Good Omens has finally arrived, and the first episode titled “In The Beginning” is a doozy of a setup for the rest of the series. An angel and demon who have been friends since the Garden of Eden, Satanic nuns flubbing up a baby swap with the anti-Christ and, well, approaching Armageddon. I guess I should make myself a cup of tea.
It’s often thought you can’t have good without evil, and vice versa. With this in mind, that’s how Good Omens starts: in the Garden of Eden. Crowley is the snake that tempts Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Aziraphale is the angel that gives Adam and Eve a flaming sword for protection once they are banished from the Garden of Eden. The demon and angel wonder if they’ve done the right or wrong thing.
After dropping off the anti-Christ with the Chattering Order of St. Beryl, demon Crowley decides to call his unlikely friend Aziraphale the angel to discuss the pending Armageddon and what it means for them both. Aziraphale seems to think Heaven will triumph in the end. Crowley reminds him of what he’d be losing in the process (good classical music, food, and books).
Back at the convent, the baby swap has gone awry thanks to Crowley speaking to one of the two fathers-to-be and then handing the baby off to the wrong nun (who was only supposed to be fetching tea biscuits). The anti-Christ was supposed to go to an American diplomat living in London. Instead, the future dark lord ends up with a nice English family from Tadfield.
They have 11 years until the child comes of age, so Crowley is adamant that they work together in the meantime. Aziraphale is wavering, despite having lunch and drinking way too much wine. Then Crowley hatches a plan: while it’s his duty to influence the growing anti-Christ, Aziraphale could thwart his attempts at leading him down a darker path. The two shake on it and consider themselves godfathers to the child, who they hope will be neither good nor bad, but just…normal.
Flash forward five years and Crowley and Aziraphale have kept their word (although they are looking after the wrong child, named Warlock). Crowley takes the role of evil nanny by way of Mary Poppins (or Missy, from Doctor Who, if you squint). Aziraphale disguises himself as a happy gardener who values all life. When the two frenemies report to their respective offices, both weave stories in their favor of swaying the boy.
Now with six days until Armageddon kicking off (and the anti-Christ being gifted a very large hellhound to protect him), Crowley and Aziraphale meet once again, hoping all they’ve done will pay off. If the anti-Christ names the hellhound, all will be lost. Crowley reckons that Aziraphale could kill the boy, but being an angel, that’s not really in his wheelhouse. Bad magic shows are though, and so the pair show up at Warlock’s birthday party. It’s about this time that Crowley and Aziraphale realize they had the wrong boy all along.
Meanwhile, Adam (the true anti-Christ) is playing in the woods with his friends when he mentions he wants a dog for this birthday, with the hellhound just out of sight. He mentions what kind of dog he’s like and what he’d name it (simply Dog), and there it is. The end is nigh.
As far as opening episodes go, this one is a cracker. David Tennant and Michael Sheen are pitch perfect as the unlikely duo of demon and angel. Tennant’s Crowley has a rock-star swagger and biting wit, while Sheen’s Aziraphale is impeccably dressed and has a soft spot for humans and earthly delights such as sushi and books. Ever present is the Voice of God, intoned by Frances McDormand. Her narration also gets the viewer up to speed through the quick plot cuts and the bungled baby swap.
The modern office versions of Hell (a dark office basement crawling with demons) and Heaven (an empty pure white office) paired with the posher areas of London ground the more fantastical elements of this series firmly in reality, making the stakes that much higher. There’s also a fair amount of whimsy, too.
After a somewhat uneven but necessary second season of American Gods, Good Omens was a jump-start of sorts back into what I’ve loved about Neil Gaiman (and in this case, also Terry Pratchett): the deadpan almost Monty Python-esque humor paired with the evil and celestial. It’s going to be very, very hard not to binge this series. Please pray for me.