For the last month, HBO’s The Young Pope has been the most fascinating and compelling show on television. Each week, episodes have dropped on Sunday and Monday night and I have spent each of my Monday nights, since the start of 2017, watching two hours of perfection from director Paolo Sorrentino and lead actor Jude Law.

Last night was no different. The penultimate episode of the season expertly tied up the loose ends of the Kurtwell Case, proved that Sister Mary wasn’t wrong after spending the last few episodes claiming that Pope Pius XIII was a “saint” and ended with a failed attempt at blackmail that instead turned Pius into the beloved character he would become in the season finale.

Pope Pius XIII started the season hardened, distasteful and somewhat revengeful but by the end of the finale, where Pius is making his first public address to thousands surrounding The Vatican, he seems grown for the first time. He’s not completely open but open just enough where Pius can be everything people have seen him as throughout the season; miracle worker, saint, instigator, smug bastard, lover and almost everything in between.

Pope Pius XIII’s character development through just ten hours, as I mentioned in a few group chats after watching the final two episodes last night, “rocked me to my core.” Unfortunately, I ruined the high of The Young Pope finale by ending my night with the Season 6 premier of Girls.

I’ve watched every episode of the previous five seasons and I still don’t know why. The show is elementary and lives off of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of problems without actually going much deeper than surface level with any of them. Unlike Pope Pius XIII, Hannah and the rest of the Girls cast have changed jobs, sexual partners, friends and moods time and time again but they are still the same characters that we were introduced to in 2012.

They’ve been the same though, so it’s not surprising but it is disappointing. Individually, each character is interesting enough but juggling nearly a half dozen story lines has to be difficult. HBO has done it twice though over the last six months. The fall’s Westworld expertly followed multiple narratives through a Western-themed futuristic theme park which was populated with artificial intelligence. The Young Pope did the same in the confines of The Vatican. 

Two steps forward and one step back, hopefully the 2017 returns of both Curb Your Enthusiasm and Silicon Valley get HBO moving in the right direction again.