This article contains spoilers for the ending of Good Omens.
Although most of us went into our viewing of Good Omens knowing that Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel would be seeking to avoid Armageddon, it has now become clear that the end times were halted despite their actions rather than because of their intervention. Sure, Crowley may have made the fateful error that put Adam Young on his unconventional path, but that wasn’t his own devious plan; it just happened… perhaps according to an ineffable plan. So what can we conclude about the final events of the six-part miniseries?
It was, of course, the Antichrist himself who held all the cards, able to shape the world to his own beliefs, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse got the ball rolling by hacking into the military mainframe at the Tadfield air base, forcing all nuclear-class nations to fire their entire arsenals at each other. But it wasn’t an angel or a demon that stopped either of them; it was a trio of eleven-year-olds and a private in the Witchfinder Army.
Perhaps we should have realized when we saw Pepper’s red poncho, Brian’s messy face, and Wensleydale’s scrawny frame that they were destined to take the place of War, Pollution, and Famine respectively. One might suspect that because Adam was left to grow up on his own, he found friends who fit the mold proscribed by the inner voice of his own destiny. As each child grasped the flaming sword and stood opposite their equivalent adult abstraction, their declarations of belief in peace, a clean world, and a healthy lunch essentially allowed them to replace the horsemen at Adam’s side, returning the evils of humanity back to their lowercase, disembodied selves.
The other unlikely savior is Newton Pulsifer whose role as Witchfinder Private distracted from his true power: the ability to break any technology he tried to utilize in any way. His brief career as a wages clerk may have led rather randomly to his joining forces with Sergeant Shadwell, but the fact that he found the site of the apocalypse simply by studying the unusually normal weather around Tadfield is fairly remarkable. Although it was Anathema’s idea to have him try to “fix” the hacked military computers, it was Newton’s innate ineptitude that averted a nuclear holocaust.
Aziraphale and Crowley finally found their footing when Gabriel and Beelzebub showed up to find out why the battle had not yet begun. It was Aziraphale who eventually noticed that the archangel was using the words “great plan” instead of “ineffable plan” with regard to the Antichrist’s role in beginning the final war between Heaven and Hell, and it was Crowley who realized that their superiors didn’t actually know if God might have planned this botched version of Armageddon from the very start. Hell, even Agnes Nutter seemed to be more aware of it than they were!
So when Aziraphale and Crowley took the Antichrist outside of time for a moment to prepare him to confront his father, the Devil himself, it’s perhaps crucial that the angel characterized Adam as “human incarnate” rather than evil or good. This quality was likely key in helping Adam decide who his real father was: Arthur Young. But when Adam tells Satan, “You’re not my dad; you never were,” it’s probably the second half of that statement that’s more important. Are we to assume that the Devil dissolved in smoke because he “never was”? Adam’s power of belief may have just removed the ruler of Hell from the equation in the post-Armageddon world!
Maybe it’s as Crowley tells Aziraphale: “You don’t have a side anymore. Neither of us do.” But that may be true only for the two of them, since they were forewarned by Agnes Nutter to “choose your faces wisely.” Their little switcheroo designed to trick their superiors into thinking they were impervious to holy water and hellfire like the rest of their kind wasn’t in the Good Omens novel, but it brilliantly explained the lack of consequences for the pair. At the very least it bought them some time before what Crowley thinks of as the “Big One,” his predicted battle between humankind and angels, fallen or otherwise.
His theory may be borne out eventually if Adam’s final words of the episode are to be believed. When his friends ask him, “How long until they let you out?” his answer that it may be years and years seems to refer more to how long it will be before the end times come again rather then the conclusion of his punishment. After all, in the next breath, Adam tells his friends that he’ll be able to join them tomorrow because his parents will have forgotten all about it. Deirdre and Arthur are already unclear why they grounded their son in the first place.
Newton and Anathema are similarly fuzzy on the details of having saved the world the day before, but there’s one thing that’s clear from the look on the witch’s face when the solicitor comes to deliver the follow-up manuscript to Agnes Nutter’s prophecies: Anathema is not sure she wants to continue living her life according to her ancestor’s words. It must have been refreshing for her to hear Newton ask, “Do you want to be a descendent all your life?” allowing her to burn the pages of the book and live her unpredictable life on her own terms.
Thankfully, Sergeant Shadwell and Madame Tracy also have a life together after this is all over as do the demon who is at heart a good person and the angel who’s just enough of a bastard to be worth knowing. As the song goes: “There were angels dining at the Ritz, and a nightingale sang in Berkeley square.” At times the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley seemed to transcend mere friendship, and it’s left up to the viewers to imagine what lies is store for the pair beyond their toast “to the world.”
And so we’re left with the image of Adam taking a bite from an apple because “there never was an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.” In other words, humanity must move forward with full knowledge of good and evil and the free will to choose which path to take as they have since the time of Crawly and the Angel of the Eastern Gate. That’s why Aziraphale and Crowley love their existence on Earth so much. For better or worse, our lives are not as bound by destiny as Gabriel and Beelzebub seem to think.
So go out there and find yourself a witch and pop the question: “How many nipples have you got?” Because with Good Omens, ye saga continues…