Just as quickly as Jude Law donned some dapper sunglasses and fancy hats as a youthful pontiff, HBO has taketh away The Young Pope after the first season concluded Monday. This is as tragic as the unjustified, unsolved murder of a kangaroo at the Vatican (we welcome your murder suspect theories, Reddit).
Perhaps you enjoyed The Young Pope for its dark, satirical take on the Vatican and its politics, or its meditation on the profound loneliness of a man with absolute power. Maybe you were just there for the memes — there is no wrong way to enjoy this show.
But for those who went ahead and watched the series, it doesn't exactly short-change its viewers on its WTF-ery, which begins with The Young Pope's opening shot of our Holy Father emerging from a pyramid of nude babies (it was all a dream) and ends with, well, a wide shot of the entire Earth. For reasons.
As we reflect on The Young Pope and pray that HBO renews it for a second season — which, thank God, is quite likely — let us look back at the show's strangest and most surreal moments. This will take awhile; we hope you have time.
The opening credits:
Not every episode doles out the opening credits, but it's a damn treat whenever it does. It features Pius walking through a hallway of famous renaissance art as a shooting star zips through the paintings. The shooting star eventually turns into a fiery meteor, and Pius turns to the camera and winks.
Naturally, that precedes a wax figure of Pope John Paul II — definitely an old pope, by the way — being crushed by said meteor before the show's title is flashed in neon blue. Oh, and all of this is set to an "All Along the Watchtower" instrumental.
The pope's preferred breakfast:
In the first episode, a delectable breakfast is laid out for the pope by an adorable old nun who says she's served many a pope in her time. She gives this new pope a smooch on the cheek, probably because she's inherently kind but also perhaps because he looks just like Jude Law.
But Pius isn't having any of this shit. No, he doesn't want any kind of affection from her, and he doesn't want his breakfast. What does he want? A Cherry Coke Zero. But since the Vatican doesn't have a Cherry Coke Zero at the ready, an aide has a suggestion.
"In the meantime, would your holiness care for regular Diet Coke?" he asks innocently.
"Let's not utter heresies," Pius actually responds. "It's death to settle for things in life."
Is there a new pope now?:
Just in case anyone at the Vatican forgot.
The kangaroo, who died too soon:
The ballad of the young pope and his loyal kangaroo won't soon be forgotten. It started in episode two, when Pius finds out that Australia has gifted him with a kangaroo to celebrate his papacy. He lets him out of his cage and declares the kangaroo is free to roam the Vatican, despite the fact that Pius probably has no idea how habitable the gardens are for a kangaroo (and also, what the fuck do kangaroos eat?). And so he roams, occasionally making cameos doing kangaroo things.
Until, tragically, the kangaroo is killed. Granted, the manner in which the kangaroo dies is likely symbolic — he has a wound in his torso that's much like Pius' BFF Andrew, who is killed by a narco in Honduras — but it looks like there was straight up murder at the Vatican.
He was gone way too soon. May you hop in heaven, our very jacked marsupial.
Snack time for the Holy Father:
Some context: In the pope's office, there's a button hidden underneath his desk that signals to his assistants that he wants to peace out of a meeting — for example, if he gets bored out of his mind with someone. They're to come up with some excuse and the guest will be on their way.
In a rather depressing scene, a high-ranking cardinal confides to the pope that he's gay, after the pope asks him to be completely honest. Pius unsubtly reaches for his button after the cardinal's confession, which also signals the first hint that this pope is against homosexuality. It's horrible, but then comes Pius' assistant with an excuse to set the mood.
"Time for your snack, Holy Father!" she says exuberantly.
"My snack?" he responds.
"Yes, Holy Father, your snack."
TFW you're praying really hard:
OK, no context needed here.
The pope is a master juggler for the ladies:
The bad news: The young pope never fucks in the show, despite evidence to the contrary (mostly because the network is known for its HBO-orgies and such). But we do learn about his romantic past, and how he charmed one woman in California during a one-week fling.
You see, Pius can juggle. Really well. It almost certainly has nothing to do with the fact that he looks like Jude Law. Pius can juggle.
Sister Mary playing basketball:
Sister Mary is many things — the symbolic mother of Pius and Andrew, a love interest for Cardinal Voiello and the pope's special assistant and confidant — but above all else, she can ball.
If Hollywood is looking for a Love & Basketball spinoff, look no further than Church & Basketball.
A changing montage to end all changing montages:
The Young Pope's EDM-infused soundtrack is just part of the show's charm, which hit its peak in episode five when our pope prepares for his papal address to the cardinals. Naturally, it's soundtracked to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It."
Because the series premiered in Europe ahead of time, you might've seen the changing montage on YouTube and thought it was dubbed over by folks who, very accurately, realized that combining popes and tacky DJs is hilarious. Spoiler: It is quite amusing.
The pope and kids:
How's the pope with children? Um, not great. In the season finale he's expected to give a Vatican tour to third graders, but proceeds to inform them that it is currently raining because God is sad at them, which understandably causes them all to cry (the fucking pope told you God is sad because of you!). Then, as they leave the room he proceeds to stick out his tongue at them.
Somehow, this is the second-worst instance of Pius handling kids. In episode six, after Esther gives birth, she asks him if he wants to hold the baby. All is well, until he drops the baby! That's really bad in and of itself, but his excuse for dropping the baby is absolutely divine.
"Forgive me, I'm such a fool," he says. "My hands only know how to bless people."
After a bisexual threesome, one must huddle and pray under the sheets:
Poor Cardinal Andrew was killed this season after returning to Honduras in episode seven and discovering that his lover's husband, who happened to be one of the scariest narcos in South America, found out about their affair. But before that, he had a sex scene sure to make HBO proud.
It's a bisexual threesome with said woman and a handsome Honduran man, and rest assured there is plenty of dedicated screentime for their naughty escapades. But it's what happens after that really takes the cake.
You see, Andrew is a priest in Honduras — these people go to his church and everything. So what better post-coital activity is there than huddling up underneath the blankets to be led in a prayer. God bless.
The pope working out:
Pius, apparently, really likes to work out. This is quite fitting considering LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" includes the lyrics, "Girl look at the body, I work out."
But a bigger question: Does the pope's exercise regimen mean anything when the guy has a Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast? Think about this during your next confessional.
Cardinal Voiello's love of Napoli, the soccer team:
Cardinal Voiello is the speckled yin to the young pope's yang. He's the closest thing the series gets to an antagonist, and one of his more memorable qualities outside of his unseemly mole is his love of soccer. Mainly, Diego Maradona and the Italian club Napoli.
How much does he love Napoli? This dude doesn't just wear a jersey to watch their games — he has a custom Napoli jersey with his name on it, and wears the full uniform getup, complete with shorts, soccer cleats and high knee socks.
The pope smells his fake mom:
Pius has some big mommy and daddy issues that stem from his parents abandoning him as a child. So orphan Lenny, as he was called before he became pope, grew up obsessed with the idea of reuniting with them again.
Sister Mary capitalizes on his parental fixation by faking a message from them and hiring paid actors to stand in their place (she and Voiello hatch up this scheme to fix his ultra-conservative policies). At first it's going well when he meets the faux parents, but then he does what all children do to recognize their mother. He sniffs her.
The pope just wants to play pilot in the cockpit:
The young pope travels to Africa and for once delivers a homily that doesn't make devout Christian shit their pants in fear. Even the media is happy with him, and they've been his harshest critics.
He's in such a good mood, he chats with the pilot on the flight back to Italy. But Pius, honey, you can't ask to touch the buttons in the cockpit and expect to get a yes.
Praying for an evil nun’s death at a gas station stop:
The pope's trip to Africa also unveils the truth about Sister Antonia, a Mother Theresa-type who hoards water from a village to curry all types of favors. Pius sees through this facade, and when driving back to Vatican City with his papal posse decides to take a pitstop at a gas station. TO PRAY SISTER ANTONIA TO DEATH.
"The child pope has become a man":
This is the show's way of indicating character development.
How can a show as perplexing as The Young Pope end its first season? Well, settle in.
Pius delivers a speech to the people of Venice, mostly on the off-chance that his long-lost parents would be in the crowd. Naturally, once he's finished with a good portion of the speech and the crowd begins to cheer, he whips out a toy telescope Monsignor Gutierrez gifts to him and begins searching amongst the spectators.
Then he sees them — or at least, he thinks he does. Are they real? Is it all in his head? We won't know because the sight of them either literally or metaphorically walking away causes Pius' heart to metaphorically and perhaps literally break. He collapses to the ground as the cardinals rush to his side. He looks up and sees Jesus in the clouds and his eyes roll into their sockets.
Nervous for Pius? Too late! We're now at a wide shot zooming out of St. Mark's Square, followed by the entire city, all of Italy and the continent before eventually the entire Earth. Now we've entered in outer space as the phrase "The End" flashes on the screen.
HBO, you've done it again.