July 21, 2024

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The New Pope “Third Episode”

New Pope, Episode Three

The Young Pope featured a character named Esther.  She was the wife of one of the Swiss Guard that Pope Lenny took a liking to, and who somehow through divine intervention (maybe) had a kid.  She’s here for The New Pope as someone living as a single mother who resorts to something that looks a lot like prostitution in that she agrees, for money, to let a physically deformed man maybe have sex with her before she makes a run for it.

Is that important to the overall plot of this series?

I feel like that is a legitimate question.  Even with each episode running something like an hour, much like with The Young Pope, it feels like there isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on in each individual episode.  That was fine for The Young Pope.  It wasn’t the most realistic of shows, but neither is The New Pope.  The Young Pope focused its energies on the spiritual growth of Pope Lenny as he made his way through a very short Papacy, convinced of his own righteousness but still hurting over the hippie parents who abandoned him in an orphanage, leading him to adopt an incredibly strict and conservative view of Catholicism.    The series ended with Lenny, finding peace with himself and his role, collapsing and possibly dying all at once.

So, what is it with The New Pope?  Are we following, say, Brannox’s spiritual journey?  It doesn’t look like it.  He already has a very strong philosophical underpinning, and though he has his own parental issues with the parents who preferred his dead twin brother to him, and he even shouts at them in this episode, he seems more even-keeled than Pope Lenny ever did.

But then we get stuff like the Esther plot line, the young nun throwing herself at a Muslim refugee living in a Vatican toolshed (something Voiello discovers and opts to ignore for some reason), pennypinching in the Vatican to keep a young nun from leaving to see her dying mother, and the undercurrent that seems to keep propping up the idea of Islamic extremism.

Suffice to say Brannox does become Pope.  He finds out he can meet famous people he admires for what he sees as their freedom, though in some meta-commentary, he doesn’t see a resemblance between himself and the actor John Malkovich, and doesn’t even like the man.  He initially says no, but Voiello tricks him into changing his mind, and Brannox isn’t even mad afterwards.

My best guess is this one is about Lenny’s spiritual legacy.  Brannox doesn’t feel worthy, but then Lenny appears to stand next to him, comfort him, and even offer words of wisdom on how to earn God’s love.  But…Brannox never really met Lenny.  So, is Lenny really there or not?  Is he a figment of Brannox’s imagination?  But he moved Brannox’s mystery box.

See, not a realistic show.  But what is the story the show is trying to tell?  I’m not sure yet, and that may be most of the fun so far.