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!
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.
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.
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.
This week, horror fans got their fill of character’s brains on the ground. While the other show took every opportunity to draw out the drama from the character’s deaths, AvED went full splatstick, showing close-ups while Ash attempts to piece his father together again after the Classic mowed him down. It’s no use. There’s not enough skull intact to hold it all in place, plus Brock’s missing an eye—which is neatly embedded in the Delta’s grille. It stares down Pablo and Ash while they discuss a plan of action over Brock’s corpse. The plan, apparently, is for Pablo to charge the possessed car by himself and become its captive alongside the sheriff’s daughter. Pretty sure that’s not how one wins the war against evil.
Pablo’s newfound bravery is a farce. He’s reacting purely from fear and Evil knows it, manipulating Pablo to do what it wants through his bizarre connection to the Necronomicon. Matter of fact, the fallout from one conversation with the book changes everything for Ash and his team. We’ve waited so long for Pablo to finally step up and be the hero, but he’s going about it the wrong way. So now we get to sit and watch him set the world ablaze. Neat. Maybe we’ll get more super-intense visions, like the car crash, along the way. I loved the mild shock from watching Pablo stagger around with a steel bar longer than he is tall through his chest.
The possessed Delta isn’t their only problem. In true men-sense, the guys completely overlook the demonspawn still camped in the crematorium in favor of chasing the Classic to the local demolition derby stadium. Ash even takes a highly intoxicated Chet along for the pursuit. That leaves the ladies on the team to take care of Ruby’s ill-behaved children. What Ruby didn’t take into account is that they’ve spent their time gaining strength in order to fulfill their father’s wishes. The spawn are way stronger than their mother now. Kelly saves Ruby’s bacon a couple times—gratitude is a sensation I’m sure is completely foreign to Ruby. This is the first solid moment the ladies have had where they were just as hardcore as the men without eventually falling back on Ash’s uncanny competence at killing in order to win the day’s battle. They mow through the demonspawn with a couple close-calls on the getting maimed front.
Unfortunately, killing the demonspawn doesn’t do a thing to slow Baal’s roll. Pablo gives him a Get Out Of Hell Free card when he listens to the Necronomicon and together they open a hellgate in the Classic’s trunk. Great. Now we’re cooking with fire. Bring on the big bad. Things are about to get even worse and I cannot wait.