In The Beginning
Aziraphale and Crowley have been enemies for years. Well, more like millennia - see, they've been on Earth since the very beginning, influencing and tempting humanity throughout history. Aziraphale, an angel who once guarded the gate to the Garden of Eden, now runs a bookstore, collecting rare texts and keeping a low profile. Crowley meanwhile is the demon who tempted Eve in Eden, in the form of a certain notorious snake. Since then, he's made a name for himself as the architect of all the Earth's misfortunes (when in reality he only makes minor inconveniences and temptations).
In the present day, Crowley is charged with delivering the Antichrist to a nunnery in England, so the son of Satan can be raised by a human family and fulfill his destiny to bring about the end of the world. Crowley and Aziraphale, who would rather prefer that the world not end any time soon, make a bid to intervene in the upbringing of the Antichrist and make it so the child won't fulfill his destiny. Eleven years pass, Armageddon approaches, and everything appears to be going according to plan, except for one tiny thing. Something minor...
The baby was given to the wrong family...
At the dawn of the apocalypse, Crowley and Aziraphale must now locate the actual, missing Antichrist and prevent Armageddon, primarily because it would involve the destruction of the world. And they kinda like it here...
Tropes That Appear In This Episode:
- Alliterative Name: Defied; Harriet rejects the name "Damien Dowling" for being "too alliterative".
- Brick Joke: Apparently God loves The Sound of Music, and Crowley humors to Aziraphale that that means that after The End of the World as We Know It, he'll probably wind up watching it again and again and again for the rest of forever. Later in Heaven, Gabriel and Sandalphon quote the song "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" when they condescendingly commend him for his efforts in reforming Warlock.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Because demons are Always Chaotic Evil, they possess no loyalties to themselves, each other or those loyal to them, such as when Hastur burns down the Chattering Nun's convent after they have successfully implanted the Antichrist and later feeds one of his subordinates to the Hellhound they intend to give to the Antichrist.
- "Darkness von Gothick" Name: Mother Theresa and Sister Mary independently suggest that the babies they think is the Antichrist be named "Damien". Harriet later settles on "Warlock".
- Disproportionate Retribution: Crowley's opinion of Adam and Eve being banished from Eden for eating from the tree.
- Establishing Character Moment: The episode's prologue showcases this for both Crowley and Aziraphale.
- For Aziraphale, he has just given Adam his flaming sword so that he and Eve can survive out in the wilderness and then shields Crowley (his assigned enemy) from the rain with his wings, all the while having a friendly chat. This establishes that not only is he predisposed to be an affable Nice Guy, but he is like this in a manner that defies his duties as a member of Heaven's armies (since giving someone else his flaming sword is a massive no-no) and as an enemy of demon-kind (as his friendly conversation with Crowley would indicate).
- For Crowley, he has just finished tempting Eve with the apple, leading to her becoming pregnant and she and Adam leaving the garden. Crowley (then named Crawley) watches them leave the garden alongside Aziraphale, and remarks how knowing the difference between good and evil (which is what eating the apple granted Adam and Eve) does not seem as big a deal as everyone claims it to be. When Aziraphale points out that Crowley wanting it to happen makes it evil by design, Crowley waves it off as just wanting to "make some trouble," then going on to poke holes in the setting (like the location of the tree and it was just inviting disobedience). This establishes that while Crowley does take some delight in the strife he sows, it is more of a job to him and he is willing to question the ethics of what they do (unlike other angels and demons, who are fully committed to objective morality).
- Friendly Enemy: From the moment they officially meet during Genesis, Aziraphale and Crowley (then named "Crawley") aren't all that bothered by each other's company. By the 21st century, they are enjoying drinks together pondering treachery against their own kind(s) for humanity's sake within a day of The Antichrist being introduced into the world.
- Good Is Not Nice: While the other angels commend Aziraphale for (trying) being a good influence on The Antichrist (in a rather condescending tone), they are counting on him failing to do so, more interested in going to war with demon-kind than preserving the Earth and humanity.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep":
- Mother Superior convinces Mrs. Dowling to name her son "Warlock" under the guise of it being an "old English name."
- Adam winds up naming his new Hellhound "Dog", claiming that it would save a lot of trouble to name it that.
- Hollywood Satanism: The Chattering Order of St. Beryl are an order of nuns that were created by Satanists. They all conspire to help implant The Antichrist into an American politician's family, wear watch-mounted Leviathan Crosses (the alchemical symbol for sulfur popularized as a Satanic symbol by Anton LeVay), have a statue of a man being strangled by a snake in their lobby and no one seems to find any of it weird.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- The American ambassador promises to be with his wife for every step of their child's birth (even though he's currently in Washington and is on video call with her). As soon as he's called to a meeting with the president, he immediately excuses himself.
- Pepper scornfully says that she got a "girl's bike" for her birthday. Wensleydale points out that she is a girl, and Pepper tells him that's sexist.
- Improvised Clothes: Eve is first seen nude (from behind, anyway). When she and Adam leave the garden, they are both wearing improvised clothes fashioned out of leaves.
- King of All Cosmos: God (played by Frances McDormand) claims that dinosaurs fossils are "a joke that paleontologists haven't seen yet."
- Last-Minute Baby Naming: The Dowlings had previously agreed on "Thaddeus" after the father, but Harriet changes her mind, fed up with her husband not being at the birth, and names him "Warlock". The Youngs have this too, settling on "Adam" after the baby is born.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Crowley clarifies that The Antichrist looks nothing like his father.
- Loophole Abuse: Crowley manages to convince Aziraphale to help him thwart the end of the world by arguing that while Aziraphale cannot go against the divine plan, he is obligated to thwart whatever evil any demon (including him) is up to, so if Crowley where to try and corrupt Warlock, Aziraphale has to step in and prevent it.
- Magicians Are Wizards: Being an angel, Aziraphale can do actual magic in the form of miracles, but is terrible at stage magic. He insists on doing sleight of hand because a) he gets complaints from his superiors that he frivolously uses miracles as is, and b) because it's more fun that way.
- Name of Cain: Suggested by Sister Mary as a potential baby name. Again, she's helping name the Antichrist...
- Nature vs. Nurture: Crowley argues that they could potentially thwart the apocalypse by making sure that The Antichrist is raised properly, Crowley volunteering to be the bad influence that Aziraphale is obligated to thwart.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: At the beginning Aziraphale worries that giving his Flaming Sword to Adam so he could defend himself and his family might have been this. Crowley, conversely, worries that tempting Eve to eat the Forbidden Fruit might have been Not Quite The Wrong Thing.
- Oh, Crap!: Aziraphale and Crowley's reactions when they are told that the Hellhound has been released and they have yet to see it.
- Spanner in the Works: Mr. and Mrs. Young showing up at the convent was a complete surprise for the Chattering Order, with none of them the wiser on just how big of an impact their presence really has. When Crowley drops off The Antichrist, Mr. Young specifies that the birth (of his child, not the American) is happening in Room 3, thus causing the big baby-switcheroo that caused this whole mess.
- Suddenly Sober: When Aziraphale and Crowley get sick of their inebriated states, they will themselves into being sober, every bottle they drank out of magically refilling themselves and leaving a bad taste in their mouths.
- Take That!: Aziraphale is unimpressed that The Antichrist is supposed to be raised by an American diplomat "as if Armageddon were a cinematic graphic show you wished to sell in as many countries as possible."
- Weirdness Censor: Aziraphale asks if anyone would notice a large hellhound suddenly appearing to be Warlock's guard, Crowley remarks that his Reality Warping abilities will prevent suspicion.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't get confirmation on what happened to the Young's real child, but God claims that "it would be nice to think" that the nuns had him discreetly adopted where he grew up to be a prize-winning fisher uninvolved in anything supernatural.note
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: One of the points Crowley makes about the apocalypse is that once its done, there will be nothing left for any of them to do forever.Crowley: And you know what's worse? When it's all over, you've got to deal with ETERNITYYYYYYYYYY!!!
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Crowley disguises himself as a nanny to be Warlock's "bad influence."
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as the Youngs and the Dowlings leave the convent, Hastur dissolves the order. When the nuns voice their concerns, Hastur kills Theresa and burns down the convent For the Evulz.