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. We are off to the future
Whoosh buzzzzz wheee welcome to the future! Specifically, nine months into the future, as this episode zips us past some boring stuff and drops us back in where the action is hot. Gutierrez is a cardinal now. Tomosso is steamed because he’s been passed over, again, despite being in possession in hot-hot secrets, many of which were spilled to him in moonlit semi-confessionals on the roof with a hoodie-clad pope. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Hmm. Nine months. That seems like an oddly specific amount of time. Like, say, exactly the amount of time it takes for a pregnancy to run from beginning to end,” well, you are really on to something because heeeyyyy there Esther’s brand new miracle baby, who is named Pius, like the man she tried to seduce into a blackmail plot by placing his hand on her bosom, no this is fine, nobody worry, cool.
Anyway, Lenny comes to visit her in the hospital carrying many flowers. She hands him the baby. What could possibly go wron-
HE DROPPED THE BABY. THE POPE DROPPED THE BABY.
I literally gasped when this happened. There are obvious metaphors at play here (Lenny abandoned as a child, Lenny uncomfortable around children, his inability to nurture, etc.), but man alive, the Pope dropped the baby!
4. Do not mess with a Handsome Pope
Now that he has neutered Voiello (temporarily?), the Pope needs a new adversary, and that adversary was given to us in the form of a progressive new Italian Prime Minister. They met in the Vatican. It did not go great!
The short version of events is as follows: The Catholic Church is losing money and followers due to Lenny’s hardline stances, and the Prime Minister wants to use its diminished status to open up Italy to gay marriage and pro-choice policies and new restrictive tax rules against the Church. Lenny wants the opposite — presenting his items in an actual written list of demands, not unlike a supervillain — and threatens to wipe the prime minister out in the next election by making his dramatic first public appearance and seducing the crowd, and then re-hydrating a dried up old rule that prevents Catholics from voting in Italian elections. It’s quite a conversation. You really should see the faces Jude Law makes when he talks.
Which is fine. But the best part of it all is that a big part of Lenny’s threat is that he’s so damn handsome that people will do what he wants. That’s what he’s talking about in that screencap, with his blues eyes. He compares himself to Jesus multiple times. It’s so conceited and insane that it’s almost endearing somehow. I mean, he is threatening to use his face as a weapon. I hope Jude Law does this in real life, too. I would.
3. Sister Mary: The Basketball Temptress
This is not weird. Not weird at all.
I lied. It was a little weird.
I really am making a lot of GIFs of nuns playing sports lately.
2. Voiello got Jessup’d!
The last we saw of Voiello, pre-time-jump, he and Lenny and some cardinals were sitting at a table in the home of Pettola (the stigmata guy who can heal minor knee injuries), and he was upset because Pettola was “busting their balls.” Now, Pettola is missing and a detective is poking around.
Their conversation was notable for three reasons. One, we learned that Voiello has an entire bookcase in his house dedicated to books about him written by other people, and that he sometimes sits around and reads them. (Classic Voiello.) Two, there’s that quote in the screencap, which Voiello calmly explains is what he said to a local businessman who had implied that former soccer star Diego Maradona was back on drugs.
And third and most important, after Voiello told the detective that Pettola was a nobody and a charlatan, and the detective came back at him with phone records from the Vatican to Pettola’s house, the detective said this: “Don’t you think it’s a contradiction? If Pettola was such an insignificant con artist and you had no interest in him, why all the phone calls?”
That’s the A Few Good Men trick! You know, like when Tom Cruise has Jack Nicholson on the stand and hits him with the “Then why the two orders?” after Nicholson said Santiago was safe but also needed to be transferred because of grave danger? (“Is there any other kind?”) I wish this detective had just straight-up asked Voiello if he ordered the Code Red on Pettola. I want to hear Voiello shout “You can’t handle the truth” in Italian. I want Kevin Bacon and Demi Moore there, for some reason. And I want them all by the season finale.
[slides this list of demands to the Italian Prime Minister]
1. The Ballad of Cardinal Andrew
The thing about The Young Pope is that, sure, it’ll give you a story about the Pope’s childhood best friend taking a position in the church that forces him to root out homosexuals among potential priests, which he is very conflicted about on both a moral and personal level. And yes, it’ll drive that plot home with the heartbreaking story of a young man committing suicide in dramatic fashion after being denied the vocation of his dreams because of his suspected, alleged sexual orientation. It’ll give you that, and it will be powerful.
But the deal is that the show is going to explain the friend’s “personal” side of his conflict with the issue by showing you a few shots of him involved in a freewheeling, anything goes bisexual threesome inside a sweaty room. This is basically The Young Pope in a nutshell. Often beautiful, occasionally powerful, always so, so much.