The Young Pope Recap Episode 7: It's A Hard Knock Life

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Young Pope has been full of bizarre moments in its freshman season — kangaroos, piles of babies in dreams, an LMFAO getting-ready montage, pope-adjacent sex up against a window. But as far as complete episodes go, "Episode 7" might be the weirdest yet.

The episode is very disjointed, with the storyline bouncing around between the pope's (Jude Law) obsession with the parents who abandoned him as a child, the cardinals' plot to oust Pius and replace him with Michael Spencer (James Cromwell), and Andrew's (Scott Shepherd) grief in the wake of the young man's suicide in "Episode 6."

It's a Hard Knock Life

The main storyline in "Episode 7" features the pope receiving an anonymous package that contains the missing part of a pipe he has held on to since he was a boy — a pipe it turns out his father gave him when his parents left him at the orphanage.

Lenny the overgrown boy is moved to tears at the thought that his parents reached out to him... and then suddenly they're in Vatican City to see him. It happens very fast and adds to the disjointed feel of the episode - — like, suddenly here they are, and are maybe going to pull a fast one on Lenny like Rooster and Lily in pretending to be Annie's parents in the popular musical.

Because it turns out this is all a scam on the part of Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) to try to help Lenny overcome his grief. Lenny doesn't fall for it, though he desperately wants to — the flashback to him kissing his mom on the cheek as she lies by a stream and then curling up next to her was possibly the saddest thing The Young Pope has done so far.

His desperation to know parental love is heartrending, and it just doesn’t seem to have a solution other than for Lenny to accept how things are and move on. As we’ve just seen, his parents aren’t going to magically appear and welcome him into their arms. But his wanting and needing their love is leaving him in a perpetually stunted state.

It’s reflected in a comment Lenny makes about how "a priest never grows up because he'll never be a father, he'll always be a son," said in the same episode where Lenny continues to dote on Esther's (Ludivine Sagnier) new baby. He simultaneously needs his parents, can’t have them, can’t be a parent himself, is living vicariously through Esther and is making himself and God father figures to be feared by Catholics everywhere.

Suffice to say Lenny has some serious parental issues and his crisis of faith is not helping anything, because even his most trusted confidants are abandoning him.

Crisis of Faith

Pius' confessor, Don Tommaso (Marcello Romolo) tells Sister Mary that the pope no longer believes in God, as the other cardinals work to have him removed from his post.

They've decided to forego the Esther breast photo scandal because the church would take decades to recover from it, but instead consider having the pope sign his own resignation when he's distracted by his parents' possible appearance.

Ultimately, Voiello (Silvio Orlando) cannot go through with it, though he does have Pius sign a document that simplifies how the Catholic church will admit priests, in the wake of church members fleeing in droves and the tragic suicide of that young man suspected of being gay.

Pius doesn't put up much of a fight — he knows Voiello is right — and he even tells Spencer he's going to resign. Now, if Pius actually goes through with resigning, we'll eat that giant hat of his. There's no way.

But perhaps there is hope for him as pope after all, if he's even considering resigning in the wake of his disastrous first year in the post.

Andrew's Grief

In an almost completely unrelated storyline, Andrew takes his grieving self to the general's party he was invited to, where he is promptly propositioned by the general's wife in a bathroom and then almost raped by the driver who takes the drunk priest back to the Vatican.

It's all so weird because — where are all these sexual advances coming from? Do people just "know" about Andrew's proclivities? Is it some kind of vibe he gives off? It feels like viewers were left mostly in the dark about Andrew, causing these events, and the ones from "Episode 6" where suddenly he's having a threesome in Honduras, to seem so out of left field.

Speaking of Honduras, Andrew is so unhappy with Pius' reign as pope and so homesick for his flock (and presumably his sex buddies) that he asks to be sent back there... and then suddenly he's there. It's another thing that happens where it feels like viewers are missing a key scene.

One minute, Andrew asks Pius to send him home and Pius says no. The next minute, Andrew is back in Honduras. Did the pope change his mind? Did Andrew say screw it and just leave on his own? We have no idea.

But we won't be having any more confusing Andrew tangents, since the minute he lands in Honduras, his mistress, Maribeth (Rayna Tharani) and her husband, Carlos Garcia (Tony Plana), pick him up at the airport. Turns out his mistress is married to a powerful Honduran drug dealer, who confronts Andrew about the affair. Garcia does have the decency to admit he's having a crisis himself because the narco in him should just kill Andrew, but the man in him has trouble killing a priest. But then he kills Andrew anyway, leaving his body to bleed out by the side of the road.

What does it all mean? It's hard to say. Will Lenny finally stop obsessing over his parents and decide to be a better "father" to his people? Are the cardinals really going to continue finding a way to get him out or have they given up on that? Will Andrew's death affect Lenny at all? Because honestly, we're not sure.

But "Episode 7" was definitely the most WTF of the season so far, so let's hope the final three episodes are slightly more cohesive.
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