Good Omens is my favourite show on Amazon right now, so why has it taken so long to get back to it, you ask? I don’t know!! I’m immersed in teaching my kiddos baseball, maybe? Let’s not waste any more time pondering, straight to S1:E02 The Book!
We open in SoHo, London, two days before the end of the world. To be more specific, we’re in Angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen)’s book shop and he’s about to get a talking to from his superior, the Angel Gabriel (JON HAMM) and Sandalphon (Paul Chahidi) under the guise of discreetly buying pornography. This is all announced quite loudly in the main area of the shop so that Aziraphale may lead them to his back room.
Hahahahahha “I would like to purchase one of your material objects!” “We humans are extremely secretive about purchasing pornography.”
Aziraphale is going to be prodded to step up his indoctrination of the Anti-Christ, no doubt, as Gabriel and the god warriors are all stumping for battle.
The hell hound has been released, you remember?
Hahahah David Tennant is a treat, honestly. This recap is going to be a lot of laughing and swooning, you might want to put the kettle on.
N-E-WAY, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse have also been engaged and I cannot WAIT to see who is Death, Famine and Pollution! I already know who War is, hai Mireille Enos from The Killing! I love your work!
I love this show.
The Dukes of Hell, Hastur (Ned Dennehy) and Ligur (Ariyon Bakare) contact demon Crowley (David Tennant who is glorious in this role. GLORIOUS) via the TV for their check up. They don’t trust Crowley, the flash bastard.
The Four Horsemen!! God/Narrator (Frances MacDormand, honestly, I’m trying) explains that they outsource these roles these days. An ordinary looking man called the Summoner will deliver four very important packages to four dangerous people and thus the party will be starteth.
The Summoner is first at a former war zone, “sometimes, in spite of everything, peace breaks out.” Until War in the form of Carmine Zingiber (Mireille Enos) walks in as a reporter for National World Weekly (seems about right). Within seconds, a peace accord signing turns into an armed standoff, she works fast!
The Summoner interrupts with his package for War, he’s so elementally British. And now she’s armed.
Everyone: meet War!
This story is not just about the final battle between Good and Evil, but also about a witch. Agnes Nutter (Josie Lawrence) and her Book. Let’s head back to 1656 and the scene of the very last witch burning!
As long as there have been witches, there have been Witchfinders and one of the premier families of the trade is the Pulsifer clan. A descendant is going to feature heavily.
Witchfinder Major Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer (Jack Whitehall) leads this particular burning, they’re off to drag the unsuspecting “hag” from her cottage. She’d previously been pricked all over by a standard issue Witchfinder pin, it cured her arthritis! She’s writing a note to cancel her milk order forever, since she’s about to be burned at the stake.
That’s just good manners.
So what hath our witch been accused of? For one thing, she runs when nobody is chasing her, (I do too! I did my first 4.5 mile run without stopping this very morning!), AND she thinks you should have more fibre in your diet! She’s been curing people too, can’t have that.
Agnes chides them for being late then sets off for her pyre, jingling all the way.
She bids the townspeople to come close, closer to watch as the last true witch in England dies.
Agnes was jangling because she had concealed quite a lot of gunpowder and roofing nails under her petticoats, she took everyone with her!
She didn’t only leave a legacy of retribution, however, she also left a book of prophecy, titled “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter.” It was left to her descendants to study, but let’s just say while accurate: it is very difficult to understand. How about Apple coming into power in 1980? Imagine how that was described by a witch in 1656.
We skip ahead to Malibu 11 years before now, with a young Anathema Device (Reagan Osman) being drilled on the book by her mother (Gabrielle Cirillo). Some of the members of the Device family have managed to figure out the predictions (5000 shares in Apple), and they’ve all made notecards over the years of their suggestions and ideas.
Now we’re onto “four shall ride and three shall ride the sky as two and one shall ride in flames” which is The Four Horseman! Anathema will be there, she’s going to have to save the world.
In Surrey, England, we meet Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer’s descendant too! Newton Pulsifer (Rocco Wright) thinks he’s a computer scientist, but evidence would suggest otherwise. His mum (Nicola Harrison) is supportive in the deluded way all us parents are supposed to be.
Now Newt’s (Jack Whitehall) all grown up and heading off his his new job in his car Dick Turpin. It’s not going to go well, he doesn’t want to do anything on the computer.
His office is fun. There’s a new training initiative! Janice (Suzann McLean) has already registered a complaint with HR. Boss Nigel (Ben Willbond) presses on anyway, until Newt kills all the computers with a single keystroke.
Anathema Device (Adria Arjona) is all grown up and entering England so she can do everything she can to save the world.
*One small aside: interesting that they changed her whole personal backstory from the book Good Omens, why add in America? Perhaps it’s just the same old, same old
Newt walks the streets of London (London, right? SoHo?) and now we meet Shadwell (Michael McKean, comedy LEGEND) proselytizing on the mount about the end of the world. He sounds mental but he’s actually right! Newt is drawn to listen.
*I’ll need an authority to weigh in on Michael McKean’s Scottish accent, we’ve already got David Tennant larking it up and I’ve been immersed in the Extraordinary Stories podcast, but I cannea tell if he’s over-exaggerating or not. Ed? Little help?
This is the head of the current Witchfinder Army, Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell and he likes his tea with 9 sugars.
*But in the book…Reserving judgement, I’m just tickled to see Michael McKean, even if his character really should have been played by a Scottish hobbit in a dank basement. I suppose this means no Medium with an apartment smelling of brussel sprouts?
After a quick nipple count, Newton Pulsifer has joined the ranks of the WA, starting at 11:00 am the following morning,
Anathema arrives at Jasmine Cottage in the beautiful village of Lower Tadfield on Thursday, still two days until the end of the world. She sets up shop and I try to suppress my dismay at how American she is.
Crowley mutters to himself about his mistake at his flat and we get the houseplants scene!!!!!
*A favourite part of the book
Crowley heard that talking to plants is good for them, helping them grow, but being Crowley he more threatens and intimidates them into growing. His plants were among the most lush, verdant and terrified in all of England. I paraphrase, but that’s straight remembered from the book.
Oh!!! There is the boarding house, yay! Madame Tracy (MIRANDA RICHARDSON!!) runs the boarding house and holds readings as a Medium, except for Thursdays, which involves a whole other income stream and backpage advertisement.
Newt rings at 11 am sharp, he’s not here for the personal intimate massage for discerning gentleman, but thanks, Tracy! Shadwell sends his landlady off with shouted imprecations, she’ll be back shortly with tea.
Time to get to work! Newton readies his scissors, which are not for stabbing, nae, but rather cutting out crazy stories out of tabloid newspapers.
Aziraphale calls Crowley, suggesting carefully that maybe the child switch might have gone wrong? They’re off to find birth records! Too bad there was that fire, thanks to Hastur and Ligur.
Back in Lower Tadfield, the Antichrist is enjoying some ice cream with his friends. Adam Young (Sam Taylor Buck) grew up without any influence at all from above or below and as such he’s a pretty normal kid. His friends Wenslydale (Alfie Taylor), Pepper (Amma Ris) and Brian (Ilan Galkoff) trail after him. Let’s meet the Them!
Jeremy Wenslydale is called only by his last name, all that stands between him and chartered accountancy is time.
Pepper is actually Pippin Galadriel Moonchild sooo it appears that hippies didn’t only roam free in Canada.
Then there’s Brian, who’s always dirty but a great cheerleader. You should remember these descriptions because they just might meet their opposites later.
Anathema searches the woods while the kids gossip about her and her witches’ newspaper (Psychic News). Wenslydale (this is impossible to type over and over, is this a common name in the UK?) gives the Them a greatly shortened overview of the Spanish Inquisition, now they’re going to try it!
Aziraphale and Crowley have made it to Lower Tadfield too; Crowley explaining the complicated plan that led to the mess up and Aziraphale declaring its failure born out of the very nature of its evil intent. Nah, Crowley thinks it was just an ordinary cock-up and he’s not wrong.
Agree to disagree, boys!
The Them meet Anathema in the woods, they act out their Spanish Inquisition for her, which involves saying “Olè!” a lot and accusing Wen of being a witch, which he immediately cops to. Pepper is incensed, you can’t just admit to being a witch after they’ve done all this work!
(In case you hadn’t noticed: Pepper is War)
Anathema is led to the torture device/tire swing where Wen hogs all the fun and Brian’s about to head home.
*There’s a little sibling missing, right, as you were
Anathema asks Adam about any monsters or beasts around, only Dog! (Who is a hell hound but an adorable one). Off she goes.
Aziraphale and Crowley arrive at the place where the hospital once stood, now it’s a corporate retreat specializing in team building. Ooooh!!!!! I bet this is what Nigel and Janice were fighting about and sorry, sorry, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. We don’t know it’s a corporate retreat yet, just that Aziraphale can tell that this place is loved.
They’re both shot immediately, hai corporate retreat paintball team building!
*I LOVE this deviation from the book, it’s brilliant to tie that in with Newt’s shortlived job!
Crowley and Aziraphale discuss the morality of gun use, which angels don’t agree with unless it gives weight to a moral issue. Crowley laughs for all of us: a moral argument, really?
As a pip, he changes the paintballs to real bullets, that’s what they wanted, right?
Everyone has free will, nobody has to shoot at anyone else, right? Norman (Andy de la Tour) from Accounting is enjoying his retirement party more than he expected.
Right until he’s shot in the chest by that bastard Nigel. Crowley isn’t quite the demon he pretends, everyone is going to have miraculous escapes. Aziraphale dares to call him nice and his slammed up against a wall in return. Shhhhh!!
This used to be the hospital, the Satanic nuns weren’t very good at it but we loved at least one! Hello former Sister Mary Loquacious, now Mary Hodges (Nina Sosanya from Last Tango in Halifax!!). We met her when she mixed up the antichrist with another bebeh.
She recognises Crowley right away, so he snaps his fingers and immobilizes her for questioning. She’s very chic now, but only remembers the important things about the ruler of demons.
*I’m sorry they didn’t go into more detail there, Mary Hodges’ story arc was a favourite of mine, even though it was just a few lines in the book.
The police are outside as Crowley and Aziraphale argue over whether or not they’re both occult sources (totally) and if that’s why they can’t sense where the antichrist is lurking.
It’s like saying you can’t see a tree when you’re in the middle of the forest.
Anathema works late at night (not naked as books would have us believe) with her sextent and tablet, she’s about to have a collision with Crowley and Aziraphale, who won’t stop talking about how loved the area feels.
Anathema bounces off the hood of Crowley’s car to end up in the ditch. Aziraphale turns on the light (outside) then heals her broken bones and sets her upright on her miraculously restored bicycle that now has some curious upgrades. Like gears.
Aziraphale insists that they give Anathema a ride back to the village, Crowley submits with illgrace.
Anathema’s bike is now restored to her with no gears (again), she leaves behind the book! The Book! Aziraphale knows exactly what it is, someone called his shop just the other day looking for it!
Anathema works late into the night, getting a pep talk from her mum via videochat when she realises she’s lost the book.
Aziraphale and Crowley regroup at a cafe; perhaps they could track the prince of darkness using humans? But he’s got a barrier thingy, Crowley explains, suspicion slides off him like…whatever water slides off.
Take it away, Jinkxy!
Adam’s parents chit chat about his new dog, Deirdre (Sian Brooke!! From Doctor Foster second series! I knew I recognised her!) and Arthur (Daniel Mays) are quite the most understanding parents ever. Almost like they are housing the destroyer of worlds. Deidre checks on Adam, he’s so sweet when asleep!
They all are, aren’t they? When asleep.
Crowley and Aziraphale discuss a plan of attack, they both have teams of human operatives they could engage to help. Countdown to…
Squee!! They both think Shadwell is leading a team of operatives on their behalf! Both! BUT WE DON’T KNOW THAT YET, SO SHHHHH
Sorry, I thought they were getting right to that, but it turns out we’ve got to fight over whether Velvet Underground is “be-bop” or not (not) and Aziraphale has to find The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter. He scoots.
He treats it with the reverence all rare books deserve, white gloves and barely withheld tears. He finds himself in the book right away then spends every single second he can reading it over while his cocoa doth grow ever more cold.
Because while dozens of Device family members had read and tried to interpret the book, none of them were angels and so couldn’t understand the same way.
He does not share any of this information with Crowley.
He digs out Adam Young’s phone number out of the esoteric text, calling Arthur and hearing Adam in the background.
Of course he said sorry first. And we’re out!
I know I’ve gone on and on about David Tennant because his is the showier role, but Michael Sheen was all over this episode and I DIG it. This show. It’s impossible to explain how much I love this show and book, but I hope you watch it and read it and read it again. Even if you have to steal it from your mother’s library (twice). Until next time.