Aziraphale and Crowley's journey through history begins at the gates of Eden, and between them had many misadventures performing minor miracles and subtly influencing the world for their respective bosses. Over time however, something changes. These two eternal enemies begin keeping regular contact, and even form an unlikely friendship, socializing and even aiding each other from time to time.
Fate recruits the second of the Horsemen - Famine: a businessman with an insatiable hunger.
Tropes That Appear In This Episode:
- Actor Allusion: Crowley himself is a casual observer in Shakespeare's works, preferring "the funny ones" and begrudgingly makes Hamlet popular as a favor to Aziraphale. Not only has David Tennant played the titular character in the 2009 television adaptation of the play, but he has also met with William Shakespeare as the Doctor in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code", where he and Martha Jones indirectly inspired Shakespeare in a manner that eventually leads to the creation of (among other things) Hamlet. He was also Benedick in a production of Much Ado About Nothing- one of Shakespeare's notable "funny ones".
- Adaptation Expansion: The prologue of the episode provides an expanded look at Aziraphale and Crowley's relationship across the span of human history, showing them go from being on opposite sides of the conflict between Heaven and Hell to reluctantly beginning "the arrangement" to becoming best friends. Along the way they witness construction of Noah's ark, the Crucifixion, Shakespeare's Hamlet being performed at the Globe, and get caught up in the events of the French Revolution and World War II. We are also shown the origin of the thermos flask of holy water Crowley obtains as "insurance".
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Aziraphale and Crowley realize during the King Arthur years that all they're doing is thwarting each other, with the end result being neutral. They come to what they call "the Arrangement," where they either both do nothing (and tell their bosses they were thwarted by the other side), or occasionally one of them goes off to do both of their jobs to save them some time.
- Been There, Shaped History: Half of the episode shows Aziraphale and Crowley's relationship throughout history, as well as how they each helped to shape history in their own ways.
- Burger Fool: Famine runs a chain of these, where they serve artificial food substitutes known as "Chow".
- Call-Back: The episode begins with God Herself asking Aziraphale where his Flaming Sword is. Apparently She never brings it up to him again.
- Cold Open: Lasting half the episode.
- The Dead Have Names: Played for Laughs. Shadwell made up a large number of fake Witch Finders in order to justify a larger budget for the organization (since their pay rates are centuries out of date), and they all have terrible names because Shadwell has no imagination. For some reason, he felt the need to kill off Sergeant Milk Bottle. When Aziraphale talks to him, he offers his consolations for the loss of Sergeant Milk Bottle.
- Death Is Cheap: Of a sort. Aziraphale really doesn't want to die because the paperwork is super annoying. This confuses the humans who are trying to kill him. Crowley rescues him at least twice.
- Divine Intervention: A theological inversion - Hamlet only became popular because of Crowley as a part of the Arrangement.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Crowley seems mildly disgusted that the Heavenly side will be drowning innocent children in The Great Flood (with him even stating that "It sounds like something my side would do!"). Additionally, after he and Aziraphale have the Witch Finders investigate him, Crowley admits that he would rather not be the one to kill Adam, as he's personally not "up for killing kids."
- Failed a Spot Check: Crowley doesn't notice that most of the Witch Finders are obviously fake because he doesn't care. Aziraphale is just Super Gullible.
- The Farmer and the Viper: Aziraphale remarks that Jesus is being crucified because he preached "Be kind to each other."Crowley: Oh yeah. That'll do it.
- Ghostapo: During World War II, a group of Nazi spies hired Aziraphale to bring them all of his books of prophesy (with the exception of Agnes Nutter, this being the only one he does not have). They also briefly mention the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny on the Gestapo's priority list.
- The Great Flood: Aziraphale specifies that God is not wiping out the entire human race, just the locals in the Middle-East. The Chinese, Native Americans, and the Australians are explicitly spared.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Anathema can't see Adam's aura because it's larger than the British Isles.
- Holy Burns Evil: Downplayed. While Crowley walks into a church to save Aziraphale during the Blitz, he is hopping on his heels like he was barefoot on a hot sidewalk.
- Humans Are Bastards: Crowley was only in Paris during the French Revolution because he was given credit by his superiors in Hell for starting it. Crowley insists otherwise, applying it to humans being humans.
- I Was Quite a Looker: A gender-inverted example, with the younger Shadwell seen in the flashbacks when he first meets Crowley was actually quite handsome.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: For all the moments the miniseries pokes fun at Christianity, Jesus Christ's portrayal is still sympathetic, being a "bright young lad" who only wanted to encourage people to be kind to one another. Even Crowley shows respect for him, having shown him all the kingdoms of the world as a last kind gesture, and the scene of Jesus' crucifixion is notably somber and with more understated humor.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Shadwell gives all the fictional Witchfinders names of this type, including Lieutenant Table and Sergeant Pepper.
- Mistaken for Suicidal: Crowley asks Aziraphale to get Crowley some holy water for "insurance." Aziraphale refuses, thinking he would kill himself with it.
- My Grandson Myself: Crowley gets away with not having aged a day to Shadwell because Shadwell thinks he is his own son, having met Shadwell in The '60s when he was younger.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: Crowley goes by Anthony J. Crowley in the 1940s.Aziraphale: What does the 'J' stand for?Crowley: Uh, it's just a 'J' really.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: During the Victorian era, Crowley asks Aziraphale to obtain holy water for him as "insurance" in the event that things go wrong for him, which is permanently deadly to demonkind. Aziraphale flatly refuses to so, believing that a) Crowley intends to use it for suicide (Crowley insists it is not for that purpose), and b) the trouble he would himself be in if he was found out to have been "fraternizing" with a demon. A century later, in 1960s Soho, Crowley is planning a heist to steal some holy water from a church, which Aziraphale learns of and confronts him about. Seeing that Crowley is determined to obtain it regardless and whilst admitting his feelings on the matter are unchanged, Aziraphale states that he cannot in good conscience allow him to take the risk, and so reluctantly gifts Crowley with a thermos flask's worth of holy water; Crowley, unsurprisingly, is taken aback by this.Crowley: Should I say "thank you"?Aziraphale: Probably best not.
- Previously On: Once we finally get past the credits, there's 5 second Blipvert of scenes from the previous two episodes.
- Prolonged Prologue: It takes 29 minutes before the opening credits start and we are put back in the present. That means that the extended prologue showing Aziraphale and Crowley's friendship throughout history takes up half of the episode.
- Put Them All Out of My Misery:Mr. Harmony: Kill them. They are very irritating.
- Rattling Off Legal: The waitress serving Chow has to play a recording listing a long list of disclaimers, including a Take That! at the fat-free Olestra which really did have the disclaimer "may cause anal leakage".
- Shout-Out: One of the non-existent Witch Finders Shadwell promises to send to investigate Tadfield is Sgt. Pepper.
- Supernatural Repellent: Downplayed in that the effect is so subtle none of the characters notices, but Dog is reluctant to enter Jasmine Cottage because it has a horseshoe hanging over the doorframe.
- Take That!: When Famine's agent remarks that the new shake he is selling has no food content, Famine remarks that shakes had no food content to begin with.
- Those Wacky Nazis: When Crowley shows up to help Aziraphale when he is about to be discorporated by Greta, Mr. Harmony and Mr. Glozier, Aziraphale assumes that they are working for Crowley. Crowley insists that they aren't, calling them "half-witted Nazi Spies" and quickly being distracted by the holy water in the room as if they don't matter. Right after the bomb lands on the church, Aziraphale (who is a Nice Guy by default) is more torn up about his books being destroyed than the lives lost.
- Tempting Fate: While Aziraphale is explaining The Great Flood to Crowley, he makes it very clear that God has no intention of wiping out the human race. In the present, the Apocalypse is happening.
- Truth in Television: Unlike in most depictions of Shakespeare and his plays, here Hamlet is being viewed during the day. This was the norm during Shakespeare's time, as before the invention of the the light-bulb and electricity, artificial light from the likes of torches were ineffective and thus plays were usually done during the daytime.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Anathema tells Adam the various ills that plague the world (global warming, animal poaching, artificial food, etc).
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: When he enters the church to save Aziraphale from the Nazis, he cannot help but be astonished to see that the holy water there is just sitting there unguarded.