The Young Pope & The New Pope

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The Pachyderminator
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Re: The Young Pope

#76 Post by The Pachyderminator » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:33 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:31 pm
Sorrentino did explain the credits a bit which isn’t anything astounding but hints at some thematic intent without being a spoiler in any way.
Episode 3 (not plot-related)Show
Huh, it's interesting to see that the statue of Pope John Paul II felled by a meteorite was based on a pre-existing artwork. I thought it was just one of many little oddball details invented for the show.

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Re: The Young Pope

#77 Post by The Pachyderminator » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:39 am

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:40 am
I'll get some of my impressions about the first half on record and then say no more until I've finished.
...
As I said earlier, I wouldn't even venture to guess where the story is going to go from here. Almost anything seems possible.
Episode 9Show
I still have one episode to go, so I really shouldn't post yet, but wow.

A surprise turn into overt miracle-working, à la Dreyer's Ordet, was one of the possibilities I explicitly considered, but it never occurred to me that the miracle would be in the past, and in fact in one of the flashbacks to Lennie's childhood that I naively thought were heavy-handed and obvious. In retrospect, there were hints and foreshadowing, but it just didn't enter my head. It's a brilliant and unexpected move that completely reframes and redefines so much of what came before, while flawlessly fitting into the logic of the way these characters and this dramatic world work.
I still don't know how it's going to end, but any ambivalence I felt about the first few episodes is gone. If anyone is following this thread while still on the fence about whether you should watch, you should. This has to be seen to be believed.

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senseabove
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Re: The Young Pope

#78 Post by senseabove » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:10 am

Episode 4Show
No extended observations this time. Feels like mostly a transitional episode, with the salient shift being how it positions Voiello and Lenny in parallel, each with their Lambs, Girolamo and Esther. Something tells me Lenny ain't gonna be happy when he finds out Voiello is sacrificing his lamb for him. And I guess that's the other salient point: this episode also positioned their individually dubious faithfulness—Voiello's duplicitous conniving, Lenny's iconoclasm—in relation to their respective, (typically) desperate turns to pleading, each of them relieving the suffering they experience due to their particular forms of dubious faithfulness by transposing its transgressiveness onto the aforementioned lambs, the pure innocent and the true believer. If only someone would believe that, like the stigmatatized shepherd, they see Mary in that Lamb...

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Re: The Young Pope

#79 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:41 pm

Episode 3 & 4Show
At least in episode 3, sister Mary seems some kind of mediator between Voiello and Lenny. She sees the parts of them the other cannot. She is not able (yet?) to bridge the gap.

I had a thought, no idea if it's accurate or not, but I don't wonder if Lenny on some level is a representation of the contradictions and facets of god himself: the difficulties and unknowabilities, the righteousness and jealousies, the anger, but also the inspiration, love, and foresight. The reactions of the others to his mystery and the unknowability of his plans simulates that of ordinary people's relationship to the divine. Sister Mary thinks Lenny needs concepts and vision from Michael, which would make Michael the church to Lenny's god, there to provide the sturcture of religion. Certainly the bishops and Voiello are much more concerned with religion, with a structure and a series of concepts to organize the faithful's relationship with the divine. Lenny, however, is much more focussed on the divine. Will they, ought they to, come together? Michael seems poised at the end to be the big mediator, and yet he's dismissed almost immediately.

Then again, how to read Lenny's “Absence is presence. These are the fundamentals of mystery. The mystery that will be at the centre of my church.” speech. I mean, I have no idea how much to credit anything he says, the ironic tone is still in force, but it seems that when he conceives of the church, he does so in far more ancient terms, ie. as mystery cult. This may perhaps be why members have called the show esoteric above. For Lenny, it's a church for initiates, a religion for the included.

As for episode four, I haven't much to say except a couple stray observations: Voiello is perhaps the most sympathetic character because we find out so much about what moves him as a human. He exploits other people's sins by using their guilt, and yet at the end is neither contemptuous or judgemental of their constant sinning coupled with their equally constant declarations that they wish to stop. Instead, he includes himself with them. A true Catholic, he mediates god through icons of purity, here the disabled kid, who for him is the one true vision of the unfallen. His own version of the Virgin Mary, but how much more human an icon.

This is also I think the first time I've felt Lenny was unequivocally genuine and sincere: his prayer at the end. The sheer intensity of the emotion in it, from pleading, to commanding, to willing, to demanding, to accepting. Perhaps because it contained numerous emotions rather than just one, it was Lenny at his least ironic, most sincere. It summed the range his feelings rather than expressing them singly. A powerful moment--but perhaps the next episode will undo it entirely. Never can tell with this show.

By the way, love your post, senseabove, especially how you picked out the parallels between Lenny and Voiello. I envy your insights. I find it hard to know what to say about the show, or even process what I'm watching.

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senseabove
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Re: The Young Pope

#80 Post by senseabove » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:11 pm

So, uh, a word of warning for the spoiler averse: do not Google things that might include information about The New Pope. While looking up information about a disc release of TYP, I searched just to see if TNP had a scheduled BD release, and the first sentence that popped up about it seems like a significant spoiler for TYP.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:41 pm
SpoilerShow
I had a thought, no idea if it's accurate or not, but I don't wonder if Lenny on some level is a representation of the contradictions and facets of god himself: the difficulties and unknowabilities, the righteousness and jealousies, the anger, but also the inspiration, love, and foresight. The reactions of the others to his mystery and the unknowability of his plans simulates that of ordinary people's relationship to the divine.
This was on my mind a lot throughout the fifth episode... I don't know how much I'd want to extrapolate from it as you do in the following, but I think you'll have some more points for or against the central idea soon.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:41 pm
SpoilerShow
By the way, love your post, senseabove, especially how you picked out the parallels between Lenny and Voiello. I envy your insights. I find it hard to know what to say about the show, or even process what I'm watching.
And here I was reading your post and thinking you illuminated a lot of what I was trying to point to, so consider it mutual.
Episode 5Show
What a fantastic episode of television, and this feels like Television through and through: granular, knob-tweaking, U-shaped. Each episode is very pointedly playing in contrast to its immediate predecessor and typically works around a major shift at the start and a major shift at the end, with small but critical adjustments in the interim. I hesitate to drag the whole film vs TV debate in, but the thematic, episodic dispensation used by this show is just so well planned. I understand the desire to "elevate" this because, in the watching, it strikes me as the most thematically ambitious television I've ever seen, with a complexity and carefulness that is uncommon, no matter the medium, but its beats, its technique, its structure, the episodic unity counter-balanced by the thematic shifts of its multi-episode arcs, all feel distinctly and wonderfully 21st Century Prestige TV, as a narrative style distinct from film and from preceding forms of seriality.

Incidentally, I noticed this time that, in the paintings credits sequence, the star's trajectory is appropriate to the perspectival scheme of each painting, and started wondering if the ten artworks are a roadmap to the then episodes... Given the fifth painting's Crusade theme and the fifth episode's doubling down on the iconoclasm, plus the unfortunate spoiler I read about The New Pope, I suspect there's something to the idea...

But moving on. Law metamorphoses two or three times in each episode. He was the homophobic bigot and the intercessory saint last episode, and now he's the (out-)conniver (that surprise cut to him walking on the low wall with Voielloe sobbing on the sidewalk!) and the gnostic, whom we've only glimpsed before. Both speeches in the opening scenes, about God moving to a new place (1) and priests as cowards (2), are emotionally opposed: internalized and externalized expansive self-portraits united and summarized in the address to Cardinals, a full-scale retreat into the isolationist mystical. We're beginning to see what that looks like in practice, among the mundane and interpersonal plotpoints, but I'm curious to see how it will transform now that Lenny's proclaimed it. And especially now that the seeds of Sister Mary's betrayal of Lenny have been planted, with her lying that she didn't tell Voiello about his and Andrew's midnight jaunt and Voiello "destroying" the photos by giving them to her.

On another note, I've joked about what little I know of Catholicism, but I feel pretty confident that the Pope telling a believer to confess her sins directly to God is more significant than the Pope aaaoooooga-ing a hotel lobby hooker. And I was among evangelicals long enough to have a good cringe at the hooker's "proof of God," a pedestrian shorthand for anti-evolutionary "intelligent design" that Lenny seems disappointed to recognize for exactly what it is, even if we do see the hooker starting at the photo, zoomed in on his eye, in devout conviction. She will not be numbered among the ball-busting true believers.

There's a lot more I could say about this episode, but I've spent enough time at the computer...

1. "He's angry, and his anger keeps him from viewing matters objectively, and so in protest he's moved to a new place..He's come to the conclusion there's nothing he can do about human beings." This speech ends with "He's lost the 'u'" and I don't know what that means?

2. "I've renounced my fellow man because I don't want to suffer, because I'm incapable of withstanding the heartbreak of love, because I'm unhappy, like all priests. It would be wonderful to love you the way you want to be loved. But that's not possible, because I'm not a man. I'm a coward. I am a coward, like all priests."

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Re: The Young Pope

#81 Post by The Pachyderminator » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:50 pm

senseabove wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:11 pm
Episode 5Show
On another note, I've joked about what little I know of Catholicism, but I feel pretty confident that the Pope telling a believer to confess her sins directly to God is more significant than the Pope aaaoooooga-ing a hotel lobby hooker.
Episode 5Show
I don't think he was telling Esther not to go to confession, but simply not to tell him any of the ways their relationship is on a dishonest footing, since by this point he knows about or suspects some of Voiello's machinations. Since Lennie (thinks he) has beaten Voiello at this point, he's not afraid to continue enjoying his relationship with Esther for what it is - but only as long as no one speaks the sordid details aloud.

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Re: The Young Pope

#82 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:25 pm

This is a wonderful discussion; and I’m feeling more and more validated on not feeling alone against knives’ claims on this as “plain speaking” or “explicit” in its handling of the material.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:41 pm
SpoilerShow
I had a thought, no idea if it's accurate or not, but I don't wonder if Lenny on some level is a representation of the contradictions and facets of god himself: the difficulties and unknowabilities, the righteousness and jealousies, the anger, but also the inspiration, love, and foresight. The reactions of the others to his mystery and the unknowability of his plans simulates that of ordinary people's relationship to the divine.
senseabove wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:11 pm
Episode 5Show
Law metamorphoses two or three times in each episode. He was the homophobic bigot and the intercessory saint last episode, and now he's the (out-)conniver (that surprise cut to him walking on the low wall with Voielloe sobbing on the sidewalk!) and the gnostic, whom we've only glimpsed before. Both speeches in the opening scenes, about God moving to a new place (1) and priests as cowards (2), are emotionally opposed: internalized and externalized expansive self-portraits united and summarized in the address to Cardinals, a full-scale retreat into the isolationist mystical. We're beginning to see what that looks like in practice, among the mundane and interpersonal plotpoints, but I'm curious to see how it will transform now that Lenny's proclaimed it. And especially now that the seeds of Sister Mary's betrayal of Lenny have been planted, with her lying that she didn't tell Voiello about his and Andrew's midnight jaunt and Voiello "destroying" the photos by giving them to her.
No episode, just in response to these postsShow
You’re both onto something, and I think that what brings this film back to the relatable beyond one’s own relationship with faith and the unknown is that very human reality of not necessarily acting or feeling in accordance with consistency or reason. We are collecting information on Lenny just as he is getting information on himself from the feelers he puts out there, just as we do in the world when faced with contrasting beliefs, urges, parts within us that motivate different drives. To Sausage’s point, I think that’s the ticket right there- but going further, if man is made in God’s image and God created man yet remains unknowable and yet we assume expects a relationship between the human being and Him, well, won’t that relationship act as a mirror of those multiple facets of diverse emotions? It may be a strange analogy but if I was locked in a room and it was all I knew for my entire life, and I was fed and provided for by an unknown being on the other side of the wall, slipping my pleasures and pains through a slot, having direct contact but without seeing a face, how would I feel toward that unknown entity? I’d be grateful and resentful, accepting of my limitations some days and curiously frustrated on others, would feel worthy for being cared for and unworthy for being deprived of knowledge, etc.

Perhaps the above is a poor example but to go even further, if, for example, I was in a room alone with some kind of direct contact with this god slipping stuff under the door, and I then could see the floor below with a cesspool of the rest of the population getting their same food, pleasure and pain without that direct contact, well, I’d probably have a different kind of complex relationship with that being that is giving directly to me and not the others, giving me a private space for that contact and not the others, and wondering a few things through perhaps a more contentiously angry and ego-inducing set of lenses than the group of folks downstairs getting their resources and experiences together with a greater distance from that god. There is something to power that begets a more powerful existential crisis, just as Sausage says perhaps God does too. I don’t know, but it’s something to think about in looking at an old idea in a new way.

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Re: The Young Pope

#83 Post by senseabove » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:03 pm

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:50 pm
Episode 5Show
I don't think he was telling Esther not to go to confession, but simply not to tell him any of the ways their relationship is on a dishonest footing, since by this point he knows about or suspects some of Voiello's machinations. Since Lennie (thinks he) has beaten Voiello at this point, he's not afraid to continue enjoying his relationship with Esther for what it is - but only as long as no one speaks the sordid details aloud.
SpoilerShow
"I have to confess... a horrible thing I did—"
"Confess—your secrets to God alone, Esther, even those that have to do with me. There's only one thing I can do for you: forgive you, forgive you always."
I'm not exactly a religious scholar, and it's entirely possible it was disproportionately emphasized, whether in the how I internalized the information or how it was taught, because of the pervasive anti-Catholic "us vs them" environment of Southern Baptist religion, but I've always had the idea that confessing your sins directly to God, without priest as intercessor, was one of the Main Reasons for the Reformation. So to have the Pope, the absolute last, highest stop on the confessional hierarchy, tell her to skip him and go to God, even if it's just for those particular sins or even just this one time, still strikes me as a big deal, and indicative of Lenny's iconoclasm. And that it should be a big deal feels validated by the cut to the sunbeam-lit opening of the lily, a symbol of purity typically associated with Mary, followed by the vocal confirmation by both Lenny and Esther that they "feel it," "it" presumably being the forgiveness of God. But I don't think the dialogue bears out that he was limiting it: "even those that have to do with me" implies the exact opposite, that she should confess all her sins to God, even those sins that she wants to tell him for personal and/or informational, not strictly confessional, reasons.

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Re: The Young Pope

#84 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Feb 02, 2020 6:01 pm

The spoiler free period is set to end tomorrow, but how to people feel about extending it another week?

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Re: The Young Pope

#85 Post by domino harvey » Sun Feb 02, 2020 6:32 pm

Considering no one’s finished who hadn’t already seen it, I think it makes sense

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Re: The Young Pope

#86 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:03 pm

Ok, the spoiler period is being extended to the 10th. I've edited the first post to reflect that.

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Re: The Young Pope

#87 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:35 pm

Episode 5Show
This is a hell of an episode. Continuing from the final scene of episode 4, this is a much more sincere and tonally straightforward dramatic episode for a lot of its running time. Sincerity is the focus of the drama, but up to a point.

Watching Lenny's opening speech about god's anger, it struck me, tho' who knows why it took so long, that Lenny's comments about god are a kind of displaced self-reflection. How many other times has this been true? Also, his comment that he intends to start a revolution, well, I immediately thought of Christ as revolutionary, redefining the church against the stagnant and corrupt traditionalism of the pharisees. So, yeah, Lenny going all godlike on us.

Would love to know why Gutierrez stares at that one hermaphroditic painting. A man nursing an infant at his breast--ironic symbol for Lenny, the male pope feeding his flock? Probably too vulgar an interpretation, and it's Gutierrez that stares, not Lenny--but still...
Lenny wrote:I love god because it’s so painful to love human beings. I love a god that never leaves me but then always leaves me. God, the absence of god, always reassuring and definitive. I’m a priest. I’ve renounced my fellow man, my fellow woman, because I don’t want to suffer, because I’m incapable of withstanding the heartbreak of love, because I’m unhappy. Like all priests. It would be great to love you the way that you want. But I’m not a man. I’m a coward. Like all priests.

^^a hell of a speech, and I took it at face value while watching. But now, given the preternatural knowledge Lenny displays throughout the episode, I wonder: was he speaking openly and directly, or was this meant for Voiello as much as anything, a speech crafted to touch Voiello's beliefs in his own loneliness and brokenness, ie. meant to further Lenny's plan and outmaneuver his enemies as much as anything. Or why not both: he meant it, but also meant its being overheard to have beneficial effects.

The flashback is crucial. At first, it appears to set up Lenny as someone who doesn't turn back on what he sets out to do, but in the end, we see that Lenny is in fact of two minds about things, shaking his head both yes and no when Sister Mary asks if he intended to run away. It's not that he doesn't know, it's that both are true. Lenny the multifaceted. Lenny the being composed of many beings. Symbolically, this is represented by the divided pipe: Lenny has one part, but the stem, the part he left behind, is held by sister Mary. That said: is this division in him still true by the episode's end?

What’s with the “your eyes are proof of the existence of god” bit with the prostitute? Also, now Lenny has a photo of himself out there, on a prostitute's phone no less. Not that anyone in the public will know it's him.

Despite winning the political battle, there is still something quite unpolitical about Lenny. There were no machinations, only revelations. He's unable to be manipulated precisely because he's not political (uninterested in consensus for example, or with having allies and standing and all the other things that come with functioning practically inside a political system).

And, god, what a grand villain's speech at the end. Lenny can barely hide his grin. The ironic tone is back; who knows what to think of the speech's sincerity. But one thing for sure, his comments about a closed church for initiates only is a mystery cult indeed, and by definition esoteric: only for an enlightened inner circle. I can't know the full reasons why domino and therewillbeblus call the show esoteric, but certainly Lenny is making the church that way.

Lenny's triumph in the Sistine chapel is crowned by a scene of his control over nature: he gets the kangaroo to jump, which he'd failed to do some episodes earlier, and the editing implies the flower opening in the sunlight did so at his command.

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Re: The Young Pope

#88 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:10 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:35 pm
Episode 5Show
Lenny wrote:I love god because it’s so painful to love human beings. I love a god that never leaves me but then always leaves me. God, the absence of god, always reassuring and definitive. I’m a priest. I’ve renounced my fellow man, my fellow woman, because I don’t want to suffer, because I’m incapable of withstanding the heartbreak of love, because I’m unhappy. Like all priests. It would be great to love you the way that you want. But I’m not a man. I’m a coward. Like all priests.

The flashback is crucial. At first, it appears to set up Lenny as someone who doesn't turn back on what he sets out to do, but in the end, we see that Lenny is in fact of two minds about things, shaking his head both yes and no when Sister Mary asks if he intended to run away. It's not that he doesn't know, it's that both are true. Lenny the multifaceted. Lenny the being composed of many beings. Symbolically, this is represented by the divided pipe: Lenny has one part, but the stem, the part he left behind, is held by sister Mary.
Episode 5Show
Great post, and that quote of Lenny's perfectly summarizes one part of him I think is crucial for him to understand but which he can't comfortably accept beyond brief recognition as he works through his other parts.

Something I'm thinking about in response to your comment: "the stem, held by sister Mary," with Sister Mary as representative of his corporeal god? A caretaker who he has mixed feelings towards, not because of literal details that have strained the relationship as much as from his own inner conflict and the natural conflict between a being and their caretaker. Sister Mary is of course not Lenny's God, but is perhaps his first experience with a more powerful force that cares for him unconditionally and yet withholds information, keeping him at a frustrating distance, and grooming him for something greater which he can, and maybe still doesn't, comprehend. This isn't a fully realised point on my part, but there might be something there, not in thinking of her as a God but in shaping his relationship with God beyond the obvious 'daddy-issues' parent stand-in or innately ego-born power struggle.

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Re: The Young Pope

#89 Post by senseabove » Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:51 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:03 pm
Ok, the spoiler period is being extended to the 10th. I've edited the first post to reflect that.
Thanks! I was gonna ask if that would be possible.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:35 pm
SpoilerShow
What’s with the “your eyes are proof of the existence of god” bit with the prostitute? Also, now Lenny has a photo of himself out there, on a prostitute's phone no less. Not that anyone in the public will know it's him.

Lenny's triumph in the Sistine chapel is crowned by a scene of his control over nature: he gets the kangaroo to jump, which he'd failed to do some episodes earlier, and the editing implies the flower opening in the sunlight did so at his command.
SpoilerShow
On a strictly literal level, the eye is commonly used as "proof of God" in kitchen-sink apologetics. Many Christians point to its complexity as proof that evolution cannot be true, because the eye is just too complicated an organ to have evolved on its own, or if it is begrudgingly admitted to any degree, it is still evidence of God's guiding hand in the matter. That's the look of disappointment you see on Lenny's face: he was hoping she had found something in some Bacchic revelation that he hadn't and couldn't have, but all she had was a dumb gotcha that casual believers use to buttress their beliefs against the onslaught of science.

And I think the lily's art historical significance is key. It's a symbol of purity usually associated with Mary, frequently present in annunciation scenes, often held by the Archangel Gabriel or sometimes just nearby in a vase. Earlier I said I thought it was a symbol of Esther's forgiveness, which given that Mary is without sin, it probably is in a roundabout way, but given its painterly association, I had a duh moment after walking away from the keyboard: its pretty clearly, and more importantly, an annunciation to Esther that she's pregnant. That's the "it" she and Lenny feel: her baby's conception. Lenny is quite literally in the position of the archangel—at a short distance, slightly above her—so you might be onto something that he effected it.
On to episode six... Now that I have some free time this week, it's going to be heard to not binge the rest of it, but I'm really enjoying letting each episode sit for a while.

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Re: The Young Pope

#90 Post by senseabove » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:47 am

Well, if any of you believe in signs, my projector lamp literally exploded right as Andrew said "Let us pray" at the end of the cross-cut scene that features him in the opening of episode six.
Episode 6Show
Which is a threesome with a much younger couple, if you've forgotten.

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Re: The Young Pope

#91 Post by The Pachyderminator » Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:17 am

Episode 5Show
senseabove wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:51 am
On a strictly literal level, the eye is commonly used as "proof of God" in kitchen-sink apologetics. Many Christians point to its complexity as proof that evolution cannot be true, because the eye is just too complicated an organ to have evolved on its own, or if it is begrudgingly admitted to any degree, it is still evidence of God's guiding hand in the matter. That's the look of disappointment you see on Lenny's face: he was hoping she had found something in some Bacchic revelation that he hadn't and couldn't have, but all she had was a dumb gotcha that casual believers use to buttress their beliefs against the onslaught of science.
Perhaps, but I read that differently. Remember that this comes right after she says that some of her clients see her - i.e., presumably her body - as proof of the existence of God, but "they see me because they can't see far," whereas she - so she says - sees farther. That means, it seems to me, that she can see the soul where her clients only see the body. The eyes, as they so often are, are a metonym for the soul and the depths within it. If one unpacks this argument, it accurately reflects Christian anthropology, in which the soul derives from and reflects the nature of God - as does everything in creation in its way, but the rational soul uniquely so. Cf. the creation story where humans are made "in God's image." However, while a different argument than the intelligent design one about the complexity of the eye and perhaps ultimately a better one, Lennie's disappointment is much the same. Many have felt similarly dissatisfied on being told that their soul, which, from the inside, they know to be a psychological garbage fire, can tell them anything about God. (And there's also the issue, of course, that she probably tells all her potential clients that she sees mystery and profundity in their eyes; hearing that from a prostitute is hardly more meaningful than hearing it from a priest!)
'm not exactly a religious scholar, and it's entirely possible it was disproportionately emphasized, whether in the how I internalized the information or how it was taught, because of the pervasive anti-Catholic "us vs them" environment of Southern Baptist religion, but I've always had the idea that confessing your sins directly to God, without priest as intercessor, was one of the Main Reasons for the Reformation. So to have the Pope, the absolute last, highest stop on the confessional hierarchy, tell her to skip him and go to God, even if it's just for those particular sins or even just this one time, still strikes me as a big deal, and indicative of Lenny's iconoclasm.
Yeah, on second thought, you're not wrong about this. The literal meaning is that he doesn't want to hear about this sin from her, but the effect is to underline another way that wherever Lennie goes, the institutional structures of the Church start to break down.
Meanwhile, I've now seen the last episode, and, um.
Episode 10Show
Am I supposed to find satisfaction in seeing an abusive priest get quietly transferred to ministry in another location in lieu of justice for the victims or effective measures to remove danger for more potential victims? Yeah, sure, it's cold, he deserves it, whatever. It's a town of 8,000 people. There must be children in it. It's just like the good old days before the events of Spotlight when no priest is capable of committing a crime that can't be submerged in the Lethean waters of the Catholic bureaucracy. ARE YOU SHITTING ME. I almost want to unwatch this episode if I could. This could be enough to ruin the show for me entirely.

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Re: The Young Pope

#92 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:47 am

senseabove wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:51 am
Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:03 pm
Ok, the spoiler period is being extended to the 10th. I've edited the first post to reflect that.
Thanks! I was gonna ask if that would be possible.
Mr Sausage wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:35 pm
SpoilerShow
What’s with the “your eyes are proof of the existence of god” bit with the prostitute? Also, now Lenny has a photo of himself out there, on a prostitute's phone no less. Not that anyone in the public will know it's him.

Lenny's triumph in the Sistine chapel is crowned by a scene of his control over nature: he gets the kangaroo to jump, which he'd failed to do some episodes earlier, and the editing implies the flower opening in the sunlight did so at his command.
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On a strictly literal level, the eye is commonly used as "proof of God" in kitchen-sink apologetics. Many Christians point to its complexity as proof that evolution cannot be true, because the eye is just too complicated an organ to have evolved on its own, or if it is begrudgingly admitted to any degree, it is still evidence of God's guiding hand in the matter. That's the look of disappointment you see on Lenny's face: he was hoping she had found something in some Bacchic revelation that he hadn't and couldn't have, but all she had was a dumb gotcha that casual believers use to buttress their beliefs against the onslaught of science.

And I think the lily's art historical significance is key. It's a symbol of purity usually associated with Mary, frequently present in annunciation scenes, often held by the Archangel Gabriel or sometimes just nearby in a vase. Earlier I said I thought it was a symbol of Esther's forgiveness, which given that Mary is without sin, it probably is in a roundabout way, but given its painterly association, I had a duh moment after walking away from the keyboard: its pretty clearly, and more importantly, an annunciation to Esther that she's pregnant. That's the "it" she and Lenny feel: her baby's conception. Lenny is quite literally in the position of the archangel—at a short distance, slightly above her—so you might be onto something that he effected it.
On to episode six... Now that I have some free time this week, it's going to be heard to not binge the rest of it, but I'm really enjoying letting each episode sit for a while.
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I like your explanation vis a vis the eyes, but I don't know if I agree. She doesn't phrase it as a common argument, she phrases it as an insight unique to her. And she takes a picture to stare at Lenny's eye. It doesn't have the ring of a materialist, natural theology argument for intelligent design. Also, Lenny's disappointment is kind of ridiculous: how eagre and grasping do you have to be to hope some random woman has all the truths of creation merely because she says so? His alacrity at questioning her is, well, naive. But perhaps he should've taken more interest: it's not nothing that a prostitute, who has available to her the low rhetoric about how god, heaven, or enlightenment can be accessed through her genitals, chooses to repudiate her body as god's temple in favour of finding god in other people's expressive qualities. Again, too, the scene ends not with Lenny's disappointment but a shot of the woman zooming in on Lenny's eye in the picture.

Oh, and nice stuff picking out the lily symbolism. This show is making me feel my lack of training in the history of painting and iconography; I can only guess how much I'm missing. The lily symbolism at the end gives new light to Gutierrez staring at the hermaphrodite picture: it is Lenny, but Lenny as creator of Esther's baby.

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senseabove
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Re: The Young Pope

#93 Post by senseabove » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:41 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:47 am
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I like your explanation vis a vis the eyes, but I don't know if I agree. She doesn't phrase it as a common argument, she phrases it as an insight unique to her. And she takes a picture to stare at Lenny's eye. It doesn't have the ring of a materialist, natural theology argument for intelligent design. Also, Lenny's disappointment is kind of ridiculous: how eagre and grasping do you have to be to hope some random woman has all the truths of creation merely because she says so? His alacrity at questioning her is, well, naive. But perhaps he should've taken more interest: it's not nothing that a prostitute, who has available to her the low rhetoric about how god, heaven, or enlightenment can be accessed through her genitals, chooses to repudiate her body as god's temple in favour of finding god in other people's expressive qualities. Again, too, the scene ends not with Lenny's disappointment but a shot of the woman zooming in on Lenny's eye in the picture.

Oh, and nice stuff picking out the lily symbolism. This show is making me feel my lack of training in the history of painting and iconography; I can only guess how much I'm missing. The lily symbolism at the end gives new light to Gutierrez staring at the hermaphrodite picture: it is Lenny, but Lenny as creator of Esther's baby.
Continuing Ep. 5 discussion:
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Never underestimate the self-satisfied pseudo-profundity of the apologeticist, nor the horny man's willingness to be led by the nose? She's portrayed as being pretty vapidly, comically full of herself. Given that she's apparently hot enough for that tongue-lolling thing to be taken as sexy—by herself and presumably her clients—I'm guessing she's hot enough for her clients to act like her every utterance is profound wisdom, which she may herself belief, even if she's just regurgitating something. Much like Lenny hopes it to be. I've met many a not very bright, stupidly attractive person who can make a pedestrian observation and be fawned over for it, and I'd be lying if I said I've never fawned a little myself. But here, it punctures Lenny's bubble.

But everything in this show is working on multiple levels—I think your interpretation dovetails nicely with Pachyderminator's extrapolation of what the eye being taken as the window to the soul can mean in Lenny's context, and her zooming in on the eye at the end certainly hints that the whole situation has valences than apologetics.

Also, for more art-historical fun, that's Jusepe de Ribera's "Magdalena Ventura with Her Husband and Son," a painting of a bearded woman, presumably nursing to show that she is, in fact, a woman. But this seems like one where its art-historical context is less important than its apparent symbolism.

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Re: The Young Pope

#94 Post by senseabove » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:02 am

Episodes 6 & 7Show
Having been unable to watch an episode last night while I waited on my replacement bulb, I doubled up and watched episodes 6 and 7 tonight, and my first instinct is that these were the two least-satisfying episodes so far. Episode six gives us, unlike the duplicitous and multi-faceted Lenny we've seen in preceding episodes, a mostly one-sided Lenny, the political bully, as well as the ramification of his actions: a sole miracle of birth, accompanied by a wide array of isolation, displacement, and death, with Gutierrez on his way to NYC, that one priest in Alaska, Andrew in Rome, the angry Franciscan monks, and the suicidal kid. We're seeing just how ruinous he has been for everyone even vaguely connected to him, and since he's the pope, that's a whole lot of people. We're also seeing the vain, power-hungry, arch-conservative side of Lenny, but that's part and parcel of the political bully.

I want to tie the stigmata of St Francis—as seen in the sixth painting, for this the sixth episode—to the public image of God's contact with the individual, and thus proof of God's choice of this individual as his representative, and so Lenny, like the recently disappeared Tomasino, just wants someone—like 31% of the Prime Minister's voters—to recognize his being God by proxy... only for that recognition to come in mostly unfortunate ways (namely suicide, in this episode, and murder in the next).

Episode 7 is my least favorite so far, or perhaps I just wasn't paying as close attention, since I had a friend watching with me for these two, and I'm always self-aware of how friends are reacting to something I invited them to watch. But Pachyderminator said earlier they felt like things were being hammered home, and I didn't expect it to get this heavy-handed—so much that I told said fried that this episode felt unrepresentative of the first half of the show. All of the maneuvering is unsubtle, the contextualization blunt, the misdirection heavy-handed. For the most part, it lacks the fascinating ambiguity present in the first half of the show, though it returns for the scene near the end, when Lenny, after having interrogated several people about who arranged for the fake parents, all of whom refused to tell him, thanks Sister Mary for arranging for the fake parents, and you can't quite tell whether he's fishing, or genuinely thankful, or resigning himself to destroying her, nor whether she is wary of his thanks or just surprised. I hope all the simple, straightforward plotting—Sister Mary switching allegiances, Spencer's back-room nomination, Andrew's return to Honduras—is getting things out of the way so the latter episodes can return to more a ruminous exploration of its themes.

Not sure how I can tie the painting of "St. Thomas of Villanueva Distributing Alms" to this episode, though... That one's stumped me.

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Re: The Young Pope

#95 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Feb 05, 2020 5:49 pm

Episodes 6 and 7Show
While taking notes on episode 7, I wrote down "This episode the long, dark, doldrum winter of the story." I think this extends to episode six as well. They are the dip before the rise, I'd guess; the negative, rigid, even depressive episodes. Something about these two episodes made me think they're matched pairs, perhaps matched opposing pairs (6 = comic, 7 = tragic). An instance: they both end the same way, with a character staring into the camera with tears in their eyes, ostensibly at a death they are not (yet) aware of. Unless of course that girl at the end is there to tell Lenny of his friend's death.

Anyway, we get two very different Lennys in these episodes: Lenny the ossified villain in episode 6, Lenny the emotionally lost in episode 7. By themselves, they're a single view of Lenny; together they're more of this odd protean view of him. I suppose I don't mind how much more explicit they are; we're in the back half now, and ambiguity can only be sustained for so long. But we'll see.

I'm not sure Sister Mary is switching allegiances. Her allegiance seems to be with an idea of Lenny she's formed, rather than with the identity Lenny has chosen as pope. She believes him to be Jesus incarnate, and in addition to the miracle birth, makes the second allusion to Lenny having performed a miracle cure.

Lenny's sense of smell is peculiar. He smelled the baby with evident satisfaction, and ever since has usurped the role of father. This is interesting given his quote in episode 7:
Lenny wrote:A priest never grows up, because he can never become a father. He’ll always be a son. That’s why we imposed the vow of celibacy on ourselves 13 centuries ago. We must always be the sons of god. Never dare try to take his place.
Given how he identifies his putative parents as fakes by a similar act, an almost animal act of scenting for shared identity, can his satisfaction at smelling the child and consequent surrogate parenting mean he identifies the miracle baby as his creation?

Also, why does his nose bleed when staring, first, at the cherubs, and then again at the nursing hermaphrodite picture? And there is the recurring image of Lenny exiting a mass of babies.

Voiello of all people is the most loyal in episode 7, refusing in the end to truly go against Lenny. Perhaps a good idea, as the episode begins with his beloved soccer team losing.

Oh, and given the next series is called The New Pope, I can't help but think Lenny resigns, tho' I'm sure it'll be for much different reasons than the ones he meditates on in episode 7.

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Re: The Young Pope

#96 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:47 pm

Episode 8Show
How will this Juana Fernandez person play into the structure of the whole, given how much importance the editing places on her? Hard to judge, because on a diegetic level she barely registers, a small conversation mostly dismissed. Yet she seems to haunt Lenny in the garden.

The conversation with the media woman, where she makes the carrot and the stick analogy, does much to reinforce that Lenny's church is a reflection of himself as a person, cut off and walled over, removed from love--but of course how is he to reach god without that love? We'll see if he opens the church to let in that love.

The episode is rather tightly organized in terms of theme. The conversation with the author, Elmore Cohen (naturally Jewish, ie. totally removed from Lenny as a religious subject), seems to end with Lenny battering Cohen with the force of his wisdom about priests, love, and sin...and yet Cohen's observation about only retaining the most licentious of his memories of women haunts Lenny, provoking an angry, unheard confession, until it builds into a revelation. This image of the woman from Lenny's youth, which was given to us without context in the dream from episode 1, is combined with the parents theme into Lenny's one glimpse of peace, which is to say love, in the world, a vision that offers a resolution to several strands the series has been weaving. And it comes out of sin, here sin refigured into a vision of the earthly paradise. Lenny made a lot of comments about priests knowing sin better than anyone, but he turned out to know less than Cohen. Lenny can't turn away from love towards god, but must seek god through earthly images of love. So, too, will the world have to come to god through love, perhaps through Lenny. We'll see. EDIT: Also, see his eulogizing Andrew through their shared vision of beauty in sister Mary playing basketball with her hair down, again a vision of connection coming from beauty to love to a kind of Eden moment.

The above all leads to the final scene echoing the ending of episode 5: Lenny on his knees, again imploring god for a miracle. Both take place in the dark, watched by people through windows; yet where the earlier one was a physic wrestling match, an intense, forceful act, this latter one is more peaceful and serene, less troubled, and is illuminated against the dark. This is a terrific irony, tho', because the earlier payer brought life whereas this one brings death. Quite something for a pope to use god as his own personal assassin, but then there's always been something a bit old testament about the religiosity in the show.

The episode once again concludes with someone staring directly at the camera, tho' this time not in tears, but with...I don't know the emotion. Not quite anger. Something intense.

This was a much more sincere, perhaps even saccharine episode, and yet its subtle thematic interweaving was so effective that I left the episode satisfied.

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Re: The Young Pope

#97 Post by senseabove » Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:04 am

I finished the last three episodes the other night, and I'm coming around a little after reading some of the preceding posts, but I confess I'm having some trouble with the back half of this show...
Episodes 8,9, and 10Show
It seems to want to humanize Lenny by making his miraculousness explicit and thus his irrationality less opaque—a kind of conceptual corollary to an "it was all a dream" ending, but "he's a legitimate saint so he can be like that"—and both the Sister Antonia and Caldwell plot lines feels shoe-horned in to make him more likeable because he cares about The Children and he comes around on The Gays. As a now-atheist who was raised around the everyday and, in one particular case, not so everyday "miracles" that the devout hunt and peck through every coincidence for, my reaction to an "actual, verified miracle" is disbelief and disdain, whereas the strict possibility of a miracle, of believing in the possibility of a miracle, is tantalizing—to some extent, I think, the ground of art itself, and what it, for me, has in common with religion. The show even gets cheeky about it its demystification after teasing the possibility that maybe the visit to Tonino was some sort of hallucination, before resolving it with Voiello's whole "Oh, no, nevermind, I just can't say what happened to Tonino..."
The show's narrative and formal elements are all still complex and engaging through to the end, and even if I'm not crazy about what it ended up doing, I think it did it very, very well. But that first half hit such heights of inspirational ambiguity...

Meanwhile, coincidentally, I saw Pasolini's Medea this afternoon, and its handling of the capitulation from mystical to mundane across its two halves, as well as its integration of both modes in the climax, helped me feel out some of what felt unachieved here... Maybe it's a factor that I watched the last three episodes all in a row and didn't take the time to reflect on and parse them as I did for the first half? Anyway, I'm curious if anyone else did or will feel the same.

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Re: The Young Pope

#98 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:54 pm

senseabove wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:04 am
Episodes 8,9, and 10Show
It seems to want to humanize Lenny by making his miraculousness explicit and thus his irrationality less opaque—a kind of conceptual corollary to an "it was all a dream" ending, but "he's a legitimate saint so he can be like that"—and both the Sister Antonia and Caldwell plot lines feels shoe-horned in to make him more likeable because he cares about The Children and he comes around on The Gays. As a now-atheist who was raised around the everyday and, in one particular case, not so everyday "miracles" that the devout hunt and peck through every coincidence for, my reaction to an "actual, verified miracle" is disbelief and disdain, whereas the strict possibility of a miracle, of believing in the possibility of a miracle, is tantalizing—to some extent, I think, the ground of art itself, and what it, for me, has in common with religion. The show even gets cheeky about it its demystification after teasing the possibility that maybe the visit to Tonino was some sort of hallucination, before resolving it with Voiello's whole "Oh, no, nevermind, I just can't say what happened to Tonino..."
AllShow
I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts and although I’m sorry the ending didn’t work for you, it cements why this show is so great on my eyes, in that the subjectivity becomes personally triggered and we must engage with it in our own way. With a subject like this it’s like any classical story where the beginning is often full of mystery and the story becomes less ambiguous on the surface as we discover more information, kind of like life moving from childhood to adulthood. But while the concept of accepting a Saint amidst all this relatable emotional chaos is difficult to overcome (hence the difficulty of access already mentioned) what it does is reveal an even deeper layer of complexity to the material that came before. I think it’s far more comfortable to engage with this show when we don’t know anything about the goings on, identifying with Lenny in his own invisible relationship to God, but when we know that this relationship is both more concretely connective and still invisible to large degrees, we don’t know what to do! His actions throughout the show may make more sense in his sense of responsibility to abide by God’s wishes but his confusion and humanity still begets flexibility and self-consciousness. Thus we are identifying with a Saint, which is uncomfortable for many of us, whether it disrupts religious or logical positions, a sense of humility, or the security of our worldview.

By making Lenny’s “irrationality less opaque” I’d argue that he becomes more ‘human’ and relatable, and forces us to rethink the show from the position that I outlined with a (perhaps terrible) analogy in a previous post: what would we do if we knew that God existed and we had ego-inducing powers, but yet no template for how to use them? If we were different from our fellows and resented them yet felt responsibility for them and couldn’t help but loving them too? The show asks us to take quite a leap of faith, yes, outside of many of our upbringings and challenge our own relationship to the concept of God (which as a professor once explained to me, everyone has, regardless of religious ideals- even if that relationship is tethered and dismissive) but identify with this nonlinear pattern of growth through empathy toward a seemingly impenetrable figure. What an exercise! Rewatching the show and seeing Lenny flip flop in his attitude towards homosexuality, to use your example, mirrors one of someone who isn’t a bigot so much as one living under the fear of God and making risk-management decisions while flaunting false confidence and denying his own beliefs in humanity over the umbrella of God’s hazy order.

And yet he has another part of him that feels for people and becomes a more welcoming judge of character over action, which is a part I found easier to see the second run through, and which happens throughout. I think it helps me that I view this show through the lens of IFS therapy which supposes that all people are made up of multiple ‘parts’ with multiple agendas, can become blended with that part (i.e. Lenny’s early ‘conservative’ self) but ultimately are a complicated mixture of those parts as well as a separated entity from them. So when Lenny emerges as able to identify and validate his parts at the end, without chastising any of them (including his take on homosexuality, it’s not as if he apologizes and welcomes them all back) he then reaches an important point in the therapeutic process by which where he was blind he can now see, but still is made up of contradictory voices rooted in his psychology. That his IFS parts and their voices extend beyond the emotional and cognitive to an area of spirituality makes it even more complex, but I see that as a complement to the already humanized process established. I’ll further argue that while it takes away an air of surface-level mystery, the reveal of sainthood doesn’t also reveal all the mysteries of the psyche or soul, instead allowing us to access him on a greater level of interest and acknowledgment of ineffable experience, by eliminating the barrier of wonder separating he from us, if we can get passed the Saint piece to identify rather than compare from our own social contexts.

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Re: The Young Pope

#99 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:29 pm

Some further thoughts to build off my point (thinking about this show causes my brain to spin around)...
AllShow
In a strange way I feel like this show asks us to take an agnostic (in the vaguest definition of the word) stance towards the intent of god or the mysteries of the world. By closing a few doors Sorrentino actually opens more. He wants us to resign our own beliefs just enough to access the peripheral possibilities, while acknowledging that we can’t separate ourselves entirely from our own conditioning, though such movement away from constrictions seems to be what he views as spirituality, and I tend to agree. In forcing us into an ending with Lenny as Saint, the unknown still stands more than ever. To use the homosexuality example again, I for one cannot even begin to take perspective around that being ‘evil’ or ‘wrong’ and yet the agnostic position this requests of us demands that we treat such a view with the same weight as our own. Who is anyone to say what is God’s plan, what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? Isn’t definitive atheism just as narrow minded and egotistical as devout secular faith? Is some degree of agnosticism necessary to grow and access humility? That mirror forces us to confront our own rigidity around certain issues without judging or asking us to divorce ourselves from them. It creates a safe space for us to contemplate perhaps the least safe process of confrontation with our beliefs and identities. I’m prompted to realize that even my ‘progressive’ views don’t hold more objective weight than their opposites, regardless of my utilitarian or humanist philosophies. It’s not comfortable, which is where this becomes very esoteric in my eyes, but it’s rewarding if we can take that step to meet the film on its wavelength.

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Re: The Young Pope

#100 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:12 am

The spoiler free period is over. You can now post all thoughts on the whole series without spoiler tags.

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