Tropes get recycled quite a bit here, but solid performances, reverent writing, and the Spanish backdrop all lend themselves nicely to a series that’s decided to take its time with its characters, mythology, and stakes. It might not be the wisest pace considering Netflix’s more recent track record of canceling shows after three or four seasons, but story-wise, this is definitely a world you want to ease into if Warrior Nun is to be taken seriously.Whereas a super-powered nun named Shannon was the hero in the comics, Shannon serves as the gateway here, on the series, dying almost immediately after her regiment of soldier sisters narrowly escapes an ambush. Her abilities, stemming from an actual halo embedded in her back, are transferred to a new young woman. Enter Ava, already dead from mysterious circumstances. After the hasty transfer of powers, Ava not only finds herself alive (she didn’t really know she’d died – you’ll find out why) but also with the ability to walk again. Ava may now be on the precipice of chaos and danger but it’s still a huge step up from her previous existence as a depressed tetraplegic living in an abusive orphanage. So not only are Ava’s fantastical halo-given powers new to her, but the outside world itself is new to her as well.
This is specifically where Baptista shines. In her first English-speaking role, the actress adeptly handles the snark that comes with a contrarian underdog. Not only that, but she creates a character you want to follow as she constantly resists her new sacred calling. And that’s the biggest hurdle the season overcomes. Ava is so stubborn and so hesitant to join up with the warrior nuns — a sect called the Order of the Cruciform Sword (a group whose name might be an homage to the brotherhood in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) — that she totally has a separate story running for the first half of the season as she bums around with a squad of young, pretty mansion squatters led by Emilio Sakraya’s JC. There’s an unevenness here, in the season, since not only does this band of harmless grifters vanish from the narrative at a certain point, but so does Ava’s voice-over narration. Still, Baptista is able to carry all of this and present Ava as a defiant, but also relatable, newborn.
Warrior Nun: Season 1 Gallery
So what’s at stake here? Is the world in peril? Does Ava need to get her ass in gear, start her training, and prevent an apocalypse? Well, none of it’s actually clear until the final two episodes. And even then, the story drops a cliffhanger on your lap without actually answering most of your questions. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. There are a few twists that land pretty well, though one might not fully hold up upon a rewatch. The main crux of the series is Ava having to decide if she wants to accept the mantle passed down to her while team outlier Mary (Toya Turner) digs into Sister Shannon’s death a bit more, discovering that someone on their team betrayed them, and rival teammate Lilith (Lorena Andrea) grows impatient and seeks the halo for herself.
Parallel to this, Thekla Reuten’s tech mogul Jillian Salvius is using an other-worldly metal called Divinium to open a portal to a world where death and disease don’t exist (Heaven?) while Joaquim de Almeida’s Cardinal Duretti exists to scheme in the shadows, possibly harboring an agenda that conflicts with the OCS. Again, it all culminates nicely, as the season’s story builds competently and features a fun climax in the catacombs under Vatican City. You’re just not going to get all your questions about the show’s mythology answered in time before the final credits roll. Hopefully, it’s satisfying enough to just find out that almost everything you’ve learned up until the finale is wrong, as the series attempts a giant “up is down, black is white” rug pull, but you’re going to need to see more to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, while not breaking any particular mold, Warrior Nun still leaves you wanting more.