Warrior Nun boss Simon Barry breaks down that game-changing season finale, what could come next
'Warrior Nun' flipped its world upside down in the season finale, so we went to the show's boss to ask all about it.
Warning: This article contains plot details from season 1 of Netflix's Warrior Nun.
The ancient Order of the Cruciform Sword will never be the same.
In the season finale, the mythology, and the world, of Netflix's Warrior Nun were torn apart. Adriel (William Miller) is not an angel that bestowed the power to the first halo bearer, he is actually a demon, and the first Warrior Nun stole his power. The source of The Halo's power is a lie, and so is the belief system and religious order built around it is based on it.
Elsewhere in the finale, Father Vincent (Tristan Ulloa) betrays the sisters, Sister Lilith (Lorena Andrea) starts displaying some demonic-looking powers, young Michael Salvius (Lope Haydn Evans) disappears into a portal in front of his mother's eyes, and Cardinal Francisco Duretti (Joaquim de Almeida) becomes Pope.
The season ends in a perilous cliffhanger for Ava (Alba Baptista) and her sisters after Adriel unleashes his demonic power on the Sister Nuns in the closing moments.
Initially, according to Warrior Nun executive producer and showrunner Simon Barry, there was more to the final scene. "We did originally write a bit more of a resolution to the final scene," Simon shares, but they went with the big cliffhanger ending because it was the more daring choice.
We spoke to Barry about Ava's journey, what comes next for the characters, raising Warrior Nun's stakes, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does the shocking cliffhanger set up a potential second season?
SIMON BARRY: One thing we did in season one was to introduce stakes that were on a level that was much more personal for Ava. Given what's happened at the end of season one and going into a season two, the stakes have increased exponentially for her and are much less personal. We don't want to play it safe because then the show won't ever feel like it's changing and evolving, it'll just be repeating itself, which we don't want to do. If we get a season two, we need to build on what we did in season one and not reproduce it.
When the series begins, Ava is very uninterested in being The Warrior Nun and wants to finally live her life. In the end, she's committed to her Sister Nuns and saving future Warrior Nuns. Where is Ava on her journey of accepting the role by the end of the season?
Her intentions going into the [season one] finale were genuinely to solve two problems. One was her own feelings of inadequacy in taking on this role as a leader and as the halo bearer, which she wasn't and still isn't really accepting. The other being making sure that no one else has to suffer the fate that she'd witnessed [past Warrior Nuns] suffer, like dying young or giving everything up for a potentially false narrative.
In many ways, Ava's journey as it relates to being the Warrior Nun is not resolved. She is doing this to escape from the responsibilities in front of her and the institution built around it. Ava's taking advantage of the powers, she's taking advantage of the camaraderie and the support of her sisters, but the ends really are selfish in a way. Even though they're also altruistic because she is trying to prevent the cycle of violence, she's also trying to escape in her own way. She really hasn't come to terms with that, there's still more story left about her accepting this role and accepting this mythology.
Adriel's revelations about who he is and where the power of the Warrior Nun comes from shakes the foundation of the world within the show. What does this mean for the characters, and Warrior Nun?
We were aware that this would be an earthquake, in essence, not only the betrayal of [Father] Vincent but the idea that their own mythology was potentially built on a lie. Adriel didn't come down to earth from heaven and gift [the power] to the first Warrior Nun. A lot of their belief in their own order was built around that lies, we needed them to reexamine that. The Sister Warriors needed to understand that they were living examples of mythology and that they were conscripted based on this false story. That's a very powerful argument for many things. You could say that about nationalism, the occult, about religion. We wanted to challenge their reality and see how that played out.
Father Vincent's betrayal is a big blow to Ava and the OCS. How does that revelation impact our central heroes moving forward?
That is obviously fertile ground for season two, if we get one. When you have a character like Father Vincent believe in something so strongly, it makes you question the narrative that you've been told. If he believes in Adriel, then maybe there's something there that the others don't know yet that Vincent does. So, we're sort of counting on Vincent's belief in Adriel to keep things fluid and not necessarily black and white.
What does the reveal of Father Vincent's betrayal mean for Cardinal Duretti, who most of the characters thought was conspired against for most of the first season?
Well, it's a great question. I love the idea that the audience is going to see this character, who they despised for all of season one, in such a different way. Now that he's Pope, Duretti is in a position to actually help, and he may not even be aware of what's happened with Adriel. I liked that we could reverse the audience's opinion of Duretti without denying who he is. He is very single-minded, will always look after his own interests.
Revealing that he isn't the one behind all of this allows for the characters, and the audience, to wonder how to deal with Duretti now, and what is actual intentions and priorities are.
We mainly follow Ava's story, but we get glimpses of how massive and fascinating the world of Warrior Nun is. How would you like to explore the world further?
The larger world will have to now come into play in a way if we get to season two. The nature of Adriel's reveal and the scope of what happened after Duretti becomes Pope is something that obviously is a public event. The idea that this event and the Adriel's emergence goes unnoticed by the public simply doesn't make sense. We're going to have to see the impact of it on the world outside of the OCS, and the nuns themselves. Adriel's plans will have to come into focus, and that's obviously something bigger than what would involve just the church.
How does the Salvius family fit into the next chapter of this story?
I think it's a great question, and we definitely wanted Jillian's (Thekla Reuten) investment in this story to continue. One could say that once Adriel emerges, it might be easy to discount Jillian's role in this. Still, by having Michael be connected to it and disappearing the way he did, Jillian obviously has a stake in what happens next in a big, big way. It's a personal thing, and it's also a story about a mother and losing her child. That goes beyond the scientific component of her journey and the technological relationship to our mythology.
Ava and Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young) have this wonderful relationship, one that social media is loving! What was it like developing that dynamic in the first season, and what does the future hold for them?
We established Ava's relationship with JC and her as someone keen to explore romance and sexuality out of the gate. The relationship with Ava and Beatrice was something we could slow down in terms of the story of the season, building a bond between them was more important. We felt that this was a long view relationship that had to be complex, interesting, and grounded in honesty. One that helped Ava express her situation, but also helped Beatrice do the same. We were more interested in teeing up possibilities than exploring an absoluteness.
With Beatrice, we're not trying to hide the fact that she's probably gay, but the idea that her sexuality only exists in relation to Ava is simply not doing Beatrice a service. Beatrice can absolutely bond with Ava and have feelings for her, but we want their story to be about them both. We want to have them be independent and fully formed and have this beautiful connection that we can experience. Hopefully, it enhances everything else that's going on in the show.
While the show could push forward into the fantasy adventure of Warrior Nun, is there a place for characters like Diego and JC moving forward?
Oh, always. In a world like this, you need the rest of the universe to play out the way it normally does. You need a real, grounded world to exist in because our mythology is so out there and so crazy without the counterbalance of something that's familiar, and that's expressed through character. The show could easily become a one-note and very kind of insider, and I don't think anybody wants that. We love the idea that the show straddles two worlds constantly for Ava, and that's the world that she has found herself in with the OCS and the world she wants to be in, to have the normal life she hadn't experienced in her childhood.
How difficult will it be for the Sisters to rebuild the Order of the Cruciform Sword?
The truth about the OCS is definitely the big red herring of season one. Thinking Duretti is trying to dismantle the OCS only to reveal that that's not his intention, and he is actually just protecting his reputation and himself politically. On top of that, the reveal of Adriel and that truth of how their own organization was created. In essence, the mistake that they've made in releasing Adriel. If you take that into consideration, then the OCS is even more imperiled.
The fact that we were able to tease the question of how the OCS exists, or why it would, in this new paradigm is an interesting place to launch a season 2. Can they exist in the way they did before? The answer is they can't. This secret organization has a new mandate because of what happened, has also lost the faith of the Pope – those things made rebuilding harder.
Warrior Nun is available to stream now on Netflix.