The clip doesn’t offer much in the way of plot points, but teases a tense new dynamic at the Vatican, after The Young Pope ended with Law’s Pope Pius XIII slipping into a seemingly irreversible coma. In the clip — which is set to Devlin’s “Watchtower,” an interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” and the series’ theme song — Pope Pius XIII strolls down a babe-filled beach in a blindingly white speedo, while the titular new pope, John Paul III (Malkovich), enters the Vatican to resounding applause from the cardinals.
In an interview with Variety, creator, writer and director Paolo Sorrentino offered a few more details about the upcoming season. “The basic idea is to latch on to the end of the first season,” Sorrentino said. “The pope, played by Jude Law, goes into a coma that, from a scientific standpoint, is considered irreversible and can only end up in death. So the church has to resort to a new pope, who is played by John Malkovich. But since we are in a territory where reason is overtaken by spiritual mysteries and by God, Jude Law’s coma may not be so irreversible. It may have some unexpected novelties, so that two popes can co-exist in the episodes that follow.”
Sorrentino also said that The New Pope will feature more “references to current events,” as opposed to The Young Pope, which had “a spiritual dimension” and was focused on introducing the characters. “There is [a] constant stream of current events references, in particular to potential forms of ideological fanaticism that can have negative repercussions on the church,” he said.
Along with Law and Malkovich, The New Pope will feature returning cast members Silvio Orlando, Javier Cámara and Cécile de France, as well as Sharon Stone and Marilyn Manson in guest roles. The first two episodes of The New Pope will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September, though a wide release date has yet to be announced.