Halfway into “Hard Times,” Good Omens’ opening credits start up. At that point you don’t expect them anymore, and it’s more like an intermission, but it’s representative of how arbitrarily these episodes have been structured. “In The Beginning” took us right to the point of Armageddon, but since it’s looking like the show wants to hold off on the Big Event, there’s only so much moving forward Good Omens can do each episode. Instead the idea has been to go back and fill in all the blanks and, for that, it doesn’t matter so much whether you start with Anathema or Adam. The show moves all over the place.
The reason “Hard Times” feels more repetitive (despite being brand new) is we already jumped through time with Crowley and Aziraphale in the first episode. They’re not new characters, and while there’s new information to glean that will be important later [I’ve made a list further down], it’s deliberately told as an aside. Any episode could have begun this way, and there’s a shuffle-ability to the sequences on this show. On comedies, the scene before the opening credits is called a tag and they can be unrelated to the rest of the episode but they’re usually short, not half an episode long.
What could the show have done differently? Dedicated an entire episode to Crowley and Aziraphale’s past. Kept the first episode about the Antichrist and held off on letting us know about how far back their history goes. That way you don’t have an episode cleanly split in half, where the second half feels like the true beginning since it picks up where “The Book,” left off, with Aziraphale discovering Adam’s address.
What We Learn From Crowley and Aziraphale’s Past Interactions:
- Heaven has a history of punishing people harshly (in a sequence that is bound to drop the series in hot water)
- Aziraphale’s obsession with food is longstanding.
- Crowley’s original name was Crawly (if Aziraphale called him that in the first episode I didn’t notice or assumed I heard wrong)
- Shadwell and the Witchfinder “Army” are both Crowley and Aziraphale’s men on the ground.
- Crowley has saved Aziraphale’s life before, but we never see Aziraphale save Crowley’s. He gives him holy water (and breaking the rules is no small matter for an angel) but has Crowley never needed saving or did he save himself?
Here’s the other problem with this sequence. When Crowley saves Aziraphale’s books, it feels like a turning point in their relationship. Romantic music plays. Cut to the present day, though, and there’s no notable progress. Aziraphale and Crowley are working separately. Aziraphale hasn’t told Crowley about Adam’s address and he’s still putting up a fight about calling Crowley his friend. Does this mean there’s a further scene from their past that we’re missing? And what does Adam’s new stance on nuclear power plants mean for Armageddon? As most of the cast closes in on Tadfield, maybe Earth will be lucky and the Four Horseman won’t realize Warlock isn’t the Antichrist, and head to the Middle East by mistake.
Good Omens is streaming on Amazon.