The Young Pope Recap: Episode 4


In which Lenny listens to music

In the opening minutes of the fourth episode of The Young Pope, Lenny is having a conversation with a nun. The nun is telling Lenny that her sister may die, but the two are never in the same frame. The camera cuts back and forth, and Lenny’s words sound like they’re coming through a poor microphone. This ends up being an earpiece. It’s a surreal scene, another in a tradition of strange sequences appearing in the first few minutes of each episode. Was it real, or did it really happen? Later, when Lenny meets the nun again, he already knows about her sick sister.

Later, the body of her sister is flown in by helicopter, leading to another scene of children fleeing the landing circle. Again, nobody cares, or warns them.

The Young Pope never feels the need to explain itself; it just is, and you are either with it or you’re not. There is more Vatican intrigue in this episode, as Voiello attempts to blackmail Esther with knowledge of her affair. Lenny also tries to get deeper into the information game, asking about gay members of the clergy. Lenny likes to tell people that he isn’t interested in the game, but that is plainly false. He loves them, perhaps even more than Michael, who said himself that he invented them.

The Young Pope never feels the need to explain itself; it just is, and you are either with it or you’re not.

In one of the best scenes of the episode, maybe of the series so far, Lenny grills the Prime Minister of Greenland. It is obviously awkward as he tells her that the Catholics are like the Native Americans of Greenland, but he couldn’t care less. He smiles, and looks around the room at his subjects. And then a turntable is brought out and they all listen to music.

‘Episode 4’ is mainly about connections. The connection between Esther and Lenny, and also between Lenny and the aforementioned Prime Minister. In all situations, Lenny stays in control, effortlessly manipulating them with his charisma and shows of power. It’s also great when Esther and Lenny pray together, and he interrupts her with an expertly timed “ehhh.” We’ve previously talked about how this show doesn’t take itself all too seriously, and this is another fine example of that.

Image Credit: HBO

Lenny frequently comes off as the knowledgeable, fatherly Pope that he is supposed to be. He can be guiding when he wishes to be, gently showing people the proper path. Sometimes it’s not gentle, like when he scolds the nun at her sister’s funeral for crying. “That’s not right!” he yells out, and Sister Mary recoils. He can very quickly turn on a dime, frightening and enthralling others in equal measure.

Voiello is also a master at what he does. He has, for the most part, figured out how to talk to Lenny, and the two have a fascinating conversation about sexual preference that also touches on North Korea. This leads to Lenny trying to start a witch hunt, so to speak, to weed out any homosexuals.

Seeing his face on the cover is a nice visual treat.

Voiello admits that his calling to the Church was not the stereotypical religious calling, but just as a job. Lenny refuses to answer the same question. Voiello sneaks around, breaking in to Esther’s room and haunting her, wanting her to seduce Lenny. Oh, and his new biography is everywhere in this episode. Seeing his face on the cover is a nice visual treat.

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This episode also treats us to a television program of a man being interviewed after seeing the Madonna. He also has stigmata, and also now has apparently has the power to heal people. This man, named Torino, wants the Church to recognize his abilities. We see Lenny watch this man on TV, and all he can muster is an exasperated sigh. He doesn’t care that he’s a fraud, or about the challenge that Torino will just start his own Church. It’s no biggie.

We also see the kangaroo again. Both times that we’ve seen the kangaroo after it has been let loose, Lenny has been the only one to actually see it. This time he tries to command it to jump, and it does not. Maybe next time. One of the final scenes of the episode shows Lenny voyeuristically watching Esther have sex with her husband through a window, and then him commanding the Virgin Mary to grant them a child. Not asking, but commanding. Lenny’s ego knows absolutely no bounds. He can’t make a kangaroo jump, but maybe he can force the Virgin Mary to bring Esther a child.

Finally, Lenny decides to send one of his confidants to New York. It now makes sense why we see the city in the last in-season trailer. The episode ends with Lenny listening to the 45 from earlier in the episode, looking anything but relaxed. He is a contemplative man with grand plans.

Next: The SAG Awards are right around the corner.

‘Episode 4’ has a higher sense of strangeness than the previous episodes, showing scenes that don’t immediately make sense. The Young Pope surrenders to its instinct to be art, and that is what makes it great. Out of the two episodes that have aired this week, it is the stronger. Esther’s fascination with Lenny, and Voiello’s manipulation of her, make for a compelling storyline. As for the dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations, they are a treat. They go unexplained, like real, true, art.