Jude Law continues to baffle and amaze in his performance as Pope Pious XIII. Whether speaking kindly to a constituent or threatening those who oppose him, his even tone and calm demeanor is always unsettling. Which perhaps is his most powerful asset in dealing with those around him. And a subtle enjoyment for himself to leave everyone around him guessing at his true motives and intentions.
This episode centers around his relationship with Esther, a wife of one of the Swiss guards. The pope has been spending an ample amount of time with the young woman, and many people are beginning to ask questions and make assumptions. Cardinal Voiello believes he can use this relationship to build evidence for the pope’s resignation. Using her own discretions against her, Voiello blackmails Esther and forces her to attempt coming onto Lenny. In her joy of becoming pregnant, she attempts her move but Lenny graciously refuses. Insisting that he loves God because he cannot love people. Philosophically and in the context of the show, that is a powerful revelation. Lenny wants to create a more conservative church which is exclusionary of some people, but in his eyes makes the church better for God. It is a fascinating idea given many of the attitudes and events around the world right now.
Lenny’s attitude brings a change in Voiello, who pities him for not knowing love. Though he has photographs, he chooses not to use them and turns them over to Sister Mary. In my head as a writer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her use them against him down the road if he mistreats her. But in any case, Voiello confesses to Lenny, who already knew anyhow. But the clearance of grievances between them allows the two to work together better.
One of the interesting aspects of Lenny is his fascination to find his parents. He is obsessed with them and why they left him as an orphan all those years ago. Many children feel this way after being given up for adoption or abandoned. And it is easy to see that his desire to become pope is his effort to prove something to his parents. Another reaction is that of Lenny’s friend from childhood Cardinal Dussolier who has absolutely no desire to know anything about his parents, especially since they left him.
As the season continues, it will be interesting to see how the pope’s attitudes will affect his relationships, particularly those close to him. Will he get this far only to leave everyone else behind, like he was all those years ago?