“To the world.”
Too often nowadays it seems that television finales rarely live up to expectations. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to find the most recent example of this in Game of Thrones. Make no mistake, “The Very Last Day of the Rest of Their Lives” (hereafter, “The Very Last Day…”) doesn’t have an eight of the anticipation or years of plot lines to close off. Still, with the previous two episodes being disappointments (only in relation to the excellence of the first three episodes) this finale had the task of rekindling the magic Good Omens delivered the moment Aziraphale and Crowley showed up on screen in the series premiere.
“The Very Last Day…” did that and so much more.
To start, it wraps up the whole Armageddon thing rather quickly. There’s no long, drawn out Avengers-style battle or a giant CGI explosion that lights up the sky (though a pretty sizable Satan does burrow his way up from Hell, pissed off that his son, Adam the Antichrist, had the temerity to banish the Horsemen and cancel the apocalypse).
Thanks to a quick chat from Aziraphale and Crowley, Adam realizes that it doesn’t matter what other people expect him to be; it doesn’t matter that his heritage has been to be the catalyst for the End. Like so many adolescents, he’s being pulled in several directions; from his own bratty mind and hormones, to the selfish designs ‘adults’ have set up for him, to his own friends. Even when the positive influences mean well, the truth is that a kid (everyone, really) has to find his own way, make up his own mind on what he wants to be. Adam does this in spades, telling Old Scratch to suck it, purporting that Satan isn’t his father and finishing up with, “You never were.” And with those three words, Adam completely changes the fabric of reality, sending Lucifer back to Hell and putting the kibosh on a war six thousand years in the making.
As vital as their role is, Adam and his friends aren’t the only ones with a hand in stopping Armageddon. Without knowing what the Horsemen had set into motion, there would have been no way for Adam to know what he needed to do to stop things. Thankfully Newton’s sheer destructiveness around electronics finally comes in handy as, when he and Anathema find themselves staring down the barrel of the world’s nuclear weapons minutes from being launched, Newton taps a few keys and just like that, all is well on the nuclear front.
There is no mistaking the importance of these supporting characters but Good Omens was always a story about the unlikeliest pair of best friends the Universe has ever known. “The Very Last Day…” more than makes up for the previous two episodes lacking screen time for this unusual pair. A lot of the entertainment in Good Omens originated from the sheer chemistry between Michael Sheen and David Tennant but there’s also more to this series than wonderful one-liners and uncanny comedic timing. There’s a deeper message in this story, touched on earlier in discussing Adam’s own choice.
For Aziraphale and Crowley, they stand against thousands of years of tradition and the respective masses of their kind, despite knowing the consequences such actions would bring upon them. They are a representation of the mavericks of this world, those who do not stand on ceremony, delighted in traversing the unbeaten path, one filled with the scorn of their peers and unknown dangers for the simple fact that they believe it to be right. Often times, these trailblazers aren’t truly appreciated into long after their gone. It’s nearly the same fate for Aziraphale and Crowley except they gain a bit of a cheat sheet from Agnes Nutter.
So much of Good Omens revolves around Agnes Nutter’s prophecies and the characters just knowing where to look. Nutter’s startling accuracy pays dividends once more when Aziraphale catches a snippet of text from a torn page: choose your faces wisely it says and the day after the end was supposed to come, both angel and demon take the advice to heart. In a brilliant stratagem, the pair swap faces, knowing they’d be unable to escape the retribution their respective home offices would demand of them. It’s a toss-up what is more out-of-character, Aziraphale channeling his inner Crowley or vice versa. What the two get after their corresponding displays of immunity from their death sentences (hellfire for an angel, holy water for a demon) is time. Time to enjoy the world they’ve known and loved for these last 6,000 years without worrying about what Heaven or Hell thinks of their fraternization. They bucked the odds and now, this newly-shaped world is theirs to enjoy once more. Together.
As it should be.
The End is Nigh…Just Another Sunday
What an amazingly satisfying conclusion to a charming and wickedly entertaining series. There is so much I could break down and gush about from this finale but I will try to keep this manageable by focusing on the bigger points, though some of the smaller character moments (Shadwell and Madame Tracy getting together, Adam now without his Antichrist powers is just a typical 11 year-old) deserve a bit more than they get in this wrap-up.
- One of the things I mentioned in a previous review is how Anathema has been, throughout her life, beholden to the responsibility of following Agnes Nutter’s prophecies. So when she gets the second book of prophecies delivered to her, she chooses to burn it instead of taking on that responsibility once more. Newton’s line of “Do you want to be a descendant all your life?” plays along with the overarching theme all the major characters end up asking themselves: do they want to let fate decide for them or take the chance with the unknown? It’s a scary prospect, facing the future without the blueprint for what comes next, most especially for Anathema, considering her life’s been dictated by this unerring master plan she never needed to worry about steering her wrong. Now, she’s just like the rest of us—except the witch-light powers she possesses. So while she may be ready to enjoy a normal life with Newton, the question becomes, wouldn’t Agnes have known what Anathema would do with the book and, if so, would she have a backup plan to get her prophecies in the right hands? If the expectations were to bring Good Omens back for another season, I would assume this to be the case.
- And this may indeed be heresy considering Gaiman and Pratchett never revisited this world, but I would love to have a second go with this amazing cast of characters. Sure, we got plenty of time from the likes of Aziraphale and Crowley but I could have used a bit more of Jon Hamm’s Gabriel and the Horsemen, particularly War and Famine, in my life. Some characters’ stories, like Adam and his friends, and Shadwell and Tracy, could be over and done but there’s enough left open to warrant exploration but considering Neil Gaiman isn’t too keen on a season two, we may just have to use our imagination. To be honest, I’m perfectly fine with that.
- One of the things I found quite cheesy but, at the same time extremely poignant, was how Pepper, Wensly, and Brian faced off against War, Pollution, and Famine (with an assist using Aziraphale’s Flaming sword). Regardless of what you may think of the real-world representations for those particular Horsemen, one truth that cannot be argued is that the younger generation is the one who must decide what ideals they wish to cultivate as they grow older. It’s not a political thing to say that war, pollution, and famine are bad things or, if they go unchecked the kids will be the ones to suffer most. Watching Adam’s friends stand up for the type of future they wanted (and without an overt politicization of it) was another example of the deeper message written into the series.
- I may sound like a recording but Michael Sheen and David Tennant were tremendous. The success of this series always hinged on the viability of these two actors to personify their respective characters. They did that and so much more, breathing life into Good Omens in a way I can’t see any other pair of actors accomplishing. If, in 20 years from now, Hollywood revisits Good Omens as a prime source for remake material, I will still see these two gentlemen as the one and only Aziraphale and Crowley.