Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Mother Superion Dons Her Crown

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It took me a while to enjoy Mother Superion during the first season of Warrior Nun. She spent a good half of the season as a harsh, strict, angry woman pushing Ava away. She often comes across cold and cruel, and openly expects the Halo to reject Ava. This attitude is centrally motivated by her grief over Shannon and her dedication to keeping the other Sisters safe, but it still places her in something of an antagonistic role to the effortlessly endearing Ava. Superion improves throughout the season, though, and by the time Ava comes across a very much living Adriel, Superion is at her side, protecting her from Sister Crimson.

So, all in all, I came around on Mother Superion by the time the end credits hit. Then season 2 arrived, and Mother Superion took her place among the best of the best. In fact, she might even have been Warrior Nun’s MVP this season.

Mother Superion readies her weapon

How did she manage this? Mainly by stepping into the massively undesirable void left by Shotgun Mary’s death. Arguably the only character who defined Warrior Nun throughout season 1 more than Mary was Ava herself. Mary was a vitally important piece of the show, a wisecracking, mournful, angry, focused heartbeat that was crucial to the story. Toya Turner’s departure from Warrior Nun left the show with big trigger fingers to fill, and was not something they expected to have to fill.

Did I expect Mother Superion of all people to end up stepping into that role? No, but it ended up working wonderfully.

With her skepticism towards Ava gone, season 2 was allowed to focus on the best thing about Mother Superion, which is her unwavering, vicious loyalty towards the OCS. She fully lives up to the name of Mother, and protects her gaggle of Sister children like a lioness protecting her cubs. There is no better example of her inherent tendency to love and protect than the swiftness with which she embraces Yasmine as part of the OCS family. She cares about the Sisters more than anything in the world, which was the whole reason she treated Ava with such scorn in the first season.

Season 2 shows us the origin of this protectiveness during a flashback to the moment when the Halo rejected Superion. She took on a rescue mission alongside Sister Shannon, back when Superion was the Warrior Nun, and her cockiness about her abilities led to the death of one of the hostages she was meant to rescue. The Halo rejected Superion in that moment, and she has seemingly dedicated her life to avoiding that kind of loss again, while making sure those she trains never repeat her mistake.

It is this protectiveness and natural mentoring attitude towards others that makes Superion so endearing. She loves those under her care and would give absolutely anything to make sure they are safe. Mother Superion is basically the gruff dad who argues against getting a pet but loves the pet more than anyone else.

Since the OCS is in shambles basically from the beginning of season 2, Superion also has to step into a more active role. Because of her love for the Sisters, she puts so much effort into keeping the OCS, and those who remain, together in the face of the destruction wrought upon them. This requires Mother Superion to take a more active role than in season 1. She is also on the run from Adriel, and as such spends much of the season on the frontline. She has to face the same dangers everyone else does, which lets her display all the skills which made her a former Halo bearer.

Sometimes this is really cool, such as in her efforts to protect Duretti from the Vatican’s traitors during his conclave. She rather casually fights off the attackers and even leaves a pile of corpses in the shape of a cross (hey, Beatrice had to learn her gun-smoke cross trick from someone). Sometimes it’s funny, most obviously when Mother Superion just casually bites into the penis pastry.

And sometimes it is painful. The most dramatic example of Superion’s increased role in season 2 is, of course, her briefly fatal efforts to protect Jillian Salvus’s Arc from Adriel’s attempts to steal it. This was Superion at her best, being an absolute badass who single-handedly fights off a desperately outnumbered situation, and damn near pulls off a win. Her death is arguably the most emotionally brutal part of the season and it is also Superion’s defining scene, a perfect representation not only of how freaking badass she is, but of everything she is willing to give for what she thinks is right.

If you subscribe to the theory of the Halo containing at least some form of sentience, you could argue that her sacrifice here is the reason the Halo brings her back to life in the next episode. She lost the Halo for her selfishness and cockiness, and perhaps redeemed herself in the Halo’s “mind” by fighting a similar fight for entirely selfless reasons.

Mother Superion talks to Ava

This death and rebirth is just the culmination of a season that sees her take on the burden of a group under siege, keeping them afloat the best she can while she also tries not to tread water herself.

One can easily argue that so much of Mother Superion’s brusqueness in season 1 is her form of grief after Shannon’s death. Someone who loves so hard can mourn equally, and take on a harder edge with everyone else in hopes of avoiding that same hurt. Between Shannon’s death and Duretti’s attempts to mold the OCS to his designs, Superion spent much of the season protecting her heart under the guise of following the Church’s orders, and in attempt to harden herself against the pain of further loss.

Season 2 is what you get when a character like that inevitably loves hard anyways. Season 1 showed audiences a worse side of Mother Superion, but season 2 showed her absolute best. We got to see the love which created such grief and the lengths she will go to for the people and causes she cares about. We see the rich, layered fullness of this woman that inspires others to feel that same love and loyalty towards her.

Warrior Nun has so many good characters, and all of whom could be argued as someone’s favorite character in season 2. For my money, though? It was Mother Superion. And that’s something I never expected going in.

Images Courtesy of Netflix

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  • Bo

    Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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