Family: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 301 by A. Zombie
Yo, pal. Before you go on, just know there’s episode spoilers ahead.
Finding a space for himself in the world took many, many years. At last, Ash Williams has just about everything he wants: a business to call his own, a house, loyal friends, and fame. Best of all, Evil’s off his back and sulking in its own realm. All that’s missing is a family to greet him at the end of a long day managing Ashy Slashy’s Hardware Store and Emporium. For now, though, Ash relishes in good wishes from the folks of Elk Grove on the evening of his grand opening.
The most magical part of this show is that anyone who saw Ash’s utterly ridiculous commercials, complete with adult “toys” and vulgar jokes, then thought, “Hey, let’s go party with that guy tonight!” Fame really does get a person far in life, it seems. Good for him?
The good life put Ash and Pablo at ease. Kelly doesn’t look so relaxed. Matter of fact, she’s the first to react to the initial signs that something isn’t right. The Ghost Beaters spent their time off from Saving The World duty chasing vastly different interests. Kelly, it seems, is interested in stopping yet another apocalypse. Not sure that’s how I’d spend my time off from thumping drunks at a bar, but okay. To each their own. At least she’s not hunkered in a fallout shelter training to fight by herself. Dalton is there by her side, waiting for a chance to meet El Jefe. What’s his interest in the retired deadite slayer? As the leader of The Knights of Sumeria, Dalton needs Ash’s help to defeat The Dark Ones.
First, they’ve got to defeat the growing problems caused by a known threat hiding right in their back yard.
Patience is a virtue well rewarded. Ruby’s played the waiting game long enough. On the same night as Ash’s grand opening, she tracks down the Necronomicon in the hands of a young woman and the television antiques appraiser she has giving it a once-over on live TV. Violence ensues. Of course. With her prize in hand, Ruby holes up in a motel and performs a ritual in which she ingests blood mixed with Ash’s image in the Necronomicon. When mommy and daddy love each other very much, a stork drops a hellchild in mommy’s cabbage patch. Ash is going to be so surprised.
Not as surprised as he is to be reminded that he’s got a wife, and said wife hid a whole child from him for all these years. Candace Barr has her reasons for keeping Brandy in the dark about her chainsaw-wielding father. Unfortunately that’s the very reason he has to come back into their lives. Evil targets Brandy while she’s cleaning up some creative graffiti at the high school. Her friend Rachel winds up a deadite, using the music room against Ash and Pablo as they attempt to save Brandy. In the end, it takes Candace’s sacrifice and Ash’s creativity with found weaponry to put Rachel to rest. Kelly and Dalton take care of the possessed mascot who nearly cuts the family drama portion of the show short the same instant Ash attempts to be a father at last.
Thankfully this time around Ash isn’t above taking help to wipe out whatever Ruby’s unleashed. The Ghost Beaters reunite, with the new guy on board as well. Brandy is along for the ride, if Ash can even remember to call her by the right name. Time will tell if Pablo’s returned skin art spells certain doom for the team, or if it’ll give them an advantage.
Brandy’s written to mimic her father, only refined slightly and thinking with something more than teenage hormones. There’s bound to be countless sarcastic fights in the episodes ahead. Can you imagine Ash trying to bond while they’re all crammed in the same car? What happens when he tries to console her about her mother’s murder? Tact, thy name is not Ash Williams. It’s not like they can stop to get a break from each other, either. There’s a bounty on Brandy’s head. If they stay put too long, whoever’s around is at risk.
Speaking of heads, I’ve got to say the harp gag is one of my new favorites. Unfortunately the sequence beforehand is somewhat lackluster and has pretty much the same routine as every other “Ash fights an inanimate object” fight. Not every gag’s a winner, not even the tried-and-true ones from the past. Let’s hope they get past using this sequence as a crutch and give us more unique special effects shots as the season unfolds.
Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.
I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.
Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.
Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.
For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.
Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.
Ashy Slashy’s Taking Over Universal Studios by R.C. Murphy
Just when you thought it was safe to enter a theme park alone, Universal Studios announced that this fall, Ash vs Evil Dead will join the ranks of great horror franchises the park has adapted for their Halloween Horror Nights event in Hollywood and Orlando. Starting September 15th, horror fans will have the chance to walk through not only the AvED haunted maze, but also the long-standing The Walking Dead maze, as well as haunts for The Shining, American Horror Story, and Jabbawockeez. Tickets are available online now.
Below is the official description for the maze. Hopefully they’ll fully utilize the franchise, instead of picking one or two setups and repeating them in two dozen rooms, as they have in the past with mazes like A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The Ash vs Evil Dead maze will transport guests into the town of Elk Grove, Mich., where they will encounter Deadites – people or objects possessed by evil demons – that have been unwittingly unleashed by Ash Williams – again. Throughout the maze, guests will come face-to-face with disturbing characters and iconic comedic and gory scenes from seasons 1 and 2 as they desperately try to escape all things evil…before it’s too late.
The STARZ Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead is a follow-up to the original The Evil Dead movie, which has long been regarded as a cult classic since its debut in 1981. Starring Bruce Campbell, who reprises his role as Ash Williams, the series has amassed a huge fan base and was renewed for a third season by STARZ. Catch up on the STARZ APP.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims of their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing scare-actors lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.
Additional details about Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visit Halloween Horror Nights’ official site.
So, who’s planning a road trip to get their pants scared off?
We can’t forget about the bloodiest show currently on television. That’s not an overstatement. I’ve done the math. Last season, Ash vs Evil Dead easily used hundreds of gallons of various fake bloods, including flooding a room with the red stuff with Kelly trapped inside. Judging from the few on-set selfies and videos the show’s star, Bruce Campbell, dropped on his social media pages earlier in June, they’re on-track to make season three of the Starz show just as gruesome.
Filming for AvED began in New Zealand in early March. The super-tight leash the production team is keeping on the plot means we have nothing to go on beyond a few snapshots and quick Instagram videos from the cast. This could be a response to swapping show-runners before the new season began production. After season two, Craig DiGregorio parted ways with AvED, citing severe creative differences with producer Robert Tapert. It boiled down to Tapert’s vision for Ash stifling the more comedy-driven direction DiGregorio preferred for the universe. Mark Verheiden (Daredevil) stepped in to fill the void for season three. It’s safe to say, the laughs may be more subdued from here on out, but I highly doubt they’re going to take a franchise which thrives on its splatstick moniker and turn it into something as serious as The Walking Dead. Campbell says the secrecy is so they’re free to make season three more outlandish than the last. How they’ll accomplish that, I have no clue. Last season was a head-scratcher, what with the Ashy Slashy puppet and all.
The gang will be in New Zealand for a few more months. On May 6th, cast and crew celebrated the halfway point with a party, as one rightly should. That puts them firmly on schedule for the season. However, Starz has yet to announce a release date for the new episodes. Don’t ask Campbell for a release date, either. He’ll direct the question to the Almighty Starz Overlords with some form of biting sarcasm. If they stick to the usual schedule, expect to see the season premiere sometime around Halloween.
There may not be a date for season three, but they just announced that AvED season two will arrive on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD on August 22nd. The boxset includes audio commentaries, an inside look at S2’s production, and featurette’s like “Women who kick Ash” and “How to kill a Deadite.”
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.
Ashy Slashy: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 208 by A. Zombie
Episode 207 was the fantasy. A world Baal controlled almost completely, save flickers from the real world clueing Ash in from time to time while his gourd cracked from demonic mind games. This week, we peek behind the Wizard’s curtain to see how he pulled it off. How, exactly, did Baal make the delusion grounded enough to convince the poster boy for Stubborn Jerkface he’d imagined the last thirty years? There’s a little truth in every lie. A stand-in was brought in to act as Kelly and the facility’s security squad provided any necessary corpses. The icing on the cake? Linda is really there to sell the delusion story.
Thomas drags his wife and daughter further into his mess for the last time. He’s the sole reason Linda is at the asylum. Lacey is held as a bargaining chip over her parents’ heads, either they cooperate with the plan or she pays. That’s the problem with demonic deals, you can’t trust the sulfur-reeking bastards further than you can throw them. Lacey goes the way of the dodo, returning as a deadite to stalk the gang while they search for Ash on this doomed rescue mission. Pretty sure all the good deadite one-liners for the season are in Lacey’s dialog, especially during the final father/daughter moment. Turns out Thomas does have a spine. Unfortunately, Lacey left it on the floor for Linda to stumble across. There’s a few magical moments with the young deadite before Kelly blows off her head.
That’s two messy secondary characters settled. Is the writers’ bloodlust slaked?
Not. At. All.
Plot twist! Ash’s plan actually works for once. What plan? The one he laid out before Ruby gave Pablo’s Necro-backside a kick to find the anti-Baal incantation. Yeah, like anyone actually thought he was serious when he said it’d be as simple as hiding a pet tracker on a demon. Sure, Ash went along with the tracker, but hey, it works. They have the book and the demon in the same spot. It’s not that simple, though. The danger to Pablo is real. Ruby is Captain Charming while they search the asylum, failing to reassure Pablo about his odds at every turn. On the other hand, Kelly is so optimistic, I thought she’d kiss Pablo at one point—except then we’d know how this would all end.
Pablo gives it his all, gets beat around a bit, too. But he sends Baal off in a spectacular splat, damn the odds. Or not. Baal’s final mind game comes in the form of leaving the Ghostbeaters wondering how to move on without their little buddy Pablo. Unless there’s immense magical interference, Pablo can’t come back from being bisected at the belly button. A shame. He really is my favorite on the show. Always on the bright side. There to lend a hand, especially since Ash only has one real hand. Dependable and kind, Pablo is—was—the perfect buffer for Ash’s abrasiveness.
Where do they go after killing off a main character and the bad guy? I’m not psychic, but I’m going to assume there’s some pretty hefty repercussions to a half-formed, deceased Necronomicon laying on an asylum floor. Plus, Ruby isn’t a saint. This is her chance to reclaim what her children and Baal took from her. Crap will hit the fan again soon enough.
Delusion Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 207 by A. Zombie
Campbell’s performance in the episode is pretty stellar, especially in the moments Ash honestly cannot tell which way is up and who is who. He didn’t fall back on the manic crazy we usually see when Campbell’s character’s snap. There’s genuine concern coming from Ash, particularly when it comes to maintaining the safety of the Ghostbeaters while in the grips of Baal’s hallucinations. He’s vulnerable. When Linda comes in to visit, he acts unclean or unworthy of her care, recoiling from her touch. It’s refreshing to see so much depth from the character when the season started with nothing but hedonism.
Then there’s the Ashy Slashy puppet show. The promos were cringe-worthy, practically promising half an hour of Campbell arguing with his hand while alternating with innuendos aplenty. Camp is what the franchise eats for breakfast, but an entire puppet episode for a horror show is too much. Luckily, someone realized that and cut the Ashy Slashy puppet’s bits into two sections. What could’ve been overwhelming is quite palatable, if you’re okay with a foul-mouthed puppet talking about sexual functions. My main beef with the entire gag is the moments when it’s obvious Campbell isn’t operating the puppet. Either that or Campbell has forearms nearly four feet long. While I’m all for giving puppeteers a job, the way they choreographed movement to disguise it only made it that much more obvious.
In the delusion, Ruby is Nurse Ratchet and wants nothing to do with Ash, as Baal would have it in reality. Her scenes are few, usually just a short exchange to drive home how much the demon lord doesn’t want Ash near “his woman.” Pablo gets some revenge, given the job of overbearing orderly in the asylum. He routinely attacks and zaps Ash with a cattle prod—all the abuse is aimed toward driving the wedge deeper between the men so Ash will fulfill Baal’s true purpose for him. The show-stealer is Kelly’s whackjob alter-ego. She’s entrancing the moment she speaks, and more so when peeking through her filthy hair. Honestly, if actors want a quick lesson in acting crazy across a wide range, just pay attention to what Dana DeLorenzo does in her first scene for the episode.
Eventually, the mind games work. Ash believes he’s killed his friends, sister, and rotted for thirty years in an asylum. He tells Dr. Peacock he’s ready to face his delusions. The good doctor has only one solution: Destroy the Necronomicon. Uhh, isn’t Pablo the book now? Ut oh.
Then again, it could all be a ploy because Ash saw something outside the window and he knows the only way to get out is to make Baal believe he’s giving in. Guess we’ll see. The team is outside the asylum, and Ash has vowed to kill the book.
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.
Out with the old baddies and in with the new. The Necronomicon has returned home to Hell after an extended vacation topside to chill with his Deadite homies. They’re probably lounging around a lava pit telling tales of possession and taking bets on how long Ash will last against Baal. One demon lord doesn’t seem that imposing in a franchise where the lead character faced an army of sassy skeletons and survived. Then Baal whipped out his massive powers.
Unlike some shows where the bad guys all have the same M.O., this one strives to venture into new, different lands. While having an episode plot based around “Who’s really the bad guy,” isn’t shining and new in the idea department, turning Baal into a skinwalker leaves a lot of fun to be had in a cliché plot device. It also allows the SFX department to give Baal’s goons a style not easy to forget. I mean, I’d wet myself if a skinless woman fell through my ceiling and ripped a prostitutes’ arm off, let alone forget it happened anytime soon. One failing in Baal’s powers is this seductive bullcrud he pulls on Ruby. She’s a badass, killing evil right and left; then Baal swivels his hips and she literally can’t form sentences? It’s a huge disservice to the female characters on the show to go from an episode where they clean house without any men to back them up, to Ruby practically begging for a little action from the guy who killed two women inside the sheriff’s station without blinking. Using sex to negate Ruby’s strength is a low blow. Ash gets laid all the time and he still gets the evil-slaying job done. Baal has so many other evil things he can do, let’s lay off the whole, “His groin is mesmerizing,” thing. Okay?
With everyone locked in the sheriff’s station wondering who’s got Baal crawling around in their skinsuit, tensions run higher than Chet’s blood-alcohol level. Sheriff Emery and Ash are at each other’s throats the entire time Linda is at the station. It comes down to Kelly to calm everyone down. By that I mean she grabs the sheriff’s gun and holds everyone hostage—when they’re technically already in a hostage situation. The Inception-like hostage situation happens again elsewhere in the station when Ruby goes to retrieve her dagger. Baal uses a deputy to work his D-Mojo on her, rendering her pretty much useless until the episode’s end when she just happens to help Ash save Linda.
Like having a skin-stealing demon on the loose wasn’t bad enough, Pablo’s got a mean case of what-the-hell-is-that spreading across his stomach. Personal theory, dude’s turning into something akin to the Necronomicon. Why else would he have Sumerian written across his torso? No one signs up for oozing boils and a dead language willingly. Ruby is thrilled about Pablo’s condition. Pablo would rather French kiss a shotgun. But, hey, he should be proud. He’s the key to saving the world . . . after dooming it by tossing the Necronomicon in Hell and freeing Baal.
Looks like more skin-jumping good times aren’t all that’s ahead for the show. Ashy Slashy may just finally win the girl this time around. Sheriff Emery isn’t the man his wife thought after shrieking throughout the fight with his skinless deputy. Linda breaks up with him then and there, totally falling for Ash’s blood-drenched swagger. All of them are out of their minds considering their having a lovers spat over a bisected, skinless corpse.
That’s the joy of this show. It doesn’t really care so long as Ash looks a fool, there’s about twenty gallons of blood used, and someone at home says, “What the heck is going on now?”