With the release of Heartstopper season three, Sex Education season four, and Everything Now to name a few - 2023 has been the year of queer TV. As amazing as it is to finally have good queer representation in multiple mainstream TV shows, without doubt my favourite has been the release of season two of Good Omens on Amazon PrimeVideo.
(If you haven’t watched Good Omens, first of all, shame on you, second of all, go watch it and then come back because this review contains major spoilers for seasons one and two of the show!)
Based on the eponymous 1990 novel by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, in season one we followed the antics of fastidious angel Aziraphale (played by Michael Sheen) and rebellious demon Crowley (played by David Tennant) as they tracked down a misplaced Antichrist in an attempt to avoid Armageddon and all the paperwork it would entail. Given season one’s success, season two has been eagerly anticipated by fans of the novel and show since its announcement in July 2021 (I totally didn’t take a day off work once I knew the release date). However, with no sequel for its base, there was understandably some apprehension about how the Good Omens universe would be expanded whilst remaining respectful to the memory of Terry Pratchett and true to the characters. But fear not! Having watched (and rewatched) it several times over, I can safely report that though less thrilling than season one, season two did not disappoint.
The overarching plot of season two centres around the archangel Gabriel appearing on the doorstep of his ex-employee Aziraphale’s bookshop naked and with no memory of who he is. What ensues is Aziraphale and Crowley’s usual brand of chaos as they attempt to solve the mystery of Gabriel’s amnesia whilst keeping his identity hidden from Heaven and Hell (cue the Gabriel/Jim shenanigans). Compared to season one this season is clearly more character-driven, so although we say goodbye to some iconic characters from season one, we are introduced to new ones to fall in love with. Most notably, Aziraphale’s fellow-shopkeepers Maggie and Nina who are inadvertently subjected to Aziraphale and Crowley’s (questionable) match-making schemes as part of a cover up for the illicit miracle they performed to hide Gabriel/Jim’s true identity. (An honourable mention as well for the adorable angel Muriel).
Throughout this season we follow the antics of Aziraphale and Crowley through the ages, not just in the present day. The dual timeline is admittedly confusing at first, and the flashbacks were clearly more focused on exploring Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship than historical accuracy (“O’ Flower of Scotland” wasn’t written until the 1960s, as you should well know David Tennant), but once you get a handle on the storytelling the time-switching quickly becomes enjoyable.
Indeed, what better time to begin the season than the BeginningTM as we open to Aziraphale and an as-yet-unfallen Crowley at the birth of the Universe. Fast forward from this cosmic rendezvous and we find ourselves back at Aziraphale’s bookshop as Gabriel causes a stir in Soho with his strategically placed cardboard box. I have to admit that other than settling us back into the Good Omens universe and introducing key new characters there is little to interest us in terms of plot. Shout-out to Crowley’s mid-episode Apology Dance though! The plot begins to pick up in episode two as Aziraphale finds a Clue that may begin to explain Gabriel’s messy memory, but the focus is mostly on the flashback where we see Aziraphale first begin to question Heaven and undergo a double-doozy of a crisis - identity and faith.
The theme of morality is carried into episode three’s flashback as Aziraphale again grapples with Right and Wrong to the backdrop of Victorian Edinburgh. This nicely contrasts with Aziraphale investigating his Clue in present-day Edinburgh as Crowley attempts (unsuccessfully) to bring Maggie and Nina together - unfortunately a passionate kiss in the rain always seems more romantic than it is. Overall, episode three is largely a filler episode with very little plot advancement, but it does provide a nice mid-season break that doesn’t weigh us down as viewers (but this does not remain the case!).
Despite a heavy focus on zombie-Nazis being sentenced to eternal damnation, by episode four I admit I was getting antsy for some proper plot. We finally get this towards the end when Shax the demon (Crowley’s replacement/long-standing frenemy) seeks permission to lay siege on Aziraphale’s bookshop in order to uncover Gabriel’s hiding place. Is this dramatic AF? Yes. Are all demons as a rule dramatic AF? Also yes. In episode five I finally feel that the plot is going somewhere, and that love is in the air. Aziraphale takes a stab at bringing Maggie and Nina together by throwing a Jane Austen-inspired soirée complete with Regency-era music and two queer (and one heavily queer-coded) couples dancing. While this approach would have worked for me (and any other Jane Austen-girly), Shax's arrival with a legion of demons throws a spanner in the works. Here the action picks up as Aziraphale and Crowley scheme to save the innocent humans around them. I found this a nice parallel with season one - Aziraphale and Crowley’s respect for, and defence of, humanity is core to their characters, so the continuation of this theme into season two was a nice touch.
The DRAMA, the LONGING, the emotional DEVASTATION - episode six was as exhilarating as it was gut-wrenching. Everything came to a head in the finale episode as Shax and their legion of demons continued to lay siege to Aziraphale’s bookshop, only to be thwarted by Aziraphale and his lesbian army of two. Meanwhile in Heaven, Crowley and Muriel finally uncovered the mystery of Gabriel’s memory and learned of Heaven’s plans for Armageddon 2.0. Admittedly, I found the revelation of Gabriel developing a conscience that turns him against planning another Armageddon a bit of a stretch - his vehement anger at the end of season one doesn’t disappear just because he has fallen in love. However, as out of character as that plot twist felt, it was swiftly forgotten when the last ten minutes of the episode had me literally throwing hands as my poor mum side-eyed me in concern. Crowley’s reaction to Maggie and Nina’s healthy dose of much-needed common sense may seem knee-jerk, but hey, he’s been pining for nearly 6000 years, cut him some slack. Aziraphale’s reaction, however, I give you full permission to scream at because I certainly did! “I forgive you” is not an appropriate response to the love of your existence confessing his love to you and begging you to choose him over Heaven! Neil Gaiman has a lot of gall to end the season with Aziraphale accepting Heaven’s job offer of enacting the Second Coming and Crowley driving away in the Bentley as “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” plays in the background, BUT Aziraphale’s rejection was the plot twist to end all plot twists in my opinion and certainly left me desperate for more.
Season two is definitely less polished than season one, and there is a clear focus on character development and humour rather than a thrilling plotline. However, the lack of exciting plot is exactly what is needed to allow us to delve into the complexities of the characters and their relationships with each other - which David Tennant and Michael Sheen do an excellent job of portraying. With canonical non-binary and gender-queer main characters (why would angels and demons conform to arbitrary human ideas of gender anyway?), a prominent lesbian love story, cheeky Grindr Easter egg (rewatch episode three if you missed this!), and they-them pronouns galore, the queer representation is hellishly good and divinely natural throughout season two even if the plot was slightly lacking. If, however, this is what Neil Gaiman considers “soft and gentle,” then I dread to think what emotional torture he has in mind for the hypothetical season three he’s teased us with. But will I watch it anyway?
By Bee (she/her)