REVIEW: ‘Warrior Nun’ – Demon Slaying and What We Owe Each Other

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Warrior Nun

Content Warning: Warrior Nun deals with themes of suicide.

Warrior Nun is a fantasy/Sci-fi series streaming exclusively on Netflix. Anna, a young quadriplegic has died while in the care of an orphanage run by a group of nuns in Spain. Before her body can be delivered to the local authorities however, something unexpected happens. Anna, is exposed to an ancient relic, the halo of the angel Adreil. This contact restores Anna’s life and mobility to her. It also drops her dead center into a conflict she never wanted to be a part of.

Warrior Nun dives into a lot more than I expected when I first started watching it. While the ancient conspiracies and ninja-like combat I expected are certainly present, there is also a lot of emotional exploration to be found here. Themes of faith, duty, and obligation to others are all explored within its ten-episode run. And while it may not deliver anything revolutionary to these themes, it handles them better than I would have expected. To start with, let’s take a deeper look at our main protagonist Ava.

When we first meet Ava she is recently deceased. Before that, she spent 12 years in an orphanage after a car accident killed her mother and left her a quadriplegic. From the impression we are given of the nun who was taking care of her, one can only assume her days were less than enjoyable. This, however, is where fate intervenes.

In a nearby room, several members of the Order of the Crusiform Sword have just returned from a mission gone wrong. One of their own has been mortally wounded. This particular individual carries in her back the halo of the angel Adreil. As her life slips away the halo is removed from her, to be passed onto the next halo bearer. But there isn’t any time to move the halo. The Order’s enemies have followed them. In order to conceal the halo, a nun hides it within Ava. Assuming no one will look in a dead woman for the artifact. Unexpectedly, however, the halo restores Ava to life. Furthermore, it restores her to her original faculties. Awakening disoriented, both at her unknown location, and the fact she can move her arms and legs again, Ava does what anyone would. She runs.

Warrior Nun spends the next several episodes following Ava as she struggles with what to do next in life. While the war being waged against the forces of darkness quickly proves inescapable, she nonetheless struggles with accepting her fate. I found this struggle extremely well delivered. After all, not only is she being shown a side of the world that she never would’ve believed real till she sees it, she also for the first time in years has the ability to actually go wherever she wants. To now be told she must go to this place and do this one thing is a tough pill for Ava to swallow. What does she owe these people? What does she owe anyone? Why can’t she just go off and enjoy the freedom she finds herself in possession of? These questions are well explored in the front half of Warrior Nun. There is, however, something I feel needs noting about Ava. Or rather how the world talks about her.

Warrior Nun

Numerous times during Warrior Nun characters refer to Ava as having previously been crippled. This term has been on the outs with the disabled community for quite some time and I wish writers could remove it from their vernacular. Its usage here is completely unnecessary. Warrior Nun does a good job of not mistreating Ava, or her previous physical disability in any other way. How she is cared for is often put under scrutiny, but who she was is never attacked or talked about as being any less than anyone else. In light of this otherwise well-executed handling of her character, the unfortunate choice to use the above slur repeatedly to describe her is disappointing in the lest.

It isn’t surprising that a series focused on an ancient order of warrior nuns would feature a strong theme of duty. Religion as a whole is generally built around the concept. Duty to a Divinity, as well as to one another are often cornerstones to such institutions. And while Warrior Nun asks Ava what her duty is, she is far from the only one who must struggle with the question.

Numerous characters throughout the series are found using their faith, and the duty it entails, for their own gains. The acquisition of power is a strong pull on people. Warrior Nun Goes out of its way to explore just how strong that pull can become. What I truly appreciated about its approach to this topic is the variety of conclusions it’s characters come to. Some set aside their pursuits in the name of the greater good. Others opt to cling to what they perceive to be rightly theirs. This gives the show a bit of authenticity. As different people will always come to different conclusions.

While the character development of the show often surprised me, so too did the narrative. Warrior Nun has a surprising number of twists and turns to its plot. And while I saw some coming, others were a genuine surprise to me. This kept me guessing throughout the shows run time, and thoroughly enhanced my experience.

Perhaps my biggest complaint with Warrior Nun’s story is its ending. It drops its narrative at an extremely inconvenient moment. While intended as a cliffhanger, it’s execution is completely lacking. Rather than hint at a big reveal, or a coming change, the season ends abruptly in the middle of a climactic confrontation. Leaving this scene unfinished feels sloppy at best. Like they wanted a cliffhanger to increase their odds of getting another season but, barring a proper moment to end on for that effect, they simply cut the final scene off.

While the story itself is mostly good, the acting which delivers it is just passable. While I didn’t find any of the actors particularly bad, none ever really stand out either. They deliver their lines with enough skill that the intended emotions are always clear, if not properly emphasized.

The various trappings surrounding Warrior Nun’s characters are executed well. From the tactical gear of the nuns, to high tech equipment, the various props and their designs are convincing in their presentation. Even the occasional CGI demon is done well. While these special effect moments are not the big-budget moments of Hollywood movies they work well within their limited scope.

When all is said and done Warrior Nun delivers a unique adventure experience. While it suffers from predictability and outdated terminology, after all, is said and done it was an enjoyable experience. If it gets renewed for a second season I would be likely to check it out. Though I won’t be signing any petitions if it doesn’t happen.

Warrior Nun is streaming exclusively on Netflix.


Warrior Nun
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done Warrior Nun delivers a unique adventure experience. While it suffers from predictability and outdated terminology, after all, is said and done it was an enjoyable experience. If it gets renewed for a second season I would be likely to check it out. Though I won’t be signing any petitions if it doesn’t happen.