“Friends? We’re not friends. We are an angel and a demon. We have nothing whatsoever in common. I don’t even like you.”
An extended peek into the 6,000-year friendship of Aziraphale and Crowley sets the tone for “Hard Times”, the halfway point for this first season of Good Omens while, in the present, time continues its ever so deliberate fumbling to the End.
Regardless of episode count, the midway point of a television season is responsible for upping the ante; changing the game in a way that will have very real implications on the inexorable journey towards the climatic finale. “Hard Times” does this for both the narrative as well as the character perspective. Nearly half the episode pays homage to the tenuous and unnatural friendship of the series’ two protagonists, Aziraphale and Crowley. Considering how much the first two reviews lauded these incredible characters, made flesh by such fantastic actors, “Hard Times” relieves me of having to offer any undeserved reminders. Watching the pair banter back and forth, the historical glimpses only emphasizing their divergent personalities, further giving us a perspective in which to marvel at their relationship. Ever the goody-two-shoes, Aziraphale has always been a bit uncomfortable having such a close association with his adversary, though Crowley’s charm is a difficult thing to dismiss out of hand. It should come as no surprise that their partnership goes behind personal, as Crowley (no surprise there) is the first to suggest they work together; the proverbial killing two birds with one stone. These two are the ultimate rivals: Coke/Pepsi, Nike/Reebk, UPS/FedEx…none of these has anything on that animosity that exists between the Heavenly Host and its Fallen. Or, in the case of Aziraphale and Crowley, the animosity that should exist. Part of that is Crowley’s laissez-faire attitude, but the rest of is Aziraphale’s gentle nature. This particular angel doesn’t have a mean bone in his heavenly body, oft times coming across as a nervous and always agitated accountant than a representative of Heaven (to be fair, he is a bookkeeper). The journey through their past in wrought with historical significance as the episode visits some of the more infamous moments in human history (the Flood, The Crucifixion of Christ, Shakespeare, and World War II but to name a few) while slowly unveiling their ever solidifying bond, one both must keep from their respective home offices, lest they receive a stern reprimand or, in Crowley’s case, a punishment only the denizens of Hell could craft for insubordination.
But as much fun as it is to gush about Aziraphale and Crowley, there is the impending Apocalypse 24 hours or so from commencement. In this, “Hard Times” takes a few steps forward but refrains from any giant leaps. We get a bit more time with Adam and Anathema, as the boy and his Dog run into the distressed descendant of Agnes Nutter when she discovers that she left Nutter’s book in Crowley’s car. The two bond with the 11-year-old Adam, like all kids his age, discovering just how vast, unfair, and scary this world can be. Anathema is strong on her soapbox, taking a liberal/Green Peace type stance on so many of the inequalities and horrors beset on this planet by humanity. But it’s not her leanings that are important, rather Adam’s reaction and the subsequent display of just how much sway he has over reality. One case, in particular, is, after reading an article denouncing nuclear power, the boy subconsciously does away with the nuclear reactor at a UK plant without changing any of the power output. Of course, it is a miracle, one we don’t get to see discussed, as the key here is showing Adam’s truly unlimited potential.
Two more major developments are the activation of another Horseman and the apparent breaking of a bond 6,000 years in the making. As to the former, Raymond Sable (Yusuf Gatewood, The Originals) is Famine, a business entrepreneur who’s goal to franchise Chow, his new brand of food-less food, is put on hold when he receives the Scales of his station. The latter is Aziraphale’s surprisingly duplicitous stance with Crowley as it pertains to the Antichrist. After a most uncomfortable meeting with his superiors (Gabriel, Uriel, Michael, and Sandalphon) regarding the whereabouts of the Antichrist, Aziraphale feels trapped and, instead of trying to suss out the details of what to do with Crowley, in a moment where his mind is spiraling, regurgitates that company line pertaining to his relationship with Crowley; this after the demon suggests the two of them get out of dodge before the End arrives. In this act, Aziraphale on his own, forced to make decisions he’s just not wired to make alone. But have no fear, it’s only a matter of time before he and Crowley make amends, ensuring a way out of this mess before Armageddon tears the world apart, right?
The End is Nigh
- There is so much that could be said about Aziraphale and Crowley, with “Hard Times” giving us the best representation of the duo. Seeing them grow together over the years added an even stronger foundation to the relationship. The trips through history were fraught with the significance of certain periods and the continued evolution of their relationship. Crowley, ever the ‘where-the-wind-takes-me’ personality is the first to be open to a mutually beneficial partnership while the ‘must-follow-the-rules’ Aziraphale takes a bit more time to warm up to the idea. There is no doubt the two care for one another—most evident when, despite saying no a century before to Crowley’s request to procure holy water, Aziraphale acquiesces due to the fear of watching his friend killed (never mind the fact that that’s exactly what Crowley wants it for, in case the home office ever catches onto his fraternization with the enemy). If we had a series solely consisting of these two throughout history with no other overarching plotline, I would be totally fine with it.
- Despite the pair’s experience over the millennia, how apropos is it that, in another magnificent oversight, both are not only using the same human agent—Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell—but both are being played quite heavily by the wily human; granted, it doesn’t seem like Crowley cares one wit about his use of Shadwell but Aziraphale earnestness in believing the man is a prime example of his terribly naïve nature.
- We get a bit more Adam this time around and, with him, the rapidly changing Dog. God’s narrative gives a perfect summation of the hellhound’s transformation and, as more pieces of Hell are burned off the pooch, so too may Adam’s world-ending destiny be altered.