Good Omens Reread

Good Omens, Part Seven: Gosh, Am I On Television?

It’s Monday and you know what that means! It’s Good Omens time once again! I’m Meghan, your friendly host with the most, and I’m so excited to see you again! This week’s selection features some of my favorite scenes in the book, so you know it’s going to be good! Here we go…

Summary

Things are bad. Dog laments this sudden shift in his master’s personality: He doesn’t want to go back to being a hellhound. He just got used to life as a scrappy little mutt. It’s not fair! The Them are half terrified as they follow Adam. They have no choice. He finds a good spot to wait for the end of the world and they sit there. He tells them that after everything is over, he’ll make new parents for them—ones that won’t make them take baths or clean their rooms. The Them know this is terribly, horribly wrong, but there’s no way they can even articulate that to Adam, at this point.

The world is changing. Rapidly. Trees begin to grow at an accelerated rate, destroying everything in their path. Whalers trawling for more whales stumble upon a kraken instead, and it is enraged at having its slumber disturbed, rising up from the murky depths to seek vengeance.

Anathema and Newt are now caught in the worst of Adam’s storm. Agnes predicted this. She also predicted they’d, ahem, become a Thing. Newt simply can’t wrap his head around it and refuses to believe. He hates the idea that Agnes saw it all happen and can’t shake the feeling of being watched through the centuries by that old biddy. Then again, the world is ending and Newt can’t shake his regrets, either. He and Anathema embrace as the cottage splinters and shakes and seems as if it’s going to fall down around them.

Strange things are also happening in Shadwell’s little flat. For one thing, the pin in Tadfield on his map refuses to stay there. He keeps putting it back, but it keeps leaping away. Shadwell decides to take desperate measures. He needs money and resources to go and save Newt from what must be terrible torture in the clutches of witches. He must turn to his benefactors. The one in the sunglasses is out of the question, but the polite blond man in the smart coat who runs a little bookshop… well, he must be able to spare a few dollars, surely.

Aziraphale is having a bad time. After agonizing over what he now knows about the Antichrist, he finally decides to contact Heaven. Much to Aziraphale’s horror, Heaven is absolutely fine with the fact that Armageddon is about to unfold: They are sure of their impending victory, and demand that Aziraphale leave Earth at once to join them for the final holy battle. This is the opposite of what Aziraphale wants. He could not want anything less than this outcome, and he’s downright appalled that Heaven is willing to sacrifice the entire planet in order to win their war. Aziraphale is utterly beside himself and immediately tries to call Crowley but only gets his answering machine (clearly another demonic invention). He tries desperately to reach him on a second number but that’s when Shadwell appears in a fury, having witnessed Aziraphale’s conversation with the Metatron. The Witchfinder is enraged that his polite, well-mannered benefactor is in fact some kind of demon or something. He yells at him and advances on him, finger pointing accusingly. Aziraphale tries to get the sergeant away from the angelic summoning circle on the floor, but disaster strikes and Aziraphale stumbles into it, disappearing in a flash of blue light. Horrified by what he believes are newfound powers, Shadwell retreats. An overturned candle on the floor begins to burn…

We return to Crowley, who is currently in his absolutely stunning and chic London apartment. It’s the height of sophistication and no expense has been spared. Crowley doesn’t actually live there—he doesn’t need to live anywhere really, but he likes it. He also turns out to be an avid grower of houseplants. He heard about talking to plants in the 70s and thought it was a splendid idea. Crowley doesn’t exactly talk to his plants, though. Instead, he threatens them. As a result, the plants are absolutely terrified of him and are the most beautiful houseplants in the entire city. Crowley is cooling his heels and watching TV as he waits for the end of the world. His boss Down Below speaks to him from the TV, deeply angry with him: the jig is up. Hell has realized that the boy Warlock is not the actual Antichrist. They know Crowley screwed up. By this point, Crowley is 100% done with Hell and Its threats. He turns the TV off and prepares for war.

In a nuclear-grade safe, behind a drawing of the Mona Lisa, Crowley keeps the ultimate weapon. It’s so dangerous that he has to handle it with massive safety gloves and tongs. He can hear the Dukes of Hell who’ve been sent after him as they crash through the door to his apartment building and begin to climb the stairs. He sets up a trap and barricades himself in his office. Ligur enters first and gets a bucket of holy water dropped over his head. With Ligur out for the count, Crowley squares off against Hastur. The phone in the office rings and that gives Crowley an idea. He bluffs and tries to get into Hastur’s head, claiming this is all a test and he’ll ring the forces of Hell to explain. He dials a number, then leaps into the very phone wires. Hastur quickly follows. After they loop through telephone wires for a few seconds, Crowley succeeds in trapping his pursuer in his answering machine. With both demons dispatched, Crowley hops in his trusty Bentley and drives like a bat out of hell.

Meanwhile, Shadwell staggers back home in the wake of “slaying” what he believes was a demon. Madame Tracey finds him panicking on the stairwell and ushers him into her den of sin. Well, really, it’s just her little flat with a crystal ball on the table and a bedroom full of stuffed animals. She coaxes Shadwell into her room to have a lie down and calm his nerves.

Crowley arrives at Aziraphale’s bookshop and is dismayed to find it engulfed in flames. Fearing the worst, he runs right into the fire to try and find his friend. Aziraphale is nowhere to be found in the inferno but Crowley does come upon Agnes’s book. He grabs it just as the roof caves in. He then walks out of the blaze much to the shock and horror of the assembled crowd, gets into his car, and speeds off into the night. If he doesn’t stop Armageddon, those people are going to see worse than a demon with yellow snake eyes walk out of a burning building. He has bigger things to worry about.

Here come the Horsemen. Well, they aren’t exactly using horses this time, but the name has stuck. War arrives at the rendezvous point first, riding a stunning motorcycle. Inside, four actual bikers are huddled around a tall man in black playing a trivia game. They are not the sharpest people in the room. Hell, there are sharper spoons in that dingy diner. War isn’t alone for long. Famine pulls up next, excited to join the festivities. Pollution isn’t far behind, his motorbike leaking and wheezing. Once assembled, they wait for Death. The man in black walks away from the game and joins them. Of course, Death never arrives. Death is always there. The four regular bikers scurry over to talk to them, confused and a touch angry. The Horsemen wear jackets that say HELL’S ANGELS across the backs. That can’t be right. They’re all too clean. One’s a girl! The biker gang demands answers. They get them. Three of the bikers are terrified. One is impressed, much to the chagrin of the Horsemen.

Aziraphale, meanwhile, is currently (and embarrassingly) without corporeal form thanks to Shadwell’s interference. He has to get to Tadfield somehow, though. He bounces around different bodies, searching for something close to the town. In one of the standout scenes in the novel, Aziraphale hops into the body of an American TV evangelical fire-and-brimstone preacher. It’s alarming for both of them. The preacher thinks he’s been possessed by a demon. Aziraphale realizes with stunned awe that he’s on TV.

Finally, we end with Crowley. He lets the car drive as he thumbs through Agnes’ book. He discovers one of Aziraphale’s notes tucked in between the pages and suddenly realizes the same great, terrible truth that his friend had learned: It was Tadfield. It had always been Tadfield.

Commentary

A long chunk of Good Omens to discuss this week, but an excellent one, if I do say so myself. Truly the beginning of the end. So many excellent set pieces, and so many great lines. Now all the pieces are coming together and it’s beautiful. We get a bit of everything this time: Shadwell, the Horsemen, the Them and Dog, and of course our beloved angel/demon duo. You couldn’t ask for more.

Let’s talk Witchfinders first. On one hand, you have Newt learning quite a lot about some of the visions Agnes had concerning him and Anathema. It’s so awkward, but in an oddly nice way (sort of as if Jim and Pam from The Office were a Witchfinder and a witch instead of office drones). On the other hand, we have Shadwell. Good lord, Shadwell. He bumbles his way into finding an actual angel, accuses him of being a demon, and manages to mess up Aziraphale’s corporeal form all on the most important day in all of history. I mean, that’s impressive. Let’s not forget Madame Tracey, who is amazing here. I’ve always felt like Gaiman and Pratchett weren’t particularly nice to her. I don’t think Madame Tracey is stupid. She may not be a nuclear physicist, but she has a stockpile of common wisdoms that she abides by, and they serve her very well.

Aziraphale, for his part, doesn’t let Shadwell’s meddling get him down. Aziraphale has a plan. In what I sincerely think is maybe the best single section in the entire book, he jumps into a bunch of different bodies trying to get close to Tadfield. I honestly alarmed some people on the train to work one morning when I was rereading this part—I always laugh. I can’t help it. The second he jumps into the TV evangelist I just lose it. It’s so perfect. It is a brilliant scene, made better by Gaiman and Pratchett’s sharp writing and even sharper insight into how people behave. I am particularly looking forward to seeing this scene in the show. I need this scene to exist; I need to be able to rewind it and watch it approximately 500 times in a row.

Speaking of scenes that I hope we’ll see in the show, there’s Crowley’s inventive battle against the two demon lords. In terms of the adaptation, this is a minor point of concern, depending on how they decide to update the novel: The entire scene, this entire plot point, hinges on the fact that Crowley has a phone that is attached to a wall along with an answering machine. The answering machine even has a cassette in it! (Those were dark times, weren’t they?) I have to wonder how the show will pull this off, then… If they update the book and set it in 2019, you can’t have this scene. It wouldn’t work with an iPhone. Unless Crowley just never updated his home phone system, which doesn’t track, since the book mentions that he updates his computer a few times a month because he assumes his human persona would do so. Crowley would have the latest, most cutting-edge smartphone that money could buy. The other option is keep the story in the early ’90s, as it is in the book, and just go on from there. Part of me thinks that is the direction the show will choose. The trailer had a scene with Crowley in a phone booth, and there’s no way he’d be caught dead in one of those if he had a smartphone. Either way, this is one of my big questions, in terms of the show. Plus, if they do decide to keep this scene, how in the hell do they film it?

Lastly, the Horsemen are back. They’ve assembled like they’re a really dark version of the Avengers, and they’re clearly ready to start tearing everything down. I never understood the idea to make them bikers, except that it looks really cool and gives us the dim but hilarious mortal bikers who become their entourage. There’s some excellent pun work by Gaiman and Pratchett here, as well. This is another instance where these characters’ accents just leap off the page. I can hear all of them so clearly. The Horsemen are all genuinely vaguely terrifying, and it’s interesting to see the way their mere presence changes the environment around them. Also, literally nothing fazes that waitress. If only she knew…

Pun Corner

Ah, this was a long installment this week, but we’re finally here in the happiest of all places! Yes, it’s time again for Pun Corner, and some of our favorite punny (or just plain funny) lines from this chapter so far:

[On the whaling ship] The captain glared at several million yen worth of cutting-edge technology, and thumped it.

I mean, honestly, it’s the only way sometimes. I guarantee you there’s probably been a scientist over at CERN who has smacked the Large Hadron Collider when it was acting glitchy. Sometimes technology just need a good thumping.

[Crowley] “Hello? Aziraphale! For G-, for Sa-, for somebody’s sake! Aziraphale!”

I know he’s freaking out and trying to find his buddy in his burning bookstore, but there’s something so endearing and funny about how he fumbles his words here. Then again, who would he swear to? Crowley, have you considered our lord and savior Freddie Mercury?

[Big Ted, believing the Horsemen to be Hell’s Angels] “What chapter are you from, then?”

REVELATIONS, he said. CHAPTER SIX.

If they made the Horsemen bikers just for this one incredible line, it was worth it.

That’s all for today. Thank you for sticking around for a longer recap—there was so much to cover! Everything is happening so fast, at this point in the novel. Saturday isn’t even over yet! For next week, read pages 281 to 326, ending on the line “‘Sort of,’ said Adam.”

Next week, we’re in for some stellar moments with Shadwell, Madame Tracey, and nuclear Armageddon. What could be more fun? See you then!

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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