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Lenny (Jude Law) is emotionally distracted from finding his parents.

TV Review: Episode Seven of ‘The Young Pope’ brings new meaning to the phrase “Is the pope Catholic?”

It’s no secret Voiello loves soccer. He has three iPhones and each has a case featuring a soccer player. He’s all decked out in a Napoli jersey with his name and the No. 1 on the back. However, his team, Napoli, which is probably where Voiello (Silvio Orlando) is from, apparently got destroyed. The announcer called it the worst game Napoli has played in history. He clutches his rosary in defeat.

The announcer ends his commentary about how the game was such a disappointment. To keep it simple, the disappointing soccer game is a great segue to how disappointing “Episode Seven” is. The HBO Limited Series is tirelessly working to make Lenny’s character resolute. What is lacking within the Vatican walls is character progression — and Voiello and Sister Mary are the culprits.


It turns out that Voiello has a backup USB of the crippling photos of Esther and Lenny (Jude Law). Caltanissetta counts out the possibility of using the photos. He says it would look like the Vatican is desperate to push out Lenny. Caltanissetta keeps the USB and plans on destroying or hiding it.

Regardless, Voiello is dead set on Cardinal Michael Spencer (James Cromwell) becoming pope and is even willing to say it will happen in 15 days.

Sister Mary makes a comeback

Again, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) is seen playing basketball by herself and she sees Tommaso running across the courtyard in a panic. He’s such an odd fellow.

He tells her Lenny promised him cardinalship, but we know from last episode that Lenny gave it to Gutierrez. Tommaso tells Sister Mary, Lenny confided in him that he, a leader of 20 million people in the Catholic faith, does not believe in God. She is disturbed by this and creates an interesting plan to manipulate Lenny. It’s pretty obvious she is turning against Lenny — she prays, asking for forgiveness for what she is about to do. But, she justifies it will be better for the church.

She sends Lenny an unlabeled envelope of that weird tube-like piece he dropped at the gate of the orphanage. Sister Mary kept it all these years without his knowledge and we learn it’s the stem of Lenny’s father’s pipe. He keeps the body of the pipe in his pocket to this day. Lenny sees it and starts crying and it’s then we realize the diabolical plan Sister Mary has to distract Lenny with the biggest/only weakness he has — Lenny's parents and how she is leading him to believe they are alive and are looking for him.

Sister Mary meets Voiello in a woodsy area and tells Voiello she is setting up a path of distractions and disturbances for the pope, leaving him unfocused. If Voiello has something he needs the pope to sign, she says, now would be the time to do it. (*Cough*, like a resignation.) So the plan seems to be they’re going to try to make Lenny sign his own resignation.

Power swap

Cardinal Spencer meets up with Caltanissetta and Voiello and gives them insight on how the pope thinks. Spencer has been fairly quiet since his unsuccessful groveling with the pope. But, he tells them what everyone already knows, how he’s closing down the Vatican and using the practice of suffering to get closer to God. No one is certain if Lenny’s plan is going to work and the writing in the show has no evidence how his methods will turn out. All we know is the results are not fast enough for the cardinals.

Voiello promises the pope’s resignation to Spencer and reveals how they want to make him pope. A mutiny is afoot.


The episode takes a step outside the Vatican to a high society party. Andrew Dussolier is there and he’s smashed. He was invited by a woman who seemed pretty smug with him. The gist of it is he is still blaming himself for the young man’s suicide. The drunk Dussolier goes to the bathroom and the hostess locks herself in the bathroom with him, strips down and throws her hands against the door with her backside out. The intoxicated cardinal immediately starts laughing and she gives up the seduction plan.

The son of the hostess takes Dussolier home, but then tries to have sex with him in the back of a parked car while Dussolier is passed out. When Dussolier pushes him off, the man gets angry and tosses him out of the car in his underwear with his clothes. The man has definitely lost his way. Priests are, of course, humans too, but the way he is coping with the suicide is not very holy or priestlike. He’s not searching for God’s will and why he was dealt the cards he has.

Meet the parents

Lenny is in his office waiting for his “parents” and while he waits, Voiello has him sign a few things. He signs two pages within the stack of papers and stops as Valente as Lenny’s supposed parents walk into the room. They seem strange, standing in front of Lenny, blank-faced. Lenny is skeptical and interrogates them about the pipe. The father explains the story and Lenny tries to catch him lying by switching the story around and rewording the same questions. Like a dog, he smells them and then sends them away, calling them imposters.

Later on, Lenny asks Tommaso for suspects on who set up the fraudulent parents scam. Tommaso refuses to tell him any more confessions. Lenny assumes it’s because he didn’t appoint him as cardinal, but Tommaso says it’s because Lenny doesn't believe in God and then runs away again in a panic.

Voiello and the pope have dinner that night. Lenny switches their plates as if there is a possibility of being poisoned. Lenny asks if Voiello knows who spearheaded the plan of the fake parents. Voiello says it wasn’t him because his works are much more sophisticated. Lenny agrees and lets him off the hook. Voiello tells him it was probably a pair of “lunatics” obsessed with the pope.

More Dussolier

Based on what’s been going on in Dussolier’s life, his judgment is not looking too good. It’s clear he is unhappy as prefect and Lenny doesn’t care. Lenny actually tells Dussolier that Sanchez got off easy by committing suicide. After they fight a little longer, Dussolier decides he wants to go back to Honduras.

Tah-dah, Dussolier returns to Honduras and is picked up by the woman he’s had relations with. Surprise, it’s the wife of a drug lord — and he found out Dussolier was sleeping with her. The narco is in the car with them and gives Dussolier a long-winded speech about how normal priests preach against the cartel and against his livelihood and he doesn’t blame priests for that. But, Dussolier isn’t a “normal” priest and instead screws his wife and feels that cannot be forgiven. He shoots Dussolier and leaves his body in a field. The wife cries.

Last episode, I made a wrong call about his character becoming more prominent in the show, but we can't get them all right. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes a scandal or if Lenny ever finds out the truth of why his orphan brother was murdered.

The ring of resignation

If gossip were alcohol, the cardinals would be belligerent alcoholics. In terms of Lenny’s possibility of resigning, the line of communication starts to get confusing toward the end of the episode. So here’s what we know:

  • Voiello tells Caltanissetta that he couldn’t get the pope to unknowingly sign off on his resignation
  • Lenny tells Spencer he’s a terrible pope and he wants to resign
  • Lenny tells Sister Mary he wants to resign, but she advises him against it, even though she was in on the plan before
  • Voiello doesn’t know the pope is considering stepping down
  • We didn’t see Voiello have a conversation with Spencer on his failure to get the pope to resign
  • It’s still up in the air if the pope is going to take Sister Mary’s words of encouragement to heart and continue as pope

Rating: 3/5

The Young Pope airs every Sunday and Monday at 9 p.m. on HBO.


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