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Chosen One of the Day: Aziraphale as the gardener in Good Omens
Let’s say it is your job to influence to Antichrist. It’s up to you to ensure that this volatile, powerful child does not grow up to be a homicidal maniac hellbent on destroying the universe as we know it, by any means necessary. You have millennia of experience and all of the resources of heaven at your back in order to assure that this very dangerous boy learns right from wrong. So, what do you do?
Well, if you’re Aziraphale in Good Omens, you slap on some very impressive sideburns, giant teeth, and a bad case of rosacea and pretend to be the family’s new gardener. While the demon Crowley donned the most severe and terrifying drag as Nanny, history’s gentlest angel was never going to choose the path of coercion and force. It’s not his way.
No, sweet “Brother Francis” prefers to show young Warlock the not-quite-antichrist that the world wasn’t made just for his dominion. He instills in the boy that the world is to be nurtured and that our fellow creatures deserve respect and care. While that might not be as narcissistically attractive as “everything was made to be crushed under my boot heel,” Aziraphale instead appeals to the goodness of children. What 5-year-old wouldn’t want to learn about Brother Pigeon and Sister Slug? This charming scene feels a bit like a send-up of The Secret Garden, but in a sunnily reverential way. There’s something to be said about the healing qualities of a little bit of earth, and Brother Francis is just the person to show Warlock that the world can be truly beautiful. It's not quite as catchy as "Go to sleep and dream of pain, doom and darkness, blood and brains," but it's sweet.
While Aziraphale’s appearance is intended to solicit a laugh from viewers — seriously, those MUTTON CHOPS — the character himself is not a joke. While Aziraphale dejectedly declares “I’m soft!” a few episodes later, this softness is not presented as a failing. Aziraphale’s affection for humanity shines through in the very first scene as he gives Adam and Eve his flaming sword before they are expelled from Eden. For him to get a second chance to save the world in a garden feels just right.
Sure, it was the wrong kid so it really didn’t matter in the greater scheme of cosmic justice, but this kind of silly goodness can’t hurt. Warlock manages to grow up to be a relatively normal 11-year-old despite the forces of hell working on him, and he probably hears that warbling brogue and envisions those giant teeth telling him to do good at every moral crossroads. It might not be the kind of moral superiority that angels like Gabriel are looking for, but it’s good enough for the best rare books dealer in London, our soft, soft angel boy.