An Angel and a Demon in Love

Good Omens: Season 2

I won't deny that I wasn't the biggest can of Good Omens, the mini-series based on the novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The mini-series was a perfectly fine adaptation of the novel, but honestly I didn't really like the novel and the series didn't deviate all that far from the source material. It didn't need to, of course, as it was an adaptation with one of the two writers, Gaiman, in a key production role. You had to expect it to stick to the material, more or less, and it did. It's narrative flourishes were fun, and its cast was game, and that helped to sell it a lot. Still, I was never going to be a fan of the series and, well, the first season went about how I expected. I was not converted.

That said, I certainly didn't expect that mini-series to suddenly become "season one" of the series. There was only one novel and one of the two authors, Pratchett, had died a while back. Suffice it to say you'd expect that would put a cap on the series. It did not. Apparently the two authors had planned at least one sequel for the novel, if not more, and while those novels never came out (due to the various other projects the authors were involved in) Gaiman never forgot the ideas. Thus, when given the opportunity to expand the series past its first, novel-based season, Gaiman took that chance and plotted out a sequel. Titled Good Omens 2 (although for the sake of it we'll continue referring to this as the second season of Good Omens), this new series picked up a little while after the previous story and continues the strange adventure of its two leads.

Since averting the end of the world last season, both the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) have been personas non-grata among their various sides of the eternal war between Heaven and Hell. That suits them just fine as Crowley can go around, being his normal, demonic, rakish self while Aziraphale spends his days happily tending to his book shop (which absolutely doesn't sell any books because how could he ever think to part with his possessions). That all gets shaken up, though, when Gabriel (John Hamm) shows up on Aziraphale's doorstep, quite naked and very confused.

It seems that, for some reason, Gabriel was kicked out of Heaven. He had been the leader of the high council but now he's just another fallen angel. However, his memory is also gone, lost somehow and he can't think how. Aziraphale sets the fallen angel up in the shop while he and Crowley try and figure out what's wrong and why Gabriel was kicked out in the first place. This leads the factions of Heaven and Hell to come looking, both wanting to retrieve Gabriel and control him. It could even lead to a new war between the sides, perhaps even the end of the world once more. It'll be out to our heroes, angel and demon, to once more find a way to avert this new disturbance and save the world once more.

Let's be clear, the original novel ended in such a way that there was no need for a sequel. All congratulations to Pratchett and Gaiman for coming up with a sequel (and, by all reports, having it at least half-written), but the first novel had a quite definitive ending. The characters of Aziraphale and Crowley could go on, sure, but all the other parts of the story -- the psychic witch's predictions, the Antichrist, all of that -- was tied up. That was the end of the world story we were expecting, and it was done. As such, anything that came after would have to invest a whole new round of stakes to keep the story going.

This, I think, is the first real issue that the second season of Good Omens runs into: it doesn't have clear stakes. For most of the season (and I won't spoil the details) the series struggles to lay out just what is going on with Gabriel and why it matters. There's a puzzle box mystery (quite literally as Gabriel shows up with an empty box in his first scene this season) but the whole of the story is about filling in the gaps for that box. It's an odd construction device that, quite frankly, undercuts the momentum of the story.

It doesn't help that, frankly, the series struggles to get you invested in any of the plot lines. Aside from Aziraphale and Crowley trying to figure out what's going on with Gabriel there's also a B-plot about love. The records shop owner, Maggie (Maggie Service), who likes the coffeehouse owner, Nina (Nina Sosanya), but they just keep not finding their meet cute moment to get it all together. Aziraphale and Crowley keep trying, but they also keep failing, and for some reason these two falling in love is important to... everything?

But, let's face it, the real reason why people wanted a second season of Good Omens was to spend more time with Aziraphale and Crowley. On this front, the series does shine if for no other reason than Sheen and Tennant, respectively, are absolutely fabulous in these roles. Sheen perfectly nails Aziraphale twitchy, kind to a fault nature while Tennant is all swagger as Crowley. I could watch these two all day, just hanging out and talking about anything. Maybe the news, or reading off the back of a cereal box. Their chemistry in their own characters, and then together, is so good.

People ship these characters and you can tell that includes the writers for the series (Gaiman included). The point of this season, if nothing else, was to let the angel and the demon ever so slowly explore their unrequited love. Well, unrequited on one side. Crowley clearly knows what he wants, and has for two seasons, but of course it's the controlled Aziraphale who can't just give in and be himself. Watching them circle each other, clearly desiring something that's getting fought between them, adds a lot to the series. The "will they, won't they" at the center of it all.

But if you take the leads out of the equation and really look at the story, well, there's no story there. This is a tale (again, without spoiling anything) that could get resolved in fifteen minutes of screen time if the various characters just talked to each other and worked everything out. Hell, Aziraphale and Crowley have so little to do with the main story, in the end, that they could have been removed entirely. But then, it really wouldn't be Good Omens without these two... or, at least, it would be a very different series.

End of the day I didn't hate this season of the show but I did find it absolutely inessential. It lacks in grand ambitions and larger storytelling, and that all leads to a feeling that none of this needed to exist. It's all put together so we can spend more time with the lead characters, which is great, but it needs real ambitions for its story to keep us invested. Good Omens season two lacks those ambitions, failing to even reach the flawed heights of its predecessor.