Folks let me talk about Crowley and sunglasses, because I have a lot of emotions about when he wears them and when he doesn’t, and Hiding versus Being Seen.
We’re introduced to the concept of Crowley wearing glasses even before we’re introduced to Crowley, by Hastur: “If you ask me he’s been up here too long. Gone native. Enjoying himself too much. Wearing sunglasses even when he doesn’t need them.”
Honestly Crowley’s whole introduction is a fantastic; we learn so much about his character in a tiny amount of time. The fact that he’s late, the Queen playing as the Bentley approaches, the “Hi, guys” in response to Hastur and Ligur’s “Hail Satan”. I like this intro much better than the one originally scripted with the rats at the phone company, but I digress.
Crowley wears sunglasses when he doesn’t need them. Specifically, he still wears them around the demons, and when he’s in hell.
You know where Crowley doesn’t wear glasses? At home.
We never once see him wearing glasses in his flat, except for when he knows Hastur and Ligur are coming. That’s an emotional kick to the gut for me. Here’s one of the only places Crowley’s comfortable enough to be sans glasses, and when he knows it’s going to be invaded he prepares not just physically with the holy water, but by putting up that emotional barrier in a place where he wasn’t supposed to need it.
An argument could be made that Crowley actually never needs glasses. We’re shown that it’s well within the angels’ and demons’ powers to pass unnoticed by humans. Crowley and Aziraphale waltz out of the manor in the middle of a police raid, and going unnoticed by the police takes so little effort that they can keep up a conversation while they stroll through. Even an unimaginative demon like Hastur apparently doesn’t have trouble with the humans losing it over his demonic eyes. The humans in the scene at Megiddo are acting like “this guy is a little weird” and not “holy shit his entire eyeballs are black jelly”
That means that Crowley’s glasses are a choice, just like Aziraphale’s softness. Sure, he could arrange matters so that nobody ever noticed his eyes, but he doesn’t want to. Crowley wants acceptance, and he wants to belong, and he’s never, ever had that. He didn’t fit in before the Fall in Heaven, he doesn’t fit in with the demons in Hell. With the glasses, and with the Bentley and his plants and with the barely-bad-enough-to-be-evil nuisance temptations, he’s choosing Earth. This is where he wants to fit in, perhaps not with the humans, but amongst them.
Even after Crowley is at his absolute lowest, when he thinks Aziraphale’s dead and he’s on his way to drink until the world ends, he takes the time to put a new pair on when the old ones are damaged. He needs that emotional crutch right now, even with everything about to turn into a pile of puddling goo he’s not ready for the world to see his eyes.
Which is why I swore out loud when Hastur forcibly takes them off.
It’s about the worst thing that Hastur could have done. Rather than leading with a physical threat, his first act is to strip away Crowley’s emotional defences. It’s a great writing choice because god it made me hate Hastur, even more than all the physical violence we see him do.
It’s also the moment that Crowley really truly gets his shit together, and focuses all of his considerable imagination on getting to Tadfield and Aziraphale to help save the world. He’s wielding the terrifyingly unimaginable power of someone who’s hit rock bottom and realised it literally could not get any worse than this. He doesn’t put another pair of glasses on after discorporating Hastur, and he spends the majority of the airbase sequence without them.
He puts them back on again, I think, at the moment that he really lets himself hope. When he thinks ‘shit, there may be a real chance that we get through this to a future that I don’t want to lose’.
The vulnerability is back, and he needs Adam to trust him. In Crowley’s mind being accepted by a human means he needs to have his eyes hidden. Someone give the demon a hug, please.
Interestingly, there’s only one time in the whole series that we see Crowley willingly choose to take his glasses off around another person. Only one person he’ll take down that barrier for, and even then he’s drunk before he does it.
Dear God/Satan/Someone that makes my heart ache. Crowley’s chosen Earth, but he’s also chosen Aziraphale. He’s been looking for somewhere to belong his entire existence, and it’s with the angel that he finally feels it.
When the dust settles and the world is saved and they finally have space to be themselves unguarded, I like to imagine Crowley takes off the glasses when it’s just the two of them; the idea of being known doesn’t scare him quite so much anymore.