Remember The Young Pope, the weird, wild 2016 show in which Jude Law played the original hot priest? Well, the series is back, in all its ridiculous splendor, with a new title, a new pope, and a new attitude. The second season of Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino's opulently stylish papal drama, which debuted on Monday with back-to-back episodes, goes by a slightly less funny but infinitely more confusing name, The New Pope, given that it arrives right during the awards-season hype of Netflix's The Two Popes and also itself features two popes, the one played by Law and the titular papal newbie played by John Malkovich. So many pop-culture popes these days!
In The New Pope, Malkovich chews scenes as John Paul III, a British aristocrat-turned-Catholic-Church-leader named John Brannox. It's also thematically darker, moving with less of a spring in its step than its kangaroo-filled miracle of a first season. There's still a gaudy, surreal party going on in Vatican City, one filled with inexplicable dancing and backroom dealing, but the mood has shifted. Out with the young, in with the new.
That doesn't mean the show has ditched all the parts that made the first season so oddly, pleasingly brilliant. Law's Pope Pius XIII, aka the New York-born Lenny Belardo, still has a (mysterious) role to play following his collapse at the end of the previous season. Sorrentino remains committed to setting scenes of procedural pageantry to intentionally jarring music cues. The cardinals keep scheming.
"To do good a saint only has to breathe," says a character early on in the new show. Similarly, to do good, The New Pope really just needs to keep surprising the viewer, offering up outrageous spectacle, palace intrigue, and flashy outfits. Here's everything you need to know to keep up with The New Pope's latest heretical provocations.