When we last checked in with The New Pope, the sequel series to The Young Pope that debuts early next year and ask the important question “but what if John Malkovich, too?,” Jude Law was strolling down the beach in a Speedo to the delight of many beach-ball-bouncing women and also, apparently, the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ himself, who become so overwhelmed by the sight of the prominent papal banana hammock that she fainted onto the sand as he walked by.
This was, it should be noted, the very first teaser for the upcoming series. The first promotional material any of us saw for The New Pope was Jude Law sauntering around in a Speedo and ladies swooning themselves unconscious about it. It was so perfect that it made me feel stupid for thinking there was nowhere to go after The Young Pope’s very specific depiction of madness and beauty and kangaroo murder. I hadn’t even considered the Speedo. Idiot!
Either way, praise the heavens, there’s more.
Look at that. An actual trailer with actual footage from the actual upcoming series. The whole 78 seconds is worth a look because it provides some insight into Malkovich’s character and elaborates a bit on the whole “Malkovich takes over because Jude Law’s character is in a coma but then he wakes up and we have a papal power struggle” plot that creator Paolo Sorrentino laid out in an early summarization of the action. It is also worth watching because it is absolutely stuffed to the gills with cool junk.
Let’s rank some cool junk.
5. John Malkovich on a boat
I’ll be honest: I did not realize how much joy I would get from seeing John Malkovich dressed as the Pope and zipping around the waters of Venice on what appears to be a speedboat. In my defense, I’m not entirely sure I had considered the situation at all prior to this morning. Like, I imagine if you had come up to me 18 months ago and asked me if I’d like to see John Malkovich dressed as the Pope and zipping around the waters of Venice on what appears to be a speedboat, I would have replied “Hell yes.” But I hadn’t taken the proactive step of wrapping my brain around it on my own. I would feel much worse about this if I didn’t feel so happy about the picture itself.
4. Neon techno cross
The cool thing about the Papal Cinematic Universe that Paolo Sorrentino has created is that there is no way to tell if this scene is part of a hallucination or a real thing that is happening. It is equally possible that Malkovich’s character is dreaming of color-changing thumping neon techno crosses or that someone — possibly Malkovich himself — has had color-changing thumping neon techno crosses installed into the Vatican. That’s the second-best part about this particular screencap. Just the endless possibilities.
The best part is that this is not the only neon techno cross in the trailer. Hang tight.
3. Look at John Malkovich
I mean, just generally, look at John Malkovich throughout the trailer. Have you ever seen someone so delighted to be feasting on a buffet of cinematic weirdo energy? This trailer is nothing but a series of quick clips and a voiceover or two about what a maniac narcissist his character is and it already feels like the perfect pairing of creator and actor. For all the fun I had with The Young Pope, it was also a beautiful and moving series, more a piece of multi-episode art than a narrative television show like we’re accustomed to. The whole thing had a deep and eccentric vibe to it that was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Who better to help capture that and ride it across the sky than John Malkovich, the king of eccentric vibes?
But also, look at Malkovich in this image, specifically. Look at the way he’s sprawled out over the couch. Draped, even, like a blanket made of bones and tissue, which would not be a very comfortable blanket at all, but still. Imagine walking into a room — in the Vatican, sure, but also literally any room anywhere else — and the first thing you see is John Malkovich in a three-piece suit stretched out across a couch like this and welcoming you. What’s your move then, hotshot? How are you reacting to that mind-twisting scenario?
After a great deal of deliberation, I believe my response would be something like this: I would freeze perfectly still like a statue and remain that way until someone approaches and physically jostles me back into reality.
2. Crosses as slalom gates
I… I don’t…. I didn’t know you could do this. I mean, you can’t, really, if only because of the blasphemy and protests of it all. You can’t use crosses as slalom gates at an international winter sports contest. People would get upset. You don’t need that.
But I do like the idea that this is how the Pope skis. With cross slaloms. Either ones that were set up specifically for this holy run or ones that were there already and used on the fly. I also like the idea that the person skiing here is, in fact, John Malkovich, out here shredding fresh powder and zig-zagging between crosses on the slopes of Italy. I can’t decide if I want this to be an entire episode or a short throwaway that is never explained. The visual of it is enough, if that’s all it is. You can tell because the shot was about one second of the trailer and I’m already on two paragraphs about it. I could easily do more. The New Pope is somehow already my favorite show despite the small fact that it does not premiere for another two months.
1. Jude Law rising from the dead in a private hospital room outfitted with its own freaking neon techno cross
- This is Jude Law in the aforementioned coma
- He appears to be in a room in the Vatican or some other church-owned building instead of in a hospital, where one would usually suspect a person in need of medical care would be
- Someone has put a neon cross above his bed
- Imagine waking up from a coma and you’re in a room in the Vatican with a red neon cross above your bed
- It looks like a scene from a Marilyn Manson music video from like 1999, which, to be very clear, is 100 percent a compliment
- This feels like a good time to remind you that Marilyn Manson is going to be in The New Pope
- This is not a joke
- You can check IMDb and everything
- What if he’s the one who hung the neon cross?
- What if he hung all the neon crosses?
- It would make sense, right?
And then, and the very end of the trailer, inside the makeshift ICU with the neon cross, Jude Law wakes up from his coma, removes his own oxygen mask, looks into the camera, and smiles.
Sweet Fainting Mary, indeed.