The Young Pope: Sixth Episode
January 31, 2017 10:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

A threesome of themes in this episode: People in new jobs, Bad people-handling skills, Questionable math.

Also, everyone's favorite heretical seer-of-the-Madonna-in-a-sheep has gone missing. Maybe they should ask the sheep. And Maradona is on drugs again.
posted by Huffy Puffy (22 comments total)
 
This episode contains Strong Sexual Content and Nudity.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:00 AM on January 31


Looks like Pious made his agenda pretty clear with that list to Rome. Yikes.
posted by codacorolla at 2:22 PM on January 31


Does anyone know why one or two of the cardinals wear black instead of crimson? Are they leaders of certain orders that have the status of cardinal or something like that?
posted by Falconetti at 7:55 PM on January 31


Well apparently no one who works on this show has ever been to Ketchikan, Alaska.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:02 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Falconetti: I believe those are Eastern Catholic cardinals, who wear their regular vestments rather than the choir dress of the RC cardinals.

But I could be totally wrong. Religious study is a merely a hobby of mine, not a way of life.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:08 PM on January 31


Or perhaps the Eastern choir dress is black rather than red? Something like that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choir_dress
posted by elsietheeel at 8:17 PM on January 31


Restrictions on the religious freedom of Muslims.

Lenny is Trump!!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:23 PM on January 31


Does anyone know why one or two of the cardinals wear black instead of crimson?

The Catholic Church (catholic meaning universal) is made up of 24 constituent churches. The Latin Church is what most people think of, and is headed by the Bishop of Rome (aka the Pope), using the Latin Rites ( a rite is a specific liturgical, spiritual and theological system.) The other 23 are generally called the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The other rites are Byzantine, Antiochene, East Syrian, Armenian and Alexandrian. One of the fun things to do during a conclave is cardinal fashion-spotting - previously on MeFi.

At the conclave in 2013, Patriarch Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal, Cardinal Patriarch of Alexandria Antonios Naguib and Metropolitan and Gate of all India Alencherry Mar Geevarghese all wore their particular vestments.

I'm not the expert, she's the expert.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Omg it's link heaven.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:03 PM on January 31


I'm starting to think that the cardinal who's also Lenny's fellow orphan foster-brother would have been a more interesting character to follow. Complex and human, cynical and humane at the same time. (Although his threesome was visually as corny as you'd expect from an artsy Italian production.) His comment about the Vatican smelling of incense and death also rang true; my husband's uncle, who's a priest and member of some Catholic brotherhood, got sent there a few years ago, after he got too old to work as a missionary. He seemed... bothered by many things, and was relieved to later get reassigned as a priest to a remote nun convent in stead.

But I'm just not super enthusiastic about all this "let's explore how a vain asshole guy became a vain asshole". Lenny's parents were assholes who dumped him, and so now when he's the spiritual mother-and-father of the whole church, he also dumps them, and tells them god's an asshole and has dumped them, too. Um, okay. And nobody knew what he was actually like when they voted him for Pope? Yeah, I don't think that's how conclaves work. Jude Law did some great scary-ass snarling ex cathedra, though.

Anyway, I sort of half enjoy this show, and half feel like I don't get it at all. I don't get the cute ukulele score, what's it supposed to tell me? I didn't get the surreal Greenlandish sexy-squirm dancing some episodes ago. I don't get the devoted but adulterous woman with the fertility problems, and why they've chosen to depict her seemingly without a personality at all. I don't get why all nuns seem to be just playing sports all the time. I'm glad Sister Mary's there, though, because all other female characters come from the same artsy Italian film mould for Lusty Women. (Although I feel like her relationship with Lenny has been a wasted opportunity so far.) This show is quite shitty in its depiction of women, tbh.

I don't get why Lenny is sometimes depicted like a towering saint, then like a Trumpishly vain asshole, and then all of a sudden as a klutz who drops babies. I guess that's supposed to be character complexity, but the pieces just don't fit together for me. And I don't get how the cardinals respond to him. They're the Catholic Church, shouldn't they be, like, hiring a deadly albino monk to assassinate him by now?
posted by sively at 4:55 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]


I don't get any of it either, for the most part, but somehow this has quickly become the one and only show I watch live as it airs. I haven't watched anything live for years. But this one, I can't look away. The confusion only makes it more compelling for me. I have to assume that's what they're going for.
posted by something something at 6:30 AM on February 1


Yes, I keep watching it, too, and thinking about it between episodes! About how the story, and the characters within, and their actions, are confusing, self-contradictory, illogical, inconsistent and enigmatic, but then again so is the whole institution (and faith) that is the subject matter. So maybe it's all a meta-something?

The ukulele bugs me, though. Seriously. It's the kind of score you're used to hearing nowadays in everything (especially commercials!) during life-affirming scenes of, you know, everyday life, people being people, things being a bit comical, heartwarming and lovable, and nice things happening. I guess I've grown used to relying on soundtracks to tell me how I'm supposed to feel about a scene, or to interpret it, so that every time that carefree ukulele starts I'm extra confused. It makes no sense! Things are awful, these people are seriously dysfunctional, and the pope sucks.
posted by sively at 12:32 PM on February 1


I guess I'm OK with the ukulele, but I really like the other glitchy, tuned-static electronic stuff they use the rest of the time.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:17 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


I think Lenny himself is conflicted. Like a lot of real life conservatives, he doesn't wholly believe a lot of what he says in public, but he says it because he has a vision for the church. That vision is informed by his abandonment as a child. A lot of it seems like projection, too. He comes out super hard against disbelief, because it is very possible he himself sees the throne of God as empty. Regardless, he is a canny politician. He pretended to be a dullard and blank slate under Spencer's tutelage (and actually probably learned a great deal about conservatism), but he was really cultivating a deeply cynical approach to his religion. I wonder how much his arch-conservatism (even more than what Spencer wanted) is an effort to impress his ad-hoc father figure.

Anyway, that is to say that there is a mystery to Lenny, but I'm finding his personal motivations coherent.
posted by codacorolla at 1:33 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I was kind of annoyed by the three-way.

As a cis male bisexual myself, my first reaction to realizing that not only was sweet ginger Andy providing the scene that reminds us we're watching cable, not a network, but it was a three-way...wait.. an MMF three-way, and then, boom, a bisexual MMF three-way (a personal favorite) was, YAY! Representing the Bs. Go Andy! WOOOT.

Then I suddenly realized they were juxtaposing it with the ordination of Gutierrez, creating this shitty binary of sinners and saints, with the sinner Andy framed as becoming more and more depraved as Gutierrez ascends to Cardinal in the glow coming from opulence of Pope Pius' filagreed vestments. God dammit. This wasn't a sexy and rare portrayal of bisexuality in a character we liked, this was leveraging bisexuality to symbolically portray a decent into depravity. "You know those bisexuals, they'll fuck anything that moves." Fuck you guys.

Other than that I thought it was pretty good.
posted by Stanczyk at 1:59 PM on February 1


Oh, and I'd like to push back against the "Lenny's parents put Lenny up for adoption so they must be assholes" narrative. Like Lenny, we don't know why it happened, so we don't know if they did it for asshole reasons.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:08 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I think the general narrative re: Lenny's parents is that they ditched him at the orphanage to go be sex-crazed hippy burnouts. And a kid is just like, too much responsibility, you know?

P. S. HOORAY FOR BISEXUALS BEING ON TV IN GENERAL.

Usually we don't exist at all.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:44 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Then I suddenly realized they were juxtaposing it with the ordination of Gutierrez, creating this shitty binary of sinners and saints, with the sinner Andy framed as becoming more and more depraved

I didn't see it quite like that. I saw it as the coldness, distance, formality, tenseness and pomp of the church - all geometry and unmoving materials, even speaking in a dead language - juxtaposed to the organic, warm, sweaty sensuality between humans, their bodies relaxed and moving freely, bathed in a golden red glow. Later, when Andy says his goodbyes to his congregation, we see his partners listening to him looking quite heartbroken, so we know there was real caring and affection there, too.

I agree it was meant as a comparison, but I didn't think it was the ecclesiastical union that was supposed to compare favourably, is what I'm saying.
posted by sively at 11:49 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]


Maybe you're right. Raised as a Catholic myself years ago I'm probably bringing some reflexive guilt about deviance to my perspective. And maybe a bit of living as a bisexual for four decades and rarely seeing healthy or simply non-evil bisexuals ever portrayed anywhere (Rule-Making Exception: Jack Harkness) is stunting my imagination. I can certainly see the carnal beauty of the approach, and agree its eroticism was personally more appealing, but from Lenny's perspective, or frankly from the perspective of the majority of the planet, it wasn't pleasure over pretense, it was dark and musky over light and piety, worldly indulgences over ascension to the holy kingdom. And it seemed to fall a bit into the depraved bisexual trope. I suppose it's too soon to tell, and I'm probably too sensitive. Maybe Andy is the hero. Hope so, but I don't have a good feeling about this. This bi's been burned before.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:34 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Then I suddenly realized they were juxtaposing it with the ordination of Gutierrez, creating this shitty binary of sinners and saints, with the sinner Andy framed as becoming more and more depraved as Gutierrez ascends to Cardinal in the glow coming from opulence of Pope Pius' filagreed vestments.

Much like sively, I read that juxtaposition exactly the opposite way. An episode or two ago (I've binged the last four, so they've run together in my head) Gutierrez begged Lenny not to send him off. Even Voiello asked him to keep Gutierriez in the Vatican*. He's obviously not equipped for life outside; his line that he doesn't know how to cross the street pays off literally as soon as he crosses the threshold. If he doesn't get hit by a taxi in NY, Gutierrez is going to have a nervous breakdown and/or drink himself to death.

Gutierrez and Lenny had developed a friendship, a kind of Platonic emotional intimacy, as much as such a thing is possible between a cardinal and the pope. Lenny seemed genuinely to enjoy his company. But once he found out Voiello was blackmailing Gutierrez into revealing the information shared in those intimate moments, instead of confronting him or trying to forgive him, Lenny opted instead to punish him. Sending him away from the Vatican is the cruelest thing he could have done. All the pomp and circumstance, the proclamation describing the gift of authority the pope bestows on him, are to twist the knife. There's light in the Sistine Chapel, but it's cold and white, antiseptic. There's no love in that room. Look at Gutierrez's eyes every time the camera's on him -- he's a dead man, and he knows it, and the man he thought had become his friend is sentencing him to exile and probably death with a big golden kiss.

Contrast that with Andy. During the threesome, the room is dim, but the light peeking through the door is warm and inviting and alive. Out of necessity they're concealing what they're doing from the outside world (not because threesomes are wrong, but because priests are supposed to be celibate), but in that room their intimacy feels kind, and honest, and free. It's everything that should be life-affirming about human sexuality. A level of trust and affection and authenticity is apparent between the three of them AND between Andy and his congregation -- the very qualities Lenny is incapable of. Andy is Lenny's foil; while Lenny copes with his loss by withholding himself from any meaningful human connection, Andy deals with his by sharing as much love as possible. At least, he did, before Lenny uprooted him. Gutierrez's departure from the Vatican and Andy's arrival both mark Lenny separating other people from their sources of love and security.

Of course, the show is also probably setting up a conflict between Lenny and Andy over the latter's sexuality, but my read of the show is that it doesn't necessarily side with the Church, or with Lenny.

Maybe Andy is the hero.

I think we're going to discover that there are no heroes in the Vatican, but Andy is a better human being than Lenny. If he is ultimately corrupted it will be because of Lenny's manipulation.

*Yes, Voiello wanted to keep Gutierrez around because he was using him, but Voiello isn't inherently cruel and I think his request was motivated at least partly by compassion.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 8:11 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


I don't get any of it either, for the most part, but somehow this has quickly become the one and only show I watch live as it airs. I haven't watched anything live for years. But this one, I can't look away. The confusion only makes it more compelling for me. I have to assume that's what they're going for.

Yeah, honestly, I watch about three hours of TV a week (as long as you don't count being in the room while Doc McStuffins runs for the umpteenth time), and this is a must-watch.

I don't generally go for TV where the only hook is what-happens-next, and I think this show delivers just the right amount of that combined with a really great look, extended just-this-side-of-scenery-chewing excellence from Jude Law, and a healthy dose of what-the-fuck that keeps me coming back.

I don't know where this is headed, and I'm not sure that I really care so long as it keeps on doing what it's doing.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:50 AM on February 7


I'm just getting to this now. But my reaction to this episode was "surely at some point in this show someone is finally going to tell Lenny to fuck right the hell off?"

Like his threats to the Italian Prime Minister to instruct Catholics not to vote. If indeed that's 80% of the electorate, surely he knows that doesn't just take votes away from the PM's party, but from ALL parties? I'm no expert but it seems to me like that move might actually help the PM? Because if the PM is trying to do all these progressive, non-Conservative Catholic policies, then wouldn't removing Catholics from the electorate presumably leave only the progressive, non-Conservative Catholic voters?

So I'm really wondering where this all is going, because it sure seems like Lenny is overplaying his hand.
posted by dnash at 8:44 PM on March 19


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