The Young Pope Episode 9 Recap: The Secrets are Out


Love is lost and found and the power of Christ through Lenny is revealed. There’s just one chapter to go as we recap HBO’s Limited Series The Young Pope Episode 9.

Over the past eight episodes from this 10-part series, we’ve been trying to figure out the man behind the gleaming white papal cloths. Now, in HBO’s The Young Pope Episode 9, we may get a chance to get some of our burning questions answered. Who exactly is Lenny Belardo? He is the youngest pope in history, who was determined to keep his anonymity, and has so far been successful. He’s right, the more he closes himself off, the more people will flock to him. Our continued interest has led us to this glimpse of who Pope Pius XIII (Jude Law) really is, and the power he’s capable of wielding.

But this runs parallel to a story that’s been teased all season: The Kurtwell case. Cardinal Bernardo Gutierrez (Javier Cámara) is working hard in New York to find something that will stick on this well-known Archbishop who is accused of several different sex scandals. And so far, it looks like the Vatican will have this case on lock once everyone arrives back in Rome.

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Lost and Found

Cardinal Michael Spencer (James Cromwell) isn’t doing well health-wise. He’s now confined to a wheelchair, as we see in the opening shot. He and Lenny discuss inside the Sistine Chapel the strictness of the abortion policy put into place. “Abortion is saying no to life,” Lenny remarks, to which Spencer replies, “Who gives a damn about life?” Their eternal tug-of-war continues up until the moment Spencer is lying on his death-bed, most of the clergy gathered around him. But in the end, he only wants Lenny to stay with him before he passes on.

Spencer asks Lenny to recall a story from his teenage years, which highlights what Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) has been telling us this whole season. When Lenny was 14, he visited the home of a friend whose mother was dying. There was a moment teen Lenny asked Sister Mary if it would be okay to pray next to the dying woman. We then see him ask God “We need to talk about Billy’s mother,” the same phrasing he used to essentially coax Sister Antonia to her death from Episode 8. As he speaks to God, the room becomes bathed in sunlight. There’s initially a moment where I believed he was helping her pass on into death, but instead Billy’s mother awakens, beaming brightly at everyone.

So Lenny’s sainthood should never have been questioned in the first place. He, for all intents and purposes, performed a miracle after he called upon God to exist. After telling Spencer the story, he dies peacefully, as Lenny’s fragile shell finally breaks down. He cries like a little boy lost without a parent. It was sad and heartbreaking as Sister Mary could do nothing but look on through the window.

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To Catch a Predator

As His Holiness heals back in the Vatican, Cardinal Gutierrez is combing the streets for any sign of a victim who will help him bring Archbishop Kurtwell (Guy Boyd) to justice. The popular priest has been accused of several counts of sexual abuse that have been covered up. But life outside the Vatican walls hasn’t been kind to Gutierrez. He lives in a small shack apartment in Queens, and is drinking gin heavily. One man he visited refused to come forward, so he had to keep hunting for those who wanted to offer their voice.

It was nice seeing Gutierrez interact with all his former neighborhood friends, and it was clear he had a lot of love to spread around. Even through the alcohol haze, he was still able to stay on mission. It eventually led him to meeting a young man named David, who was following him around for some time. He dropped a massive bomb by saying he was Kurtwell’s son, confirming all the evidence Gutierrez needs. But that’s not all. To get things to stick, he gets lewd photos of Kurtwell and a young liquor store clerk engaging in an intimate moment in the back of the store.

Kurtwell is shown to be a very powerful man. He’s still well-liked in his community, but even he can’t hide damning evidence like photos. It’s safe to say that through a lot of heartache and pain, Gutierrez was finally able to complete his assignment, getting a chance to bring this “monster” to justice. (His words, not ours).

Gianni Fiorito/HBO

Papal Intentions

It’s the penultimate episode, and I can’t help but look back at some of my past recaps and think how much energy went into figuring out Lenny. He’s a mystery, that’s no doubt, but so far, he’s been able to back up everything he’s put out to the world. His restrictive conservative beliefs aside, he truly is a holy man. And at this point, it’s safe to say Lenny does possess some other-worldly power, whether you believe in God or not. It seems that God works through Lenny, and can dole out his loving hand or his vengeful nature, depending on who Lenny “needs” to talk to him about at the moment.

There’s also one final effort Kurtwell attempts to bring Lenny down. He calls the Vatican, threatening to release information on Lenny that all the newspapers in the world will care about. Lenny just smokes a cigarette, coolly daring him to release the information. Kurtwell in fact goes to a New Yorker journalist, revealing some old love letters Lenny supposedly sent his one-time girlfriend before joining the priesthood. The journalist says there is zero proof they were ever sent, and there’s no scandal there. However, there is a story, as he publishes the Pope’s Love Letters. Lenny’s words of admiration, respect, and love touch everyone, including the woman he wrote them for. It was a nice button to cap off the episode, showing once and for all Lenny’s intentions focus more on love than anything else.

There’s a moment before Spencer dies where he tells Lenny, “You think you’re the hinge, but you’re the door.” Lenny’s words have been shining a light through the halls of the Vatican, and slowly but surely his message has begun to permeate across the globe too. It’s nice to see the young pope finally growing up as he learns to put his past behind him. He also visits Esther, Peter and baby Pius at their new home on the beach, though he’s only there in saintly spirit, leaving a photo of him and Pius without anyone catching him.

Next: The Young Pope Episode 8 Recap: A Holy Mystery Revealed

What’s next?

It’s hard to believe, but we have one final episode of The Young Pope left. It’s been a wild, colorful, often confusing journey but we’ve enjoyed it nonetheless.

Coming up, Kurtwell is in Rome for his trial, where the investigation is sure to reach a tipping point. Lenny is pleased with Gutierrez’s progress of “turning fear into anger,” and decides to take things to the next level. It seems he’ll be giving an actual appearance in Venice, though with a show like this, we’re not sure if Lenny will chicken out or change some terms and conditions.

Join us with our final recap of The Young Pope after it airs Monday, February 13th at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.