The third episode of Good Omens, “Hard Times,” dials things all the way back to the beginning and spends the first 30 minutes tracking the evolution of Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and Crowley’s (David Tennant) relationship. Not ready for that? Stop reading! Spoilers ahead…
It all started in the Garden of Eden. When Aziraphale and Crowley first met, they were new to their jobs on Earth and both a little more relaxed about the details than maybe they’d expected to be. Nonetheless, they persisted in doing as they’d been instructed: Aziraphale performing blessings and miracles around the world while Crowley sowed unrest.
Their paths continued to cross in moments like the great flood, where Crowley pointed out that God killing all the locals– including children– seemed more like something his side would do. They watched Jesus’ crucifixion together, shared a meal in ancient Rome and although they maintained that they were adversaries, they got along rather well and had more in common with each other than with the average human.
During King Arthur’s reign, Crowley made a suggestion: instead of doing their jobs and constantly cancelling out each other’s efforts, perhaps they’d be as successful if they both did nothing. He suggested that their supervisors were unlikely to check the work, and that the result would be the same. Aziraphale was appalled, but as we learned when they met again in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre during an early performance of Hamlet, he did eventually capitulate.
Centuries passed, and the two established a dynamic. They pursued their personal interests on Earth with more fervor than their professional, while humans thought up more creative ways to interfere with each other than any demon ever could. Crowley popped in to save Aziraphale from the gallows during the French Revolution (when he’d been tempted enough by French food to foolishly brave a visit to Paris at an inopportune time). Aziraphale refused Crowley’s mid-19th Century request to score him some Holy Water as a “suicide pill” in case everything on Earth went pear-shaped. Crowley popped in again to save Aziraphale (and some priceless books) from duplicitous Nazis in London in WWI.
During this last episode, Aziraphale was touched by Crowley thinking to save his books. His face suggested that in his heart, Crowley was not at all an adversary. He had become quite the opposite.
In the 1960s, Crowley took his desire to acquire some Holy Water into his own hands, hiring a small team to execute a late-night church heist on his behalf. Aziraphale, unwilling to see his “adversary” risk his very existence, stopped the heist by delivering a thermos of the Holiest Water. A grateful Crowley offered him a ride home, and Aziraphale refused, saying suggestively to Crowley that he was just too fast for him.
Crowley made a new acquaintance during the heist planning: a young Witch Hunter named Shadwell (Scott Arthur). Shadwell offered his services should Crowley ever need them.
Fast forward to the present day, one day away from the end of the world, where Aziraphale discovers a stunning revelation in Agnes Nutter’s book that corresponds with a passage in the Bible. In disbelief, he picks up the phone and dials the number of the beast, Tadfield area. Arthur Young (Daniel Mays) answers, and suddenly Aziraphale is able to find Adam’s name and address.
Armed with confirmation that the “other side” has lost track of the Son of Satan, and that he has found him, Aziraphale goes to Heaven to ask “hypothetically” what would happen if the Son of Satan was not, in fact, en route to the Middle East to initiate the war between Heaven and Hell. Unfortunately, Gabriel (Jon Hamm) and his colleagues are firm in that the end of the world is nigh and that they aren’t interested in backing away from the big war.
Crowley, meanwhile, is still searching for the boy. He sets a meeting with the head of his network of human operatives, Shadwell (Michael McKean). In the years since their first meeting, Shadwell has invented a hierarchy of Witch Hunters fighting the good fight with him in his Army, and Crowley has been giving him regular cash infusions to finance their work and keep them loyal. So, Shadwell *is* Crowley’s network of human operatives. They meet in a cafe, where Crowley orders Shadwell to have his best men go to Tadfield and find an 11-year-old boy who might or might not be involved with witchcraft.
In Tadfield, Anathema (Adria Arjona) is having a difficult time. The Tadfield Neighbourhood Watch (Bill Paterson) is suspicious of her behavior and questions, she’s overwrought at losing her book and she still hasn’t identified the Prince of Darkness’ location. Young Adam (Sam Taylor Buck) and Dog come across her while she’s melting down in her front yard, and she invites them in for lemonade.
At first, it seems Dog won’t be able to cross the threshold because of the protective horseshoe hung over the door, but when Adam commands him to, he does (and a little bit of Hell burns off). Inside, Adam learns a bit about Anathema’s life as an occultist before she inundates him with propagandist magazines focused on all the evils in the world. They find common ground in opposition to nuclear energy– her because of what it is, and him because he visited a nuclear power plant with school and was disappointed by the lack of bubbling green goo.
That night, Adam reads the magazines with relish until he goes to sleep. When he sleeps, his power rises and works through his dreams… replacing nuclear reactors with lemon sherbet candy without diminishing the power output of the plants.
Knowing that Heaven will not intervene in the end of the world, Aziraphale returns to his book shop to phone the head of his network of human operatives. It is, of course, Shadwell. He has also been financing Shadwell’s imaginary Army for some time. Unlike Crowley, he knows exactly where to send the man. He gives him Adam’s name and address and orders him to go to Tadfield and keep him under surveillance.
When Shadwell returns to his flat, he learns that his protege, Newton Pulsifer (Jack Whitehall), has made what he believes to be a significant discovery. There’s a village called Tadfield that has experienced perfect weather for each time of year for 11 years in a row, including snow every Christmas Eve– a sure sign of witchcraft. They make plans to go the following day to see what’s afoot.
Believing their networks to be on the case of locating and observing the Antichrist, Crowley and Aziraphale meet in an empty bandstand in a park. Crowley suggests that the two of them are on their own side, and that they could leave Earth together to avoid the destruction, but Aziraphale refuses and tells his longtime companion that it’s over between them.