Edit: I originally put this together for a Tumblr post, and it was a continuation of a post I originally made so bare with through this academically written essay on why the Ineffable Idiots are canon, I promise I’ll post dumb and fluffy shit later
So I’ve done this before, but I want to try and reiterate what I already said, as well as add onto it in hopes of revealing the underlying truth hidden within Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s ineffably wicked world, Good Omens. Well, the underlying truth between their characters Anthony J Crowley and Aziraphale Fell.
This whole discussion dives into the world of social psychology, the study of how people act based around social situations/influences/interactions. As this directed around primarily Aziraphale and Crowley, I will be discussing the study of love, and why I believe for certain they share all the qualities needed for a healthy, canonical relationship.
Here is a brief recap of what I previously discussed:
The Theory of Attraction states that attraction- whether platonic or romantic- stems from three key components. The textbook components that make up this theory are proximity, physical attractiveness, and similarity. Though often grouped with companionate (I previously made the mistake of calling it compassionate) love, equity, self disclosure, and commitment can be included into the Theory of Attraction.
In my original post I went into account of all the first three signs that shape this theory, pin pointing occurrences in the show and book where these were displayed. For example, I used the common interests found between Aziraphale and Crowley and related it back to similarity, which as you might have guessed, is all the things they enjoy together. Similarity is a big part of attraction, without it you wouldn’t have the theory to begin with.
Whether platonic or not, both parties share immense similarities, and Crowley even points this out in the flashback to 1862 (“We have a lot in common, you and me.”). Crowley also continuously makes note of reminding Aziraphale that they’re friends, best friends in his words, and that no one else is apart of their exclusive relationship (“How long have we been friends?”, “I lost my best friend.”, “We’re on our side!”, “You don’t have a side anymore, neither of us do. We’re on our own side.”). This goes into an entirely different theory in social psychology, so I will save it for another day.
My point however, is that he sees these similarities as a connection, something that keeps the two of them running back to each other. Their proximity and mere exposure to one another is what has made them so familiar all this time, and their physical attraction to what the other looks like is an aesthetically pleasing high that just happens to be the cherry on top.
Let me interject with a quick sum up of physical attractiveness.
There are three notable ways in which physical attractiveness plays into attraction, which are:
- we are attracted to people we see as physically similar to us
- we are attracted to people we see as more attractive than us
- we are attracted to people we see as on the same imaginary level of attractive as us
What this means is that Crowley and Aziraphale enjoy what the other looks like, it’s a key part in not only a romantic relationship, but one such as a friendship. Either they enjoy the presence of the other because they see themselves in each other, or they see them as handsome/beautiful/lovely/any other terms regarding appearance.
These are what keeps them attracted to one another, however, they’re not what makes up their love.
But OP, you might say, there’s a reasonable explanation to all of this. They’re not in love, stop shipping them together.
You know what I’ll reply with? You are probably right. There is most likely a reasonable explanation to all of this, and they might not be in love after all. I respect all opinions and if that is yours, then I understand.
But allow me to bring Robert Sternberg into the mix.
Sternberg created what is known as the Triangular Theory of Love, which states that there are three components that make up the concept of loving someone else: passion, intimacy, and commitment. There are eight possible combinations that can be taken from the Triangular Theory, but we will only be discussing the final combination: complete love, also known as consummate love.
Let’s start with passion. Media often distorts the ideas of passion and labels them as intimacy, however, that is far from the case. Passion is the one responsible for the intensity that drives a relationship romantically and sexually. Now, I believe Gaiman has said that angels and demons are sexless creatures, so smut writers beware because it just simply cannot happen. However, fluff writers, you’re in luck.
When you are passionate with a romantic partner, you’re all touchy-feeling yes, but you’re also emotionally stimulated in a relationship. It’s not just pure arousal, it’s how you act because of the emotions you feel. Take a look at the Garden scene, when Crowley and Aziraphale first meet.
Crowley is disinterested, his curiosity was piqued initially when he saw the angel, and that was because he was aroused (not in a sexual manner) and wanted to explore this divine being he had just laid his eyes upon. He loses this interest when Aziraphale starts his spew about the Great Plan and so on, however we can see the pure astonishment on Crowley’s face when he learns that this angel, this divine being, this creation God has placed upon the Eastern Gate of her Garden, gave away his sword to those he deemed needed it more. There was the first sign of passion in Crowley, that wide eyed, jaw dropped, nearly impressed grin as he realized, “This one, this one is really something.”
He is passionate about Aziraphale, and he shows this through such intense emotions such as his fury when refused the holy water from who he trusted so dearly, his agony when he assumed he’d lost the one person he’d cared about, his compassion when offering Aziraphale rides or places to sleep. He’s trying to bridge them together because he wants to know if this passion is reciprocated- and it is!
Aziraphale does not realize his passion in the 1940’s like everyone assumes. He realized this much earlier. What he did realize after Crowley saved him in the church scene was that his feelings of passion were mutually shared. Aziraphale realized this somewhere between Golgotha and Rome, and it’s clearly evident by the intensity in emotions when he sees Crowley again. He exclaims “Crawly”, quick to remember that his serpentine companion now goes by “Crowley”, and he smiles. A genuine, heartfelt smile. Genuine emotions that we can see when he lights up about going to dine with the demon in various scenes like in the first episode as well as the last. We see the bashfulness that comes from Crowley offering him a place to stay after the bookshop burned, his puckish manner in the paintball scene, his boost in confidence during the “nice” scene. We can relate these back to what we know for certain Aziraphale is passionate about: literature and good meals. He is expression about these two things in particular, and he is also quite expression with his Crowley.
Aziraphale isn’t a perfect character. He’s flawed, and so is Crowley, but one thing that always checks out with Aziraphale’s behavior is that he’s himself around the demon. His passion shows through for Crowley, even if it is through vexation or frustration, it’s not his fault that suddenly the adrenaline and the dopamine are pumping and all he wants is to be around his partner. He can’t control his emotions, can’t keep them in because they’ve been aroused.
The second part of this theory is intimacy. This can easily be tied in with passion, but it is a vastly different concept. Intimacy is the desire to be close to someone, and it can be called back to proximity in the Theory of Attraction; however, intimacy also relates to the bond you have with someone.
Think of it like this: to be around someone so often, you may begin to enjoy their company. When you’re in a relationship, you crave it.
Crowley yearns for this intimacy with Aziraphale. He’s starved of it when the angel spits venom upon the idea of their friendship during the bandstand scene (“There is no our side.”, “I don’t even like you!”), and he’s utterly devastated as he’s scrambling around his flat, hiding his crestfallen emotions with a cold composure as he’s looking for places to run off to. This closeness that they once had had been trampled on, crumpled and tossed into the rubbish bin like it meant nothing. Aziraphale realized what he had done during the scene outside of his bookshop, but he was experiencing a dissonance within himself when Crowley begged him to run off to Alpha Centauri together. His thoughts and behaviors and emotions were telling him that he wanted to go, but it was conflicted by his actions when he opposed the idea of leaving Earth.
You could see as he realizes that Crowley won’t be coming back to him like he always does (“And when I’m up in the stars, I won’t even think about you!”), he’s regretting the bond that he broke between them.
This bond can be seen in much more lighthearted scenes, like previously stated in Rome, as well as in the Global Theater discussing their agreement, all the scenes at St. James’ Park, etc. The intimacy in their relationship only grows, even when we think it breaks apart. The recent reveal of the scene where they hold hands combines intimacy and passion, their desire to be close physically and mentally occurs and we can see- if only for a moment- that they are committed to each other for the rest of time.
Speaking of commitment, that is the third and final part of the Triangular Theory, and the part that helps cement the love between Aziraphale and Crowley. Commitment is also known as decision, and decision in this sense is known as the steps taken within a relationship, and how far someone would be willing to go for those they love. I’ll keep this one short and simple.
The church scene best displays Crowley’s commitment to Aziraphale, but where is the equity in there relationship that shows Aziraphale’s commitment to Crowley? This can be found in the infamous “You go too fast for me” scene.
Back in 1862, Crowley first suggested the idea that Aziraphale steal holy water for him, to which the Principality objected (“I’m not getting you a suicide pill!”). It was not because he truly saw it as bad if Heaven found out he was aiding a fallen angel in demonic deeds, but more so, it was because of what Crowley had said prior to sliding him the note. They have a lot in common. They’ve know each other for 6000 years after all, they were bound to have had common interests. And Aziraphale couldn’t stand the idea of losing someone so close to him. His commitment to their relationship exceeds that of Crowley‘s, even when Aziraphale brings little to the table in terms of giving and receiving. What he does bring however, is care. He deeply cares for Crowley, whether he likes to admit it or not.
His commitment to their relationship can be seen in the novel as well, something that I’ve avoided in this discussion mainly since I have not quite finished it yet. Other aspects I’ve primarily avoided have been the radio recreation and anything Gaiman or Pratchett have said outside of the canonical series itself, such as in tweets or blogs or interviews. We all know of the South Down scene in the book, to which Gaiman said they share a cottage together. Even if this were something thrown in to jest the fans, it does allow us to see how content the authors were with the idea of a relationship between the two characters, and how the love, whether it be platonic or something more, is clearly resonated in both Crowley and Aziraphale.
I would loosely like to use what Michael Sheen said in an interview about their relationship to begin to close off this run on sentence of an analysis derived of way too many paragraphs and way too much speculation. Sheen said, “Aziraphale loves Crowley, and that’s difficult for him because they’re on opposite sides”. David Tennant agreed with him, and he voiced how Crowley feels the same way, but it’s infuriating for him to be so smitten over an angel. This care is so deeply woven into their relationship, and you can tell that they are fully committed to one another, ready to do whatever they can for their counterpart, even when they’re (actors and the characters themselves) objecting it.
All three of these steps lead to crafting the idea of consummate love, a display of the ideal standard for a romantic relationship- and a healthy standard at that. Not every relationship needs to follow these steps need I remind you, nor is this to say other relationships aren’t healthy, but when looking at the relationship formed between Aziraphale and Crowley, it makes you wonder if Gaiman and Pratchett truly intended on such a complex display of romance with their characters, or was this all just derived from Gaiman’s assistance with the directing of the show?
I guess I should close with a conclusion, one that sums up the entirety of this socio-psychological analysis into a single, proficiently developed yet well thought out sentence tying off their relationship and the evidence provided with it:
They’ve loved each other since the beginning, and neither of them are fooling anyone into thinking otherwise.