It’s been a long, long wait since the first season of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens aired all the way back in May 2019 on Amazon Prime. That season was all about an impending Armageddon, and since it aired, the Doomsday Clock has moved a couple of notches closer to the real thing. Thankfully our favorite angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) love Earth and all it has to offer so much, they prevented its destruction – in the series, at least.
Good Omens season 2 finds Aziraphale cozy in his beloved bookshop, and Crowley living out of his beloved Bentley. Crowley is keeping tabs on Hell – and vice versa – via a demon called Shax (Miranda Richardson, playing a different role to S1). He is summoned to Hell by Beelzebub (now played by Bridgerton‘s Shelley Conn) who informs him that Archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) has gone missing from Heaven, and that Crowley needs to track him down and bring him to Hell.
Meanwhile in the second season of the fantasy series, Gabriel has arrived on the doorstep of Aziraphale’s bookshop…naked, and holding a seemingly empty cardboard box. He has amnesia, but says something vague about “something terrible is going to happen.”
One good thing that has happened since the first season of Good Omens, is that we got three seasons of Michael Sheen and David Tennant’s mostly zoom-based comedy series Staged. And if that showed us anything, it’s that this double-act is an absolute comedic marvel. Their bickering and banter was on another level in Staged, but their abundant chemistry is really the magic spark at the center of the success of Good Omens. It’s an absolute triumph of casting.
Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship through the ages is expanded upon further in season 2, and this where the series benefits from moving beyond Terry Pratchett and Gaiman’s source novel. Episodes 2, 3 and 4 of the second season feature ‘minisodes’ which are substantial flashbacks to other time periods. The first of these, set in biblical times, is made more fun by it being a family affair for Tennant. His father-in-law Peter Davison plays Job and his son Ty Tennant (part of the House of the Dragon cast) plays Job’s son Ennon.
Episode 3 and 4 are the most entertaining and the most sumptuous in terms of production design. Episode 3 features a grave-robbing plot in early 19th century Edinburgh, and Episode 4 features Nazi zombies (yes, that’s right) in a West End theatre during WWII. Episode 4 features all three of the performing League of Gentlemen (Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, and Reece Shearsmith) and is written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. These two time periods feel made for Aziraphale and Crowley, and the Good Omens aesthetic segues seamlessly into them.
Although the season is mainly set in present day Soho, Aziraphale’s street certainly looks influenced by a 1950s-60s colorful retro style. Aziraphale is the landlord of a nearby record shop run by Maggie (Maggie Service). Maggie has a huge crush on Nina (the brilliant actress Nina Sosanya) who runs a coffee shop called Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death.
No one from either Heaven or Hell bats an eyelid at this same-sex love story, which is a welcome addition to the second season. The other positive addition to this season is the casting of actors with disabilities as angels, the main one being Liz Carr as an angel called Saraqael, but there are other background performers in Episode 2 as well.
The costume design (by Kate Carin) and production design (by Michael Ralph) are both huge reasons for how enjoyable Good Omens is as a viewing experience. From the gorgeously animated and scored opening title sequence (which is almost two minutes long), through to all of the many twists on white costuming through the ages for Aziraphale, and black for Crowley – it’s all just a delight.
Jon Hamm’s extended role in this season – as the hot chocolate loving ‘Jim’ (an alias given to Gabriel by Aziraphale in an attempt to hide him) – is thoroughly charming and demonstrates Hamm’s range. Hamm has been shaking off Don Draper’s constricting suits and ties since Mad Men ended, and branching out into comedy movies especially – with Confess, Fletch being a particular highlight. Gabriel going from trying to kill Aziraphale in hellfire to being his bookshop assistant who alphabetizes the books by the first letter of the first line is a genius twist.
Tonally, Good Omens is a marvel – and this is all down to one man; Neil Gaiman. Another author who has an similar absurdist sense of humor – Douglas Adams – has not translated particularly well to the screen. The TV series and movies based on books by Adams we’ve had so far have struggled to capture his unique voice. With Gaiman writing the Good Omens series, it means that even though the plot has moved on from the book, we can be assured that the series – and our beloved central duo – is in safe hands.
Just to clarify, critics were given just the first five episodes of the six-episode season, so it’s impossible to comment on whether the season nails the landing or not. Gaiman is keeping his hands close to his chest this season, regarding why Gabriel is on Earth and what the “terrible thing” is. Whereas in the first season, Satan’s son being on Earth in the body of a 11-year-old boy and the goal of preventing Armageddon was pretty clear from the outset.
Some may be frustrated by the main storyline being interrupted so much by the extended flashbacks to different time periods, but for me – this is what I come here for. Each flashback gives us more context to Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship and deepens our understanding of their bond – hopefully this is leading to the pay-off in the finale that fans have been clamoring for.
Good Omens season 2 is mostly a triumph, thanks to Sheen and Tennant’s simply magnificent chemistry, Gaiman’s gift for sparkling dialogue and the delightful tour we’re given through history – aided by extremely aesthetically pleasing costume and production design. Let’s hope that this wonderfully fantastical comedy series continues, and that we don’t have such as big gap between seasons next time. It was worse than being tortured in Hell.
It’s so good to have Tennant and Sheen back in the roles it feels like they were born to play, with a second season of Good Omens that’s just as funny and visually gorgeous as the first. Season 2 enriches and deepens Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship, and gives us even more reason to care for our favorite angel and demon duo.