The Young Pope Recap: Episode 2


An address for the ages

The Young Pope is a wonderfully bizarre affair. If you were put off by the first episode and were expecting that face to change, you’re going to be in for a difficult time. Everyone else that was content with the premiere’s surreal nature will be right at home here. Much like the first episode, episode 2 begins with a dream sequence. Or what is most likely a dream sequence, because it’s actually not all that clear. The Young Pope is fond of walking that line.

Image Credit: HBO

The full opening sequence features Cardinals on iPads, getting inoculations, and smoking constantly. We are also introduced to Andrew, another young boy that Sister Mary raised. Unlike Lenny, she instructs Andrew to specifically refer to her as “mom.” The difference is interesting because she obviously favors Lenny. Andrew is tired of being stuck in Vatican City, waiting for the Pope to make his first public address. That general uneasiness plays heavily into the rest of the episode.

“…watching him continually confound the expectations of those around him is its own little thrill.”

It’s worth pointing out that throughout the opening 10 or so minutes, the episode is soundtracked by a light and acoustic song that is, frankly, fun. And uplifting. The music ends immediately as Lenny lights his cigarette. No more fun time. The marketing machine has to start turning, and Lenny is expected to participate in a photo shoot. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes in situations like these. But Lenny isn’t interesting in merchandising; he insists that his visage is worth nothing. Only Christ matters. Moments like these are what make Lenny so interesting, and watching him continually confound the expectations of those around him is its own little thrill.

Lenny wants to be like Daft Punk, never in clear view. That’s an actual reference he makes, by the way. The Young Pope continues to be as unsubtle as it possibly can, and this interaction is a perfect example of its style of storytelling. The dialogue isn’t great (the actors deliver it well) and characters stop becoming mysteries as soon as they open their mouthes. This can be a problem in other shows, but The Young Pope is handled with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek that it pulls it off. Sometimes by the skin of its teeth.

Image Credit: HBO

This is also the episode in which Lenny is gifted a kangaroo from Australia. He demands it to be set free, so now there is a kangaroo roaming the grounds. Because of course there is.

“This is also the episode in which Lenny is gifted a kangaroo from Australia.”

Cardinal Voiello tries to right the course of this ship by going talking directly with Sister Mary, since Lenny is most uninterested. He’s also trying to dig up whatever dirt he can on Lenny, though it turns out that not much is known about the man. They can’t even confirm what his actual sexual orientation is. When Lenny is directly asked by a Cardinal if he is conservative, he chooses not to answer, instead asking the Cardinal’s opinion on the matter. And then asking if he is homosexual. A slight flex of power, if there ever was one. This also ends in a wonderfully awkward moment when Lenny presses the button to free him of the interaction, only to get a lame excuse by his attendant that it’s time for his “snack.

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People around Vatican City think that Sister Mary is the actual Pope, as told by Lenny’s spy ing Priest. These leads to an indelicate change of personnel. Much of this episode is Lenny taking meetings and learning more about the people who serve him. He asks about what drove people to become Priests and Cardinals. He uses these stories as inspiration for his public address, which he practices in front of a mirror. Lenny has been so sure of himself up until now, that the trouble he is having with writing the address – he refuses any direct help – is a glaring weakness. Lenny also instructs Sister Mary to stop calling him Lenny (though we won’t,) and that his address will end up being strong.

This all leads Lenny to a meeting with his former mentor, Cardinal Michael. Michael is bitter that Lenny is Pope and still holds some power over him. Lenny wants Michael to join him at the Vatican, though he would prefer that Lenny resigned as Pope instead. While Lenny is a powerful, charismatic, and mysterious individual, Michael is angry and simple. It’s actually difficult to not feel bad for Lenny here, which is almost amazing.

Lenny is convinced that nobody loves him, which isn’t quite true. Sister Mary has great, if not religiously misguided love. Lenny demands to know more about his parents to prove that he might not be as alone as Michael insists, but there isn’t anymore to tell. Or at least there isn’t anymore that Sister Mary is willing to tell. There is, however, a group of people on a bus excited to be on their way to greet the new Pope. And then many more come running. When the address finally does come, it ends in darkness, rain, and palpable fear and confusion. There is no easy love here.

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The Young Pope continues to be wonderful to look at. The white drapes slowly flapping in the wind, the soft lighting. It’s a nice plus that the dramatic content is also up to snuff. Have no fear; The Young Pope continues to be a wild ride worth taking.