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Good Omens Season 2 Episode 2: Does Gabriel's Bookshop Scene Break The 4th Wall?

Contains spoilers for "Good Omens" Season 2, Episode 2 — "The Clue"

Neil Gaiman loves a good in-joke. The writer responsible for everything from "The Sandman" (Season 2 is currently on pause for the strikes) and "Coraline" to "American Gods" and, yes, "Good Omens," which he co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett, is the driving creative force behind Amazon Prime's adaptation of his very own divine comedy. And that's great because it means whenever the series deviates from the source material, the changes probably have the highest stamp of approval conceivably possible. Since Season 2 isn't based on anything previously published, but rather on preparative notes taken by Gaiman and Pratchett for a potential sequel to their 1990 novel, it only stands to reason that Gaiman could and would pack the new story with as many Easter eggs as his little gothic heart desires.

In Season 2 Episode 2, Jim (Jon Hamm) -– which is short for James and very short for Gabriel –- is still suffering from deific levels of amnesia. While hiding out in Aziraphale's (Michael Sheen) bookshop, Jim decides to help his guardian angel by alphabetizing the shelves. Not by title, nor by author ... but by the first letter of the first word of the first sentence. Yes, it's as terrible a deed as it sounds. But, and this is where the in-joke comes in, Jim finds a book that starts with a familiar string of words. "In the beginning ... it was a nice day." Those words are familiar because they're the opening lines of Gaiman and Pratchett's joint writings. The cover of the book is intentionally hidden from view, but there's no mistaking the truth that Aziraphale possesses a copy of "Good Omens," his own story at the bookshop.

Neil Gaiman is very, very proud of that opening line

For the curious, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett selected the phrase "It was a nice day" to open their novel because it was the most "bland and innocuous" sentence they could create. And who would ever expect a story that hurtles toward the biblical end of times with every passing page to begin so simply? 

In 2021, Gaiman told his Tumblr followers about the decision, saying, "The original opening of 'Good Omens' was 'It was a dark and stormy night.' And then we thought 'It wasn't a dark and stormy night' was a better take on it. So that was where the book started for a long time ... when we decided to begin it earlier, in Eden, we wanted another line that described the weather, and 'It was a nice day,' seemed like an excellent one. Bland and innocuous and a line that breaks every single rule about what you're meant to do with your first line. [Grab your reader by the lapels! Hook them in the throat! Never let them go!]"

So it isn't very surprising that Gaiman is rather proud of it and it isn't very surprising at all that he would choose to remind his television audience of the choice, either. To hammer home his pride, Jim states "That's more like it" after reading the first line of "Good Omens" out loud, as if it is the only way for any decent book to introduce itself. Subtle, Gaiman. Very subtle.