Good Omens: “Hard Times” Ahead (and Behind) for Both Good and Evil

“Let me tempt you…oh, no, that’s your job, isn’t it?”

Both angel and demon have seen some things in Good Omens' "Hard Times."

Now, where were we? When we last left off, Aziraphale had located Adam Young, the Anti-Christ, thanks in part to the “Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter” being left in the back of Crowley’s car. However, the third installment of Good Omens takes us back to the beginning again for an extended look at the duo’s history-filled backstory.

Outside the Garden of Eden, Aziraphale has to explain to God where his flaming sword is—and failing at it. The next time the angel meets up with demon Crowley, it’s at Noah’s ark. Crowley doesn’t understand how the Almighty could just let children drown, and a unicorn makes a break for it (hence why there are none running about today).  

Aziraphale and Crowley hold cups in Good Omens

The duo are also present at the crucifixion of Jesus, where both angel and demon discuss their encounters with the son of God. Crowley admits to tempting Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world. The demon wonders what Jesus did to deserve this. Aziraphale says that Jesus just wanted everyone to be kind to one another.

The pair meet again in eight years’ time in Rome, then as Knights (Aziraphale is of the Round Table, and Crowley is, of course, the Black Knight), then as Shakespearean theatergoers (with Shakespeare stealing some lines from their conversation). It’s then that their arrangement becomes clear: when they both find out they’ve been stationed somewhere, they flip a coin and have one person go do the good or bad work and the other stays out of the way. Aziraphale wins, but makes Crowley promise he’ll help make Hamlet a success.

A little celestial intervention from Crowley and Aziraphale made sure Hamlet was a success in Good Omens' "Hard Times"

Next up, the pair find themselves in Paris during the French Revolution. Aziraphale is in the Bastille because he wanted some good crepes and got mistaken for the upper class, and he’s in trouble with the home office for performing frivolous miracles. Crowley’s been getting accolades but it’s not for anything he’s done, since the humans are coming up with all the bad ideas themselves. The two decide to head to lunch (one of many to come).

The frenemies reconvene in 1800s London, with Crowley asking for a favor. He requests holy water as insurance in case a job goes wrong. The two quarrel about their friendship being found out and part on bad terms.

The two don’t meet again until World War II. Aziraphale is dropping off prophecy books with the Nazis in a double agent deal, only to find he is double crossed as well. Luckily, Crowley comes to his rescue (even if it means his feet are burning from stepping onto holy ground). Crowley ensures a bomb falls on the church that they’re in, with only the angel, demon, and prophecy books surviving. And the best part, there’s no paperwork to be done.

For the next stop on the never-ending tour back through time is the 1960s. Crowley is running back-room deals and comes in contact with a younger version of Shadwell (still bent on finding and destroying witches). Shadwell tries to tempt Crowley into paying for the Witchfinders’ Army, but no dice. When Crowley gets in his car to drive away, Aziraphale appears and tells him to call the latest job off. He knows what he’s after—holy water—and he gifts him with a thermos full.

Back in present day, Aziraphale is trying to figure out how to tell Angel Gabriel back at the home office about the mix-up and once again, he’s failing. Adam Young, aka the Anti-Christ, and Dog are walking along when they hear Anathema Device breaking flower pots in her garden. She’s upset over losing the “Nice and Correct Prophecies of Agnes Nutter,” which had been in her family for over 300 years. Adam tries to calm her down and she invites him in for tea, which Dog doesn’t like very much since there is a protective horseshoe over the door.

Meanwhile, at Shadwell’s place, Newton Pulsifer is examining the relics of Witchfinders long gone. Shadwell nipped out to the cafe down the corner to meet with—who else?—Crowley to discuss a job. Crowley wants Shadwell to find the young Anti-Christ, and Shadwell needs the money.

Anathema tells Adam more about her beliefs over lemonade and sends him home with occultist literature. Back at the home office, Aziraphale tries to make good and warn the other angels of the mix-up without dirtying his wings too much. The others laugh it off (and later on decide that Aziraphale has been on Earth too long).

Aziraphale then decides to call up his human forces, which also turns out to be Shadwell. (Him and Crowley have both been paying him and his so-called army for years.) Pulsifer has been avidly reading all the clippings and Shadwell’s apartment and has found Tadfield has had perfect seasons for 11 years. Shadwell tells Pulsifer to ready himself for battle.

While War was introduced in “The Book,” this episode introduces the second horseman of the apocalypse, Famine. In his spare time, he’s been making rich people starve in fancy restaurants and developing fake food when he gets his package from the international delivery man. Inside are his scales.

After dinner, Adam is devouring something completely different: Anathema’s borrowed magazines and it sends him off to dreamland, with dangerous visions that come true, including dismantling a nuclear power plant. Aziraphale and Crowley meet once more, their long-held friendship finally dissolving with the end of the world near. It’s every angel or demon for itself.

The structure of this episode of Good Omens pleased me on multiple levels. I love time travel, and I love in-jokes, and the opening 20-minute sequence had plenty with references to unicorns at the building of Noah’s Ark, King Arthur, Shakespeare, defeating Nazis, and mod fashion. It’s a lot to cram in at once, but with the Voice of God’s ever present narration, it works. It shows Crowley’s and Aziraphale’s ups and downs and how they’ve gotten around dealing with their respective home offices.

In many ways it reminded me of another time travel movie: the extended cut of Highlander, which sees Connor MacLeod meeting other immortals like himself throughout time leading up to the present day. (And there was also lots of Queen songs, oddly enough. I’m not complaining.) The extended pre-credit sequence also showcased David Tennant’s and Michael Sheen’s brilliant and sparkling chemistry. I feel like I could watch these two argue about food, books, music and the like FOR HOURS. It’s literal pitch-perfect casting, making this whole endeavor truly worth the (rocky, sometimes delayed) wait.

And as we dig deeper into Shadwell’s background, we’ll most likely see the descendants of Pulsifer and Device face off once more, with comedic results. Something’s about to kick off, and it’s going to be great. 

Written by Rachel Stewart

Rachel Stewart is a staff writer at 25YL. She has written fandom commentary and critique for sites like The Sartorial Geek,, Nerdy Minds Magazine, and ESO Network, among others. Her work has also appeared in print in the kOZMIC Press anthology “Children of Time: The Companions of Doctor Who" and the ATB Publishing anthology "OUTSIDE IN TRUSTS NO ONE."

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  1. I could watch Michael Sheen and David Tennant onscreen in these roles for YEARS, I am heartbroken this is only one season, it is a buddy comedy and a romantic comedy and supernatural and funny and historical- it hits all the interpersonal drama notes we always were baited Supernatural would, I am bereft it has ended too soon.

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