I praised this show last month. I said I was all in.. Since then I’ve been up and down on it and it has me in a weird place. I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to express my thoughts on the show but it’s making my brain hurt. No joke, I just got a headache from my first pass at this. I’m not disappointed by the series at all, I find it very interesting. My issue is in my expectations not being met after the hot start the series got off to.
This image represents The Young Pope’s journey from episode 1 through 9:
That is a well known representation of design process. It starts as a wild mess with tons of ideas and questions that eventually get worked out and smoothed into a clear final product. That works great for designing a building or a company logo. It’s not great for a television series because there is no big finale. No twist in the end. Nothing to give you that “wow” factor.
The Young Pope sold me on a reckless Pope who doesn’t believe in god and was hell bent on disrupting the old and antiquated ways of the church by returning it to the dark mysterious ways of the past. No forgiveness unless its earned, no compromise. Either give God absolute respect and devotion or GTFO. Completely bad ass. There were rumors that he is a saint, like a real one, but is that just part of his act? We didn’t know!! We as the audience knew NOTHING and it was fantastic.
Now as we enter the last episode we have a Pope who might actually be a saint. He’s softened up a bit and has become a lot less mean to everyone he meets. He even told the cooks (who he made cry in episode 1 for being too familiar) that he loved them all. He still holds a hard stance on a lot of issues that have pushed away the faithful and as a result crippled the church financially, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Either everyone has given up fighting him because it’s useless or they’re just burnt out by it.
Burnt out is exactly what happened. You can’t maintain that level of awesome I suppose. And even though a ton of wild stuff has happened, like his best friend getting murdered by a drug lord after he left the Vatican in protest of the Pope’s anti-gay stance, or the African water hogging lady getting prayed to death by Lenny, none of that made as big of an impact as it should have. Is it because they’re being suffocated by long dialogues peppered throughout each episode?? I don’t know, maybe.
I had high hopes that this Kurtwell case would save the day and become an enormous climax to finish the season off. Especially after the reporter asked if the Pope was being blackmailed by Kurtwell. That could have set the stage for some great drama. Order could have been restored in the church by eliminating the child abuse scandal and reckless leader all in one swing… but like everything else in this show that story line has shit the bed. At least they wrapped that up before the finale, that was nice of them to minimize the disappointment.
So now we have a very guilty Kurtwell on his way to the Vatican, the Pope’s love letters are published and everyone loves it, Bernardo the alcoholic cardinal is a temporary hero, and Lenny’s “spiritual father” is dead. Where does that leave us? What could possibly happen tonight that would make sense in the story and be good enough to hook me in for the next season?? I don’t know. I really don’t. Lot’s of pressure on Lenny Pope Hat. There aren’t many questions left to answer other than what’s going to happen next. Although I do have one question I NEED answered in the worst way.