The Mettle of Man: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 310 by A. Zombie
You hear that? It’s the whisper of episode spoilers coming from the review below. Careful, friends.
It seems like yesterday we got the news that Campbell would done the chainsaw once again for a TV show. Once they found their groove, it honestly felt like the kind of show which could go on for quite a few years before they ran out of things to say and do. Three years isn’t enough time to really tell this story, but that’s what they got, and they didn’t skimp on the opportunity to send Ash off into the sunset in style. The flipside of that is, unfortunately, the format doesn’t lend to wrapping the story lines for everyone. While Ash’s story feels complete in its perfect incompleteness, fans are left wondering how far the other Ghost Beaters made it after they drive off. I won’t be rude and say it’s proof of a spin-off, but let’s think of it more like a Make Your Own Adventure finish. It’s not as satisfying, but we’re thankful the production got a chance to wrap up the current story and give the hero an appropriate send-off.
But, seriously, how the heck does Ash manage to luck out against a demon the size of a sky scraper? No one makes chainsaws that big!
Like any good hero, Ash is totally, completely prepared to march to his certain doom just because a creepy old book told him he’s the only one who can do it. Ha! That’s a lie. Ash has this grand—and perfectly acted—breakdown after the gang finally makes it off the streets. Streets where Elk Grove citizens offer Ash up to the demon like that’ll solve all their problems. The meltdown starts when he’s confronted by a deputy who wants Ash to magically fix everything. It hits full stride when our hero plops himself in his recliner, grabs a beer, and has a nice profanity-laden rant venting decades of frustration over his destiny. Brandy knocks some sense into him, thankfully. That doesn’t mean Ash won’t need encouragement of the stinky, green kind, first.
Ash Williams telling anyone not to smoke weed is pretty much the best punchline they could have written to encapsulate how much he’s changed since becoming a father—this flavor of sentiment is echoed in the future-flash when one of the first questions he asks is about Brandy.
Before they take on Kandar, Ash wants to recover Kelly from the dead place. No easy feat, that. Deadites roam the streets, drawn to Ash and Brandy. Only Pablo is safe out there, but there’s no way they should split up to send Pablo alone. And that’s how Ash and Brandy wind up surrounded by deadites in a tunnel under Elk Grove after having a seriously touching heart-to heart in which Brandy, unlike so many others, acknowledges her father’s pain over being ridiculed about this stuff for years. The bonding continues after they arrive at the hardware store. While Pablo uses his powers to walk in the other realm, the remaining duo take care of the few deadites who find them with Kelly’s body. The number of times we get to see a real relationship between the family members is staggering for a half an hour episode which also includes copious footage with army jets attacking a giant demon. That’s testament to this team’s love for the characters. They wanted to show that Ash could be loved and understood by someone who wasn’t just going to die or leave. He’s earned it.
If we do get a spin-off, it better delve deep into whatever emotion pushed Pablo’s outburst after he returns from the rift, but Kelly seemingly doesn’t make it. Three seasons of slow-burn feelings boil over when Kelly wakes and the pair kiss—with witnesses! These two have come far, with their friendship/relationship, and as people others can depend on. It makes sense that when Ash says his goodbyes and lays a portion of his burdens on the future, it’s by handing the torch to both Kelly and Pablo—her as a leader, he as the mythical savior.
Outside the hardware store, things are worse than they thought. The military forces only feed Kandar’s power with every attack. Leadership is calling for a quick end, which means one thing in the good ol’ USA—a nuke. Which is exactly the wrong thing to do, and Pablo tells them as much. No one’s listening to reason with monsters on the loose globally, though. That’s when Ash makes his choice. He passes his responsibilities on to the future generation, then steals the Kandarian dagger and locks the Ghost Beaters in an Army transport.
The final showdown is pretty much a list of things to check off titled: What Outrageous Things Hasn’t Ash Done Yet? Top of the list is, “Drive a tank.” Doesn’t matter that he drives it with the skill of a teen learning how to drive stick shift for the first time, he’s still having a blast on his way to his certain demise. The tank won’t do anything against Kandar, but the dagger with its namesake? That will almost certainly do some damage. Ash rigs the dagger to blast from the tank . . . and promptly screws up because he doesn’t know how to operate a tank. He eventually figures it out, but only after long enough for us to get a seriously good look at the spindly-legged demon. It’s not a good kill on this show unless some of what he’s killed ends up on Ash. Which is why Ash is a hundred-percent sure he’s going to suffocate to death in a tank at the end
In interest of not being giant jerks, the production team flashes forward. Ash is saved from the tank by the Knights of Sumeria and put in stasis of some kind. He’s awakened again when The Dark Ones make their next move and most of the world is an arid desert. We’re blessed with some great digital work with the futuristic medical appliances, like Ash’s new hand, but little actual story. Like I said, this isn’t a solid goodbye, but more of a way to send the characters on to new adventures off-screen. I want to be upset about that, but I’m not. The way everything comes back full circle in several aspects is pleasing, doubly so because this show was a shot in the dark idea to begin with. No horror fan a decade ago dared assume we’d get more Evil Dead adventures, let alone three years of them. Yes, it ended before we wanted. However, there’s always a chance for that spin-off, or we can simply celebrate having a little more time to laugh and cringe with our favorite evil slayer.
Judgement Day: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 309 by A. Zombie
Let’s not just jump in head-first without checking for spoilers, now.
Yeah. There’s spoilers in this review. See? Aren’t you glad you waited?
This penultimate episode dredges up more questions than they can ever hope to answer in the scant time we have remaining with our heroes, but has technicalities like that ever stopped this creative team from throwing everything they’ve got into expanding the universe Ash is supposed to save? No. It hasn’t. So while fans still grapple with the reality that this is the end, Ash and his friends continue to fight the good fight, no matter what Evil throws their way.
Everyone’s pretty much on the same page when it comes to choosing the best idea to win the day. Unfortunately, success requires them to divide up and tackle problems solo. Ash leaves Brandy at home, armed with the boom stick, to keep her safe. He sends Pablo—who now magically sees through the Necronomicon in order to spy on Ruby—to protect the portal from their foe. El Jefe himself is off to secure Kelly’s body so he can fulfill a promise to his departed friend. Splitting up is, as always, probably the worst idea any of them could cook up.
Brandy winds up wrestling a demonic cell phone which impersonates her mother, Candy. The phone creature reminds me of something from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, cute, but in reality disturbing as heck. This fight is also where we see how hard Arielle Carver-O’Neill worked to make sure Brandy didn’t actually fall as far from the Williams tree as she likes to think. There’s a few teases about Brandy treading deep in her father’s evil-fighting path, but they’re just visions to mess with her mind. The bit where she snaps and finishes off the phone with the motorized plow is pure Ash. It’s great to see all this character growth right up to the end.
Pablo’s mission is pretty much over before it even begins, really. By the time he makes it to the hardware store, things are obviously not okay. Downstairs, the rift does its thing, and refuses to listen to Pablo when he recites the incantation to steal it. Which is when Pablo should have bolted. But he doesn’t. He hangs around long enough for The Dark Ones to rough him up, take the removed Necronomicon pages, and start their reign of terror. Miraculously, Pablo survives a hand into his chest. He’s also gains a natural invisibility cloak when it comes to Evil’s deadite minions. Is that a gift from The Dark Ones or Pablo’s own power coming through like a champ? Could be either at this point. Let’s not examine it too closely and be grateful another of the Ghost Beaters hasn’t crossed over.
Recovering a corpse is one thing. Recovering a corpse possessed by a sorceress with a demonic best friend is a slightly more difficult task. One Ash is barely able to complete, and only then because he gets a lot of help from the world’s most unlikely source. No, it’s not Zoe. The poor Knight is the center of a spell to conceal the Necronomicon from The Dark Ones, and after Ruby mines her for resources, Kaya ensures the Knight can’t get away. I’ll give it to Ash, he fights hard to beat Ruby. It’s just not good enough when she can, oh, crush a chainsaw with her bare hands.
No matter how strong Ruby is, she is no match for The Dark Ones. Once they arrive, they run the show. They rip Kaya from Kelly’s body—which Ash recovers to keep safe—then returns her to her own flesh, only to incinerate her a moment later. Well, that’s one bad guy taken care of. Ruby stands her ground against the ones she betrayed. They grant no mercy and absorb her energy. Both death effects are well-done and provide fitting endings for this season’s incoming foe, as well as the woman dogging Ash’s trail this whole time. Would I have like to see a little more fighting between Ruby and TDO? Totally. The show’s half-hour format, plus this being the second-to-last episode, means they don’t have time to luxuriate in a good death. Not when they’ve got so little time to introduce a slew of new evil beings for the big finale.
What’s next? Everything has gone wrong. Ruby is gone, but things far more powerful than she walk Elk Grove’s streets like they own ’em, and they have the complete Necronomicon. Kelly’s body may be safe, but everyone’s a tad too occupied at the moment to open the rift, even though they could probably use another fighter. Probably? What am I saying? Of course they need Kelly. There’s a giant demon-thing crawling out of the street!
Rifting Apart: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 308 by A. Zombie
Watch out for spoilers in this review!
With only three episodes left altogether, including this one, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to prepare to say goodbye to Ash Williams one final time. Ash as a father is an Ash with a purpose at last. Unfortunately, we’re seeing too late how this character can mature when given the chance. While it’s hard to look at these final episodes without feeling a pang of loss, we also have to acknowledge how lucky we’ve been to get another chance to see Ash in action after the film franchise petered out. With that being said, how will the team wrap up this final season? Hopefully it starts with getting everyone out of the weird limbo they’re stuck in after Ruby’s plan almost goes right.
As usual, when things go wrong in town, Ash is the one to blame. With a BOLO hovering over his head, Ash should take Pablo and run somewhere far from Elk Grove. That’s not why he’s El Jefe, though. Our main man not only doesn’t run, but he boosts the coroner’s van to boot in order to save Brandy’s body from the inevitable autopsy. Know who’s really bad at being a criminal still? Pablo. He’s doing his best to hang in there with Ash’s illicit ways, but deep down, it’s still our Pablo—the one who can’t even jaywalk without breaking a sweat. The fact that these two get away unharmed is proof they’re blessed by a higher being to fulfill their destiny, ‘cause there is about five hundred cops in town working the school murders and yet none come knocking at the hardware store. Where Ash and Pablo leave the stolen van right out front. And Ash’s face is all over the building.
Okay, so they’ve got Brandy’s body. They also have a vague working knowledge of how the whole portal thing goes, and a slapped together theory about how Kelly managed to send a message despite being dead. That’s literally all it takes for Ash to think they can swoop in and save the day. God, to have even an ounce of this man’s confidence. I’d be unstoppable. Ash, on the other hand, is very stoppable—which is exactly what needs to happen in order for Ash to cross to the “dead place,” as he calls it, for this daring rescue.
He’s gotta die, and Evil has to punch the ticket.
Good thing Pablo’s around, and with his new powers, he thinks up a plan that works without picking a fist fight with a deadite. Probably the funniest death yet on this show is Ash’s, simply because of the myriad emotions on Pablo’s face while they work up to the big plunge. If there is any reason to hope this show would continue, it’s simply because it’s cast so well, the actors sell these ludicrous ideas without making it look like work.
In the dead place, nothing works right. The doors lead to the wrong places. No one is in a chatting mood. Oh, and there’s a giant shadow demon which drags whoever it finds to the nether realm. Stunning animation on these bits, by the way. Any time the shadow demon is on screen, it’s simultaneously awesome and extremely stressful because it’s also trying to permanently kill a few characters we love. Yes, there’s Brandy. But we also have Kelly down there, along with Dalton, and even the Classic sits in the dead place, awaiting one last joyride with its owner. Ash eventually catches up with the others by walking through random doors until he hits the right place—which is such a statement about how he operates, it’s a metaphor for Ash’s entire life up to this point, honestly.
All they have to do is get back to the hardware store, where hopefully Pablo will open the rift. Not a simple plan, after all. Dalton winds up sacrificing himself for the cause again, distracting the demon while Ash coerces the Classic into starting. We knew Dalton probably wouldn’t be coming back, but this late in the game, who knows what will happen, right? His sacrifice isn’t wasted and the others make it to the rift.
Which takes a while to open because, surprise, Pablo has to fight a deadite while he’s supposed to babysit Ash’s corpse. The fight itself isn’t much, but the death by paint shaker is a new addition to the murder arsenal, and a good one at that. Pablo’s new powers connect him to Ash via a fuzzy television channel, and he manages to reopen the rift without incident. It’s probably the only thing which goes one-hundred percent to plan, really.
Brandy and Ash are reunited with their bodies automatically after passing through the rift. Kelly, however, can’t even approach the portal thanks to Ruby’s spell. The Ghost Beaters will not leave her behind, though.
That’s assuming they can get to Kelly’s body before Kaya and Ruby alter it in any way which prevents Kelly from using it again. The priestess is in a bit of a tizzy after Ruby’s plan to use Brandy against Ash falters. The Dark Ones will come for them, no doubt. How will they protect themselves? Apparently their plan starts with kidnapping Zoe and ends with changing their destinies. Not sure what’s in the middle, but it doesn’t look good for the Knight.
Two more episodes left. Can the gang rescue Kelly or will Ruby get her epic do-over?
Twist and Shout: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 307 by A. Zombie
It’s time to boogie. Watch out for episode spoilers crashing the party.
It’s a rite of passage for a young character in a horror franchise to attend a dance which is spectacularly screwed up by the bad guys before the character gets a chance to enjoy themselves. With the addition of Brandy, it only makes sense for this show to tackle the top trope in town once and for all. You know what? This take on the disaster dance is probably one of the best so far, just because of how much work the writers put into establishing Ruby’s false identity in Elk Grove. It laid a vital foundation for this episode and how the town treats the Williams family from here on out.
Kaya, disguised as Kelly, uses Ash’s concern over his daughter to hide any inconsistent behavior on her behalf. The smooth sorceress lands an invite to the dance as Ash’s backup. Much needed backup, at that. Several officers are stationed outside the school. One spots Ash when he pulls up out front. Plan B in effect, they split up to enter the school from different directions. Problem is, once they’re inside the school, things go wrong immediately. One must question Ash’s parenting yet again. Sneaking around a crowded school surrounded by police on the lookout for him is probably how Ash should not spend his evening. He’s so desperate to please Brandy, he overlooks the sheer absurdity of his plan and the dangers lurking right under their noses.
Enter yet another doppelganger. Well, alright, so it’s the miniature one, but fully grown to resemble his sire. This particular doppelganger doesn’t tolerate unsavory behavior from partying teenagers. Bodies pile up fast in the school’s halls. By the time Ash finally enters the building, there’s no way he can clean up the mess left by the OtherAsh. Worse yet, anyone he meets in the hall assumes he’s the mad slasher. Including the police. Luckily for Ash, he brought backup. Kaya saves Ash from a trip to jail, but don’t assume she flipped loyalty. She’s only being nice because the police have no part in Ruby’s grand plan for the man.
Ruby wastes no time implementing her scheme. She goes to great lengths to look like she cares about the people Brandy loves who died thanks to Ash’s connection to Evil. By the time we get to the main confrontation on the dance floor, Ruby and Kaya have sewn enough concern in Brandy’s mind to make her believe OtherAsh is her father as he rampages across the dance floor, slaughtering and calling her name. She doesn’t notice when the men swap places, but charges in anyway to defend her peers. Instead of stopping a monster, Brandy faces off with her father, Kandarian Dagger in hand. Just like Ruby wants.
Where’s Ash’s actual backup? Pablo and Zoe stay at the hardware store to examine the spell for the portal. Before they get too far, Kelly calls through to tell Pablo about her demise. Good news is she’s intact in another dimension. Bad news, there’s a creature stalking her. Worse news, Pablo’s reaction to Kelly’s death is a gut punch. The emotions flow freely when he faces off with Kaya at the school, but can’t kill her. Pablo gets away in time to blow the doppelganger secret before Brandy hurts her father, thankfully.
The death of the night has to be Ruby’s little trip into Ash’s saw blade. It’s not even the gore factor which seals it as a great moment. No, it’s Lawless’ hilarious performance as Ruby “sells” the murder in order to force Brandy to act against Ash.
Too bad it’s a wasted gesture. Pablo’s spectacular timing saves Ash from a heartbreaking demise. OtherAsh goes down with his head in a billion pieces. Brandy drops the dagger like it bit her once the truth is out. A huge mistake. Ruby, guts on the outside still, grabs the dagger with the intent of ending Ash herself. Proving heroism runs in their bloodline after all, Brandy saves Ash and the dagger takes another life.
Which is positive news, really. Like Kelly, Brandy’s soul lands in a place where she could possibly get back via the portal in the hardware store. The other side may look like Brandy’s hometown, but the citizens are missing. She’s got no one to rely on, oh and there’s a monster on the loose. Here’s hoping the others can muster a rescue mission before it’s too late.
Tales from the Rift: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 306 by A. Zombie
Before you mosey on, keep an eye out for pesky episode spoilers.
Reckless as always, Kelly allows her emotions to take the lead after she gets information from Brandy about where Ruby’s living during her long-term impersonation of a school counselor. Armed with a shotgun and the Kandarian dagger, Kelly barges into the middle of whatever the heck is going on in Ruby’s attic. The fight should be decidedly one-sided, but they’ve done a great job interspersing this scene throughout the episode and gave Kelly just enough weapons which do major damage to give her half a snowball’s chance in hell of hurting Ruby in any meaningful way. Unfortunately, Kelly being human is her ultimate downfall. The dagger she wants to use on Ruby goes into her stomach instead. At last Ruby has a body to offer to her sorceress friend stuck on the other side of the portal, Kaya. We all knew Kelly would go out fighting, but for it to be such an ill-advised fight isn’t as satisfying as it should be when we say goodbye to a hero.
We can’t talk about that fight scene without giving huge props to the special effects team for their work on Ruby’s post-grenade regeneration gag. The limbs are fully detailed. Their movement is bizarre yet mesmerizing. A lot of talent went into realizing that moment. It may be just one in a thousand bloody gags on this show, but it’s one that’ll stick in my mind for a while.
On the run from police after Ash fails to reveal Ruby’s demon spawn as the monster he is, Brandy and Ash hole up in the house to regroup. They’re not alone for long. More Knights of Sumeria wind up on El Jefe’s doorstep searching for answers. The best Ash can offer is a look at the long-lost Necronomicon pages and the notes the dead guy left at the hardware store. Driven by a vision, Pablo joins them later. Overwhelmed by his new powers, Pablo accidentally recites a ritual which opens a portal to the underworld. Because of course that’s one of the random things he inherited with his gift. The Knights are thrilled. Their plan has always been to take the fight to The Dark Ones on the other side. Erring on the side of caution, everyone agrees to send Marcus as a scout, first. It’s a rough round trip. The Marcus who returns isn’t the man they sent through the portal. He straight up absorbs other Knights, then spits acid. It’s a great creature design; new effects with the absorbing thing, but holding echoes of previous creatures Evil’s sent Ash’s way throughout the years with the boils and exaggerated limbs.
Pablo is coming along nicely as a hero in his own right, though he’s not going to get far if he keeps opening portals to hell all willy-nilly. During the fight with the mutated Knights, he doesn’t waste time jumping in to grab a weapon. Nor does he grandstand to take all the glory when he’s obviously out of his depth. This revived Pablo is the sidekick Ash needed the whole time. Can they keep on track with these new powers at their disposal? Hard to tell in this episode because while they’ve gained a powerful brujo, they’ve lost their ballsiest fighter.
The guys don’t know that though, so it’s business as usual when Ash returns home after defeating the newest monster and Kelly’s there waiting to hand him the dagger. I would not want to be the one to tell the guys their friend died in the most senseless way possible, but they need to get in the loop ASAP before Kaya puts Ruby’s plan into action and turns Brandy against Ash.
Unfinished Business: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 304 by A. Zombie
Whoa, pal. Watch out for episode spoilers below.
Now may not be the right time for Ash to go on some weird bonding trip with Brock, but it’s happening. The duo vanish from Ash’s house in the midst of bagging parts from the reanimated body pretending to be Brock, but wasn’t Brock because Brock’s ghost has no idea Brandy exists until Ash vent-rambles to his father. Are you confused yet? Welcome to the Evil Dead fandom, we subsist solely on confusion and fake blood.
Ghost Brock and Ash hop back to 2012 via the elder’s memories. Back when Ash’s interests include laying low and not much else, Brock has a visitor insisting he must speak to the savior. The adamant Knight of Sumeria has the missing Necronomicon pages which he must give to Ash. Brock’s having none of it, telling the guy to get going and that Ash wants nothing to do with the demon stuff, it’s already ruined his life quite enough. In typical Williams fashion, Brock opts to nut-shot the Knight instead of escorting him from the hardware store. Which is how Brock winds up with a dead man in his cellar. This guy just boards up the door, locks the building, and never turns back. This family doesn’t know how to deal with anything. Lock up a dead Knight, who isn’t actually dead by the way. Leave Cheryl’s room untouched like some weird shrine. Ash can’t even deal with Evil the right way, constantly butting heads with anyone who shows him which path to take. If coping skills were oxygen, they would’ve asphyxiated long ago.
On the bright side, since the Knight is still in the basement, that means Ash just has to break into his own cellar and pickpocket a corpse. And fight an evil wall painting with what appears to be a mystical television of sorts showing Brandy’s friend in distress. Or as we call it, just another day at Ashy Slashy’s Hardware Store and Emporium.
On the flipside, the mayhem in the basement sends the Necronomicon into fits. Ruby arrives home in time to receive a warning from a servant to The Dark Ones. That thing in the basement? It’s a portal, and The Dark Ones are about to use it to make their way to this realm. The only Knight Ruby knows about is Dalton. He’s still reenacting Vlad the Impaler’s greatest hits, so Ruby jaunts over to the cabin for a little chat. Dalton’s not the one who triggers the portal, of course. In a bid to still appear powerful, the fool brags about finding the dagger. We don’t have to worry about that problem again, before Ruby’s spell to push back Evil broke, Dalton blows off his head.
Kelly’s in more danger now, and the punches just keep coming. It doesn’t take long to figure out where Pablo went after running down Dalton. With Brandy tagging along to keep her safe, Kelly’s truck is rammed by deadite Pablo on a motorcycle. He’s intent on dragging Brandy through the windshield. By some miracle, the ladies fight him off long enough to get back to Ash’s. Kelly takes a bite to the leg, but it doesn’t stop her from wanting to capture and cure Pablo. I’m not so sure her feelings will be the same after the bite on her leg transforms into Pablo’s mouth.
The good thing to come out of Ash’s trip down memory lane with his father is Brock knows every woman in Elk Grove. When Ash needs to find Ruby’s new place, it takes Brock all of a second to think up the location for the real Ms. Prevett’s house. The woman Ash seeks isn’t home. He does find unfortunate hitchhiker Natalie upstairs handcuffed to a sink. She’s singing to a baby way, way older than what we saw in the last episode, but just as terrifying. Being who he is, Ash assumes he can just chainsaw his way through the handcuffs, not fully comprehending why Natalie keeps gesturing for him to be quiet. When he finally gets the gist, his robo-hand shorts out, leaving he and Natalie attached to the sink, facing off with a shrieking hellspawn. Ain’t fatherhood grand?
The downside to the short episodes is when the action gets going, I get greedy and want more right away. This episode leaves every plot thread except Brock’s flapping in the wind. Waiting a week to find out what happens is cruel, but this show’s magic would be lost if they had extended episodes. Admitting the truth doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.
Apparently Dead: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 303 By A. Zombie
Before you dive in, just gotta let you know that there’s episode spoilers in this review.
Hope you sent your good suit to the cleaners before tuning into this episode.
Funerals are never comfortable occasions. Unfortunately, Brandy has to learn this the hard way, starting with the funeral home’s decision to restore Candy Barr’s head without asking the family what they’d like done with the body before burial. Yeah, the writers went there. So, uh, Scotch Guard your suit, too, and let’s attend the funeral of Candice Barr, loving mother and hastily-wedded wife. She’s gonna rest in pieces.
Unprepared as usual, Ash’s true colors come flying through the second he enters the church for the service by snagging flowers from a vase for Brandy. It’s the lack of care which leads to the primary problem during the funeral scenes: Deadite Candy. If he’d just checked in with someone during the body’s prep, he could’ve told them to leave her as-is for a closed casket service. Whose bright idea is it for Brandy to be near an open casket after seeing her mom’s decapitation anyway? Ash tries his best to fix the problem without his daughter being further traumatized. Like every good deed Ash attempts, it goes horribly wrong.
The coffin fight won’t win awards for stunt work, but it’s by far the most unhinged in terms of propriety. Yes, worse than the Slip N Slide with semen. Just about everyone’s been to that one funeral as a child where they spend most of the service convinced the deceased will crawl from the casket. This is the culmination of all those fears, plus a garbage bag load of Ash’s failures as a family man. Spice it with a dash of embalming fluid and they’ve created a funeral scene to top anything we’ve seen on TV before. Some of the best deadite detail work so far this season went into choreographing this scene and creating stages of damage to Candy. The payout during the eulogy is worth being mortally aghast on Brandy’s behalf while her parents have their final fight. It’s so well done, I felt like a heel for laughing as Ash puts Candy’s mutilated head back with her body.
Brandy will never forgive her father for what he’s done now, and Ruby knows as much. Or is it Ms. Prevett? Either way, the school’s counselor thinks the best place for Brandy is at her home, away from the father the girl just met and the inevitable chaos dogging his heels. After Brandy runs from the funeral, Ruby confronts Ash to taunt him before driving the girl to go get her things. A brash play, but this Ruby spent months laying the groundwork for her plan and has the town’s trust thanks to her hard work with the school. Ash, in comparison, is as trustworthy as a hungry coyote tasked with watching a chicken coop. It’s easy to see how Ruby’s calm demeanor appeals to a young woman better than her brash, vulgar father who couldn’t even re-kill his wife without it turning sexual in some way.
Someone in mourning probably shouldn’t be left alone in an unfamiliar place. To ensure Brandy gets what she needs from the house, and to lift her spirits a bit, Ruby sends someone to keep her company. Everyone’s getting a second chance in this episode, including Brock. He bonds with his granddaughter a little at Ash’s expense. The lead-in to the reveal is solid. The new energy from Brandy’s presence does wonders for the show’s tension. We needed fresh eyes on the evil. Everyone else is too jaded. Watching Brock’s second demise through Brandy’s POV brings back the era of startled, inappropriately timed laughter for the franchise. The groan-worthy schticks are okay, but nothing beats fighting not to laugh at someone’s genuine horror in a completely ridiculous situation.
The rest of the Ghost Beaters, plus Dalton, are sent on a critical Save The World mission by the Brujo’s masked messenger. An old, evil book isn’t the only thing salvageable from the cabin’s wreckage. The Kandarian dagger is still down there somewhere, waiting for whoever digs it up first. The gang’s on-task, wasting no time. Kelly is the one to find the dagger. Its powers draw Evil their way. Dalton gets caught in the chaos. As a deadite, he tries to drive a wedge between Kelly and Pablo, blaming Pablo for impaling the fallen Knight on a tree branch. It’s not clear if Kelly buys it, and Dalton doesn’t get another chance to convince her what with a truck grille in his brain and all. Will the Ghost Beaters go through Knights like Spinal Tap goes through drummers, or are they about to answer for Dalton’s death? Maybe they’re already paying the price since Pablo’s MIA after the deadite’s death.
How does one figure out which Ash is which? Let them babble long enough for you to recognize just why the real one annoys you so much. It works well for Kelly and Pablo. Once they take out BadAsh, the gang is forced to divide and conquer. Ash stays inside to dispose of the bodies before they turn deadite. Pablo and Kelly head outside to stop Brad, Heather, and Brad’s wife from discovering the grisly scene in the cabin. Matter of fact, they’re so willing to keep these hikers from becoming deadite fodder, the duo offer to escort them to the road.
Just one hitch in the plan. When Ash finishes disposing of his doppelganger, and having a chat with the Necronomicon, Amanda’s body is missing. Not for long. DeadAmanda stops the fleeing hikers. Not to be rude, she even performs a puppet show for them. Unfortunately, she is fresh out of puppets, so Brad and his wife have a little room made in their heads to accommodate DeadAmanda’s hands for the performance. What’s the play? Oh, just a little comedy starring Kelly and Pablo, highlighting how pathetic they are. DeadAmanda pins the duo with the corpses, leaving Heather to fend for herself. The woman wisely runs. She makes it pretty far before being caught, toyed with, and thrown into a tree where she suffers a compound fracture. Pablo tries to save Heather. Tries.
Suddenly from the trees, Ruby to the rescue! DeadAmanda doesn’t hang around long for the fight. The second Ruby’s guard is down, the deadite books it. There’s a nice bit where Ruby rants about Ash and his oafish ways with the Necronomicon while dismembering Heather’s friends so they don’t come back. It’s a classic gross-out splatstick gag.
We finally get to see Ash and Ruby together. Though at this point in the game, I’m still not sure which one to trust with the future of mankind. Ash thinks with his junk and accidentally unleashed evil on middle America. Ruby, on the other hand, is a mysterious badass fighter who came out of nowhere, but seems to know a lot about how to fight evil. She could even be a competent ally in disposing of the book.
Ruby convinces Ash the key to destroying the Necronomicon involves defacing—literally—the book with her super special dagger before burying it. At no point during this whole ritual does Ash stop and listen to Ruby’s word choice. It’s not until she’s reading from the book and hell starts creeping closer to the cabin that he thinks to take the book back from her. Damage done, dude. The Necronomicon’s loose face launches at Pablo, wrapping around his face like a mask. What can they do? Does Ruby actually know what she’s doing? Duh? She wrote the thing.
Ruby being the Necronomicon’s creator is a pretty awesome twist to what little folklore was ever explored for the book. Too bad we learn this right before the season finale. Thank goodness we know season two is on the way. Maybe they’ll expand on Ruby and her connection to the Necronomicon. Then again, it could be a finale where Ash kills everyone. Who knows with this show.
Those adventures brought up an arm-long question list from fans. This return to the source should’ve answered a few questions, right? It really only answered one: What kind of dagger is it Ruby keeps so well hidden? Amanda accidentally finds the answer in a journal inside the cabin; the dagger can melt the binding on the Necronomicon. But as far as Ruby’s true identity, her connection to evil, or anything truly in depth about what they’re facing? Nope. Nada. Zilch. We get heavy-handed callbacks to Evil Dead, some poorly executed, and a death we all saw coming since episode 103. I said in my last review that the formula was killing the fun, well . . . . It’s dead, Jim.
The glorious parallels to the film franchise were few and far between, but at least they started it off right. We catch up with Ash walking in the woods, communing with undead birds. Then, the cabin appears. The porch swing bangs against the wall—thump, thump, thump, thump, stop. My shriveled heart actually beat when Ash hit the porch. But from there on out, each reference fizzles or only manages to illicit a, “Huh, I remember that.” They even brought in the dreaded ex-girlfriend scenario. Now, it may be nostalgia coloring my memory, but was Linda always so insufferably obnoxious? I remember she did whine a little, but the actress they brought in to be Linda’s head took whine to professional levels. There is no authenticity in the performance. She phoned in what she parroted, poorly, from the source material. There’s a scene where evil flings things at Ash and steals his technohand, marred by Linda’s incessant whining and fellatio jokes. We get a BadAsh in this episode, for heaven’s sake. That alone should make plotting through Pablo and Kelly’s B-story of nothingness worth it.
BadAsh gets lumped in with the Ashmanda plot. Of course. We see what may be character growth from Ash and it’s his psycho half manipulating the heck out of Amanda by hinting at a happy future between them. How did BadAsh come about? Well when a severed hand and a demon love each other . . . . Basically, the hand grew an Ash. BadAsh has Amanda fooled up until she realizes he’s got a rather funky appendage. They fight. She loses. Of course she does. The boss fight in this whole thing has to be Ash against a deadite woman. Because if fans haven’t figured it out by now, his worst enemies are himself and love. Even in Army of Darkness Ash’s greatest enemy isn’t the skeleton army at the gates, but the possessed woman he once fell for out of the blue and BadAsh. Literally everyone else is in the movie to fight or die in the background; they don’t matter. So why even attempt to get Pablo and Kelly into the episode if they’re doomed to similar fate? Why not make the episode focus on the fights with Linda and Ash, Amanda and BadAsh, and finally Ash vs BadAsh? They planned to leave the final fight on a cliffhanger, anyway. Why not put more focus on what’s obviously the sole goal in the episode?
There’s two episodes left. I’m eagerly awaiting something on this show surprising me.
Ruby also has a weird connection to the deadites, one which is teased yet again after Ruby and Amanda arrive at Brujo’s farm, only to find the funeral pyre burning as well as the idols. The remaining idols inside the house react to Ruby with similar curses to when they faced Eligos. Hell, even Brujo has something to say when he jumps from the pyre as a deadite to attack Ruby. How is she a double crosser? Did Ruby make a pact with the deadites? Is she the real reason why the book was at the cabin? We may not find out. Ruby and DeadBrujo fell into the fire. Amanda didn’t bother sticking around to see if her new friend survived. The second Amanda realized Ash’s POS rustbucket backfired on a nearby road, she steals Ruby’s car—minus Ash’s hand, which wandered off—and follows.
Unconcerned with potential pursuit, the gang stops for a bite. Ash attempts to dump his baggage early, telling Pablo and Kelly they can’t go to the cabin. They call BS, no amount of danger will keep them from seeing this through now they’ve been dragged in. Kelly lost her family; and Pablo has no one left aside from his awkward feelings about Kelly and a half-hearted friendship with Ash—neither have anything left to lose. Pablo proves his mettle by telling Ash, “If I were a deadite, it’d be an honor for you to cut my head off.”
It’s an honor they all may experience soon if Ash doesn’t stop finding danger in the most mundane spots.
We already know Ash isn’t the most stellar guy. After he offers to pay for the gang’s food, he tries to back out. Pablo and Kelly call him on it and he moves on to hitting on the waitress, promising her the best sex of her life to work off the bill. He’s not even concerned when Nancy points out her menacing husband working in the kitchen. Ash just wanders to the bathroom to await his next easy conquest.
The woman who walks in isn’t the woman he wants to see. Amanda and Ash fight again, with her still assuming he has a direct hand in the deadites and the deaths they cause, not that he’s a doorknob with his libido doing the thinking ninety percent of the time. It isn’t until the other State Police officer she calls in is killed and transformed into a deadite that Amanda suddenly realizes, nothing the doorknob does actually makes these things; the monsters just show up, kill people, and make a mess. The man she wants to hold accountable is actually the only one with the skill to kill them.
After Amanda sees Team Badass in action, she wants in. Of course she wants into their oh-so exclusive club. Who wouldn’t? Oh, say, anyone who wants to live to see old age? Ash doesn’t have a good track record for keeping companions alive.
There may be a snag in the plan to reach the cabin. At the restaurant, Ash runs into an old pal, Lem. Lem has joined forces with the local militia. When the deadites hit the fan, Lem bolted into the forest behind the restaurant. He’s put in a call for backup. Hope there’s extra bunks at the cabin, looks like the gang will have company. The other snag? Kelly may not be ready to say goodbye to revenge killing. After everything, she lives for the confrontation with evil. During the main fight for this episode, she uses a meat slicer to carve away DeadNancy’s face. She’s seriously into the kill. If they bury the Necronomicon, all her anger will have nowhere to go.
I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Kelly’s possession by evil. Eligos may be gone, but the weakness her revenge creates will make her an ideal target to become the Big Bad come the season’s end.