Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Brien Allen checks out Warrior Nun on Netflix and John Bernardy recommends the 99% Invisible podcast.
Netflix’s Warrior Nun
Brien: A week ago someone mentioned in a comment that Continuum show runner Simon Barry had a new series out on Netflix called Warrior Nun. My wife and I liked Continuum a lot (time travel shows are hard, and this was one of the rare ones that tried to do it right), and my initial mental hit on the title was the Romulan warrior nuns of Star Trek: Picard earlier this year. I just happened to be looking for something new to watch, so I went digging.
Turns out this show is based on a comic. Not Warrior Nun, but Warrior Nun Areala. I even remember seeing it on the shelf at the comic book store back in the mid-1990s, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth to add another title at the time. Frankly, the cover images of a bodily disproportionate, scantily clad nun—think Lara Croft in a habit—was kind of weird and didn’t appeal. The 1990s were not exactly a progressive time for female superheroes in comics.
Nowadays though, this genre is my jam. Ever since reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, I’ve just been fascinated with books, movies and TV series that explore angels, fallen and otherwise, as real world characters. The golden age of television has brought us a host of these shows recently, like The OA, Good Omens, Lucifer, and Preacher—the latter two also making the leap from comic book to small screen. Promising so far.
The series is not a direct adaptation of the comic books, but rather is a continuation of sorts, though perhaps in a parallel universe. The comics establish the common background in which Areala (of the original comic book title) was a warrior nun in the original Crusades. When she is struck down in battle, an observing angel is so moved that he gives up his halo to heal her. It is fused into her back, giving her supernatural abilities to see and fight demons. That halo has been passed down through ages to a succession of nuns in the Order of the Cruciform Sword.
Sister Shannon Masters, the lead character of the comics, makes a brief appearance, dying at the beginning of the series. In the heat of battle, the halo is temporarily hidden in the dead body of 19-year old Ava Silva (played by newcomer Alba Baptista), a paraplegic who died under potentially suspicious circumstances at a Catholic orphanage. The halo revives and heals Ava, sending her on a journey of self-discovery as both an inexperienced teenager and a “chosen one” destined to battle the very real forces of Evil.
The parallels to Buffy the Vampire Slayer are obvious, though this time the Scooby gang are all female, with Father Vincent (Tristán Ulloa) serving as their “Giles.” In multiple interviews, Simon Barry has declared that their sisterhood and themes of women supporting women were the driving influence in the writer’s room.
The series, consisting of 10 episodes, dropped on July 2 on Netflix. It’s received middling reviews, hovering at 73% critic/75% audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.9/10 on IMDb. I’m only two episodes in as of the time of writing, but I’m already liking the characters and the world building here. I definitely plan to watch the entirety and recommend you check it out as well.