Through Ava and Beatrice’s Love Story, Warrior Nun Finally Delivers Sapphic CatharsisPhoto Courtesy of Netflix TV Features Warrior Nun
During what has been a tumultuous year for queer audiences, it’s nice to finally get a win. In the newly released second season of Netflix’s Warrior Nun, fans’ dreams have finally come true with the events of Season 2’s finale, “Jeremiah 29:13.” Ava (Alba Baptista) and Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young) are in love, and have canonically cemented their relationship with a kiss.
In the episode, Ava makes the decision to sacrifice herself for the greater good, as she believes is the Warrior Nun’s duty. Despite Beatrice’s protesting, Ava’s mind is made up, but she doesn’t leave without kissing Beatrice for the first time. After a tender forehead kiss and a heartfelt goodbye, Ava phases through the floor to find the stolen Arc. Later in the episode (after fighting an entire army of crazed zealots), Beatrice finds Ava mortally wounded, and is forced to send her through the portal to the Other Side to heal from her fatal wounds. Ava’s last words are her love confession to Beatrice, who responds after Ava has already passed through.
While this may seem like a run-of-the-mill revelation (especially after Season 1’s subtle teases), sapphic viewers recognize Ava and Beatrice’s canon-status as a specific type of vindication, one that offers a hopeful first step in making up for years of being burned by shows past. Those burns have come in various forms over the years, but most notably in the form of queerbait, which can be defined as a method of television writing that leaves a relationship between two characters of the same sex constantly floating in the grey area between an actual canonical couple and just a good pair of friends. The motivation behind these unclear dynamics is to string queer viewers along, while still maintaining an air of plausible deniability for their straight audiences.
These situations often contain greatest hits like: two female characters declaring their undying devotion to one another before promptly calling each other their “sister” or “best friend” (like Hope and Josie in Legacies); a male character stepping in to be the buffer between two female characters, while still continuing the deep relationship between the women (like James Olsen becoming Lena Luthor’s boyfriend in Supergirl’s third season); or an undercurrent of a much deeper relationship that continually gets brushed off by the show’s established canon (like the dynamic between Dean and Castiel on Supernatural).
Warrior Nun’s second season actually hits all the classics listed above: Ava and Beatrice constantly refer to themselves as “best friends” and “sisters” throughout the season, find a man placed in the middle of their dynamic through Michael’s reintroduction, and share many weighted moments throughout Season 2. The difference comes from the show’s commitment to this relationship, allowing all of those once-baity moments to be recontextualized as not just a figment of queer fans’ imaginations, but part of the show’s canonical text. Through the centering of Ava and Beatrice’s relationship as one of the core conflicts (especially as they dance around one another, share in feelings of jealousy, and prioritize each other over the mission), Warrior Nun cemented its commitment to its queer characters—and its queer audience—before they ever lock lips.
In particular, Beatrice’s journey of discovering her love for Ava, especially shown through the lens of her own struggle with self-hatred and duty, shines during Season 2. One example is the perfect call-back to Beatrice’s emotional coming out scene from Season 1, Episode 8 that comes in Season 2’s fourth episode. In her original coming out scene, Beatrice admits her struggles with self-loathing and her religious identity. Ava responds, “Don’t hate what you are. What you are is beautiful.” In Season 2, Beatrice hallucinates an evil version of Ava while wandering through Adriel’s fear-inducing fog—a version that smirks at her and screams, “I know what you are.” In that scene, Warrior Nun uses Beatrice’s own fears and reservations about her deep feelings for Ava to elevate the horrors of series villain Adriel’s influence, while also furthering the dynamic relationship between the two women.
Of course, Beatrice’s story is not the only one involved in the pairing, as Ava’s journey of realization and acceptance shines brightly as well. Towards the end of the season, Ava’s love for Beatrice and desire to be with her is outweighed by her need to protect her, resulting in the acceptance of her own self-sacrifice in order to save Beatrice—and the rest of the world. In that way, the kiss between Ava and Beatrice is Ava’s reward to herself, her one moment of selfishness before she gives her life to save a world that never truly cared about her. And her final declaration of love becomes her bitter goodbye (though with a promise that she will see Beatrice again soon, as the post-credit scene implied).
In Warrior Nun, the series’ heaviest lore (which includes the introduction of an alternative to heaven and hell in the Other Side, as well as a god-like figure in the mysterious Reya) is anchored to the complex relationship between Ava and Beatrice. As evidenced above, Beatrice’s relationship with religion is intrinsically tied to her feelings for Ava, and Ava’s sense of duty and devotion is tethered directly to her love of Beatrice. When the lore of the series becomes overwhelming, the audience can rely on the consistency of the relationship between these two women as the emotional touchstone, allowing its audience to understand the central characters’ motivation more than the complex science behind its examination of religion—following in the footsteps of shows like Lucifer, whose straight couples’ “will they, won’t they” dynamics ground the more fantastical elements of the series.
So when Warrior Nun, in the final moments of Episode 8, sends Ava to the Other Side to heal from her fatal wounds while whispering her love confession to Beatrice, it feels simply like the natural progression of the story, rather than a slap in the face—unlike when Supernatural, a series long-accused of queerbaiting, played out a nearly identical story in their 2020 series finale. After expressing his love for Dean, Castiel sacrificed his own life, being sent to what fans have dubbed “Super Hell” after experiencing true happiness through his confession. The important difference between Warrior Nun’s heartbreaking scene and Supernatural’s stems from the former’s commitment to their queer characters and the later’s history of mistreatment.
Warrior Nun’s ending could have been just as harmful as Supernatural’s “gay love confession sends a character straight to hell” blunder, but it instead feels like a moment of true trust between the creators and the audience, an unspoken agreement solidified through Ava and Beatrice’s season-long storylines.
Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Much like in the titular verse from this season’s finale, queer viewers have sought after a series that could heal the wounds inflicted by shows that came before, and Warrior Nun has answered that call. LGBTQ viewers have spent so long begging for better from the industry at large, and in the darkest hour for sapphic representation in recent memory, Warrior Nun feels like a balm. Mirrored by Beatrice and Ava’s love for one another, there is a palpable love from this show to its audience, one that elevates it far and above its peers as a messiah, delivering us from queerbait and heartbreak.
Anna Govert is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Indiana. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert—if Twitter still exists.
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