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.

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.