Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sister Beatrice is a Dutiful Princess in Crisis in Warrior Nun Season 2

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After Warrior Nun season one aired, Sister Beatrice secured her place as one of The Fandomentals’ greatest examples of the Dutiful Princess trope. As a refresher, the trope refers to a character (of any gender) who wields some sort of power, inherited or unasked for. This power results in a deep sense of duty and the need to be taken seriously. They tend to be bad at communicating feelings and carry internalized guilt. And holy internalized-homophobia-slash-Catholic guilt, Batman, does Beatrice fit this to a tee. 

The first season saw Beatrice struggle with her duty to the Church and the Order of the Cruciform Sword (OCS). In my ‘Sister Beatrice and the Church’ series, I posited that this duty serves as a patch for her internalized homophobia and guilt for being queer, which she was taught was a flaw. Ultimately, her sense of family within the OCS and her fully functional moral compass won out, and she disobeyed Cardinal Duretti’s orders to follow her sisters. 

Once she’d defined direct orders, Beatrice’s pathological need for duty led her to self-appoint herself Ava’s trainer, protector, and mission leader. Ava is her total opposite in many ways; she  wears her heart on her sleeve, instinctively knows to doubt authority, and is the Glorious Dumbass (making them a perfect match). So, of course, she immediately starts picking at Beatrice’s carefully constructed walls and prompts her to open up. By the end of the season, Beatrice is firmly aligned with Ava and determined to protect her — because she’s the halo bearer, right? Right?

GIF of woman saying "Honey, you've got a big storm comin'"
GIF credit: serverdingo on Tenor

Warning: Full spoilers for Warrior Nun season two.

Beatrice in Denial

Season two finds Beatrice’s duty towards Ava officialized by Mother Superion, who’s entrusted her to prepare the halo bearer for the final confrontation against Adriel. The world is increasingly dangerous for them, with Adriel gaining a cult following and closing in on them. Beatrice has to keep Ava and the halo safe and hidden until the OCS is ready to go on the offensive. The biggest obstacle is Ava, who’s desperate to take action and jumps at the chance to help the Samaritans and Miguel (a.k.a. Michael Salvius) “expose” Adriel as a fraud. It’s a bad idea that could jeopardize the mission, so Beatrice… relents. And relents. 

Ava: Ava yes.

Beatrice: Ava no. 

*A few moments later*

Beatrice: Fine. Fine. 

This is how it went, right?

Already, there are cracks in Beatrice’s determination to see this job through. Her feelings for Ava cloud her judgment; she can’t help but be jealous of Miguel and seems incapable of saying “no” to Ava. She follows her into danger, if begrudgingly, which leads to the inevitable outcome of exposing themselves. You can bet your butt Beatrice is beating herself up about all this internally (both the jealousy and the mission endangerment). Because she’s incapable of communicating her feelings — that would involve an admission of feelings in the first place — she explodes at Ava instead. 

Beatrice: You do whatever you want! You let your emotions carry you headfirst into danger, sweeping the rest of us, the rest of the world, up in your wake! 

Rightful callout by Ava and subsequent Beatrice apology aside, Beatrice was never really mad at Ava. No, she’s mad at herself; it isn’t really Ava’s impulsiveness that got them here, but Beatrice’s feelings for Ava. Beatrice agreed to do something she knew full well would put the mission in danger. She should’ve been firmer and kept Ava safe… and that characteristic guilt sets in. 

See, for months, our emotionally stunted ass-kicking nun has been desperately trying to convince herself that the mission is still the most important thing to her. She even externalizes the comforting lie she’s been telling herself to Camila after the team is reunited. Camila doesn’t only call her out on the lie, but she also externalizes Beatrice’s worst fear. 

Beatrice: It’s a misunderstanding. It’s my duty to worry about the Warrior Nun and her safety. There’s nothing more to it than that. 

Camila: There’s no shame in it. It’s easy to fall in love with a Warrior Nun. It’s loving the Warrior Nun that’s the hard part; they’re never yours; they never last.

Camila, destroying Beatrice and the audience in one fell swoop. 

This exchange comes shortly after Beatrice lashes out at Camila for getting distracted and putting the mission (Ava) and everyone (Ava) in danger. More than once, Beatrice can’t say “I’m scared out of my mind because Ava is in danger,” so she lashes out at Ava, Camila, and herself. Outside the hotel, when she thinks Ava is dead (for good) Beatrice lets everyone present see just how scared she is of losing her.

Beatrice rushing to Ava's side in episode 5 of Warrior Nun season 2.
This is the scene that almost did me in, everyone.
GIF credit: avasillva on Tumblr.

She’s been telling herself that her hyper focus, her worry, her closeness to Ava stems from duty. She’s just trying to protect the halo and the mission, and that just happens to be Ava. The truth is what she’s been doing is falling ass-first in love with Ava, who has become her priority — over the halo, over the mission, and over the world. When the plan to stop Adriel’s debut goes terribly wrong, she proves this by throwing herself at Ava to save her life, thwarting what is likely their best chance at defeating Adriel for good. 

Anger, Bargaining, and Depression 

Now, it’s undeniable: Beatrice is willing to watch the world burn to save Ava. So, naturally, she spirals about it real hard. She may be one of the most contained characters ever to character and school her expression as much as she wants, but it’s clear Beatrice is at her breaking point. First, there’s the guilt of putting her personal feelings above the mission, sweeping her team and the rest of the world up in her wake. (See, I think she was saying this about and to herself in the first place). 

Then, there’s the crisis of faith that’s been silently eating at her this whole time, only expressed in small moments here and there. In her worst moment of the season, she lashes out and accidentally implies she wishes she hadn’t saved Ava’s life. 

Beatrice: I let my emotions blind me to the mission.

Beatrice, to Ava (and herself).

Ah, that inability to articulate feelings comes back to bite her in the butt. Again. Beatrice doesn’t mean that, of course. At this point, Beatrice is grasping at straws in a last ditch attempt to persuade herself to be who she’s endeavored to become and is fighting tooth and nail to keep up. But it’s futile: Ava is her priority. That means she can’t go on another mission with her without being blinded by that, which could even put Ava in danger.

Beatrice: Maybe we’re just delaying the inevitable.

Ava: No. The Beatrice I know never stops fighting, never loses hope. 

Beatrice: No, she never did… before. 

It’s important to remember the context of this scene within the plot. They’ve lost the crown, their only reliable weapon against Adriel. The only visible option they have left is Michael’s plan, and trust that Beatrice is not having it.  If the team sits down to decide what to do next… What other choice do they have, at this point? Michael “The Bomb” Salvius will be put on the table, inevitably. Has Beatrice just delayed the inevitable follow-through of Michael’s plan? So, she tells Ava to run.

GIF of Kristina Tonteri-Young as Sister Beatrice.
GIF credit: jennaortegas on Tumblr

The way I see it (and others have pointed out, too), Ava running away while she stays in the OCS is the only way the duty she’s scrambling to uphold can align with her true priority: keeping Ava alive. While she tells Ava that what’s most important should be keeping the halo away from Adriel, she’s pushing the agenda of keeping Ava away from self-sacrifice. Change my mind (you can’t). 

To say this backfires spectacularly would be an understatement. 

Finally, Acceptance

By the final episode, Beatrice finally lets go of the duty that has defined her for so long. She’s helpless to let herself fall into that which she has denied herself — love for Ava and acceptance of herself and her feelings. 

So, when Ava reveals her plan to sacrifice herself, Beatrice goes for broke and tries to put the crown on Ava’s head, risking everything and everyone in a premeditated move. 

Ava: I’m doing this so you can live your life. So live it. Okay?

Beatrice: I won’t. I can’t. 

The way Bea’s voice breaks here sends me— 

Ava also goes for broke; she overpowers and then kisses Beatrice, leaving her shell-shocked for long enough to run into her self-sacrifice. Later, when Ava is mortally wounded, she again offers Beatrice the chance to go back to her path of duty, asking her to take the halo. It’s here that Beatrice makes the final choice. The halo is her duty, but Ava’s more important. I’d also wager this is a significant moment for Ava, seeing Bea choose her over duty, but that’s a thought for another time.

GIF credit: laurasbailey on Tumblr

To top things off, Beatrice chooses to put the hope of Ava living over everything else, including her own feelings. After this, there’s no way she remains in the Church. If being a nun represents Beatrice’s repression and denial, she needs to leave to let go of that and start accepting herself for who she is. 

Beatrice letting go of her vows doesn’t mean she’s no longer a Dutiful Princess. These characteristics are part of who she is, and neither internalized homophobia nor Catholic guilt disappear instantly when you decide to let them go — it’s a process. Plus, her need for purpose is damn-near pathological, in my opinion. I highly doubt Beatrice’s next step is letting her hair down and living her best life, just like that. I also don’t believe for a second she’d move on from Ava that easily. Especially because sending her to the other side was specifically to keep her alive, and thus giving them a chance for more time. 

How exactly Beatrice’s Dutiful Princess-ness will manifest next is anyone’s guess, but I’m willing to bet my right hand it’ll be there. I can only hope Netflix does the right thing and renews Warrior Nun so that we get to see it. I’m holding out hope, and streaming season 2 nonstop! 

Images courtesy of Netflix. 

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