There’s a Bisexual Romance at the Center of “Warrior Nun” Season 2

Let me say this right up front: Warrior Nun season two is excellent action-adventure TV, with complex and nuanced women leads, and a bisexual love story anchoring the whole thing in place. In fact, I’d say Ava and Beatrice’s relationship is the entire beating heart of the whole season. I devoured all eight episodes, which landed earlier this month. However! As a person who found herself disabled right around the time the first season premiered, my criticisms of the show still stand. The fact that Warrior Nun is rooted in some really damaging ableist storytelling tropes, ones that hurt me personally and deeply at one of the most vulnerable times in my life, means I can’t really relax into the storytelling. I keep hearing the writers call disabled Ava — and me — a “freak.” It’s an extra shame because Warrior Nun is the rare sapphic-led series that Netflix hasn’t yet cancelled.

There’s a lot to love here, though. A whole lot. In fact, everything about season two is better. Better storytelling, better action sequences, better location shots, better dialogue, better villains, and better romance.

Ava peeks around a corner with a sword strapped to her back

Warrior Nun‘s premise is standard fantasy fare: A young woman named Ava finds herself in possession of a magical halo that grants her powers to fight the forces of darkness. Actually, her corpse finds itself in possession of the magical halo; it brings her back to life. The halo belonged to The Order of the Cruciform Sword, a group of nuns who train teenage girls to fight demons. Ava is a pretty great Warrior Nun, actually, but she also kiiind of freed Adriel, a demon-angel who possesses everyone at the Vatican, in the season one finale. Season two kicks off with Ava and her bestie Beatrice on the run. Beatrice is continuing Ava’s training, so she can face down Adriel and break his control over the whole world. Also, they are crushing all over each other and dancing around their feelings constantly. Beatrice confessed that she’s gay to Ava already, in season one, and Ava told her it was no big deal, despite what the Church has been hammering into her head her whole life.

I know it sounds like basically everything you love on the CW and Syfy, and it is a little bit, but Warrior Nun is shot smartly in Spain, and it looks and feels a whole lot more high budget — like HBO high budget — than similar shows. There’s foot races and car chases and castles and dungeons and cobblestones. It’s exciting! The last time I saw two women in love running around picturesque Europe fighting bad guys was season two of Killing Eve. Watching Warrior Nun, you’re transported. (Which is nice, as a disabled person who hasn’t been able to go much of anywhere besides the doctor and the grocery store since the pandemic started. And would be EVEN NICER if the show wasn’t built on telling me I’d be better of dead than needing a mobility aid!!!! Hem hem.)

Ava and Beatrice stand with their arms around each other

There are plenty of supporting characters to get invested in this season, but really it’s all about Ava and Beatrice. There are hints of their feelings throughout the first season, but it becomes clear that it’s genuinely romantic — and not BFF gal pal-ery — this time around. In fact the climax of the season involves love confessions, smooching, and a major spoiler that I won’t give away, except to say: watch the credits. Warrior Nun going gay for real is a welcome relief; queers are absolutely over being strung along with subtext crumbs. The show doesn’t even throw a boy between Ava and Beatrice to try to stop fans from asking for them to be together. (Lookin’ at you, Supergirl!)

Perhaps, most importantly, Warrior Nun — a show about literal nuns, the literal Vatican, each episode titled with a literal Bible verse — drives home the fact that gay love is the kind of love Jesus is always talking about. The kind that comforts, that bears the fruit of joy and strength, the kind that is willing to sacrifice itself, the kind that makes a person a home. Season two ends with Jeremiah 29:13. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” We’re going to need a season three to do that, so let’s hope that title is also a promise, a prophecy.


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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1485 articles for us.

28 Comments

      • I’ll try not to go into full linguistics mode here but yes, if look at definitions a relationship, of course, cannot have a sexual orientation. Neither can it be polyamorous. It’s not a sentient being after all.

        However, when using the word “relationship” in the context of a word referring to a sexual orientation, that basically just means that one of the people involved in the relationship has that sexual orientation so the relationship is the manifestation of that sexual orientation, if you will.

  1. I understand the criticism, but I’m not sure it’s entirely fair. Ava has said on at least two occasions that if she lost the halo, she wouldn’t care about going back to being paralyzed, but about being alone or unable to help her friends:

    Season one, her conversation with Beatrice: “Because if I drain the Halo, I go back to being paralyzed.”
    “That’s what you’re afraid of. Paralysis.”
    “That’s not what scares me. What scares me is being alone. Abandoned in some sickbed with no one to… With no one.”

    Season two, inner monologue as she’s fighting Lilith: “No. Not now. Not here. I don’t care if I go back to being paralyzed, but I can’t let them down.”

    I agree that the “freak” line at the very start of season one was bad, but I took that as Ava internalizing the lies a sadistic nun had been feeding her for almost her entire life — that she was worthless and a burden, that she’d never survive on her own, that she was better off dead (and Sister Frances actually did end up killing Ava before she could turn 18 and leave the system). We, the audience, were never meant to agree with the show’s first villain. And once Ava was out in the world, losing her ability to walk wasn’t of major concern.

    (Ava actually is still paralyzed, too; the halo is constantly powering her, and when she temporarily drains it, she can’t move for a while.)

    • Thank you for this comment. I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a detailed and cordial one! I actually love that you pulled out this dialogue because, honestly, from my own perspective as a disabled person, it’s actually the most painful bit to swallow. It’s like my own insecurities splashed onto a single conversation: that the only way to help the people you love, the only way to be heroic, the only chance for companionship is to be able-bodied. That to be disabled is a life of useless loneliness. That’s the message disabled people hear over and over and over. Compare that to She-Ra’s finale, when Adora hears “You’re worth more than what you can give to other people.” Or the warrior Kotallo in Horizon Forbidden West who loses an arm and goes through a journey of hopeless depression before realizing how he fights isn’t what gives him value as a human being. There’s lots to love about Warrior Nun but the way it handles disability is unfortunately not one of those things. 🧡

      • I did like that Beatrice’s response was, “It wouldn’t matter if you were quadriplegic, festooned with boils, or a talking head in a bag. You would still have us. And we will never leave you.” It helped put Ava’s fears of being unworthy of love as a disabled person to rest. But I understand your concerns with that aspect of the show, for sure. I’m glad you liked the rest of it and I thank you for writing about it, because I think a show with a planned-from-page-one, slow-burn relationship that was handled this well deserves our support, even when it comes with some criticism.

  2. I disagree. To me it felt very appropriate for the character for where she was at at the time. There is a lot of growth around her fear around losing the halo. I certainly did a lot of negative self talk around my own disability as an adult. I think it would be weird for a teenager not to.

  3. I really enjoyed a lot of season 1 but I absolutely love season 2! The love story is everything we’ve ever wanted! And it’s such a gorgeous show full of beautiful locations and awesome women! I’m so upset though how it’s been hung out to dry by Netflix. Almost zero money spent on promotion and now it seems critics are ignoring it too. It has only four reviews on RT which is ridiculous. It disgusts me that a show this impressive and unique can be ignored in favor of yet another show about royalty or whatever. If we want season 3 we have to promote the HELL out of this show right now. Netflix only cares how a show does in the first 28 days. Tell everyone you know to watch it. Don’t put it off or procrastinate!

  4. I put off watching this because of the rooted-in-ableism tropes that are both slightly-to-medium-triggering and one of my biggest pet peeves, but after all the little gays in my phone went bananas over season 2, I started it up. A lot of the treatments of Ava’s disability hurt to see and the nuance that the show brings to other topics (like being a lesbian nun!) seems absent. It really feels like a writer’s room with no disabled voices, although I don’t know if that’s the case, and the lack of lived experience shows

    • Pretty confused; season one has a lot of character development and a fair bit of plot. Many people who are in it for the WLW alone find the first five episodes a little slow, but they really give you a sense of Ava’s character (and a good comparison between her relationship with a guy and her later relationship with Beatrice, really driving home how much more meaningful the latter is). Every other member of the OCS is amazing, too, and if you skip season one, you’ll miss out on Ava forming bonds with each of them. It’s a genuinely good show, so I always recommend people watch the whole thing.

      • Oh, and the Ava/Bea stuff starts fairly early on in season one, with their first “big moment” in episode 8. You wouldn’t want to miss the buildup. This relationship was planned from day one and it shows!

  5. While I absolutely respect your reaction to how Warrior Nun portrays disability, and I know several others who share it, I have to say I’m at least partially in the other camp. I think it could do a better job, for sure, but as someone who is disabled and hasn’t had a pain-free day in over forty years if I could have that halo and live without pain, move freely and kick ass, you would only take it from my cold, dead fingers. Which, of course, is true within the narrative line of the show.
    When I’m having a bad day, I use ableist language to describe myself and sometimes mean it seriously. When I’m having a good day I’ve been known to use ableist language to describe myself and mean it both ironically and as part of a way to reclaim the words. It’s a bit like using Queer. It’s a word I do use, regardless of age, but it was certainly a word that was used as part of the abuse thrown at me, for years for my sexuality.
    I really wish the show was better written; that didn’t make you feel the way it does about being disabled. But, for me, Ava’s desire not to go back to a life that I connect with as one of constant pain, resonates really strongly.

  6. Thank you for writing this and covering Warrior Nun on this site!! I love the show and I REALLY want a season 3 so badly — but I think the criticism of the way Ava’s disability was handled is warranted. I am hopeful that the show runners and writers might do better in the future should we get more seasons. The romance and the action in the show are absolutely top notch, though, and it keeps me coming back – the thoughtfulness that was applied to the Avatrice relationship gives me hope.

  7. Beatrice is a lesbian, their relationship isn’t a bisexual relationship because, well, only ava is bi, both are sapphics and their relationship is sapphic

    btw, i think is a bad look that a queer wlw, sapphic, LESBIAN website apparently has fear to the word lesbian.

  8. As by your definition, Captain America is ableist too btw. Steve Rogers was physically weak and could never have been a soldier, but then he was magically enhanced/cured by a superserom and now has left behind everything that makes a human body crumble and fail, he doesn’t even age. So yeah, let’s boycott all of the Captain America comics and movies as well.

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