The Young Pope Episode 8 Recap: The Long, Winding Staircase to Sainthood

God has moved back into Lenny’s life, with a vengeance.

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I’m beginning to think that the only thing that Paolo Sorrentino likes more than he likes hats is sunglasses. We’ve seen them constantly throughout this season, particularly on Lenny and particularly when he’s in the full ermine and miter (that’s the pointy hat). In this episode, with the trips to both Africa and The Castel Gandolfo Inn and Spa (you can get a killer massage from the world’s sveltest sumo wrestler), there was even more occasion for sunglasses on just about everyone. If I can possibly get a GIF of Lenny playing tennis with himself against a portico built in 1911 while wearing the chicest pair of shades I’ve ever seen, I would like to blast it all over Twitter, thank you very much.

The hats, of course, are still a constant. It was nice to see that both Lenny’s golden-laced chapeau and his vestments come in a nice crimson color; he likes that hat so much he ordered it in all the color ways. The other constant is Lenny’s character: Though he experienced several major revelations last episode, he’s still the same vain, impatient man that he’s always been. Just look at how he treats that priest who couldn’t speak English, shouting at him even though he couldn’t understand. Lenny might have a copped a bit of a new attitude, but he’s still the same young pope. It just seems that now he’s using his power for good, not evil.

Last episode, I thought that his vision was a sighting of the Virgin Mary, but it turns out it was actually Juana Fernandez (Alessia Giulia Trujillo Alva), a Guatemalan woman who healed sick children by telling them stories about the Madonna, and who is up for sainthood. Now, sainthood is actually a much more bureaucratic process than one might expect: No sooner than five years after a person’s death, her local bishop can appeal for an investigation into her life to see if she is eligible for sainthood. That person is designated a Servant of God, and if it can be proved that she exhibited faith, hope, and charity to a heroic degree, she can be named a Venerable person. Then, if she lost her life in service to the faith, the Venerable must be declared a martyr by the pope; otherwise it must be proved that that the Venerable committed a miracle during her lifetime, usually one of healing similar to the one that is attributed to Juana. Once that is proven or she is declared a martyr, she is designated “Blessed”—as appears to be the case with Juana.

Still not done yet. Once it is proven that she has performed a miracle during her life, it then must be proven that she is responsible for two miracles after her death. Once that is ascertained—and only then—can she be named a saint. This is worse than having to go to both the DMV and the Genius Bar in the same day. It seems Juana is in that stage of the application process now, and her appearance to Lenny during his crisis of faith could count as one of those miracles. Or maybe he determined who she was upon seeing her and asked a cardinal more about her life so that he can better understand his own vision.

While I thought that his vision and the revelation that his parents aren’t going to come back would make Lenny turn things around immediately, it actually took him a bit of time. He had to mourn Andrew as well as another close friend of his: the kangaroo. Yes, it seems that the kangaroo was gored, either by man or beast, and is now dead. Aside from being a surreal folly, the kangaroo also seemed to be a symbol of Lenny as a dangerous outsider. And, to follow, his quest to usher in a new age of sobriety and fanaticism into the Church also seems to be officially dead.

After revealing that he’s never going to resign as pope, Lenny asks Spencer what he needs to do to save the Church from its low approval ratings and dismal turnout. Spencer tells him to go to Venice and bury two empty coffins, essentially those of his parents. It seems like he’s done that already. Sofia, the marketing manager for the Vatican, has a much more concrete plan. She tells him to go on a journey and to issue a sermon about love. Once he eases up on the mystery he’s been cultivating a bit and shows that he can be caring, she thinks that the flock will flock back to the Church.

Now we know that Sister Antonia (Milvia Marigliano) is going to be an awful person. Not because she has notoriously bad breath, but because she has her selfie stick ready as soon as the Pope arrives. Nothing connotes awfulness these days like unironic use of a selfie stick. But she’s an awful person for so many other reasons, namely because she steals the water that she gets from their weird green house water contraption (I still don’t understand exactly how that works) and uses it to obtain sexual favors from the other nuns.

Initially, Lenny was trying to rid the clergy of homosexuals, but he’s not upset when he sees Sister Antonia caressing another nun. He no longer cares about that. Instead, he’s upset that she is greedy and abuses her position of power. He’s concerned when he sees her troops roughing up poor kids who are so thirsty that they’re licking the glass of the weird water shed in the middle of the night. Antonia is not a charitable person, she’s using her good works for earthly rewards. For this she deserves a dressing down. After episodes of watching Lenny use his razor tongue against the functionaries of the Vatican for petty offenses, he’s finally turning it against a crook that is enabling a dictator. “I’m not here to honor you,” he tells her in front of everyone, humiliating her at her own banquet. “I’m here to ascertain your temptations.”

Lenny has learned something through all of his trials and his grieving this episode: he learned that he is not the one who stands in judgment. “I am just a man,” he tells Voiello, which is something we couldn’t imagine him saying back in episode one when he was so full of his new office. Maybe god hasn’t been evicted after all, because it seems like he is punishing Sister Antonia. In fact, every time Lenny kneels down to pray with his arms out, god reacts, whether it’s rocking the Pope Plane so that he won’t have to answer a very important question from a journalist or giving Sister Antonia a heart attack in the middle of the night. Not only has god moved back in, but he seems to be Lenny’s roommate.