'The Young Pope' Recap: S1E7: 'Seventh Episode'

The Napoli game is on in Cardinal Voiello’s apartment, and they’re losing.  The cardinal walks through the room dejectedly, clutching his rosary and wearing his custom "Voiello 1" uniform.

Back in his usual garb, Voiello mounts a stairway in the garden to a shaded fountain, where Caltanissetta waits for him.  Media coverage of the Pope’s purge of homosexual clergy has turned ugly indeed since Ángelo Sanchez’ suicide, and the cardinals are beginning to wonder if this constitutes an existential threat to the Church.

Luckily, Voiello made a copy of the photographs he took.  They could leak to the press, causing a scandal and forcing Pius’ retirement and clearing the way for Spencer.  Or maybe Voiello himself.  Or maybe even Caltanissetta, who could calm the waters as a rebound pope before his probably-imminent death.  But no, there won’t be any leak.  The scandal would undermine the already shaky confidence in the Papal office, and severely weaken any future pope beyond the point of recovery.  Caltanissetta takes the USB stick from Voiello before he leaves.

Sister Mary sees Don Tommaso hurrying along a path.  She catches up to him behind a grating, resembling a cross between his confessional and a hermit’s cell, or a prisoner’s.  He tells her that he will tell her a secret, but one obtained in conversation, not in confession; it’s important to him to be clear about his ethical boundaries.  He tells her that the Pope is undergoing a crisis of faith, and no longer believes in God.  Or, at least, that’s what Pius told him.

In his office, Pius goes through some of the latest gifts from the faithful, coming on an unmarked envelope.  Inside, he finds a pipe-stem.  He quickly pulls out the bowl he carries, and they fit.  His parents must be alive somewhere, sending him a message, even if he cannot trace it back to them.

Pius finds Sr. Mary praying and tells her the news, showing her the reunified pipe, wondering why they keep themselves hidden.  She tells him that he scares them, as he scares everyone lately.  But to him, the important thing is that he knows they’re alive, not that he meet them.

Another dream of the pile of babies in the Piazza San Marco.  Pius’ mother walks from the pile out across the square, meeting up with her husband.  They approach Pius, smiling, his arms outstretched, and they embrace.  Pius stands in the Vatican, contemplating a painting of a field full of cherubic infants, and his nose bleeds.

Voiello notices Mary in the gardens and follows her into a bamboo grove, where they stop at a statue of the Madonna of the Jungle.  Mary confides that the Pope is upset and distracted, and that if Voiello had a document that he wanted to get signed, now would be the time to slip it in, when he might overlook what he was signing.  She’s done her part, sending the pipe-stem that young Lenny dropped the day he ran away from the ophanage, and Voiello should be ready to act on the opportunity she has created.

Voiello and Caltanissetta visit Spencer.  Voiello expresses his frustration at the direction Pius has taken the Church.  Gone are the Works of Mercy and any sense of social responsibility; the Church is doing nothing for vulnerable people like Girolamo.  Pius is marginalizing it, killing time along with the Church itself, returning it to nothing more than St. Peter’s rocky tomb.  The people are not coming back; the missions are going unfunded; the clerical pipeline is running dry.

Voiello points Spencer’s gaze out the window, to see Pius walking across the lawn with Esther, Peter, and their child’s pram.  He knows how to get the Pope to resign, but who would replace him?  Caltanissetta and Voiello kiss Spencer’s ring in turn, signaling their loyalty.  Spencer places his hands together and grins.

Sr. Mary kneels beneath a crucifix, confessing her deceit.

The party the Contessa mentioned to Cardinal Dussolier before his run-in with Ángelo is typical of Sorrentino’s view of Roman society, echoing the party in Il Divo after Andreotti forms his seventh government.  But Dussolier isn’t enjoying himself, getting wasted and putting up with small talk before he can excuse himself to the bathroom, where he looks at his reflection in the mirror and calls himself a murderer.  The Contessa pushes her way into the bathroom and slips off her dress, but he drunkenly laughs off her advances.

Later, when the rest of the guests are gone, Dussolier practically falls into the pool trying to retrieve his crucifix.  The Contessa sends someone to help the cardinal and take him back to the Vatican.  Pulling into a side street, the driver climbs into the back seat and tries to rape the all but unconscious priest, finally opening the door and dragging him unceremoniously onto the cobblestones before driving away.

A young Lenny stands in his underwear near a pond while his parents sleep on a blanket in the grass nearby.  He comes near them and sniffs at his mother before curling up next to her.

Pius wonders when “they” are going to arrive; Sr. Mary says it will be soon, and he could get some work done while he waits.  Voiello presents the Pope with a series of documents to sign until Valente interrupts.  An older couple enter, and Pius approaches them warily.  He asks if they sent him a gift; the man tells him about the pipe-stem.  He asks how they knew he’d lost it; the man tells him he’d called the orphanage from time to time and heard about it.  He asks how they could have the stem when it was lost after they left him at the orphanage; the man tells him he found another one like it in Venice and bought it as his own souvenir.  The man presents him with the bowl of the pipe he bought.

But the real test is yet to come: Pius approaches the woman and leans in to sniff at her neck.  He remembers what his mother smelled like, and this isn’t her.  He has the couple thrown out.

Dussolier takes Pius up to the roof, to the spot where Ángelo leapt to his death.  He asks when the Pope is going to grow up, only to be told that a priest never grows up because he can never be a father.  Priests, Pius tells him, forsake that part of life so they can always remain children of God and never dare try to take His place.  Dussolier tells his friend that Ángelo’s death lies heavy on his heart, and he wants to go back to Honduras, but the Pope refuses to let him give up his responsibility.  Turning back on his words from moments ago, he asks the cardinal when he will ever grow up if he quits his post now.

Pius sits by Tommaso’s confessional and asks who sent the impostors, but Tommaso refuses to tell him any more secrets.  At first, he had decided not to help the Pope out of resentment, since he had not been elevated to cardinal as promised, but over time he came to realize that he can’t help a Pope who does not believe in God.  Tommaso flees the room, nearly in tears.

Dussolier sits opposite a weeping Sr. Mary before rising to leave.

Pius sits with Esther, Peter, and their baby, watching a woman sing “Hallelujah” on the Italian X Factor.  He leaves the room to change the baby’s diaper, more comfortable holding him now.  Peter seems less than totally pleased with the Pope’s personal attentions to his wife and child.

The song transitions to Jeff Buckley’s version.  Voiello sits on a beach with Girolamo and his father.

At dinner, Pius swaps his plate with Voiello’s, though the cardinal assures him that the use of poison has fallen out of practice even in the Vatican.  Pius confronts him about the fake parents, but Voiello insists his methods would be more sophisticated than that, which Pius has to admit is true.  But the Pope is certain that there was a method to it, since one of the documents Voiello had him sign was a simplified procedure for ordaining new priests, in direct contradiction to the Pope’s efforts so far.  Voiello insists that he’d sent it the previous night and assumed it had been read, but Pius remains suspicious.

Voiello says the press are calling them murderers for their part in Ángelo Sanchez’ death.  But, when pressed, he does not agree that the Church killed the young man.  In his view, the Pope himself did that.

In the pale morning, Dussolier leaves the Vatican in civilian garb and gets into a car.

Voiello admits to Caltanissetta that he couldn’t go through with the plan to get the Pope to sign his resignation.

Sitting on lawn chairs, Pius tells Spencer his papacy has failed and he’s going to resign.

At the airport in San Pedro Sula, Dussolier embraces his former lover, but she only replies, “he knows.”  The two of them enter a black SUV which drives off and parks in a quiet field.  The man next to Dussolier in the back is Carlos Garcia, the biggest narco in Honduras.  And attaining that position requires the use of violence when faced with disrespect.

Had Dussolier preached against Garcia and his men, refused him communion, or to perform weddings for his daughters, Garcia says he could have respected that.  The new bishop is doing exactly that, and comes to no harm for it.  But Dussolier’s offense was more personal, which puts Garcia in the difficult position between his religious mandate to forgive and his professional responsibility to seek vengeance.

Late at night, Spencer dresses in his vestments and practices his first speech to the faithful, expecting to be elected Pope once Pius resigns.

Pius tells Sr. Mary he intends to resign, and she refuses to accept it, again calling him a saint.  She attributes to him two miraculous healings, and tells him that he is no less than Christ come back to earth.  Pius thanks her for arranging the impostors, giving him a fleeting moment of hope that he might see his real parents again.

Further down the dirt road in Honduras, the SUV stops again.  The driver pulls Dussolier’s body from the back seat, just as the driver in Rome had done, but the gout of blood on his abdomen says he won’t be stumbling inside ever again.

Walking through the gardens, the Pope comes upon a strangely familiar young girl.