Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Glorious Dumbass Ascends

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If you’ve been around the Fandomentals enough you’ve heard of the Dutiful Princess. Now, we have the other side of the coin to the Dutiful Princess, the Glorious Dumbass. Where the Princess lives by order, is deeply steeped with a sense of obligation and is usually hardest on themselves, the Glorious Dumbass turns all of that on its head. They’re a walking chaos bomb that’s a beacon for trouble. They tend to throw-out anyone else’s standards out the window and set their own. When the world is against them, tearing down their worth, they’re the ones to pick themselves up because they’re a goddamn delight and they know it.

The wonderful dumbass who spawned this idea is none other than Ava Silva of Warrior Nun. Ava, alone in the world and formerly dead, finds herself with an angel’s halo in her back. The halo gives her powers, allows her to walk where she’d previously been rendered quadriplegic and brings her back to life. It also puts a literal target on her back, putting her on a collision course with a sect of highly trained killer nuns sprouting lines likes ‘you’ve been blessed with purpose’ at her. 

But before we get to her escapades with the nuns, let’s look at Ava herself. A tragic accident robs Ava of her mother and her mobility at seven, stranding her in a foreign country in the care of an orphanage. The woman meant to be taking care of her is nothing short of a self-righteous murderer (which is how Ava ends up dead in first place).

Those years of abuse gave Ava a skewed expectation from others, constantly second-guessing anyone’s good intentions. In spite of those years or maybe because of it, Ava forged sharp wit and a love of awful puns. A life spent bedridden left Ava yearning to see the world. So when she wakes from death, able to walk what’s the first thing she does? Anything and everything she wants too.

For the first time in her life she’s able to choose the direction she goes, literally and metaphorical. She walks, dances and runs. She tastes beer for the first time. She explores the city with all the wide wonder of someone seeing the world for the first time. She falls in feelings with the first guy to treat her like a person (helped by the fact he saved her from her own dumbassery when she jumped into a pool not knowing how to swim). She’s just a young woman who’s never had the chance to live. All she wants is to taste as much life as she can.

Ava Silva smiling at her reflection.
She finally gets the chance to see herself.

It’s achingly clear how lonely Ava is, even before she has to vocalize her fears. Everything she knew was ripped away from her in an instant. So it’s no wonder she becomes quickly attached to the first friends she makes. It doesn’t hurt they’re all charismatic, stylish wayfarers who bounce from city to city, ‘borrowing’ empty vacation houses to use as their personal hotels, picking pockets and scamming their way into A-list parties. It’s the kind of life a girl who spent years confined to a bed could have only dreamed of.

The Glorious Dumbass Gains Responsibilities

Unfortunately for Ava she’s the protagonist of a fantasy drama which means it’s only so long before the plot comes knocking, dragging the conflict with it. Doubly unfortunate that the conflict happens to look like this.

A demon in possession of someone.

Demons. They seek out ill will and corruption, latching onto people pushing and influencing them to further darkness. As the new halo bearer, Ava’s the only one who can see them. Its why those of the Order of the Cruciform Sword need her. They’re dedicated to expelling these demons from the world and need the halo barer, the Warrior Nun, as their leader to do it.

But none of the Order seems to understand that unlike the sister warriors, who each have their own connections to the Order and Church, Ava is the last person who’d want anything to do with it. That aforementioned caretaker who killed Ava, her name is Sister Frances. The orphanage Ava grew up in was run by the church. They treated her as a burden and called her ungrateful when she could barely lift a finger for herself. Her entire experience with the church was one of abuse. Her kidnapping by the OCS combined with their cold treatment of her did no favours to change Ava’s mind. They see her as the latest entry in a long line of powerful women. All Ava sees is a list of women who gave their lives for a cause she isn’t part of.

So Ava runs. Rather skilfully too, managing to evade Mary and Lilith, two of the Order’s best. Even with the resources the OCS has on hand and Mary and Lilith’s cunning, Ava’s able to outwit them, for a time. Ava may be a walking chaos magnet, but she has her moments of genius. 

Ava, flipping the bird with a shiteating grin.
And her moments of cocky triumph.

But things happen (things here meaning Lilith gets skewed by Carl the Tarask while trying to save Ava, moments after she tried to carve the Halo out of her back) and as tends to happen in life-threatening situations, Ava’s mindset begins to shift. She and Mary help each other, but not before Ava manages to annoy Mary enough to get kicked off a cliff. They come to understand each other better. Ava understands that the Order or at least some in the Order like Mary want to help people. People who’ve been plagued by evil and lost control of themselves. People, who may have a very different ailment to Ava, but ultimately share the feeling of being powerless in your own body.

Then Ava sees a demon. It’s her first real fight against one. She doesn’t know how to control the halo and her combat training surmounts to one session. Mary, choosing to use this as a teaching moment hangs back giving advice but leaving the fight to her. Improvising Ava grabs the nearest things she can use as a weapon and processes to beat the demon out of someone with a whole chicken and a rack of ribs. It’s glorious to behold. And very messy.

Ava about to use a rack of ribs to knock the demon out of someone.
Slabs of meat, good offensively and defensively.

It still takes her some time to return to the sisters. The nuns, Father Vincent, their faith in Ava is thin from the start. But Ava never doubts herself for long which is both one of best qualities and a reason she’s a Glorious Dumbass. Despite the refusal of some to accept her as the halo bearer she never apologises for something that was pushed onto her. Regardless of Father Vincent’s insidious insistence that she should happily take on the crusade of the OCS because she was chosen by the halo, she never blindly takes up their cause. She learns about it on her own terms before choosing to return.  

But she does return because she cares. Maybe not so much about Order but about people. Mary was the first one to understand that Ava needed to be given the choice to help and sure enough the others come to realize the same. Beatrice is the one who gains a glimpse into the deeper ‘why’ behind her return. It comes back to that lonely girl who had too much ripped away from her too quickly. She was alone for so long, treated like a burden, and she doesn’t want to go back to that. She can’t.

The root of her fear is she’ll be abandoned. That, if she fails to master’s the halo’s power or if she loses it, the others will see the quadriplegic state she’s left in as too much of a burden like Sister Francis did.   

As Ava comes to realize, she won’t be left alone because one of the qualities of the Glorious Dumbass is the ability to draw people to them. Albeit with gratuitous eye rolls, but before anyone has realized it, the Glorious Dumbass has wormed their way into their hearts. For Ava, those people are Mary, Beatrice, Camila, and Lilith. The kind of friends who want to shoot her for her terrible puns, and the kind of friends who’d blow up the Vatican for her.

Ava flanked by Camila, Mary, Lilith and Beatrice.
The kind of friends who’ll back you up in the badass group shots.

Ava is chaos in the shape of a person and that’s only the beginning of her charm. Deeply flawed and scarred by her past, yet that only makes her want harder and love stronger. Ava Silva, Glorious Dumbass, is the beating heart and sarcastic soul at the centre of Warrior Nun and her delightfully chaotic journey has only begun. Here’s to more harebrained plans, more emotional baggage to fail to avoid, and of course to more wonderfully awful puns with her return in season 2.

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!

Images courtesy of Netflix, featured image capped by youaremysunshine.

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