The Young Pope Episode 10 Recap: A Final Blessed Embrace


It’s been a long journey and there’s been a lot of losses in this papacy. We have one more test of our faith in HBO’s Limited Series The Young Pope Episode 10.

God works in mysterious ways. It’s something we’ve come to learn in our time on this earth, even if we aren’t fully religious. And it’s something HBO’s Limited Series The Young Pope Episode 10 attempts to let shine through for the wrap up of Season 1. We’re left contemplating the duality of a man, Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) and what kind of light he left on for the world, since his short papacy may be at its end.

Jude Law, Cécile de France.

photo: Gianni Fiorito/HBO

The Likable Lenny

Throughout this 10-part series, we’ve been juggling with who Lenny is and whether or not he’s using his position for good or evil. What we’ve learned is that this has been a huge volley between Lenny the man, and the hurt little boy who still lives inside him. And both sides of his dual nature can live and exist simultaneously. The Vatican’s marketing director Sofia even calls him diabolical, to which Lenny replies, “You think? People that know me well actually say I’m a saint.”

Lenny the man is the one who stands up after learning the whole world is still in love with his love letters. He’s the one who makes a bold decision and appoints Cardinal Bernardo Gutierrez (Javier Camera) to his personal secretary. We also learn Gutierrez is gay when he outs himself, giving Lenny reason to question his staunch views on homosexuality. He’s seemingly able to move past all that, as he’s willing to alter his believes if he sees motivation to alter the rest of the world. Gutierrez is a changed man since traveling to New York, which is why Pope Pius XIII is so eager to work with him, even if that means reshaping some of his views.

There’s a very Shining-esque moment where Lenny is visited by all the former popes. They tell him above everything, he must believe in himself. Lenny writes this off as a “banal platitude,” but the popes are quick to remind him that they are powerful, and power is also a platitude. It’s left open to interpretation, which has been Lenny’s M.O. since day one. He shrouds himself in mystery so people can form their own opinion about him, which causes them to either follow or dismiss him.

We can finally admit Lenny isn’t the terrible, diabolical man he was made out to be in Episode 1. He has a lot of fire bubbling underneath the crisp papal robes, but his two sides have worked in tandem in order for him to reveal God’s message to the world.

‘The Young Pope’ photo: Gianni Fiorito/HBO

Tying Up Loose Ends

With Gutierrez back, we can finally learn the fate of Archbishop Kurtwell (Guy Boyd). There’s a tense meeting where Kurtwell recounts the story he told us in Episode 9, where he was abused by the family landlord at age 12. Though Lenny shows very little empathy towards him, he says it’s the church’s mission to protect all children. So even though Kurtwell’s abuse may explain his behavior, it doesn’t excuse it. Gutierrez becomes emotional when he hears Lenny’s ruling, as we also learned he was the victim of child abuse as well.

Lenny decides to banish Kurtwell to Alaska, which is the same place we saw him send a Cardinal who got too familiar with him. Though he did confess to the terrible things he’s done, it’s not as satisfying seeing him simply moved, and made to be another parish’s problem. Lenny doesn’t seem to mind this as he makes another huge shuffle to his staff. With Gutierrez as his personal secretary, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) is out of a job. Instead of leaving her hanging, Lenny sends her to Africa so she can take over Sister Antonia’s Villages of Goodness. It’s a perfect spot for her, since her true passion is working with children. And there’s a lot that needs saving in that village since Lenny isn’t the child anymore.

As Lenny puts his parental issues to bed, he also realizes that Sister Mary was just acting as a mother figure to him. Now that he can stand on his own in some capacity, she has to take her talents elsewhere. They have a lovely moment of understanding after Lenny tells her his plan. “See ya, saint,” Sister Mary says as Lenny slowly walks out of her room. He leaves her with a delicate, “See ya, ma.” Very touching.

Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando) also has a few things to get off his chest. He confesses his feelings to his friend Girolamo, a severely disabled boy he visits and prays with nightly. He nearly lets slip as to the fate of the farmer Tonino Pettola, but thinks better of it and zips his lip. Some things are better left unsolved, but the mystery behind the farmer will always tug at the back of our minds.


Instead of heading to Guatemala to meet with a group of children touched by the young healer Blessed Juana, Lenny goes to Venice instead to reach a new audience. At one point, he sits in a cafe, a wall of reporters and curious faithful look on as his back is to them. He refuses to give the restaurant crew a blessing, but does receive a telescope as a gift from Gutierrez. It’ll come in handy during his public homily.

Pius XIII finally greets his first-ever public crowd. This turns out to be his greatest speech of them all. In it, he reflects on the wisdom bestowed by Blessed Juana, who was asked questions by the children she healed on her death-bed. “Are we good or are we bad? Do we still have time or has it run out? Are we lost or are we found? Are we men or are we women?” Lenny questions, each one of them highlighting the dual nature of humans.

The children then ask “Who is God,” to which Juana simply replied, “God smiles.” As Lenny recounts this story, those we’ve met and who he’s touched throughout the series are brought back through a montage, including the Italian Prime Minister, Lenny’s favorite author, and of course, Esther, still enjoying life near the beach with her family.

The crowd erupts in a thunderous applause as Lenny scans the throng with his telescope. Suddenly he spies an older Hippie couple. His parents. He finally sees them, but they turn and walk away. Is he having a vision? Is he about to let his abandonment issues go? “One day I will die, and I will finally be able to embrace you all one by one,” Lenny cryptically announces before clutching his chest and collapsing.

He looks skyward as his team gathers around him. The camera pans out, and out, and out, until we’re looking at a blue and green marble floating in space. And in a very Black Swan-esque way, we’re left wondering if Lenny fulfilled God’s plan for him on earth or not.

Next: The Young Pope Episode 9 Recap: The Secrets are Out

‘The Young Pope’ photo: Gianni Fiorito/HBO

What’s Left

Lenny Belardo is a man with issues. That much is clear, but even the most troubled among us can make some sense if we just give them a chance to speak. Lenny’s papal tactics were unconventional to say the least, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t truly a holy man or didn’t deserve the honor of becoming the head of the church. He gave us a lot to think about duality and human nature, and where the driving force of and individual’s life comes from.

So what do you think? Is Lenny dead? What was his impact on the world? Was it all for good or for evil? Lenny is one of TV’s most complex and mystical characters, and his papacy has allowed for a great deal of interpretation about religion, mankind, and Godliness as well.

We enjoyed recapping this show and joining you on the journey. We may get more of The Young Pope in the future. There are reports creator and director Paolo Sorrentino may be making Season 2, so keep your eyes open.