In Amazon’s Good Omens, the concept of good and evil is flipped on its head. In fact, the original sin, when Eve bites into the apple in the Garden of Eden, might have actually been a good thing. Or so Crowley (David Tennant) questions 6,000 years before the start of everything (also the beginning of this tale), as the snake that tempted Adam and Eve while Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), an angel of Heaven, gives his flaming sword to Adam and Eve as a form of protection. “Be funny if we both got it wrong, eh? If I did the good thing and you did the bad one,” says Crowley, as the angel and demon watch Adam and Eve fight off a lion.
This question is what ultimately guides the rest of the six-episode miniseries, based off the book by Neil Gaiman (who also writes the episodes) and Terry Pratchett. In Good Omens, good and evil are just things to be checked off the list by higher — or lower — authorities, including Jon Hamm as the angel Gabriel and Francis McDormand as the voice of God. The main event is what matters, the big showdown between Heaven and Hell that will wipe out the entire earth and be the end of the world as we know it. Both Heaven and Hell want it to happen because, after all, you can’t beat ’em if you don’t show up to the game. Crowley and Aziraphale have been tasked with making sure the apocalypse comes to pass for their respective teams, which means looking after the antichrist, who has been placed on Earth as an infant. There’s just one problem: Crowley and Aziraphale both kind of like Earth.
What follows is not a tale of good vs. evil, but one that tests the bonds of friendship across centuries. Tennant and Sheen are great at perfecting the nuances of Crowley and Aziraphale’s respective natures — Tennant gives Crowley a hint of vulnerability while there’s an underlying darkness to Sheen’s Aziraphale. Together, they prove there’s more to good and evil, all the while blasting some Queen and eating crepes.
Gaiman creates a tight story in six nearly hour-long episodes. For a tale about the end of times, it’s a surprisingly streamlined story, despite the different jumps in time. Still, Gaiman isn’t afraid to break some boundaries: in one of the show’s best episodes, “Hard Times,” we see Crowley and Aziraphale’s friendship throughout history in a 28-minute long cold open. The dialogue is snappy, bolstered by Tennant and Sheen’s wicked fast delivery, but it also leaves room for moments of levity, even in some of the more ridiculous of circumstances.
Those circumstances, including an 11-year-old levitating off the ground, God loving The Sound of Music, or a witch carrying around her aunt’s ancient book of prophecies for years (and those are only the start), all work because the show is careful to ground itself in very real human plights. An angel and a demon just want to be friends and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like listening to Queen or owning a bookstore; a young witch and witch finder just want to find some purpose beyond what they’ve been told to do, and a young antichrist by the name of Adam just wants the freedom to be a child. It’s the proof that just being decent is enough to save the day.