With the flair of a rock star and the regalia of a supreme monarch, Jude Law saunters down a lush Vatican hallway with a mixture of heart-pounding power and raw coolness.
Behind him are 10 paintings from the Vatican, each chosen to metonymically represent the show’s 10 episodes. A shooting star passes through each of the paintings, symbolising at once the young pope’s meteoric effect on Christendom as well as presaging the final work of art, Cattelan’s 1999 installation of John Paul 2 felled by a meteorite, which closes the entire opening sequence with a satisfyingly metaphorical wink — mirrored by Jude Law’s own amazing, 4th-wall breaking, slow wink to the audience.
All this takes place against the backdrop of the rock ‘n’ roll of British rapper Devlin’s song, “Watchtower”.
The slow pace of the opening sequence mirrors the deep sophistication of the show’s plot. The brilliant referencing of the artworks to the storyline mirrors the mystery and cheekiness of Jude Law’s character. And the combination of all these elements typifies the uniqueness of Paulo Sorrentino’s creation: a show that at once sheds light on the contemporary rise of totalitarianism in politics; questions the otherworldly mystery that religion represents in today’s society; and celebrates the cheekiness of his characters, who embody fascinatingly intertwined relationships with charisma, sexuality, and intelligence.