Stars of The New Pope, John Malkovich, Silvio Orlando and Jude Law
PICTURE: HBO
Stars of The New Pope, John Malkovich, Silvio Orlando and Jude Law PICTURE: HBO

REVIEW: 'The New Pope'

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Feb 10, 2020

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There’s something about powerful institutions that makes us gravitate towards them. Whether it’s complete fascination, questioning or even obsession, these institutions keep us talking and are always interesting to many. 

We have royalty, politics and then we have the church, which is a mix of both. 

The success of Peter Morgan’s The Crown has led to other shows that tackle the interesting behind-the-scenes dynamics of other powerful institutions. 

The first season of HBO’s The Young Pope, starring Jude Law, took us into the imagined inner workings of the Vatican and also the relationship of the Pope and his cardinals. 

Law is excellent as the difficult-to-understand Pope Pius XIII, a pontiff who is almost impossible to please, who is dealing with abandonment issues. 

He changes the way the Vatican interacts with the world, choosing to remove all pomp and ceremony in public, holes himself in the Vatican and only meets with world leaders he can challenge. 

He’s always two steps ahead of the scheming cardinals. But he’s also a “saint”, thanks to some miracles he’s performed at various stages of his life. 

Spoiler alert: the first season ended with him finally revealing himself to the world and giving a speech in St Peter’s Square, and then suffering a heart attack. 
The second season is finally here, after a two-year wait. Law still stars as Pope Pius XIII, but there’s now the matter of having to replace him. 
Silvio Orlando and John Malkovich in scenes from the second season of The New Pope PICTURE: HBO
He’s been in a coma for months (and getting sponge baths from nuns who are finding it difficult to handle how handsome he is), and so the cardinals have to find a replacement for him, hence the title of this season: The New Pope

It stars John Malkovich, who is the eventual new Pope.

And no, that’s not another spoiler. How he becomes the Pope is an interesting bit of storytelling. 

The Catholic Church will always be an interesting institution and Paolo Sorrentino, like Morgan, has really dug deep to find what actually makes the church tick. 

Watch with an open mind. It is, after all, essentially a drama series. 

• The New Pope is streaming on Showmax. 

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