The conflict over what to do with Ava, and what to do about the artifact, drives the narrative this first season. Everyone Ava interacts with has a different idea of who she is and who she should be. And everyone wants to tell her how she should behave, and what she should do, especially those who want her to give up the artifact—and presumably her life. More than just never having the chance to explore the world outside of the orphanage, Ava was living with quadriplegia . Now, Ava is exploring her place in the world, and firmly deciding those things for herself. Other sisters are forced to examine their place in the OCS, and in the larger fight against evil. Power is critiqued, and where the comic treats the Christian church as a definitive force for Good, the show leaves some ambiguity for the characters, and the audience to explore.
The show employs voice-over narration for Ava, heavily in the first half of the season, and less so as the season progresses. This makes sense for a character who, until she revives, has spent the bulk of her life in a forced introspective state due to the isolated nature of her upbringing and the fact that her caretakers were abusive and treated her disability like a death sentence. But a choice that makes sense doesn’t equate to it being necessary, or good. The narration was distracting at times. The audience learns nothing that couldn’t be gleaned from the actor’s performance. The narration does serve a function, we get to know Ava’s personality and gain insight on her decision making process, but the inner monologue gets in the way more often than not. It feels like the producers don’t trust the actor or the audience, which is a shame, because Baptista is an expressive performer.
Warrior Nun feels like a queer story, but it’s surprisingly heteronormative, which is… disappointing. There are queer characters, but that is not a part of their characterizations, though that seems likely to change in the potential second season. Alluding to a character’s orientation isn’t enough, and with a show focused so heavily on women and subversion of expectations (they’re nuns who fight!) keeping queer stories in the background is a disservice to the audience and the characters.
This season is somewhat light on action. Part of the appeal of this show is watching warrior women do warrior things, and there’s not quite enough fighting happening over the course of these ten episodes. Ava, by design, is not much of a fighter and mostly just reacts, which is apt—she just regained mobility. But Mary, Lilith, and the rest of the sect have been training for years, so hand-to-hand is in their repertoire and could be on display more frequently. That said, the conservative action feels deliberate. The OCS isn’t up against demons, it’s up against Ava, in essence. Their fight is one of wills.