After a season one cliffhanger with no sure plans of a season two, HBO's The Young Pope returned tonight in its second installment, The New Pope, aptly named because there is a new pope in our midst. Lenny Beldaro (Jude Law), turned Pope Pius XIII, lies in a deep, undisturbed coma from his season one finale freak health emergency, and this season picks up nine months after our His Cherry-Coke-Zero-loving Eminence falls mysteriously ill.
As pop culture’s obsession with popes continues to grow (see: The Two Popes’ numerous award show nominations), the series’ innovative show runner, Paolo Sorrentino, had to up that ante. That means that The New Pope is not just about a well-dressed, expletive-spewing hot pope — it’s about thotty nuns and neon crosses. And no better sequence summarizes the opulent and over-the-top series better than its brand new opening credits.
Fans will remember that season one opened with our handsome Lenny walking through a hall of classical portraits to a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” It’s an opening sequence so strong that I would tell people to watch just that, confident it would convert them into a dedicated fan of the show. The way Lenny stops to wink at the camera at the end encapsulates the coquettish essence of the show. But that was season one. When you have Malkovich in eyeliner, you aren’t just flirty anymore. You’re horny.
Enter our new muse-worthy song: SOFI TUKKER's "Good Time Girl." (An interest in finding out this song and adding it to your "New Pope playlist" is probably what led you to this post.) The first season of the show made audiences wait until the third episode before it unveiled its game-changing credits, but now they're just diving straight into it. The vibe has been set.
According to SOFI TUKKER, a duo made up of college friends Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, it's a "tongue-in-cheek song about navigating this nebulous thing called a ‘casual relationship.'" But, in Sorrentino's whimsical hands, the song morphs into one about nuns grinding on a neon cross in silk white night gowns to synth-y lyrics about being a not-so good girl.
“The paintings of the opening scene are a quick chronological overview, with obvious shortcomings, of the most significant moments in the history and art of the entire arch of Christianity and the church,” he told Vulture in 2017 of Lenny's journey with the portraits. Sorrentino added that one specific painting showed a rock crashing down on an old pope, paving the way for a new one and his new ideas. So, let's take that thinking to this dimly-lit scene: There's a lot of female energy — like, only female energy. This tells me that women will take center-stage this season. Our young pope is busy relaxing in a coma after being a saint to the word, leaving an open space for a new pope... a woman... pope, perhaps?
Yes, Malkovich's character, a former '70s punk kid from England with a taste for gossip, is a candidate for that titular title, but I don't see him draining the clock on the cross.
Or maybe the key to the season is in the lyrics: "When I said it out loud, it wasn't as strong as it was in my head/ I tried not to think about it, so it came back louder/ I think it's been about a year since I became a snob/ Decided not to play along, so it grew bigger."
These lyrics perfectly describe Lenny and his God-complex: He was always in his head, he's an absolute snob, and his coma could be a signal that he is working on something bigger — some spiritual moment so wild and impactful that he to rest until he's ready.
Or, perhaps, it's a freeing anthem indicative of the centrist views of Malkovich's Sir John Brannox, turned Pope John Paul III, and a more liberal leader of the Catholic church. He does, indeed, seem like a good time girl.