Good Omens episode 5 review: apocalypse now?

Tennant and Sheen are the jam in Good Omens’ Victoria Sponge. Without them, things can become a little bland. Spoilers ahead...

This review contains spoilers.

1.5 The Doomsday Option

The problem with having a great fizzing mass of on-screen chemistry in the middle of your TV show is that people notice when it’s not there. The absence makes the lights dim, as if power-saving mode has been enabled. Whatever else is dangled in front of an audience’s face is waved irritably away. They’re looking past it, waiting for the moment a 1926 black Bentley driven by a screaming David Tennant careens over the horizon, in flames.

It’s a nice problem to have. Some TV shows can only fantasise about having a double-act as successful as Crowley and Aziraphale. Good Omens’ central pairing is so much fun that it’s perhaps unavoidable for the other characters to fall short.

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There are so many characters in this six-part series, it’s also perhaps unavoidable that so few of them feel developed. Take Adam. Anathema describes him as the sweetest boy in the village, yet his parents are nervous around him. Form shapes nature, we were told in relation to Dog, whose terrier side outstripped his hellhound side this episode. So which is it? Is Adam evil tempered by humanity, or a human drawn to evil? The peculiarities of his character are hard to grasp, as is his reversal from world-destroyer to world-saviour. 

In episode five, we watch Adam exert his powers like the tyrannical beast he was born to be, before the bonds of friendship he’s forged over 11 years of living an Enid Blyton-ish life in an idyllic English village ping him back to humanity. It was neither scary or funny, but played straight. Not truly knowing the character, so having no little context for what he’s experiencing, it had the feel of a 1970s children’s TV drama, and went only surface-deep.  

The same goes for Anathema and Newton, whose post-coital scene also lacked laughs or emotion, and the Four Horsemen, who are diverting to look at but don’t appear to have a joke or a spark between them. Contrast those moments with Aziraphale and Crowley doing so little as sitting still together on a park bench, and it’s clear what the issue is. Tennant and Sheen are the jam in this Victoria Sandwich. Without them, it’s all just springy beige background.

Not all. Miranda Richardson continues to provide excellent value as Madame Tracy. The possession scene was a riot, as was the sight of a celestial scooter rising up from the tarmac and taking flight. 

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Crowley’s form of transport also provided a visceral thrill. A snake-eyed David Tennant screaming his lungs off while driving a car that’s on literal fire is a new level of energy for television, one that’ll be hard to top. The character’s uninhibited grief over the loss of Aziraphale and the use of Somebody To Love on the soundtrack (how crucial securing those Queen rights has turned out to be) shows just how he feels about the angel (“Wherever you are, I’ll come to you”). There’s no lack of emotion, excitement or laughs from that quarter.

As the story stands, everybody is in position at the airbase (spot the soldier on the gate reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods?), with 17 minutes to go until the end of the world. The warheads have been armed. The armies are lining up. Death has come to see, and it’s say-your-prayers time.

My prayer? The jokes, Crowley and Aziraphale all back in one place for the finale.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.