The Young Pope Recap: Episode 6


Lenny isn’t so good with kids

The sixth episode of The Young Pope begins not entirely unlike an episode of Six Feet Under. An old Cardinal falls over dead while eating, though most of his fellow Cardinals don’t find it all that bothersome. One even casually asks what he died of, like this is a normal occurrence that everyone is now quite used to. This is also the first episode to use a time jump – 9 months, to be exact.

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Episode 6 does not pick up where the previous episode ended; it is not immediately clear what happened to poor Tonino after the sinister visit from Lenny and his hang of Cardinals. It begins with more grounded, financial matters. Voiello is concerned that over the lack of donations, while Lenny, predictably, couldn’t care less. This puzzles Voiello, which is odd, because by this point you’d understandably think that he’d be used to all of this. But he apparently isn’t, and he again asks Lenny who he is. After 6 episodes that is still a mystery, but it’s not a very interesting one. We’ve come to accept Lenny for who he is, and so it’s time for Voiello to also roll with the punches.

The first bit of explicit sex is show in this episode. It takes place between Andrew, a woman, and another man, and it comes out of nowhere in typical The Young Pope fashion. It’s shown in contrast to a ceremony that Lenny is holding with the Cardinals. We also see Esther give birth (remember, 9 months have passed,) which only strengthens the argument of Lenny being a saint. Watching Lenny read in Latin and pray with the Cardinals is the most Pope-like thing we’ve seen him do so far.

Andrew, for his part, returns to his Parish only to announce that he’ll be heading back to Rome permanently. He is leaving his flock in the hands of someone who is apparently going to get things done. Sure.

“This one may be pushing it a bit.”

It turns out that when the Pope chooses to visit a hospital, it’s quite the production. It’s not surprising to learn that Lenny is painfully awkward with babies. This creates an awkward moment when he brings up the smell of his parents. But that none of that matters, because he drops the baby. It’s a quick, shocking moment, and everyone rushes to make sure that Lenny doesn’t feel bad about it. He, and everyone else, recover all too quickly. It’s one of those “wait, did that just happen?” moments that The Young Pope usually excels at. This one may be pushing it a bit.

The big moment of the episode comes form a meeting with the Prime Minister, who, after being warned that the Pope is actually quite diabolical, asserts that he has met his match. Lenny perfectly holds his own, and then some, with the Italian Prime Minister, bossing him around with a hurriedly written list of demands. The list is fiercely conservative and brutal. Lenny has no qualms about throwing his weight around, making it clear that if the Prime Minister doesn’t give in to his demands, he won’t be reelected.

Image Credit: HBO

But the Prime Minister isn’t one of Lenny’s Cardinals, and he matches him punch for punch. Lenny wants to take the Church backwards, going strongly against current popular opinion.. The look on Lenny’s face when presented with everything that could be done to further cripple the Church is delicious, but it’s an illusion. Lenny isn’t one to not have the last word.

Lenny is convinced that nobody is more powerful than he is; after all, he was chosen by God. The Young Pope is at his best when it lets him off his chain. It’s clear that, as most people do, the Prime Minister had underestimated him.

The Young Pope doesn’t always hit its dramatic points easily. Andrew isn’t happy with what’s going on, but their disagreement feels sudden and not genuine. Andrew, however, isn’t the only one to voice displeasure with the new way of doing things. Lenny is faced with his first serious opposition from within, and he handles it with uncaring fury. He will “wage a ware without end” at those who oppose him. It’s likely that speeches like this will only increase in frequency.

“The sort of Church that Lenny is creating is exactly the kind to visit a man in his own and intimidate him.”

Voiello doesn’t have all that much to do this episode, though we do get to see a collection of all the books that have been written about him. It’s then that we learn more about the little visit to Tonino. Voiello denies that such a thing took place, but apparently Tonino is now missing because he was threatened by the Vatican. This assertion tracks real well. The sort of Church that Lenny is creating is exactly the kind to visit a man in his own and intimidate him.

Twice during the episode Andrew meets with a young boy that wants to become a Priest. Due to Lenny’s new rules, however, this is deemed impossible. After confronting Andrew in a restaurant, the boy commits suicide by pushing himself off of an edge. The ending shot is framed to make us thing that perhaps Lenny saw it happen, as he has a shocked look on his face while trying to light a cigarette. It is a beautiful scene, but again, the heaviness of it does not come through well. It’s sad, but it’s not affecting.

Next: Cit Slickers go to Westworld.

While it does move the plot forward on several fronts, the sixth episode of The Young Pope is not its strongest outing. While the show has been more assured in its tonal shifts in the past few episodes, it stumbles a bit here. Hopefully episode 7 will right the ship.