coming of age

[Netflix Review] Warrior Nun Season 1 (2020) ★★★☆☆

Ava holding Divinium in Warrior Nun season 1

Warrior Nun unleashes female empowerment in an epic battle of good versus evil.


Warrior Nun is a supernatural fantasy Netflix Original series that is aimed at a young adult audience. It’s a series with action, kick-ass girl-power and awesome fights, but also about longing for a family and most importantly about female empowerment.

The series starts out slow, building the world of Warrior Nun along with its characters. It sets them all in place for the big twist at the end. The first half of the series especially asks for patience, but once the second half starts, the pace picks up and both the storyline as the characters come together. 

This first season consists of 10 episodes with each a duration of 37-50 minutes. It has a continuous storyline that slowly works towards a big reveal and a great end battle. 


Plot

Ava is an 19 year old orphan and she just died. Because she grew up in the orphanage St Michael, her body is brought to a priest, when a couple of fighting nuns rush in with a dying nun. They are the Order of the Cruciform Sword and the dying nun Shannon is the bearer of the Sacred Halo. But now the Halo has to be placed in the next in line of the Sister Warriors, Lilith. But they are attacked and the Halo is placed in Ava’s body for safekeeping. 

They didn’t expect that the Halo rises her from the dead and she flees. Being paralyzed for 12 years, she now can walk and move her arms and she is enjoying life for the first time. She meets a group of squatters, opportunists and amongst them the handsome JC. 

But the Order needs her, or better said they need the Halo back. Ava has to make a choice, does she want to live a normal life, or does she answer the call. While the Order isn’t sure Ava must be the next Warrior Nun. 

Meanwhile Dr Jillian Salvius is making a portal to another dimension with Divinium, a divine matter derived from a holy artifact, which the Sisters use, and which can kill a Warrior Nun. 

It’s up to Ava to take control of her life for the first time and choose her own destiny. 


Why you should watch it

Warrior Nun starts out rather slowly. It takes its time to build the world, the mythology, to place the characters and to build Ava herself. She’s naive, a coward, not a fighter, knows nothing of the world, but a quick learner and very sassy. By means of a voice over we are listening in on her thoughts, which can be fun but also distracting at the same time, it’s more of a personal taste, if you like this gimmick or not. It definitely sets the tone for her character, but also the tone for the series, that speaks to a teenage and young adult audience.

It has themes that are specifically about coming of age. Like wanting to belong. Having a family that loves and wants you. Finding out who you are, what you want and what you are capable of. The first half of the series focuses on this world-building and Ava who is finally free. And who is now also dealing with her new gained powers. She is indestructible, very strong, heals fast, she can walk through walls, she can levitate and fight like a badass and her Halo that is inserted in her back radiates a powerful light, that has destructive power. 

But it’s all at a cost. The Sisters are after her, some to help her, others to take the Halo away from her. Dr Jillian wants her for her own reasons. And there is something else going on. There’s a secret hidden in the Vatican and it has to do with the Warrior Nun, her origins and the Halo which is past on to worthy bearers, since centuries. 

It’s also about power and patriarchy, loyalty, betrayal, a power struggle and about the ultimate fight between good versus evil, which isn’t always clear. It seems rather simplistic, a nun who wants to take what she thinks is rightfully hers, science versus catholicism, a power hungry scientist, but be prepared to expect the unexpected and a huge twist at the end. 

The structure of the series takes one step at the time. This can be pleasant for some, but a bit tedious for others. The action, the drama, the coming of age and the mystery surrounding the Halo isn’t mixed very well, but also shown one at the time. Especially the first half lacks action. But the fights we do see are greatly executed.

Although we get to see some demon wraiths in the form of red smoke and a big demon a Tarask who can corporealize for a short amount of time in our world, we don’t get to see much of them. In fact the Tarask is supposedly after the Halo, sniffing her out like a bloodhound, but stops along the way, when the story focuses on something else. The writing therefore feels a bit unbalanced, not creating the plot, but depending on what comes in handy next, forgetting even some characters, or storylines. The dialogue feels sometimes a bit cheesy and cliché, which takes down some characters at times, which is a shame. 

The second half is much better, with more action and some humor, while the mystery and storyline unravels in a much faster pace. The reason for this improvement is that finally the Sisters, Beatrice, Camile, Lilith, Shotgun Mary and Father Vincent are working together with Ava, recognizing her as the new Warrior Nun. Then the action and the real storyline can take off. We also learn much more about each character, they all have a troubled past and for a reason they have become kick-ass Sisters, working as a team and a family. 

Then the real fun is about to start, and we and Ava find out that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the Halo and its original bearer, Areala and the Angel Adriel who gave it to her. Only until the end the whole mythology is build, and after the last episode you get the feeling that the real story is yet to begin. The whole first season feels like a setup for the real story. The amazing but totally surprising cliffhanger feels even more like the beginning and one can only hope (or pray, if you will) that there’s going to be a next season. Not only to finish the cliffhanger but to answer a lot of questions too.

The first season of Warrior Nun has spent most of the time developing the story, the mythology behind it and the characters to hopefully kick off a more balanced and faster paced second season. 


My favorite part

The big twist was a great one, although the experienced viewer probably already saw it coming. I didn’t enjoy the first part very much, it was too standard and not written in a fresh or original way for me keep my attention. But when the second half started, the story was so much more fun to watch. The newly formed group, even with two surprising allies, worked really well and felt like the series had just begun. With a title like Warrior Nun, you expect fighting nuns. Only in the second half the series lived up to its name and was very entertaining. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Epic factor: ★★★☆☆

Thrill factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Warrior Nun is based on the Manga comics Warrior Nun Areala by Ben Dunn. The series is created by Simon Barry. It stars Alba Baptista (Ava), Toya Turner (Mary), Lorena Andrea (Lilith), Kristina Tonteri-Young (Beatrice), Olivia Delcán (Camila), Tristan Ulloa (Father Vincent), Sylvia De Fanti (Mother Superion), Thekla Reuten (Dr Jilllian Salvuis) Emilio Sakraya (JC) and Joaquim de Almeida (Cardianl Duretti).

Music: Jeff Russo. Cinematography: Christopher LaVasseur, Imanol Nabea. Production company: Reality Distorted Field. Original network: Netflix.


Check the trailer below


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