Today, Pariah Nexus was released on the Warhammer+ streaming service. It seems to be about the Adepta Sororitas (or at least one of them, anyway) and the Necrons, so I've been excited about the series since it was teased months ago. I enjoyed the first episode, and this is my review of it, arbitrarily broken into a list mostly to keep myself from rambling. This is free of major spoilers (partly because it's the first episode and there really aren't many spoilers to be had yet), but if you want total surprise then watch the episode first.
The episode is mostly set on a wartorn world. It's been utterly decimated by a battle between the Astartes with the support of the Astra Militarum, and (presumably) the Necrons. It's the very picture of a Warhammer gaming table. If the site of the pretend ruins of civilzation makes your heart flutter with post-apocalyptic delight, then the setting of this episode is exactly what you're looking for.
Better yet, the only two survivors appear to be a solitary battle sister and an Astra Militarum soldier. They happen to meet outside a ruined cathedral, after the battle sister has been uttering prayers to the Emperor. The soldier, it seems, isn't a exactly a true believer, at least not any more if ever she was.
That's the plot of the initial episode, in fact. A debate between blind faith and pragmatic humanism. It's a shrine world, you see, so the battle sister fully believes that saving it is worth any price. The soldier doesn't see it that way.
It's early yet, but so far the Necrons we do see are the least interesting characters. They're the baddies, and they kind of come across as generic evil xenos, which to be fair is kind of what they are. The Necrons have a fascinating backstory and culture, and maybe some of that will come through in later episodes, but so far they basically say mean things and look cool.
To add gravity, I imagine, there's a convention of naming each "chapter" within the episode. There are something like 8 or 9 chapters, and the episode is only 22 minutes long, so it seems pretty silly. The first "chapter" lasts all of 30 seconds. It sort of works as pacing, but after the fourth or fifth chapter title, you just kind of want them to get on with the story. Nice try, though, and I respect what they were going for.
The final shot of this episode is, to put it bluntly,highly effective. I won't spoil it, but it does Warhammer very well.
The modeling and texturing and lighting is great. The animation, however, struggles. Sadly, 3d humans are still really hard to animate, and like Angels of Death Origins, this series appears to be structured around human characters, and I think it's going to suffer a little for that. The Necrons are perfect, and I think it helps that all the humans are dressed in big bulky armour of one kind or another. But you still detect that telltale awkwardness in movement and facial expressions.
Luckily, everything is so darned good (the voice acting especially) that it's easy to overlook the tiny flaws in animation.
I'm excited for a whole series about the Adepta Sororitas. They're a particularly compelling faction within the Warhammer setting, largely because they're the epitome of zealotry. Yeah, the Space Marines are dedicated to what they do, but they're not really human first of all and second of all they're not a religious faction. Adepta Sororitas is, like the Cult Mechanicum, is primarily religious, but unlike the Cult of Mars, the sisters are devoted wholly to the Emperor. They don't blur the line between the Emperor and the Omnissiah, they flat out believe the Emperor is God and that they are his spiritual daughters. With that belief comes the conviction that symbolism is, in a way, tangible. Shrines are worth dying for, beliefs are worth fighting for.
It's scary, if you think about it in real world terms, but in the fiction of Warhammer they're sort of the goodies. It's all relative in Warhammer, so they could easily by cast, or interpreted by the viewer, as the baddies, but so far the sisters have mostly been portrayed as dutiful and loyal and humble. This is in part what makes them simultaneously terrifying and appealing. They're Lawful Good, unwavering and true, but "Lawful Good" in this case is defined as total annihilation.
This was a good start. I'm eager see episode 2.
All images in this post copyright Games Workshop.