Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Small Screen: The Young Pope "Episode 5"

"I intend to start a revolution."

There is a particular scene during the fifth episode of The Young Pope that I keep thinking about, one in which the Pope and his adoptive brother Andrew are in a hotel bar (if you are wondering how the Pope could possibly be hanging out in a hotel bar, you obviously don't watch The Young Pope and you should) and they lay eyes on a stunning woman walking nearby. After they sit with her and begin to converse with her, they discover that she is a prostitute and she claims they her clients tell her she is proof of the existence of God. She then takes a photo of Lenny (the Pope, again for those not watching the series yet) and says it's his eyes that are actually proof of a God. The way the scene is filmed, the look in the Pope's eyes as he takes in the compliment, the way we are given a few seconds to process the scene...I can't quite figure out if there is something deeper being said thematically or if this is just a moment to remember going forward for obvious reasons, for example the Pope previously declaring he didn't want his picture taken as he would rather be a symbol that remains in the shadows.

It's just simultaneously a great and also mysterious moment, mostly because I have no idea if it actually meant to be mysterious or if it just felt that way.

Some thoughts:

- The scene when Cardinal Voiello attempts to deliver the shocking news that Cardinal Gutierrez is an alcoholic to the Pope, only to find out that the Pope already knows this and basically ALL of their secrets already, is outstanding. He is an all knowing religious figure who quite literally walks above Voiello in that scene, and his dominance over them and the Church as a whole becomes clear (and even clearer during a later scene when the Cardinals quite literally kiss his feet).

- During that same scene while conversing with Voiello, the young Pope calls himself the young Pope during a show called The Young Pope. Amusing but the dialogue in that moment felt a bit awkward, especially for a show that thrives on its words sounding so perfect pretty much at all times normally.

- Speaking of awkward, I can't seem to figure out how I feel about the weirdness of the series. On the one hand, I love and admire Paolo Sorrentino for being able to deliver his show, his vision, no matter how odd it can be. On the other hand, moments like when the Pope is getting dressed with the song "I'm Sexy and I Know It" playing took me out of an otherwise brilliant dramatic episode. I'm all for oddness and comedic relief, but it was a sequence that stood out for the wrong reasons when I was so heavily invested in the darkness that clearly resides in this Pope's desired direction of the Church.

Even with a blip here or there, The Young Pope is such a great show. When it's at its best, it's masterful, and the scene when he addressed the Cardinals is masterful.

Episode Grade: A-

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