[Ed. note: This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike against the AMPTP went into effect.]
A different kind of Armageddon happened in the latest season of Good Omens. It isn’t a globally epic one, like in last season, but a personal one.
For all their six millennia’s worth of bantering and bonding, the jovial angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and his brooding demonic companion Crowley (David Tennant) haven’t been able to admit that they’re a match made in heaven — or hell, or Earth. The 1990 novel source material written by Neil Gaiman (the showrunner and writer) and the late Terry Pratchett granted them a happy ending at the Ritz, as replicated in season 1.
But just when you think season 2 bestows them a happy chapter in life beyond the source material, the two angels find their relationship at a crossroads. It’s an outcome both bittersweet and baffling, yet appropriate for the pair, as wounding as a flaming sword impaled through the heart.
[Ed note: Spoilers follow for the end of season 2 of Good Omens.]
Written by Gaiman and John Finnemore, season 2 has been a definitive Crowley and Aziraphale story. God (voiced by Frances McDormand) is no longer narrating, other than a voice cameo in episode 3 as a distant voice. So Crowley and Aziraphale essentially own the narrative — their love story — all to themselves. In the hearts of its mortal viewers, Crowley and Aziraphale act like Ineffable Husbands. But like Jane Austen’s characters, they’re slow to grasp the romance brewing beneath their friendship. This is true even as people point they’re once again working very closely as they help the amnesiac archangel Gabriel seek refuge in Aziraphale’s bookshop.
In the finale, the hunky-dory resolution is thwarted by the arrival of Metatron (Derek Jacobi), the even-higher-up entity that serves God. Impressed by Aziraphale’s handling of the Gabriel matter, he offers Aziraphale a surprising promotion in heaven: to assume Gabriel’s former Supreme Archangel office and conduct God’s future projects, thus nullifying Aziraphale’s excommunication. Sweetening this deal in Aziraphale’s eyes, Metatron throws in this job benefit: Aziraphale could exercise the authority to restore Crowley’s angel status and employ him as second-in-command. Aziraphale is overjoyed, but Crowley is less so.
Needless to say, Crowley unleashes the Red Sea of feelings (in his own restrained way where he grunts to stop himself from spilling something too sappy). “We don’t need heaven, we don’t need hell. They’re toxic! We need to get away from them [to Alpha Centauri]. Just be an us,” he manages to say. Crowley finalizes his point by planting a Big Damn Kiss on Aziraphale, as if to holler, “You idiot, this is what you’re giving up!” Upon Arizaphale’s stern rejection (he can only utter “I forgive you” through his shock), Crowley storms out of the bookshop. The quarrel leaves them both pretty dejected.
But even if you’re on Team Crowley here (I am), the decision makes sense for Aziraphale’s character. When opportunity knocks, it’s believably easy for Aziraphale to be allured back into heaven’s “truth” and “light.” In an interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA , Sheen surmised that Aziraphale’s decision to accept the promotion is “part of that search for what is the right thing to do.” In the angel’s eager eyes, having authority inside of heaven gives him more access to the “right thing.” He could be the angel that advocates more ardently for humanity. He needs to be the one to speak out against the annihilation of children. So as long as Aziraphale has access to celestial authority, he could prevent the worst-case scenarios like the Job incident. Also, reflect on the season 1 meeting when Aziraphale attempted to file a suggestion with God, only to be shattered that heaven chose war over peace all in the name of “winning”; his helpless expression at the time says it all. If he gets to reshape Heaven’s policies, he’ll be more equipped to protect mortals.
But as Tennant sees it, Crowley wanted more for the two of them personally. “I suppose the thing that Crowley learns from Aziraphale is that the path of least resistance is not always the one to take,” Tennant says. As a fallen angel “who sauntered vaguely downwards,” Crowley can’t just be suckered back and reassimilated into a Heaven that suppresses his doubts and those “damned questions” that pester Metatron. Rejecting Aziraphale’s offer is his way of taking a stand — “albeit futilely,” in Tennant’s words. If there’s anything Crowley might also implicitly understand, a toxic place like heaven may as well be co-opting Aziraphale’s talents — his relatability to humanity and Earth — for its own bureaucratic missions.
A major motif of Good Omens is the portrayal of good and bad in shades of gray. Across the eons, “good” and “right” are forever shape-shifting concepts for both Crowley and Aziraphale. Long before hell and heaven expelled them, they have seen, experienced, and committed the moral grays among humanity. Season 2’s finale is a perfect encapsulation of the dramatic possibilities of their differing stances: Aziraphale sees all he can solve with divine institutional access, while Crowley wants to wash his hands of it, hold only onto Aziraphale, and flee to Alpha Centauri together.
But there’s no dream getaway to Alpha Centauri. What’s left is a widening chasm between the two angels who find themselves on different sides: Aziraphale’s tentative homecoming to heaven, and Crowley on his own on Earth. That said, hope is wandering in the limbo. There is a promise (as seen in the resolutions of either of season 2’s other romance subplots) that they could reunite romantically. Symbolically, Crowley glances at the two mortals (with their romance on hold) alone in their respective shops. He’s resigned to the distance between him and Aziraphale — for now, at least. But perhaps their separate soul-searching journey is all the more essential for their future reconnection.
They have to find themselves before they can be together. If Good Omens gets a season 3 and Aziraphale engineers the Second Coming under Metatron’s orders, we’ll see what it might take for the two divine beings to mend the bridge. For my bet, Aziraphale may owe Crowley the “I was wrong” dance.
Good Omens season 2 is now on Prime Video.