The New Pope Popedown is a list of the five craziest and/or most notable things that happened in each episode of HBO’s ‘The New Pope,’ ranked from least to most crazy and/or notable. Like a countdown, but with popes.
5. The pope can have some red bottoms, as a treat
In last week’s episode of The New Pope, during the cold open, before the disco nuns writhed under a pulsing techno cross during the opening credits, the pope had an audience with, I swear this is true, Marilyn Manson. This week, during the cold open, before one of the disco nuns did a damn front flip under the pulsing techno cross, the pope had an audience with Sharon Stone. And buddy, it was a whole thing.
Did Sharon Stone show up without a gift and proceed to remove her shoes to present them to the pontiff? Of course. Was there an extended Basic Instinct riff about her not crossing her legs in front of him? Sure. Was there a bit in there about how Sharon Stone has a 154 IQ, which is a) true, and b) something that appeared to be thrown in just to get people like me to google “Does Sharon Stone have a 154 IQ?” I mean, why not?
What she was really there to do, though, was pitch the pope on the concept of gay marriage. It went poorly. Until it didn’t. Please read on.
Two notes on public appearances the pope made and/or has plans to make:
– He gave a speech at the site of a terrorist attack that left 10 dead. “Speech” is perhaps a strong word. He just said the word “no” over and over, a little louder each time, until he was shouting it and everyone in the crowd started shouting along. It, also, was a whole thing. On his way back from the speech, throngs of Catholics lined the streets of his route and shouted “No! No!” at his popemobile, and they continued shouting “No! No!” as he exited the bulletproof vessel to grab a baby and hold it in the air. This is notable because a) he stole the idea of using children for his message from Sharon Stone, and b) stripped of context, if you see a man holding a baby above his head while a crowd screams “No! No!” over and over, you’d assume that man was going to, like, spike the baby. Which, given the show we’re dealing with here, and the fact that The Young Pope himself once dropped a baby last season, we cannot rule out going forward.
— Pope John plans to give an interview, and in this interview he plans to push to allow priests — gay and straight — to get married as part of his strategy to curb sexual abuse in the church. This brings us to a total of two ideas that the pope stole from Sharon Stone, which is not a collection of words I ever expected to type in that order. The funniest part of this was that when Sharon Stone suggested it to him, he referred to the idea as “attempting to upgrade the Bible like an iPhone,” but when his advisor used the exact same analogy, he reprimanded her for being uncreative. He’s such a dramatic snot sometimes. I love him.
3. Pope Columbo
Pope John took his advisor, Sofia (whose incredibly horny, coke-tooting husband is now in charge of the Vatican finances, which is probably fine), down to the catacombs for some sort of date/chat among the tombs of previous popes, as one does. Their conversation twisted and turned in various directions, with her at one point asking him if he’s gay and him responding “I shall only say that I was a punk when I was young.” Somehow not an answer and still says everything and more.
Anyway, the main purpose of the catacomb visit was to stop by the grave of the most recently deceased pope, the one who first replaced Pope Lenny and who was assassinated by Voiello and his vaping consultant, who we saw again this week vaping inside what appeared to be an empty independent movie theater. Pope John did so because he’s suspicious about this “accidental” death and is looking like a guy who wants to get to the bottom of it. Like someone who wants to investigate a murder.
That’s right, folks: The Pope, as portrayed by John Malkovich, is also Columbo now.
2. The Young Pope lives! Kind Of!
Good news: Pope Lenny is sighing now. As you may recall, he is currently in an (allegedly!) irreversible coma in an ICU room guarded by a large red neon cross, with a crowd of fanatics outside praying for him and being very weird about it. The sighing is new, though, more than the labored, ventilator-dependent breathing he had been doing to that point. People got excited. Very excited. So excited that a radio station canceled all its programming to play a 24/7 live feed of the breathing/sighing, captured with a large microphone outside the hospital, which is probably picking up a million other sounds and throwing the entire concept of HIPAA straight into the toilet.
So there’s that. There’s also this: the episode featured a very long montage of people doing things while Pope Lenny breathed. All sorts of things. Some of which I might have even mentioned here if one of them hadn’t been John Malkovich wailing on a harp in a huge empty room as a dog ran by in slow motion. Here, look.
I can’t be expected to focus while that type of thing is happening. I’m not that strong. I know that now. My personal strength stops somewhere short of remaining focused while John Malkovich wails on a harp in an empty room while a dog runs by in slow motion. I’m okay with that.
1. I do not like the slithering
The gross slithery hellworm — don’t tell me what it is, I don’t want to know — appeared a few times in the episode:
- In a box next to Pope John’s deceased brother’s typewriter, in a flashback
- Crawling out of Pope John’s ornate bedside box, as depicted above
- Slithering across Pope Lenny’s hand as he rested in the ICU, just as he started sighing and making what appeared to be small but important improvements
Here’s what I love about this show: This could be a metaphor or some sort of foreshadowing about Adam’s death or the general concept of life, or there could literally be a 50-year-old hellworm that belonged to the current pope’s dead twin brother and was kept for decades in a bedside box until it escaped and fled the Vatican and slithered through the streets of Rome and into Pope Lenny’s hospital bed. Two equally possible concepts. A nun did a front flip in front of a pulsing neon cross. Anything is possible.