There’s a lot to love (and cry about) in Season 2 of Good Omens, which premiered just two months ago on Amazon Prime. But, ‘A Companion to Owls’ — a minisode that retells the Book of Job within the show’s universe — is Good Omens at its best, and I’m not just saying it because Crowley’s look as Bildad the Shuite really grew on me.
The first of three minisodes in Good Omens Season 2, ‘A Companion to Owls’ takes us back to the playful history-surfing joy of Season 1, Episode 3’s cold open. It does so while gently but irreverently poking at the absurdity of religion the way this show does best, while also revealing so much of why Aziraphale and Crowley are the way they are when we first meet them — two immortal beings who enjoy the world and each other’s company so much that they literally stop Armageddon from happening.
But beneath the commentary on history and religion is an undercurrent of emotion. Here is Aziraphale, who’s already lied to God once to save himself at Eden, learning that being righteous isn’t always the same as being good. And then, here is Crowley resigning himself to being alone if it meant doing what he thought was good, finding someone who might just be like him.
Now on my 15th rewatch, here are four thoughts on Good Omens’ ‘A Companion to Owls’.
The minisode opens with Crowley speaking to the goats. He says, “You should know why you are about to die.”
Crowley has always wanted to know why. Why create an infinite universe with trillions of star systems, he had asked just the episode (or a few thousand years) prior, if you’re only going to let it run a few thousand years? Why was he cast down for asking a few questions?
Later on, he’s confused when the blameless Job is angry at himself. Job says, “How sunk in sin must I be to not only deserve all this, but not even to know why.” Crowley wants to argue, but Sitis comes in and the plot moves on.
Just as Crowley is upset that God had abandoned him, he couldn’t accept that She would do it to innocent creatures. And now that it’s become his job to do Bad Things, we see the tricks Crowley’s developed over time to appease Hell without actually doing them.
“Maybe I’m lying,” he tells Aziraphale, as he pretends to obliterate the goats. “Seems legit to me!” Later on, when Aziraphale tells him not to kill the kids, he goes on to say, “I long to destroy Job’s children, just as I destroyed his goats.” (He didn’t).
As early as 2500 BC, Crowley was quietly rebelling against both Heaven and Hell, taking a stand on “his own side.”
This decision comes with more than a little risk. At the end of the minisode, Crowley thwarts Satan himself: Sitis was about to curse God — and, probably, would’ve led her gullible husband to do the same — when Crowley intervenes just in time. If he hadn’t, Satan would’ve won the bet.
We first learn about Crowley’s resistance when the birds suddenly bleat, and Aziraphale turns to him in surprise.
Crowley isn’t at all surprised, and wasn’t upset that his trickery was uncovered. He simply looks at Aziraphale, and waits for him to understand — a test. Crowley didn’t go through all the trouble of staging the goats’ destruction to make a silly mistake like that; he wanted Aziraphale to know.
Inside the house, Crowley tests him again with the fire, and Crowley assures the kids that they’re perfectly safe. There’s one more test, as Crowley asks, “Are you sure, Angel?”
They both know that God didn’t mind if those kids died, but here, Aziraphale has more faith in Crowley than he has in Her (more on this later). If Crowley didn’t want to kill innocent goats, he almost certainly wouldn’t want to kill innocent kids — even though two of them are a little annoying.
Here, Crowley trusts Aziraphale with that knowledge, and Aziraphale trusts him to keep them all safe.
The trust built here comes to a peak at their little improv show in front of Gabriel and the other angels, as they coach Sitis and Job through a “human birth.” This is the first time they work as a team to trick both Heaven and Hell — a feat they perfect in the centuries to come.
It’s also where Aziraphale does something that wins Crowley’s trust: He lies to his bosses.
Another gift that this minisode gives us is the revelation of how Aziraphale came to be a foodie. Stuck in the cellar with three newts, Crowley offers Aziraphale food for the very first time. It’s hilarious to see Aziraphale — the angel who got imprisoned during the French Revolution because he was craving crêpes — gag at the idea of consuming human food.
But more than the ox ribs (and all the ties to humanity that they represent), Aziraphale’s temptation mirrors Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Heaven and the angels aren’t concerned about goodness. They cared that they were right.
We see this in how they assure Aziraphale that the contract — which sentences innocent children and goats to death — is correct. “That’s all fine!” Muriel says gleefully upon checking it, and in the final episode, Uriel asks the Metatron if they had done anything wrong, not if they had done anything evil.
Aziraphale had wanted to believe Heaven was both correct and good. He runs to Heaven to verify the contract that Crowley shows him, after all, and is relieved when he finds out that God will eventually return all of Job’s possessions. That is, of course, until he realizes that the children would actually die — and stay dead.
With this realization, Aziraphale runs not to God, but to Crowley, a demon that he knows, on some level, would agree that the contract was wrong.
While eating, Aziraphale is tempted to fall back towards the righteousness of Heaven. But when Crowley reminds him about the same God who wants these children dead, Aziraphale realizes he’s not fully on Her side.
Before Job, Aziraphale could still explain away the not-so-good things about God’s righteousness. But he can’t do that now, and the look on Crowley’s face makes me think that he might be feeling the smallest hope that, for the very first time, someone would understand him.
And finally, to this scene, one of the best moments in Season 2 for both its visuals and the emotion Michael Sheen and David Tenant bring out of their characters.
Worth noting here is that Crowley specifically seeks Aziraphale out after the events of the Book of Job. The angel thinks he’s here to escort him to Hell, but he’s there to comfort him and, perhaps, enjoy the company of someone else who isn’t stuck in the Heaven-Hell dichotomy.
Crowley starts to tease Aziraphale for being too cute to be a demon, but his smile drops as soon as he realizes just how distraught Aziraphale is about lying.
Aziraphale has every right to be scared, of course. He knows Crowley got thrown into Hell for daring to want something different from what Heaven had planned. He lied to his boss. But that’s also how he wins Crowley over: He was fully prepared to become a demon for all eternity for the sake of three kids — two of them a little bratty — who’ll die in a few decades anyway.
But Crowley’s not going to tell anyone, he promises. Aziraphale won’t tell anyone either, and there is, suddenly, a space between Heaven and Hell for him to exist in, alongside Crowley.
In the silence that ends the minisode we know that Aziraphale will forever struggle with his faith, and Aziraphale takes his time to accept that. Crowley just sits with him, knowing how lonely that could be. Facing the vastness of the ocean ahead, whether they knew it or not, they both start building a side they can call their own.