-limitless build options really remind me of old school TSW, and I’m having so much fun theorycrafting. I’ve started a new character, a necromancer based on elemental damage, and I love it. I just sit back freezing enemies and setting them on fire while my zombies distract them.

I also finally got around to finally playing Nier: Automata. It’s one of those games that I liked, but I don’t get what the fuss was about. It’s more good than bad, but nothing about it strikes me as exceptionally memorable.

My biggest complaint was the side quests. I think Nier: Automata wins the award for the absolute worst side quests I’ve ever seen in a video game. None have interesting or memorable stories, most involve long tedious travel times, and many throw you against enemies that vastly out-level you, leading to crushingly long and boring fights.

I will say that I only played through it once, and I do understand that the story changes on subsequent playthroughs, so I may not be getting the full Nier: Automata experience. I’m still considering doing the extra playthroughs at some point — a friend assures me I won’t have to repeat the side quests, which makes the idea a bit more appealing — but I was pretty happy with the original ending, and I somewhat resent needing multiple playthroughs to see the whole story, so we’ll see.

In Star Trek Online, I’ve now finished the Iconian War arc, and I’m thinking I may take a break there, as it seems like a good place to pause at, and I’m starting to feel some burnout. Mostly I was happy with how the Iconian plot wrapped up. The ending nailed that morality play feel good Star Trek should have.

A scene from horror game We Happy Few.Finally, I’ve just started on We Happy Few. It’s a game I’ve been wanting for ages, but I wanted to wait for a sale in case I didn’t end up enjoying it (gods, I miss demos). I’m only a few hours in, so I’m still making up my mind.

So far I love the story, the world-building, the artwork, and the music. The downside is it is very stealth-heavy, and I’m terrible at stealth games. I had to start the game over on a lower difficulty because I was struggling too much. Thankfully I wasn’t that far in, so I haven’t had to repeat much, and so far the lower difficulty seems to be working out better.

So that’s the basics on where I’m at. Let’s hope we’re all out of this virus nightmare sooner rather than later.