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.
Poor Lionel is having a bad day. His store is wrecked by evil winds accompanying a spell he did right, only for Ash to botch. Does he get thanks for a job well done? No. He gets a glass shard to the eye and a demon using him as a meat puppet to attack Amanda Fisher. I guess in a way having Amanda handcuffed in place counts as a reward.
Then Ruby happens.
In typical Ruby style, she attacks DeadLionel, impaling him with a lamppost. Pinning DeadLionel to the wall gives Ruby time to snoop around the shop. She also fills Amanda in on her side of the whole Evil Dead story. According to Ruby, Ash is a stone-cold killer who mowed down her entire family—mom, dad, and her sister Annie. Something about her story tickles DeadLionel’s funny bone. Before he says something to contradict the tale, Ruby decapitates him and stomps on his head. Completely oblivious to Ruby’s true intentions, but enjoying her methods, Amanda agrees to team up with the undead slayer to track Ash. But how? He’s in the wind. Ruby has a friend who can help—Ash’s possessed hand which he severed in one of the most memorable fights in the franchise. Seems the little fellow has an internal tracking power, making it move the closer they are to Ash. It’s not GPS, but it’ll work in a pinch.
The ladies may not have far to go to catch up. The Evil tracking Ash catches up with him, Pablo, and a severely concussed Kelly on the road to Pablo’s uncle’s. A dust cloud storms down the road, chasing the trailer Ash tows, tossing passing vehicles into the air. In the nick of time, the car turns into the Brujo’s driveway. The talismans around the property protect it from the evil dust storm. Not from Ash’s incompetent swagger.
Uncle Brujo knew Pablo would return. Not sure much could prepare him to deal with Ash as the sole Jefe available to deal with the local evil problem, but he’s game if Ash is. “When evil shows up, it blows up,” Ash tells the gang—it’s his new slogan if he is indeed this whacky Jefe thing Pablo and Brujo talk about all the time. There’s a long road ahead if Ash will become the hero they need. The Brujo says the light inside the hero-to-be is too dim, and quite frankly, Ash is a gigantic failure.
The trip they must take is an intimate one, which leaves Pablo to take care of Kelly. She’s probably going to need more than the standard, “Take two of these and call me in the morning,” seeing as she’s hearing voices in her head and all. None of the guys know. She’s really not inclined to tell them, either. You guys remember Eligos, the faceless fun n mental mindgames demon the gang summoned in the last episode? Yeah, he’s taken residence in Kelly’s brain and body. Rut roh. Pablo does his best to make sure she’s comfortable. While she rests, and is consumed by evil, he rifles through the storage shed for hand-making supplies. He creates a pretty nifty mechanical hand before Keligos electrocutes him, knocking him out.
In Brujo’s ramshackle shed, Ash is given a hearty dose of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic meant to draw Ash into himself to find the answer to their troubles. It takes a while for the potion to kick in, but once it does, whoa. We’re treated to an odd TV montage acid trip sequence, followed by footage from Evil Dead and a map tracking Ash’s nomadic life from ValueStop to ValueStop. At last Ash drops into a freshly dug grave. His eyes are sewn shut. Vaguely Ash-like masked men roam around, searching for our hero-to-be. Brujo, as a voice from above, instructs Ash on how to control his trip. The minute Ash has a grip on things, he travels to Jacksonville, FL. But not the real city, just an idealized version Ash saw on a postcard. He’d planned a trip to the city thirty years prior. A trip he was supposed to take right after visiting the cabin where he obtained the Necronomicon.
Eli the lizard, who can talk in this vision, verbally abuses Ash until they work out what’s in Ash’s subconscious that can point them to a solution to the evil problem. It all has to go back to the beginning, Ash and the book. Great news for long-term ED fans, they get to see the infamous cabin again.
Ash is vulnerable, trapped in the vision quest. He’s ripe for Eligos to screw with mentally. The demon hijacks Ash’s trip and drags him mentally back to ValueStop, where the possessed Little Lori doll waits to finish their fight. But this is Ash’s vision. He’s the head honcho in charge. Ash changes the vision, attacking Eligos. In reality, he’s strangling Kelly’s possessed body. Unaware of the real situation, Pablo whacks Ash over the head to save Kelly.
Well, that’s a strange turn of events. How will Keligos fit into the new plan: Bury the Necronomicon at the cabin in the woods? Will Pablo trust Ash after the attack? Is this the delay Ruby needs to finally catch up with her prey?