Lots of shows are good. Some shows are great. Few shows are so great and propulsive that the sound of the theme song kicking in at some point starts to evoke a sort of Pavlovian response of near-frantic giddiness among viewers. Thrillingly, Good Omens season 2 falls into that last category.
The second season of the Prime Video series based on Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel goes off-book immediately – because there’s not exactly any more book for it to stick to. While season 1 admirably adapted the duo’s fantasy comedy book, the follow-up installment comes from the minds of Gaiman and co-writer John Finnemore with, as Gaiman has noted, elements meant to lead into a potential third season that would follow a sequel he and Pratchett plotted before the latter’s death. That season 3 set-up is bound to be polarizing, but aside from a couple of significant wobbles during its climax, Good Omens season 2 is an absolute delight on every level.
The story picks up a decent amount of time after the anxious, human-loving angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and his rebellious, devil-may-care companion Crowley (David Tennant) helped stop the apocalypse, then promptly left their respective jobs with heaven and hell. The series envisions the two camps as self-involved and bureaucracy driven, meaning it’s perfectly possible for Crowley and Aziraphale to coexist under the radar – until the angel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) appears at Aziraphale’s door, naked and memory-less. Gabriel’s unexplained return piques the interest of the demons Shax (Miranda Richardson) and Beelzebub (Shelley Conn) and angels including cheerful underling Murial (Quelin Sepulveda, a highlight of the season).
While season 2 purports to be all about the mystery of Gabriel’s sudden appearance on Earth, it’s also a love story by every conceivable definition of the term. Aziraphale and Crowley’s friendship had a tinge of sweet romance to it in season 1, but this time around, with no pretense of enemy status to keep them apart, the pair feel like they’re on a collision course towards something, well, ineffable. It’s utterly delightful to watch, both because Gaiman and Finnemore build out the pair’s partnership deliberately and with great depth and because Sheen and Tennant so gamely rise to the occasion. Sheen, in particular, has always been an excellent actor but unlocks a whole new side of Aziraphale here, one that (as the season’s trailer has already revealed) is prone to lovestruck glances and flustered mannerisms that bring the show’s rom-com core to new heights.
The heaven of Good Omens may not be a place of expansive, boundariless love, but the world of the show itself is, and that makes season 2 an exquisite viewing experience. Crowley and Aziraphale aren’t the only pair nudging towards one another, as their story is somewhat mirrored by a slight but fun side plot about a local human record store owner (Maggie Service) and the coffee shop owner (Nina Sosanya) she has a crush on. Lengthy flashbacks to the lead characters’ past exploits also dig into the concept of love of family, friends, and the world, as well as the (according to the show) not-so-perfect love of God. The show is often sweet but never saccharine, always balancing out its more emotional moments with irony, satire, and some absolutely side-splitting humor.
Hamm’s zany performance is responsible for much of the season’s comedy gold, but Good Omens season 2 mostly keeps up its good humor whether or not he’s on screen. His amnesiac, childlike Gabriel is wildly funny, but so are the clueless angels who are on the hunt for him. A retelling of the biblical story of Job gets funnier as it gets more absurd, and Tennant and Sheen’s shared sense of comedic timing is nearly as strong as their chemistry. The show fares a bit worse towards the tail end of the season when a somewhat thin climax is stretched out beyond the point of clear tension. A major character beat, meanwhile, isn’t given nearly as much room to breathe as it deserves and is instead sidelined for a questionable storytelling decision in support of a longer-term plot. The result is a cliffhanger conclusion that might be dissatisfying by design – but is, nonetheless, dissatisfying.
Still, Good Omens season 2 is largely a triumph. It’s clever and stylish, overflowing with lavish costumes, striking set pieces, and sequences that are sharply edited for maximum impact. It also often feels like a bit of a hangout show, cuter and less high-stakes than season 1, and (for the most part) destined to join the comfort watch hall of fame for many a fan. Tennant, Sheen, and Hamm all deliver some of the most nimble, enjoyable work of their careers here, as are supporting players like Sepulveda and Conn. There’s also a particular transporting magic to Good Omens that feels rare and precious. It’s a show that makes viewers want to live inside of it, and for six great hours, it performs the small but significant miracle of making us feel like we do.
Good Omens season 2 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Watch the season trailer here.