Second Coming: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 210 by A. Zombie
Henrietta doesn’t get the satisfaction of killing her idiot, Sumerian-reading husband. After he bolts with the Necronomicon, he’s stopped dead in his tracks in his VW Bug. The Prima Donna isn’t alone on her stage anymore. Enter Ruby. Again. This one is blonde. And very angry. It takes her no time to secure the book. Since it’s a short-format show, they waste no time jumping into the temporal-paradox thing by having Ruby meet herself. Past!Ruby is aghast she’d eventually team with El Jefe, seeing it as a betrayal. Now!Ruby speaks her heart, warning herself about her fall from immortality. But all Ruby has wanted is a family, turning her back on her children when she’s moments from bringing them into the world is impossible. Plus, she’s super evil. Ruby kills Ruby. Before she’s too weak, Now!Ruby does a little magic with the Necronomicon one last time to hurt her past self, then hands the burden off to Kelly. They really did try to send the kinder Ruby off with something resembling grace and compassion, giving her and Ash time to say goodbye in their own, bizarre way.
Her sacrifice is worth it the minute Ash’s hand reappears and Kelly announces they’ve actually changed the timeline. But wait, if he has a hand then . . . . Yes! Pablo lives. Kidding. Kinda. TheirPablo is in the demon realm. The Pablo in the trunk? Baal. Dude pulled a Skywalker and buried himself in the nearest warm body to survive. Ash’s vision wasn’t grief or drugs, it was Baal putting the whammy on him so he could find a new Ruby to manipulate. This time, Daddy is present for his spawns’ births. The birthing scene isn’t nearly as traumatic when the book vomits them instead of Pablo.
There is, of course, only one way to settle this beef between El Jefe and Baal—a fist fight. No powers. Man against man, without all that mumbo jumbo. The stakes? The demonic duo and their progeny scoot back south-side if Ash wins. If he loses? Hell on earth. And the spawn get to eat Kelly. The guys fight each other from one end of the cabin to the other. It takes about two or three destroyed rooms for Baal to use his powers. Ash faces off with Chet, who’s amazingly sober, and the fight is as funny as expected. The second ghost of the night appears not as a huge man living in the now, but as Ash’s sister Cheryl. She’s in and out of the scene so quickly, it’s easy to miss it. The Ghost of Christmas Past is Brock. There’s an agonizing moment where it’s impossible to tell if this is a demon trick or if Brock was brought back to life to screw with Ash’s head—I’m still not clear on it. Somehow we go from mourning Brock again to a chainsaw fight. Ultimately, all the fighting is there for the sight gags and cameos. The real fight is one of wits just when it looks like Baal will win. Ash disarms Ball with his crude humor and uses the demon’s own claw to kill him.
Ruby uses the downtime before her lover’s death to seduce Ruby to the darkside. It doesn’t work, of course. Not even after Ruby tries to beat optimism and loyalty to Ash out of her. Their scenes break up the fight, feeling more like an excuse to hit Kelly or have the demon spawn fondle her than anything which adds to the story.
The Necronomicon has a fit. It summons a portal to hell and in go the baddies. Luckily for us, portals are a two-way street. Like the beautiful phoenix he is, Pablo crawls from the ashes of the cabin. Is it really our little buddy? Ash hits him to make sure. Poor Pablo can’t catch a break. What a way to welcome back a hero.
Speaking of, Ash’s longtime service to humanity has finally been recognized. Once they return to the present, the town sets up a day just for Ash. Really, it’s a platform for Ash to finally tell the populace how awful they’ve been to him. They don’t mind the blunt outburst. They will probably mind that he’s moving back to town, since he’ll likely be up to his drunken, drugged-out ways sooner rather than later. Ash isn’t the only new person in town, Past!Ruby took her own time stroll. She didn’t perish in the hellfire which destroyed the cabin, and she wants revenge. It’ll be easier than she thinks, seeing as a bunch of kids just stumbled across the Necronomicon at the cabin’s ruins. Here we go again.
Home Again: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 209 by A. Zombie
How on earth did they go from mourning Pablo to hopping back to the past? A lot of booze, grief, and a joyride, all topped off with an angeldust-laced joint. With that magical mixture, Ash summons Pablo’s smartass spirit—or has a hell of a hallucination—and they work out another plan which is sure to fail, but the gang will try anything to save their fallen buddy. After Ash scares Ruby into compliance by driving erratically, they use the spell on Pablo’s chest to play the time warp again. Ash didn’t travel back to days of old this time. Well, unless you consider 1982 ancient history.
Yeah, about that reading off Pablo thing—he’s riding shotgun on this mission. They lovingly duct taped plastic bags around his body to keep his insides in . . . side. But to make him easier to transport, they have his feet above his head, and it’s really hard to watch any scene featuring Pablo’s bisected corpse. It’s just gross and absurdly sad. Leaving Ash as the catalyst to get Pablo back is plain mean to fans. The odds of him succeeding are slim. This story arc is probably a reset button to really play with the powers in the Necronomicon, and maybe turn Pablo into a real boy again. They destroyed the book, our main antagonist, only two seasons into a show with no projected end, then its replacement fell to pieces from the pressure before fully transforming. There’s no one to fight on the show unless they allow Ash to do his time travel thing. With Ash tinkering in the past to stop the book before it ruins their lives, he’s bound to fudge up their lives in horrific, yet comedic ways. I’ll take it if we get Pablo back. The balance with this cast is vital to the show’s success. Drop just one of the main group and it’ll never have the same vibe again.
Episode 209 is also the prequel to Evil Dead that everyone has badgered Raimi about for years. We’re dropped into the story not that long before Ash and his sister are supposed to visit the cursed cabin in the woods. Ray Knowby, the man who recovered the Necronomicon in an excavation, is at home with his wife, and a student who’s there to assist translating the book. Seems like a peaceful afternoon at a bookworm’s house. That’s until you see that Henrietta Knowby is leashed to a basement support beam like a rabid Doberman and creeptastic Ray needs more than just translating from his student, Tanya.
Meanwhile, the gang drops off their car and tucks Pablo into the trunk—with a helpful note should he resurrect like Jesus on a random Sunday in the Spring. They barely make it five feet when Evil swoops in, chasing them through the dense forest. The gang splits, Ash finding the Knowby’s cabin and the women end up deeper in the wild portion of forest. For the most part, Ruby and Kelly are there to demonstrate more nods to the films. They bitch about Ash, then are attacked by demonic trees. Teamwork saves the day. If Kelly needs a gig after Ash fixes the timeline (ha!), she could totally open a private eye firm where she hunts demons. Maybe Ruby could help, since she’s without that whole immortal thing now.
We take a beat for another infamous Ash Hits Himself fight scene—this is a nod to AoD when Ash is infected by evil and attacked by miniature duplicates of himself, one of which he ingests, boils, and eventually it becomes the leader of the Deadite army. There’s no doppelganger action in the episode, but the creature Ash vomits sure does have a foul mouth. I think I found my new best friend in that little lump of what-the-hell-is-that. Too bad Ash kills it.
Remember Henrietta from the original film? That makeup stuck with fans for a long time—worn by franchise regular Ted Raimi. Fast-forward to now. In order to bring a classic monster like Henrietta to life, it requires an army, and there’s two of her to really drive home the transformation between human and deadite. Now that doesn’t mean they actually attempted to mask Ted’s identity once the swap happened. Nope. Not that anyone would want to hide Ted. He set the tone for the creatures in the franchise, seeing him don Henrietta’s skinsuit again is oddly satisfying and something I didn’t know I needed from the show until the minute I realized they had indeed swapped the “living” actress for the man who created the role for the big fight—which isn’t even done. There’s more to look forward to in the finale!
Christmas came early, that’s for sure. It’ll be a merry one if we get Pablo back, too. First, Ash has to defeat the hag—again—and snatch the Necronomicon from a man who’s got nothing left to lose, since his wife’s possessed and all. Piece of cake. Cue nervous laughter.
Trapped Inside Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 206 by A. Zombie
No one else is impressed by Pablo’s demonic seizure outside Ash’s childhood home. They drag him inside and immediately devise a game plan. Unfortunately for Pablo, that plan requires him to get sicker before Ruby has the correct spell to banish Baal. Ash’s plan is simpler, crude, and bound to fail—track down Baal and cram his chainsaw up the demon’s backside. Ignoring the awful Plan B, Ruby and Lacey take Pablo up to Ash’s room to perform a ritual that’ll speed up the process of turning him into a book. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s not a much better plan, but guarantees Ash won’t taste his own chainsaw when Baal wins that fight. They toss in a nice throwback to season one and uncle Brujo, using the charm he left behind as a way to make Ruby’s spell go awry. It takes Kelly emotionally manhandling Pablo—convincing him he is in control on the convergence with the book—for the correct spell to blister on Pablo’s skin. Brujo’s amulet goes back on Pablo to slow his transition to book of the dead. It’s a temporary fix, but will work. They’ve got other concerns which pop up during the course of the ritual in Ash’s room.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Baal’s best ally in the war on Ash is Sheriff Emery. The guy’s had it out for Ash for decades, even went so far as to marry the woman Ash had a relationship with before the first encounter with the Necronomicon. Old blood feuds have deep roots, something Baal banks on when he starts his mental manipulation. It takes about two minutes to convince the sheriff to gather a mob to recapture Ash. The demon hops into a new skin-suit for the occasion, a loud-mouthed woman who I think is the mother of one of the Classic’s victims. Could be wrong. The dialog for the mob is often jumbled together and muted as Baal works his mojo on Emery. Elk Grove hasn’t faced anything like Baal before, but they’ve also never come up against Kelly and her pure crazy. She and Linda hold the line, firing warning shots at the mob to buy Ruby time for the spell.
There’s a side-effect of invoking the book of the dead, deadites. Well, in this case, just one in particular. Talk about a shout-out to the source material, Ash’s sister Cheryl comes back to extend the family reunion theme for this season. Ellen Sandweiss returns to the franchise, playing Cheryl as she’d look if she survived the trip to the cabin. The makeup for Cheryl’s deadite look has been morphed to fit the style set for the show, but remains faithful to the original film. Her scenes are amusing, full of atrocious puns referring to her demise by tree. The interaction between the siblings is reminiscent of how the early deadites preferred to play more than just kill.
Unfortunately for Chet, he chose an awful day to break into Ash’s house and, uh, fantasize about Cheryl while alone in her room. Things go from fun and games to bloody mess pretty fast once Cheryl has an innocent bystander to use against her brother. The outcome is heartbreaking. While I’d hoped Chet would stick around to play bigger buffoon to Ash’s moron, he’s no match for the evil in his buddy’s life.
The plus side of Cheryl pushing Ash too far? Now maybe Elk Grove will believe him when he says he kills demons. Pissed over losing his friend, Ash takes the fight public to make a point—he’s been saving their hateful, backwards selves for years, but they’re too dumb to realize it. Cheryl starts off with a human face in public, but Ash goads her into showing her dead face. As expected, the crowd opens fire. Ash is the one to land the killing blow, though.
There’s no time for celebration. Baal and the sheriff step in and take control before the blood spatter on Ash’s face cools. He’s knocked out, leaving the remaining mob, plus his team, without humanity’s savior. One step forward, a whole football field back.