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The ‘Young Pope’ Popedown, Episode 4: Operation Seduce The Pope


The Young Pope Popedown is a list of the five craziest and/or most notable things that happened in each episode of HBO’s The Young Pope, ranked from least to most crazy and/or notable. Like a countdown, but with popes.

5. The Pope needs to chill out

A visit from the prime minister of Greenland and her openly gay assistant gave Lenny a good idea: Root out all the gays and kick them out of the Vatican. Wait, no. That’s not a good idea. That’s a bad idea, both because it is extremely unchill and because of all the stuff Voiello said about it destabilizing the church. Focus on the Kurkwell thing, my guy. Fix the child abuse problem. Maybe try to quit smoking. There’s gotta be a better use of your time than this.

The only upside to his “banish the gays” plan, and it is a slim one, is that it has apparently resulted in a dramatic uptick in priests spelling out salacious heterosexual fantasies in confession to avoid suspicion. I honestly cannot believe this show opted to tell us this instead of showing it on the screen. It might be the most subtle decision we’ve seen all season. I’m kind of mad about it. Give me a montage of priests confessing about, like, staring longingly at Rachel during a rerun of Friends. Maybe next week.

Other notes on Vatican business:

– The Pope did some baptisms and hated it so much, to the degree that, in mindlessly going through the motions, he told a white mother that her adopted black infant took after her. This is pretty clearly incorrect, but if the Pope is truly infallible, then… is it? Something for the mother to consider every single moment for the rest of her life.

– I… I think the Prime Minister of Greenland has the hots for the Pope.

– The delegation from Greenland brought him gifts, including a very large halibut for him to eat. This was thoughtful, but it’s fun to think about them finding out later that Australia just sent him a real live kangaroo. Like I’m imagining the prime minister back in Greenland kicking herself like “A halibut? God. You idiot! He didn’t want a fish! He’s the Pope!”

4. The Disobedient Kangaroo

This week in Papal Kangaroos, Lenny again runs into his gift from Australia while out for another soul-searching night walk (big fan of the casual papal hoodie, by the way). This is what happens.

The point here, I think, is that Lenny is testing out his mastery over the world around him. He can make people jump with a nasty look, and he did that thing two episodes ago where he drew the kangaroo out of its cage with a calm and steady hand, like he’s a kangaroo whisperer or something, so he could have been feeling things out on two levels. I choose to believe the kangaroo heard him and understood his command but chose not to jump because it thinks Lenny is an asshole.

Also, just for fun, picture Pope Francis wandering through his garden at night in a hoodie and commanding a kangaroo to jump. It’s almost even better, right?

3. Shoutout to Italian Kelly Ripa

In non-Vatican news, there’s a guy running around Italy claiming to be saint, with bloody stigmata wounds and the alleged ability to cure people’s cardiovascular issues and meniscus injuries. (If, hypothetically, you’re someone who is following the show by reading next-day coverage instead of actually watching, please know that I am not kidding. Those are his self-professed two specialties. The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.)

But none of that is important. I mean, it is, because it’s obviously going to be a thing, what with the show devoting a healthy chunk of time to it and the possible saint doing a TV interview that the Pope watched in his apartment with a cigarette dangling from his lips. But the bigger issue here was that the interview show he was on was hosted by an upbeat reporter who I have chosen to call Italian Kelly Ripa. She just had so much energy. I’ve never seen someone so excited to interview a man with bloody hands and the ability to heal minor knee injuries. I hope she gets to interview Lenny eventually. I want to see what happens when her bubbliness comes in contact with his surliness. The camera might explode.

2. Initiate Operation Seduce the Pope

Voiello has had it with Lenny already and is setting a plan in motion to bring him down, and that plan is a little something called Operation Seduce the Pope. The short version: Voiello learned a) that Lenny has a thing for Esther, and b) that Esther has been cheating on her husband, so he used the latter to try to take advantage of the former. It’s all very creepy, really. Voiello’s deviousness up to this point has been played mostly for goofs (him blackmailing Gutierrez while holding an adorable stuffed deer, his comically fake evil mole, every single thing about the screencap above this paragraph), but blackmailing a seemingly very nice woman to commit sexual espionage as part of a political power play is some heavy House of Cards stuff. It’s a shame, too, because I really want to like Voiello, and that’s a lot easier when he’s being Fun Bad.

(His subterfuge might be taking a hit it in near future, too, because Lenny wants to send Gutierrez to New York to investigate the child abuse case. At the rate he’s sending high-ranking clergy members away, it might just be him and Voiello’s dog left in the Vatican by the finale.)

All of it was kind of creepy, really. There was the scene where she tried to flirt with Lenny through prayer, which ended up being a prayer about how cool it is to be hot and introduced us to the creepy euphemism “donate my beauty.” The was the scene where Lenny was walking around at night and set up shop outside her house while she and her husband had sex up against the dining room window. There was the thing where Lenny prayed that Esther’s husband would get her pregnant — after telling her that prayers aren’t supposed to be blatant requests — and followed it up with about a dozen “YOU MUSTs” directed at God, because I guess then she’ll stop tempting him all this charitable giving of beauty. The lesson here is that everyone in the Vatican is horny as heck, apparently.

1. Same

We are all Facepalming Cardinal.

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