Warrior Nun is Netflix latest offering in the unwilling young heroine coming of age amidst supernatural foes genre. I had mixed reactions to it. Some were good, and some were bad.
Warrior Nun is based on a comic book. It was created for television by Simon Barry. It’s an American production in English, filmed in Spain, and starring a likeable international cast.
The central character is Ava (Alba Baptista). Alba Baptista is the secret ingredient in this tale. She’s saucy, charming, intelligent, convincing, lovely, and quick to learn to kick butt. She’s easily the best thing in the series.
Coming in a close second as my favorite thing is Mary (Toya Turner). She’s also known as Shotgun Mary because she carries two pistol-sized shotguns everywhere she goes. She is not a nun, like several other characters, but she fights the same fight as the nuns.
In the beginning of the story, Ava is a newly deceased quadriplegic. She’d spent over 10 years of her life in a Catholic nursing home, flat on her back, watching television. Her corpse was taken to a church. Into the church rush a batch of nuns, a priest, and a wounded nun named Shannon. They were under attack.
Shannon died. A nun removed a ring called the halo from her back. For lack of a better place to hide it, she stuck it in Ava. The nuns flee, leaving Ava lying dead with the halo in her back.
Bingo, bango. Ava comes back to life. She can walk. With the halo in her back, she is ready to have fun. She takes off to see what life is like outside of a hospital bed. She meets JC (Emilio Sakraya) and has some exciting learning experiences with him.
But people are after Ava. There’s Father Vincent (Tristán Ulloa) and a bunch of nuns in a secret order who want her to take the job of Warrior Nun. There’s Sister Lilith (Lorena Andrea), who really really really thinks the halo belongs in her back because she trained so hard to become the Warrior Nun. There’s Cardinal Duretti (Joaquim de Almeida), who sides with Lilith.
This secret society of nuns protect a holy metal that helps drive demons back to hell. Their job is fighting demons, thus saving the world from evil. The holy metal also powers the halo in Ava’s back.
A plot complication comes from tech genius Jillian Salvius (Thekla Reuten). She wants the holy metal too. It powers a gateway into another dimension she is building.
Ava wants nothing to do with this whole bunch of Catholics who rant about demons and saving the world from evil. She mocks the patriarchy of the church, pokes holes in the idea of faith, and really digs the science genius of Jillian Salvius.
What I Liked
I liked the international, inclusive nature of the cast. The acting was well done with everyone pulling their weight convincingly.
I liked the special effects. The demons were scary and Ava jumping through walls was cool. The costumes were spare but looked like something real nuns would choose to fight in. The fight scenes were good.
I liked that 6 of the episodes were directed by women: Agnieszka Smoczynska, Sarah Walker, and Jet Wilkinson.
I liked the settings in the churches and countryside of Spain. The Catholic infrastructure of Spain passed well enough for The Vatican.
I liked Ava’s progress into a warrior. Like so many young heroines in this genre, she comes to understand her gift and her duty. I liked the friendship and loyalty between the women. That is a crucial element of making stories like this work, so I’m glad it was present.
What I Didn’t Like
Thematically, this series is all over the place. I did like the honest way religious figures pointed out that the church ruled by fear. Controlled with fear. Gained from fear. There were messages to trust the church at the same time that there were messages to mistrust the church. There were messages that science was the answer.
This series is very Catholic. The title of each episode is a reference to a Bible verse. In order to fully understand each episode you must look up something in the Bible? Nope.
A bunch of butt kicking women living together suggests there might be an LGBTQ subplot running through. The series tiptoed around this issue like it was radioactive, even when it was obviously there. That seemed weak-willed to me. On the other hand, LGBTQ actors were cast without comment.
The last episodes was terrible. It were supposed to bring plot twists and big cliffhangers. It did that, but was so badly written that it was head-scratching and chaotic.
Season one set up Ava as the Warrior Nun. It revealed the good guys and the bad guys. It opened up a new area of battle for season two (if there is one.) But it was far from perfect. Even so, I watched it with interest and will be all in for a second season if it happens.
Have you watched this series? What did you think of it?