The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1 Review: The Best Laid Plans

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Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out so well - especially when they're of the devious kind.

Cardinal Voiella, who never was a straight-up servant of God, gets the shock of his life when his plot to become the new pope doesn't work out quite as he expected on the The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1.

In a Coma

The New Pope is a continuation of HBO's 2017 hit series The Young Pope, and it's as bizarre and intriguing this time around.

To recap slightly, in The Young Pope, Lenny Belardo, was elected to the papacy after the old pope died. 

He was controversial in that being so young, he had conservative ideas. Yet, he was idolized by Catholics around the world. 

Cardinal Voiello, who was and is still Secretary of State for the Vatican, couldn't manipulate Lenny like he thought. 

Voiello - Man of God - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

Lenny's main focus was trying to find his parents and maneuver his way around the politics of the Vatican while Voiello was working against him behind the scenes.

Lenny had a heart attack at the end of The Young Pope, and his fate was up in the air.

As we return, Lenny survived his heart attack but is in a coma. He underwent three heart transplants, but they all failed.

At the Vatican, we move at our own pace, which is why we've lasted so long.

Voiello

So, an advisor to the Vatican suggests electing a new Pope - and the drama and intrigue surrounding the inner workings of the Vatican is put on full display.

Whether or not what's presented is actually true isn't the point. The Vatican may be a religious organization but it's first and foremost a political one. 

And when you mix politics and religion, it can turn into a big mess.

Praying for Lenny - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

After Voiello is convinced that electing a new pope is the right move, he gathers with some of his faction for suggestions - all the while hoping they decide he's the best choice.

He's a cunning kind of guy and always has been. He has always had the desire to have the power of the papacy in his hands, and Lenny being in a coma might just make his dreams come true.

Or so he thinks.

Even though his group isn't fully on board with his plan, they all agree that he'd be a better choice than anyone else. After all, they all want to be in a position of power, too - and Voiello is their conduit.

What's interesting is how the Vatican goes about electing their Pope (fictional or not), and we're taken right into the thick of the political maneuverings.

Hernandez or Voiello - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

Voiella isn't very popular with the other cardinals outside of his group - but Cardinal Hernandez who happens to look just like him, without the mole, is.

But their similiarities end there.

We're not given much information on their political or religious differences, only that they're both unhappy when Francis (former Cardinal Tommaso Viglietti) takes the seat.

A raving lunatic is not my priority right now.

Voiello

And that's where the problems begin.

Had Voiello just let Hernandez win, he might have been able to maintain a modicum of power. But he didn't want just a little power - he wanted it all.

So, when Hernandez kept getting all the votes, Voiello worked his devious magic and got Tommaso elected.

Francis - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

Now, this guy seemed like a real loser at first. And that's what Voiello was banking on - that he was so naive that he would be easily manipulated.

Obviously, Voiello never learned anything the first go around when he thought Lenny would be his puppet.

But when you have tunnel vision in your thirst for power, you're not looking for the pitfalls. 

Voiello may be a schemer, but he's apparently not very smart.

Tommaso, on the other hand, is.

He put on a hilarious and convincing show not only after he was elected but all the way up until Voiello challenged his actions.

I'm guessing that the minute Tommaso was elected, he plotted out exactly how he was going to turn the Vatican upside down.

Seeking Votes - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

As a Franciscan monk, he decided that the Vatican would give up their prosperity and live in poverty, like his namesake.

And when the dove stole his introductory speech, he was even more convinced that what he planned to do (without anyone's knowledge) was God telling him he was right on target.

The guy might have been savvy in his plans and had good intentions to do the work of God, but he was definitely a fruitcake in that he didn't understand the inner workings of  the political Vatican machine.

Sure, it sounds great to open the doors of the Vatican to migrants and sell all its belongings to share with the masses, but the Vatican is a country. And if you have no money, you're not going to survive.

So, not only was he hurting the Vatican and freaking out his brethren, he opened the door for financial ruin and collapse and would end up on the street himself.

The Devious Advisor - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

Of course, that's not the real reason why Voiello and the rest of the Curia plotted against Francis.

They weren't too keen on becoming destitute and not having the finest things in life, but it was their secrets they were most concerned about.

Since Tommaso was the person who heard all their confessions, he knew everything. And they had no idea who they were talking to when they released their burdens.

It's surprising, though, that any of them would actually confess their sins to another priest - whether they knew him or not.

If anything, Voiello should have bared his soul to Girolamo who wouldn't have said a word.

And while Tommaso was smart, he made the wrong choice when he bared all to Voiello after firing him as Secretary of State.

Didn't he know there are some things you need to keep close to your chest? 

The Curia in Shock - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

How could he not have thought that there would be some repercussions from telling Voiello all he knew?

He probably thought his Franciscan friends would protect him, and he was also drunk with power, which probably clouded his thoughts as well.

And he paid for it when his short and crazy reign came to an abrupt end - via a heart attack, no less.

Now, we wait for the new pope (played by John Malkovich), who's bound to be even more deliciously devious than Voiello or any of the others.

Lenny might also come back into play if his pinky finger movement was any indication. 

And that's going to be a lot of fun!

Sir John Brannox - The New Pope Season 1 Episode 1

A couple of other notes:

The opening sequence for The New Pope is just as excellent as the one for The Young Pope - at least the sequence we got for this hour. 

The nuns defying their head nun to smoke and put on makeup and then dance seductively in front of the cross (with disco lights to boot) was more than entertaining (and tongue in cheek).

But the best part of those opening minutes had to be the nun who was giving the unconscious (but hot and buff) Lenny a sponge bath - being careful to keep the towel over his privates and then retreating to her bed and masturbating.

Who can blame her?

The New Pope, so far, is a masterpiece not only in its intriguing storyline but in its acting and writing and everything else in between.

I can't wait for the next hour!

Over to you!

What did you think of The New Pope?

Are you excited to see John Malkovich hit the screen?

How devious do you think he'll be?

Will Voiello be able to control him?

Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

If you haven't yet seen the show, you can watch The New Pope online right here via TV Fanatic.

The First Episode Review

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Lisa Babick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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