Good Omens, Episode 2 Review: “The Book”

by Rachel Bellwoar

If “In The Beginning” established Crowley and Aziraphale as the stars of Good Omens, “The Book” asks what if they weren’t?

Photo Credit: Chris Raphael

OK, maybe nothing so dramatic, but it is a change from the chronological order of episode one, which seemed to indicate episode two would pick up with Adam (Sam Taylor Buck) and his friends. With Armageddon gaining on us, the show had to slow it’s roll somehow, and does that by introducing new characters instead of slamming the brakes.

Honestly, if you cut out the opening scenes, of Crowley and Aziraphale being questioned by their superiors, “The Book” could be a second pilot for a show about Anathema Device (Adria Arjona) and Newt Pulsifer (Jack Whitehall), the great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of a witch and a witchfinder whose families are about to cross paths once more.

Newt is a sweet, affable guy who doesn’t really understand what’s going on but is game enough to join the Witchfinder Army, led by Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell (Better Call Saul’s Michael McKean). He’s a great point of view character for the audience, while Anathema is a pure joy. The scene where her mother (Bryony Corrigan) expresses gratitude that’s she not the one saddled with saving the world is mercilessly honest, coming from a mother to her daughter (played as a young girl by Reagan Osman).

Crowley and Aziraphale are still involved in what’s going on, and Aziraphale makes a major breakthrough towards the end, but because it’s thanks to Anathema’s book of Nice and Accurate Prophecies by her ancestor, Agnes Nutter (Josie Lawrence), they feel like the side characters while Anathema and Newt are at the center of the action (Anathema intentionally, Newt unknowingly).

All of this is to say I wouldn’t mind if the show made them the leads going forward. It reframes the story while also staying true to the original text and, in general, playing with structure could be a fun way of changing things up for book fans. I half expected the show not to return to Crowley and Aziraphale this hour and while Crowley hitting Anathema with his car made a natural point to reinsert them in the story, I think they could’ve held off on showing them before that (the plant scene, at least, could’ve been moved to another episode).

Other thoughts on “The Book:”

  • Agnes’ neighbors may have been wrong about witches, but they got running right.
  • I like the idea that Aziraphale’s way of rebelling is by being overly generous – forcing the point with Crowley, when he doesn’t want to give Anathema a ride, by adding a bike rack to his car, and giving Anathema’s bike an upgrade
  • One thing those opening scenes do extremely well is show the difference between heaven and hell. Hastur (Ned Dennehy) doesn’t trust Crowley but is that because it’s in his nature, as a demon, not to trust anyone or because he doesn’t trust Crowley in particular? Then you have the angels who barely press the point with Aziraphale because they’re so sure of themselves, it makes them blind to their mistakes.
  • “Didn’t mean to fall. I just hung around the wrong people.” Talk about a line that cuts right to the heart of who Crowley is and his friendship with Aziraphale.
  • All of the scenes with gun violence (War (Mireille Enos) crashing the peace talk; the paint ball fight) are from the book but hit differently, in light of how much gun violence has been in the news. There are other ways to represent War and I wish the series had considered doing something else.

Good Omens is streaming on Amazon.

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