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  • Writer's pictureJames McCleary

Good Omens: Season 2 // Series Review

“Love like yours will surely come my way.”

The first series of Good Omens was the sort of lightning-in-a-bottle success that seemed impossible to replicate. For one thing, its all-star cast including the likes of Frances McDormand, Michael McKean and Benedict Cumberbatch was never feasibly going to be tied down for repeat appearances, and for another it adapted the entirety of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s eponymous 1990 novel, with little apparent wiggle room for sequels.

It is despite the odds then, that Good Omens: Series 2 is a rousing success every bit the joyous farce of its predecessor. This can largely be credited to showrunner and head writer Gaiman’s decision to retain only the elements that worked best the last time around, while eschewing all the clutter which had previously weighed them down. Gone are the clusters of child actors and comedians in wizard robes, bowing out to make room for all the more scenery chewing from everyone’s favourite odd couple, real-life best friends Michael Sheen and David Tennant.

Whereas in Series 1, Sheen and Tennant had to share the plot with the above and a whole ensemble of other oddball characters, this time around their turns as the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley are the sole focus of the narrative, dominating nearly every minute of this six-episode run as their bickering gradually melts away to reveal a tender and seemingly unbreakable bond one might almost be bold enough to call love. Or at least Aziraphale certainly seems to think so; Crowley plays his hand a lot closer to the chest.

The pair are positively giddy in their respective roles, as Sheen dutifully overplays the many fussy and anxious neuroticisms of his heavenly bookshop owner while Tennant delights in the revels of bad-boy Crowley, but rather than simply revisit what came before, Gaiman challenges his leads by further blurring the lines between their characters. In the time since Series 1, Aziraphale has developed a slight mischievous streak, while Crowley realises to his disgust that he's starting to develop something of a conscience. The result is a classic sitcom of sketches which could easily work as a show on its own without the need for more convoluted fantasy storylines.

That said, the fantasy elements here are a considerable step up from Series 1’s prophecies of armageddon, instead serving primarily to elevate the character comedy at the story’s heart. Kickstarting this is the arrival of Archangel Gabriel (played by a tremendously game Jon Hamm) on Aziraphale’s doorstep without a single memory or indeed thought in his head. The ever-reliable good angel inevitably takes it upon himself to hide the Archangel from the snooping forces of Heaven and Hell until he can figure out why his old boss has come to him for help, and even guilts Crowley into helping him through pleading eyes.

The puzzle is slow to unravel from here, but Gaiman’s scripts cleverly intercut the sleuthing with ‘minisodes’ depicting past adventures shared by Aziraphale and Crowley over their millennia together on Earth. One such minisode depicts the Biblical fable of Job, albeit with some creative liberties, while another puts our loveable deities up against a trio of Nazi Zombies.

Each of these casts some new light on the duo’s dynamic, while also allowing Sheen and Tennant to indulge in more of the period costumes and storylines which they so clearly relish. Of course, one also can’t help but read these minisodes as a blueprint for how Good Omens could work as a longer-form series, episodic in nature rather than shaped around serialised events. As a pitch, it works wonders and should reassure anyone who may have questioned if Sheen and Tennant’s chemistry would be enough to sustain this story beyond its original source material.

Of course, there is one group within the Good Omens fandom who never doubted the rapport between its leads. In the vein of Sherlock or Supernatural before it, Good Omens has attracted a considerable ‘shipping’ community who love nothing more than to watch closely for any and all hints that their ‘Ineffable Husbands’ ship could be more than just subtext (spoiler alert: it is). Sheen and Tennant have declined to comment on this reading of their characters in the press, though Gaiman has been considerably less subtle in his teasing of a ‘more romantic’ plotline for Season 2. Ultimately though, the effectiveness of his approach will vary from person to person. By the season’s end we do get our answers, but any semblance of a happily ever after seems contingent on an as-of-yet-unconfirmed Season 3.

All-in-all, Good Omens: Season 2 is all the proof you could need that this story has the legs to run far beyond its original miniseries. With six additional episodes free of source material, Gaiman gets to go deeper into his characters, feeding Sheen and Tennant the setups and gags of every actor’s dreams before pulling the rug out from under us for a shockingly muted and bittersweet finale. And while it is true that these new chapters are smaller in scale than their predecessors, the perfectly pitched humour and time travelling farce keep this new twist on the tale from ever feeling like a downgrade.


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