Warrior Nun follows a well-trodden path of action-adventure dramas mixed with religious and occult themes. While the female protagonist and her magical powers might remind you of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Warrior Nun is a very Catholic version of Buffy- The Vampire Slayer.
It is a silly fantasy adventure with a female lead battling demons that portrays the Catholic Church as the good guys. Even then, through Ava, they question the controversy and abuse that goes on inside Church institutions, which becomes the central conflict of the show.
1. Quick Review
The conflict that the protagonist Ava goes through as her trauma gets in the way of her duty is the best feature of the show.
The show suffers because its explosive start doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the coming of age story we are fed in the next four episodes. Mildly entertaining and unevenly paced, the show is a mediocre offering.
The pacing is a problem, and the visuals are another. Shot in dimly-lit crypts with a grey-green color scheme, the show doesn’t pop and is not a visual treat. Although it has lots of blazing guns and swinging knives, the script is weak and monotonous, and the series is average at best.
2. Is It Worth Watching?
The Netflix original series is based on the manga-style comic book by Ben Dunn titled Warrior Nun Areala.
The title urges you not to take the show too seriously, and if you’re looking to enjoy it, I would suggest you lean into the show’s silliness. The cast keeps the show alive, buoying a weak script and turning in strong performances.
The show opens with Ava, dying in an orphanage in Andalusia, Spain. She has been raised in that Catholic orphanage ever since her mother died in a car crash, which left Ava paralyzed. Unable to walk and confined to her bed, she has known nothing about the world outside the walls of the orphanage.
The doors of the morgue burst open as a bloody and savage battle between Nuns and evil spirits arrive at their doorstep. The nuns belong to the Order of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society fighting against evil spirits on Earth. Their leader Shannon is wounded and desperate to hide her Halo, a relic which is the source of her power, from falling into the hands of the enemy.
She thrusts the Halo under Ava’s body, but the Halo brings her back from the dead. She finds herself completely healed and able to walk freely. Unable to believe that she is finally independent, she runs out of the orphanage with the Halo embedded on her back.
The next episodes follow Ava discovering the joys of teenage life. She takes walks along the beach and is entirely care-free and living in bliss. Her looks catch the eye of JC, a drifter who squats in European mansions throughout the summer. With JC, Ava learns how to flirt, fall in love, and live the quintessential life of a 19-year old.
Soon, the Order tracks her down and informs her that it’s her destiny to fight the evil forces as God’s champion. Ava, who has suffered abuse and lived in horrible conditions inside the orphanage, is opposed to the idea of serving the institution that traumatized her. A conflicted Ava accepts the burden that has fallen on her and trains in martial arts and weaponry to become the Warrior Nun.’
II. Cast & Performances
Alba Baptista is the new talent that does a fantastic job as Ava. The Spanish actress nails her American accent, and the initial moments of freedom she enjoys are pure and heart-warming.
They also highlight the deplorable conditions under which Ava lived and her relief and excitement at finally being free.
She is unwilling to be a Champion of the institution that participated in her abuse. The show uses this to offer social commentary about the many controversies surrounding the Catholic Church and children in their care.
Veteran actors Tristan Ulloa and Toya Turner turn in splendid performances as supporting Church figures. Ulloa plays Father Vincent, who counsels Ava into shouldering her responsibilities. Turner is the most fun to watch as Shotgun Mary, a badass nun of the Order.
III. Visuals & Writing
The writing is clunky, and the uneven pace of the show detracts focus from the storyline. After the initial sequence, the show follows Ava and JC as they fall in love and roam around the Spanish countryside. The conflict between Good and Evil is pushed into the background as the show takes a coming-of-age path.
Long speeches about faith and God in dimly-lit rooms feel monotonous and lack the charm to make the viewer hooked on the mythology. The green aura surrounding Ava when she uses her Halo also doesn’t blend with the color schemes.
3. Final Thoughts
Warrior Nun delivers on the acting front but suffers because of its weak writing. The plot isn’t exciting enough, and the action sequences won’t make you sit up and take notice.
It’s easy to follow and has the potential to grow into something big if they manage to include deeper, multi-layered plots in the future.