The Young Pope Episode 2 Recap: Daft Punk, Cigarettes & God

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The first episode of The Young Pope seemed to establish a bit of a rock star pope.

He smokes cigarettes. He only drinks Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast. He takes no guff or advice from anyone. And he has movie star good looks — roguishly played by the blue-eyed, chiseled Jude Law.

It also seemed to imply, via a sneak peek into Lenny's subconscious via dream, that he might be as liberal in his viewpoints as his rock star attitude would suggest.

Turns out... not so much.

But before we get to Pope Pius' first public address — and boy, was it a doozy — let's talk about a few other key things that the HBO drama's second episode revealed.

First, we are introduced to Cardinal Andrew Dussolier (Scott Shepherd), the other boy Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) raised in her orphanage alongside Lenny. Andrew's relationship with Mary could not be more different from Lenny's, going all the way back to when they first met her as young orphans and she told Andrew to call her "mom" while specifically instructing Lenny not to. To Lenny, she was strictly "Sister Mary."

It's quite telling that Andrew and Mary chat together like affectionate siblings, while Lenny snaps at Mary and orders her around like more of a servant. After being abandoned by his parents, whom Lenny has apparently never stopped searching for, he didn't quite find a mother's love in Sister Mary — but grew up right next to a boy who apparently did (or at least experienced something closer to it than Lenny has).

Frankly, we're dying to see a scene between Lenny and Andrew because it feels like they are way more Cain and Abel than Esau and Jacob, but you never know — maybe Andrew is the one person Lenny truly loves? We shall see.

The second major turn of events in Episode 2 is Pius' refusal to have his likeness on any Vatican merchandise. In fact, he refuses to be photographed at all, and wants to be kept in shadow when he speaks to the public.

Coming from a humbler man, one could interpret this as a new pope wanting Catholics to focus on God rather than their mortal leader, especially one who is so young and handsome.

But this pope is anything but humble, which means this move is most certainly a way to feed the myth and mystery surrounding the new regime. It's another way to encourage his rock star image, which sits at such dichotomy with the pope's first address. (His name-dropping of both Banksy and Daft Punk certainly suggests he's more than aware of the relationship between elusiveness and fame.)

Now, we certainly did not expect Pius to encourage masturbation or abortion as he did in the first, fever-dream-induced, public address that kicked off the series, but it was certainly a surprise to hear the fervency with which Pope Pius XIII blasted his subjects for not being proper Catholics, especially considering the way he's been conducting himself around Vatican City.

It's quite the study in juxtaposition, as Pius spends the majority of Episode 2 asserting his arrogance and dominance over everyone in sight, including two of his oldest acquaintances and the closest thing he has to family. Instead of being humble and, well, pious, he prefers to bolster himself by swinging his metaphorical manhood around under the guise of asserting his papal authority.

But Pius then turns around and lectures his subjects about putting God — and only God — first, which is some advice Lenny the man would do well to remember... except he doesn't really believe in God. And there's the rub.

The new pope "joked" in Episode 1 that he doesn't believe in God, but Law and creator Paolo Sorrentino have confirmed he wasn't really joking. So it raises the question ... just what is Pius up to, proclaiming he has "nothing to say to those who have the slightest doubt in God"?

In his first address, Pius straight-up challenges his followers to prove that God doesn't exist. You can't prove a negative, so what is Lenny's endgame here?

Is he trying to bring the church back to its more conservative days? Or is he trying to destroy it from the inside out? Does he even want to be pope?

Sometimes it feels as though Pius the pope is power-hungry and driven in his religion, and other times it seems like Lenny the man is drunk with power and wants to see how much anarchy he can create before it all burns to the ground.

The show isn't revealing Pius' motivations to viewers yet, which is OK. It's more fun to watch the schizophrenic back and forth between Lenny the man and Pius the pope. At least we have Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando) to doggedly keep an eye on Pius and do whatever it takes. He freely admits at episode's end that there will be much atonement needed for the wrongs he must commit in order to save the church.


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