If you have seen the Good Omens miniseries, but not yet read the book, you might have a couple of questions. It’s also possible that there were a few references that sailed right by, or some nuances that didn’t quite register. But we have a handy little guide! It won’t help you avert the Apocalypse, but their might be some useful information inside…
Why does Crowley play Queen music in the Bentley all the time?
Aside from the fact that Queen is categorically one of the greatest bands of all time, you might be wondering why Crowley keeps blasting their music through his antique car’s stereo system. The short answer: he doesn’t.
The long answer is this: according to the book, any album left in the Bentley for over a fortnight turns into a Best of Queen album. This was meant to be a joke about how popular the Best of Queen compilations were at the time the book was written, and how they seemed to show up in cars all the time whether people remembered purchasing them or not. Within the book, it leads to hilarious redux’s of Queen tunes as filtered through whatever album Crowley had originally purchased—think Handel’s “Another One Bites the Dust”.
Is the hat on Aziraphale’s coat stand really something he wears?
After all, it’s a black hat, and the angel isn’t one for dark colors. In fact, the hat and scarf on Aziraphale’s coat stand in the bookshop belong to the late Terry Pratchett. So prepare to tear up next time you get a glimpse.
Was that Elvis?
In the diner that Famine is working with to bring Chow to the world? Yes. Probably. The book makes mention of the popular conspiracy theory that Elvis never truly died (because he went back to space, or something of that nature), and then suggests that there’s a guy working at a fast food joint who definitely might be Elvis, just singing to himself all day and mopping floors.
How does Aziraphale, Angel of Heaven, know magic tricks?
He learned them from John Maskelyne, a 19th century magician who loved to mentor would-be magicians.
Why is Crowley so mean to his houseplants?
Aside from it being a joke meant to make fun of the popular pseudoscience theory surrounding “talking kindly to plants to make them grow better”, there is a more emotionally resonant aspect to this particular quirk of Crowley’s—he basically uses the plants as a means to funnel all his own pain and upset over his treatment at the hands of Hell elsewhere. Since he’s too nice (sorry, my dear) to properly take it out on people most of the time, like a demon would normally do, the plants get the brunt of it.
Did Crowley really say “Do you feel lucky?”, like Dirty Harry?
It’s more than that—Crowley is a serious cinephile who is frequently trying to emulate action heroes that he likes. At one point in the book, he mimics a Bruce Lee high kick, and the Bentley has James Bond bullet hole decals on the windshield that he actually mailed away for. You’d think Crowley would be annoyed that the spy cramped his style (he had the Bentley well before James Bond was invented), but he’d rather more people thought he was just as cool as Fleming’s ice man. (He also loves The Golden Girls in the American edition of the book. Which is right. Obviously.)
What does the “J” actually stand for in Crowley’s name?
Nothing, just as he says. But there’s a bit more to it than that—the “J” is meant to differentiate his name from another A. Crowley, being Aleister Crowley, the famous occultist. Adding the random middle J initial makes them easier to tell apart.
What’s the deal with discorporation?
The concept of being bodily “discorporated” is far more common in the book than it is on the show. It’s actually suggested that early on, before their “Arrangement” comes into play, Crowley and Aziraphale semi-frequently discorporated each other when they had bad run-ins. Getting a new body wasn’t necessarily hard, but it did take time and lots of paperwork, and led to being stuck in Heaven/Hell for an unknown period of time.
In the show, the suggestion is much the opposite—neither Crowley nor Aziraphale seem to have ever been discorporated before, and it’s a much bigger deal to both of them. This makes sense in terms of raising the stakes both practically and emotionally, making the concept of “losing” a body a much more fraught one. It also means that Crowley can’t be certain that Aziraphale isn’t properly dead when he can’t find him in the bookshop, since he’s never lost the angel to discorporation before.
Any significance behind the new books in Azirpahale’s shop post-Armageddon?
Indeed. In the book, Adam actually replaces all of the stock with first edition children’s fiction when he brings Aziraphale’s shop back. This is a little dismaying as Aziraphale’s little nook is meant to specialize in religious texts, rare bibles, and books of prophecy (which the show hints at, but doesn’t actually explain). They’re more for his edification than for general public consumption—Aziraphale deliberately keeps erratic hours to prevent people from ever coming into the shop and actually buying books. The show does hint at this if you pause long enough to read Aziraphale’s shop hours, which are:
I open the shop on most weekdays about 9:30 or perhaps 10am. While occasionally I open the shop as early as 8, I have been known not to open until 1, except on Tuesday. I tend to close about 3:30pm, or earlier if something needs tending to. However, I might occasionally keep the shop open until 8 or 9 at night, you never know when you might need some light reading. On days that I am not in, the shop will remain closed. On weekends, I will open the shop during normal hours unless I am elsewhere. Bank holidays will be treated in the usual fashion, with early closing on Wednesdays, or sometimes Fridays. (For Sundays see Tuesdays.)
In the show, however, the bookshop is resurrected to it’s former glory so the angel can keep chasing customers away. There’s just one new set of books that we can see once Adam restores the world: the Just William series, by Richmal Crompton. This is relevant because the protagonist of said series, William Brown, and his friends are the foundational figures that Adam and the Them were built upon.
So Adam essentially left Aziraphale an extremely metafictional gift.
Why is it important that a nightingale sings in Berkeley Square at the end?
You might have noticed this if you were keying into the song at the very end of the show, but this piece of final narration is meant to invoke that same song titled “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, specifically because of these lyrics:
That certain night, the night we met
There was magic abroad in the air
There were angels dining at the Ritz
And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square
Seeing as our duo are both of angelic stock, the song would seem to be playing out for us, right before our very eyes…