In the new season of Neil Gaiman's comedic fantasy, an angel and a devil have to save humanity, again—and sort out their own complicated relationship along the way.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Good Omens is back!

If you’re a fan of irreverent fantasy that doesn’t involve large men stoically hitting each other with swords, this is the show for you. Season 1, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, tells the story of an angel and a devil who become the universe’s most unlikely odd couple. Season 2 is a new story, written by Gaiman based on notes that he sketched out with his much-missed friend and collaborator.

An archangel on the doorstep (Spoiler-free section)

The whole embarrassing business with the Antichrist is in the past, and the world wasn’t destroyed. Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant) have escaped punishment, but neither is on good terms with their bosses in Heaven and Hell.

Life has gone back to cozy British normality—until a naked archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) shows up at the door of Aziraphale’s bookshop with amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is or why he’s there. He seems to recall that something terrible is coming, but that’s all he can remember.

With both sides scouring the earth to find Gabriel, Aziraphale and Crowley agree to keep him hidden until they can figure out what’s going on. At the same time, they accidentally get drawn into a romcom-esque plot to help love bloom between two shopkeepers on their street, Nina (Nina Sosanya) and Maggie (Maggie Service). But when they get involved in playing matchmaker, they’re forced to face unresolved questions about the nature of their own relationship.

However, neither the Gabriel mystery nor the romantic subplot get too much screen time. The show mostly spins its wheels until they’re both resolved in the final episode.

The real draw is the retellings of Aziraphale and Crowley’s encounters across time. Sheen and Tennant continue to have wonderful chemistry as they bicker and flirt. And yes, there is flirting—whereas the first season only teased the possibility of a deeper relationship, this one goes farther. (More on that in the spoiler section.)

One of the mini-stories takes place before the creation of Earth, showing why Crowley fell from angelhood: after designing a beautiful starry nebula, he rebels against the notion that it all exists for no greater purpose than a sort of cosmic desktop wallpaper. One is the story of Job from the Bible, told from Aziraphale and Crowley’s perspective. One is set in 18th century Edinburgh, where an encounter with a “resurrectionist” forces Aziraphale to question what right and wrong really are. And one is set in London during World War II, when a rival demon sends a gang of Nazi zombies after Crowley to prove he’s violating hellish law by fraternizing with the enemy.

Of these four, the Job story was the best. Crowley shows up with a scroll of divine permission to ruin Job’s life as part of a bet between God and Satan. Aziraphale is appropriately horrified when he finds out that this includes killing Job’s children—but it’s all right, because he’ll get new and better children later. (In an insightful moment of feminism, Aziraphale protests on Job’s wife’s behalf: how “rewarded” will she feel to have to carry and give birth to seven more babies at an advanced age?)

No other angel has any qualms, so Aziraphale—and Crowley, who cares about people more than he admits—come up with a scheme to save Job’s family. But to pull it off, they’ll have to perform a switcheroo right under the noses of the archangels.

As season 1 implied and this season further stresses, Heaven isn’t the good side and Hell isn’t the evil side. They’re just different sides, like rival sports teams, and neither one is concerned about humanity. Aziraphale and Crowley, because they’ve been on Earth since the beginning, are the only supernatural beings who have an intimate familiarity with humans. As a result, they both care more than their respective higher-ups. It’s a moral that an atheist could agree with.

The ending (spoiler section)

Now let’s talk about that ending.

The final episode reveals a second angel-demon relationship: between Gabriel and his counterpart, Beelzebub, who met at the end of the first season. Their professional comity developed into friendship, then into love. To prevent a war that would have torn them apart, Gabriel vetoed the other angels’ plans for a second try at Armageddon. When he faced demotion for that, he ran away to Earth, hiding his memories for safekeeping.

By making a side trip to Heaven (“They never change the passwords”), Crowley helps unravel the mystery. With his memory restored, Gabriel and Beelzebub resign and vanish to parts unknown to be together.

The other archangels are wrathful at Aziraphale for deceiving them, but the Metatron, God’s spokesperson, steps in. He decrees that there won’t be any punishment. Instead, he offers Aziraphale a promotion to Gabriel’s vacated position. He even offers him the power to forgive Crowley and make him an angel again so the two of them can be together.

When Aziraphale proposes this, Crowley rejects it out of hand. He makes a counteroffer: the two of them can run off together, just like their bosses did. To leave no doubt of his sincerity, he seals the proposal with a kiss. Aziraphale is heartbroken, but the Metatron’s offer is too enticing for him to turn down.

The final episode ends with Aziraphale ascending in an elevator to Heaven, while Crowley bitterly drives off alone into the sunset. It lingers on a split screen of their faces as the credits scroll.

There was a fan outcry over this, but I thought it worked as a tragic ending. It’s the classic debate about whether to work within a flawed system in the hope of making it better. Aziraphale and Crowley come down on opposite sides, but the choices they make ring true to both characters.

Crowley is fundamentally selfish and cynical. He cares about himself most of all, and he chafes at following anyone’s orders. It’s in keeping with his character that he wants to forsake both Heaven and Hell and run away with the love of his life.

Meanwhile, Aziraphale, despite a rebellious streak, is selfless at heart. He wants to help people, but at every juncture, he’s appalled by the callousness of Heaven’s bureaucracy. It makes total sense that he’d believe, given the power to change things, he could do a better job. It comes off as naive, but it’s an understandable mistake for the type of person he is.

The one thing I’m glad they didn’t do is reveal that Aziraphale’s disobedience was a secret test of character all along. Thankfully, Good Omens doesn’t let God off the hook. It pointedly questions the moral outrageousness of the Job story, or the unfairness of creating a world where some are born rich and comfortable while others have to struggle in poverty. The angels’ disregard for humanity flows directly from their Creator, who seems not so much ineffable as uninvolved.

Is this the end of the story? Neil Gaiman has said he’d like to do a third season, so we can hope not. This cliffhanger ending is crying out for resolution. If not for the shippers, do it for the rest of us!

DAYLIGHT ATHEISM—Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments