“You can’t have a war without War.”
It’s two days until the world ends and in “The Book”, the second episode of Good Omens and, thanks to a bit of happenstance—and the prophecies of maverick Agnes Nutter—the principal players are slowly finding their places for the upcoming apocalypse.
Whereas “In the Beginning” set the table by familiarizing viewers with the series’ protagonists (Aziraphale and Crowley) and their magnificent bungling of the whole ‘keep –an-eye-on-the-Antichrist’ thing, “The Book” marches the story forward as angel and demon scour the globe—well, more like Soho and Tadfield—to track down the Antichrist, all the while keeping their respective associates in the dark about the cock-up. Their desperate gambit, though initially fruitless, their foul run of bad luck finally comes to an end when they (specifically Aziraphale) come into possession of ‘The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter’, a book in which the high-strung angel discovers the answer he and Crowley have been searching for: the location of the Antichrist or, as he’s known by family and friends, Adam Young.
Though the heavy use of coincidence in storytelling often makes for a pedantic narrative, for a story like Good Omens, it makes sense. That’s why, when all these characters continually run into one another, never the wiser of the other’s identity, one can’t help but chuckle at that clownish kismet of their situations. It starts when Anathema Device, great-great-great-great-great (give or take a ‘great’) granddaughter of Agnes Nutter, travels to England with a single yet vital responsibility, one she’s been groomed for since a child: find the young beast and the lesser beast and save the world. Unbeknownst to Anathema, she just so happens to bump into said Antichrist, his Dog, and his merry band of friends doing what kids do. But it doesn’t stop there as, on her way back from a seemingly unsuccessful search, Anathema’s hit by Crowley and Aziraphale. Shortly after giving her a ride back to her rented cottage, Aziraphale discovers Agnes Nutter’s book, and through his readings, not only does he ensure Armageddon will go down but discovers the Antichrist’s whereabouts.
Littered like confetti through this hilarious narrative of coincidences, we get a brief but extremely entertaining history of one Agnes Nutter as well as the first trumpet—so to speak—sounding to bring the Four Horsemen to their respective stations. Nutter’s story could have sold an entire episode, as the 100% accurate prognostications of the good witch—including her “ridiculous” ideas of running for health and adding more fiber to one’s diet—is only outdone by Agnes Nutter herself (Josie Lawrence, Humans, East Enders). Lawrence, in her brief appearance, like much of this wonderful cast, seems to be having the time of her life. Her exuberance, even as she marches off to her fate at a burning stake belies the fact that she also becomes the world’s first suicide bomber as well; not quite as fun a prospect on having the right ideas on proper health and nutrition, but still fascinating.
One character that gets even less time than dear Agnes, is War. Played by Mireille Enos (The Killing, Hanna, World War Z), this Horseman is activated when her trusty war sword is delivered to her during a peace negotiation. Prior to taking the weapon in hand, her childlike glee at the impending violence about to break out during the signing of the peace accords is only something the embodiment of War would revel in. As she marches towards her station, sword in hand, death and violence explode all around her, but War keeps that smile, no doubt excited for the blood soon to be spilled.
It’s the end of the world, after all. And yet, such a horrible end never seemed so fun.
The End is Nigh
- Despite not being the sole centerpiece as they were in the first episode, Aziraphale and Crowley continue to own every moment they’re on screen together. They are the epitome of yin and yang, brothers despite being on opposite sides of the eternal fight between good vs evil, with nothing in common but their appreciation for this dusty, imperfect world humanity has created. But it’s not just their partnership to stop Armageddon that brings the hilarity; they’re various bits of conversation that have nothing to do with their mission make both such relatable characters. On two separate occasions, Crowley has a callback to previous conversations despite the topic at hand having nothing to do with it. Every one of us has had that spark of insight later in the day, an insight that was on the tip of our tongue when we wanted to share it.
- Staying on Crowley, his wanton intimidation of his plant life was a mirthful reminder that he’s a demon. Whereas Aziraphale would have coaxed the plants to grow with love and understanding, the surly demon uses threats of violence and destruction. Though, considering his plants are indeed to most luxurious in the area, can you really argue with his methods?
- Finally, we’re introduced to Newton Pulsifer, great-great-great-great-great (give or take a ‘great’) grandson of Witchfinder Major Pulsifer (given name, Thou-Shall-Not-Commit-Adultery), the man who oversaw the last witch burning in England (of Agnes Nutter, no less). How he will fit into the story, especially now that he’s met Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell, is up in the air. More to the point, will the fate of his and Anathema’s distant relatives play into their own confrontation?