“Warrior Nun” on Netflix fails to impress

The wacky action-drama series is entertaining at times but can’t overcome its dull plot

Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Warrior Nun” debuted on Netflix this summer and is scheduled to release season 2 at the end of 2021 or early 2022.

Hunter Minne, Editor-in-Chief

“Warrior Nun” is a 10-episode Netflix series released this summer about a sect of the Catholic Church called the Order of the Cruciform Sword that fights demons and “stuff.” And, as you can probably guess, this sect is comprised of a bunch of warrior (say it with me now) nuns, that use everything from shotguns to shurikens when fighting demons and stuff.

One of the lead characters is a girl named Ava, who is not a nun, but happens to become the main protagonist after she gets a halo stuck in her back. Ava and her “friends” the ninja-nuns go on fun adventures around Spain together, and they all learn important life lessons along the way.

The show’s greatest strength is when it embraces it’s warrior side and just feels like a tough action movie. The fight choreography is intense and captivating, and it does a great job of selling how awesome the warrior nuns can be. At times the main characters are straight-up action stars who slow-motion walk down hallways, and that is definitely when the show is the most fun to watch. The costumes and different armor pieces used throughout the show also have a very cool aesthetic that contributes to the overall intimidating factor of the nuns. 

The entertaining action scenes shouldn’t be a surprise because, let’s be honest, there are certain expectations you have when you start a show called “Warrior Nun.” With a name like there’s bound to be a certain degree of absurdness, but in a fun way.

If you went to see a “Sharknado” movie in theatres (which is ridiculous in and of itself) and all you got was a reef shark chilling in a kiddie pool, you would be disappointed, and rightly so! “Sharknado” is a fantastically goofy name and it’s a fantastically goofy movie. “Warrior Nun” is similar, and the expectation is something ridiculously awesome in a way that embraces that absurdity and makes it something great.

Unfortunately, though, “Warrior Nun” deviates too much from its greatest strength, and instead we’re left with a series about teen angst with nuns fighting demons on the side

In my opinion, the show is at its best when the warrior nuns are on full display and not riding shotgun to the drama. As soon as the show takes a step back from it’s main draw, the awesome warrior nuns, it starts to dull. “Warrior Nun” spends almost all of the first eight episodes doing nothing but setting up plot and exposition, with actual events happening few and far between.

While this did lead to a little extra anticipation going into the finale, it also made those first eight episodes a bit of a drudge, and then the finale was just a pure 20 minutes of twists that cried out to the viewer, “Oh remember all that exposition we made you sit through? Just kidding that’s all wrong. Ha ha.” Instead of feeling excited and filled with anticipation for the next season, I felt tired at the end of “Warrior Nun” because of its slow pace that came with very little emotional reward.

My next gripe is with the main character, Ava. At times “Warrior Nun” had some plots that were genuinely interesting (albeit sometimes touchy) that could have been explored further but weren’t, which stinks because these storylines had real potential to be a focal point of the show. Before the events of “Warrior Nun,” protagonist Ava had spent her entire life as a quadriplegic in an orphanage run by an abusive Catholic nun. This is used as the reason why Ava is so apprehensive about becoming a warrior nun, and later it is used as a personal obstacle for her when she returns, but that is all that comes from this extremely traumatic origin.

In the span of two days she went from spending her entire life in the same bed to being able to run on the beach, yet there is never any exploration into her new lease on life, just her prancing along the shore. It was missed opportunities like this with a (possibly) genuinely interesting character that made Ava’s actual plot line so frustrating.

The overall focus on Ava was largely uninteresting and took up so much more time than anything having to do with the main storyline or our favorite nuns. For the majority of the first five episodes, we follow Ava as she hangs out with a small group of squatters in empty beach houses and their leader JC, who Ava is just so enthralled with. Yay. Their “relationship” boils down to, “omg cute boy!” which is the most cliché narration ever, and it’s just hard to watch sometimes.

The inner monologue Ava has throughout the series also isn’t great, but during any scene with this group of squatters (and especially JC) it just devolves into copy and pasted dialogue from any basic 80’s high school drama. While you are watching these scenes you can almost guess what she’s going to think; it’s just so corny. And then after five episodes all of those characters are just dropped, never to be seen again.

Another storyline “Warrior Nun” attempted briefly to explore was the integrity of the Catholic Church as a whole. In addition to actual demons, the Church was one of the main antagonists of the series, which was an interesting plotline a albeit sensitive one. The question of religion vs. science was briefly entertained before being forgotten, and at one point the show claimed the Church was keeping a source of demonic evil of its own in order to drive people to faith.

In terms of storylines, maybe these were more examples of missed opportunities of actually engaging plots, but in the real world the Catholic Church has actual leaders and followers whose church was used as a plot device.

Chaplain Fr. Rey Pineda thought the premise of “Warrior Nun” was clever and interesting, relating it to stories of religious warriors like monks and saints who battled against evils in monasteries and around the world. However he feels it becomes less appropriate once the drama and romance take over for the sake of TV.

“I don’t approve of it,” he said. “I think I can appreciate the intrigue that they may have, with something as mystical as a church and as historical as a church.”

He believes that it is a good idea for the Catholic Church to be involved in culture like this, just in a more accurate way.

“I think the Church should be involved in dialogue with society and media, but I think it has to be done well,” Fr. Rey said, though he added he still thinks he could watch the series and “see how it plays out.”

“Warrior Nun” is carried by its solid performances, epic action sequences, and it’s dark aesthetic. It’s hurt by it’s wasted time on dull plots that leave little room for the glimpses of genuinely interesting storylines that could have been, which is a missed opportunity. I have no doubt this series will find its audience and that it can be enjoyed, but because of the slow build to an unsatisfactory plot I find myself more frustrated than entertained while watching.