If I’ve been harsh towards Good Omens in the past, then let me be equally jubilant about its best episode to date. If the world is going to end than you better make the last day count, and “Saturday Morning Funtime” is a funtime. Everything the show has been setting up clicks. Everyone’s at their best.
Take Hastur. He’s been in other episodes but a higher profile in “Funtime” couldn’t have been better timed, for his establishment as one of Crowley’s bigger threats. Crowley and Aziraphale work better as ensemble players and all of the scenes addressing their relationship tug at the heartstrings.
Pollution (Lourdes Faberes) is the series’ most exciting interpretation of a Four Horseman. From her complexion to a memorable signature (the ink drips like an oil spill), she feels like a fresh take on the character, whereas the others were more traditional.
Listur’s death by holy water (played by Ariyon Bakare) brought back childhood nightmares of Christopher Lloyd’s melting scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
Not a single detail has been overlooked, whether it’s monogrammed pins for the Witchfinder Army, a source for the voices chanting “Make it happen. Make it real,” (Hastur says the Antichrist’s supposed to be hearing voices), or Aziraphale using a summoning circle to call upon an angel (thus implying they’re as dangerous as their fallen brethren).
This episode also nails the absurd moments that give the series away for being the work of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Lines like Pepper’s “…oh my god, I want to be a whale,” (delivered by actress, Amma Ris) and Newt’s encounter with aliens. Initially, I thought the show might try getting away with not showing the aliens, but the scene is so much better for one of the aliens (Laura Evelyn) taking their helmet off, so we can see they have green skin and duck-like features.
Anathema and Newt might be the series’ strongest characters. With Anathema, it’s cool having someone who isn’t caught off guard by everything that’s going on and, with Newt, the opposite stands true: it’s cool having a character who always looks slightly dazed and frazzled, but is also self-aware, as we learn this episode when he explains why he joined the Witchfinder Army (to get out of the house). He knows what’s going on is wild yet is able to function. He may not have grown up with the supernatural like Anathema but never discounts it, or the people who claim it’s real (which makes his ability to function more impressive – he doesn’t think Armageddon’s a hoax).
Adam’s change of heart, on the other hand, comes on a bit suddenly. Seeing the picture of the Great Beast clearly accelerates his timeline, but while you could understand him getting overwhelmed by the prospect of saving the plant and landing on Armageddon eventually, the show skips a few beats to get him there fast. Besides not looking the part, though, Adam’s unwillingness to lose his friends puts his commitment to being the Antichrist in question. Adam’s friends shouldn’t be able to talk back to him, yet Adam holds off on silencing them completely because he realizes what most villains take time to learn. He doesn’t want to control his friends. He wants to recruit them.
Other thoughts on episode four:
- Anathema’s finger tapping, when she’s waiting for Newt to show up, is a nice callback to her great-great-great-great-great aunt, Agnes’, impatience when her executors showed up late.
- Two loose ends the show has been hyping: why Newt’s car is called Dick Turpin and what happened to Aziraphale’s flaming sword?
- Anyone else think the picket signs, used to tell us the time and place, are a homage to cartoons (particularly Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner)?
- “Saturday Morning Funtime” also draws attention to Frances McDormand’s narration as God – first with Crowley’s remark, about “God moving in mysterious ways and not talking to any of us” and later with Megatron (Derek Jacobi) insisting he’s the voice of God, when we know he’s not (the classic scenario: man trying to speak for woman).
- Honorable mention to Paul Adeyefa, who plays Demons 1, 2, and 3, for taking what could’ve been a throwaway explication scene and adding lower eyelash extensions.
Good Omens is streaming on Amazon.