Good Omens Reread

Good Omens, Part Four: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Hello again, wonderful Good Omens fans! I hope you had an excellent weekend. I’m Meghan and I’m here to ease you into your Monday with the continuing adventures of Crowley and Aziraphale. Let’s get started, shall we?

Summary

Thursday dawns and we get our first real peek at Them (no, not the excellent giant ant B-movie from the ’50s). Them is the term given to four kids in Tadfield who are a general fixture around town and a nuisance. There’s Pepper, a girl who holds her own with the boys and would cut anyone who says she couldn’t. There’s Wensleydale, a forty-year-old accountant in a child’s body. There’s Brian, your quintessentially and perpetually dirty, misbehaving ragamuffin. Finally, there is Adam, the leader. He’s just gotten a new dog.

The news of the day for Them is the arrival of a new woman in town. Pepper knows for a fact she is a witch. She gets a witches’ newspaper and everything. The Them are skeptical of this. Wensleydale has an aunt who reads something similar and she certainly isn’t a witch. As they mull over the nature of witches, Adam decides that they should investigate. After all, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition… Especially when it’s four eleven-year-olds in Tadfield.

After deciding what is and isn’t Spanish, the new Inquisition has their first witch to torture. Pepper’s little sister doesn’t make it easy, though. The torture finally begins and the Them are stymied by how much the tiny witch enjoys it. Then again, who wouldn’t like a dunk in a nice cool pond on a warm summer day? The Inquisition is soon forgotten though everyone still gets in trouble. Such is childhood.

Adam is grounded from watching TV and decides to not weather the indignity of watching it on an old black and white set in his room. Instead, he goes for a walk, meditating on how unfair it all is and how it would serve everyone right if witches did indeed take over. His faithful hound follows him, doing his own meditating on the nature of cats and how much he’s enjoying his new form as a small, scrappy dog. Adam’s feet lead him to the house of Anathema Device, witch. Much to Adam’s bewilderment, she’s crying.

Adam, much to her surprise, is able to lift her spirits a little. She explains that she’s lost a deeply important book. Adam is curious and asks for details. Anathema explains good ol’ Agnes Nutter and her prophecies and he’s excited—until she dashes his hopes and explains that it won’t tell him anything about spaceships or sports victories. Anathema can’t put her finger on it, but there’s something extraordinary about Adam. Not that it matters: There are only three days left before the end of the world and she’s lost the most important book in all of human history.

As they drink lemonade, Anathema tells Adam about all kinds of occult things. There’s ley lines and symbols but also things like whale conservation, rain forests, and recycling. What’s more occult than recycling? Adam’s mind is blown wide open by all of these revelations. She lends him a few magazines and he spends his evening like so many children do, huddled under his duvet with a flashlight, reading. He can’t help but like Anathema and appreciate all she’s done for him. Sure, she might be a witch, but she’s a terribly friendly one who cares about the environment and nuclear power plants. He wishes he could do something nice for her.

Meanwhile, a nearby nuclear power plant has gone on red alert. Alarms are going off and none of the readings from the various instruments and dials make any sense. How does five hundred tons of uranium just disappear like that?

Commentary

Thursday is a short day, but it gives us so many wonderful details about Adam and his friends. I adore them. Pepper is a clear favorite for me but there’s something about Brian that just quintessentially captures a certain kid archetype. For some reason he reminds me a bit of a Weasely. If the book had been made into a show twenty years ago I could easily see young Rupert Grint playing him. Adam is, of course, the real brains of the operation and the others know they have a good thing going by being in his gang.

Their way of recreating the Spanish Inquisition is so authentically and precociously childlike. I remember playing that way; you probably do as well. When I was eleven I learned an obsessive amount about ancient Egypt and mummified damn near anything I could get my hands on. There are probably still a few Barbies wrapped in toilet paper buried behind my childhood home. Given enough free time and just enough misunderstood knowledge to be dangerous, kids can get into all kinds of shenanigans. It’s so perfectly recreated here as well—hats off to Pratchett and Gaiman. In a book that’s already full to bursting with incredible characters they really outdid themselves with Adam and his friends.

The meeting between Adam and Anathema is also really sweet. Adam just accepts some things so naturally. Kids that age are a sponge for knowledge and he soaks up everything she tells him about the environment and saving the whales and so on. Sure, he gets the wrong idea from it, but his heart is in the right place. Anathema knows something is up with him, too, but just can’t nail down what. This is another thing Agnes Nutter didn’t see coming. What, no quick note along the lines of “the Antichrist will be blond and curious and have a small dog”? C’mon Agnes, you’re letting the whole team down here.

Speaking of Dog, I continue to love him so much. He’s really getting the hang of this “being a small dog” thing. I really believe in him! He seems like he’s having the time of his hellhound life, too: messing with cats, chasing rodents, following his Master around. Dog is living his best life.

Finally, the quick little paragraph about Aziraphale reading Agnes Nutter’s book really resonates with me. Who among us hasn’t utterly lost themselves in a book and come up for air only to find cold tea, seven missed calls, and a sticker on the door from the UPS guy saying you missed that package you had to sign for? Aziraphale is all of us.

Pun Corner

Yes, my darling friends, it’s that time again!

[Adam] “Bet even the Victorians didn’t force people to have to watch black and white television.”

Well, I mean, he’s not wrong?

Cats, Dog considered, were clearly a lot tougher than lost souls.

Anyone who has ever had a cat knows this to be true. Cats are tougher than tons of things, including diamonds and nuclear Armageddon. The list of things not as tough as cats include antique vases, wooden couch legs, and the skin on your arms after trying to coax them into a cat carrier.

Notoriety wasn’t as good as fame, but was heaps better than obscurity.

I’ll take “Incredibly precise descriptions of social media” for $500, Alex.

Thus, the sun sets on Thursday…and now we have Friday to contend with. What mysteries will unfurl? What adventures will be had? What Queen songs will be listened to? Read all of “Friday,” pages 155 to 188, to find out! I’ll see all you saints and sinners back here next week!

Meghan Ball is an avid reader, writer, and lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. When she isn’t losing to a video game or playing the guitar badly, she’s writing short fiction and spending way too much time on Twitter. You can find her there @EldritchGirl. She currently lives in a weird part of New Jersey.

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