The second episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead felt less like a new episode and more like a continuation of the kick-ass Evil Dead movie that Sam Raimi started last week. This time, frequent Strike Back director Michael J. Bassett stepped up for a car ride from Hell and a deliciously tense dinner scene.
The episode began moments after the series premiere, as Ash (Bruce Campbell) sang his own praises for killing the Deadites…which Kelly (Dana Delorenzo) was only willing to tolerate if he would help save her dad (Phil Peleton) from her dead mom. When Ash wouldn’t budge, Kelly simply stole Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) bike and seemingly stole the Necronomicon as well.
That led to the memorably insane scene of Ash and Pablo in the car as they tried to survive an attack by the Deadite-possessed Mr. Roper (Damien Garvey), their former boss at the Value Stop. That sequence managed to be gory and hilarious as the transformed Roper nearly got both Pablo and Ash killed. Pablo was the one who nearly froze up entirely in the face of this new threat, while Ash humorously seemed to appreciate the chance to kill his boss.
As it turns out, Pablo lied to get “El Jefe” on the trail of Kelly. He stole the book, not Kelly. I liked that touch. As much as Pablo wants to be Ash’s new sidekick, he wants Kelly more. Plus, Pablo is already fulfilling the most important duties that any sidekick should: he laughs at Ash’s jokes and he’s genuinely impressed by him.
But even Pablo doubted Ash on the next leg of their trip. Kelly’s mom (as played by Mimi Rogers) seemed perfectly normal. Kelly and her father bought into Mrs. Maxwell’s claim that she had amnesia. Nor did Ash noticeably waver in his conviction that she was a Deadite. That led to dinner with Kelly’s family, as Ash kept looking for any sign that he was right about Kelly’s mom. The staging of that scene was really effective, and it almost created some doubt as to whether Ash was right.
And of course, he was. Ash finally decked Mrs. Maxwell and she showed her true colors as a Deadite…shortly before driving a fork through her husband’s eye. But the really juicy scene took place in Kelly’s bedroom as her Deadite mom tried to convince her that she was the real deal…before telling Kelly that her mom committed suicide to get away from her. Harsh. Between using her mother as a puppet and murdering her father, Kelly actually has a more personal stake in this battle than Ash does.
By the end, our heroic trio was finally assembled and on the same page to kick some Deadite ass. But before that, Ash displayed another example of his ability to make everything about him. First, he consoled Kelly by telling her how much she was like him: “Deadites ruined your life and you’re hot as hell” before complaining about making Christian crosses for her dead Jewish parents. Campbell is just a master at that heelish style of humor. Somehow, we still like Ash even after all of the horrible things that he says.
Lucy Lawless’ Ruby was MIA this week, but the subplot did check in with disgraced Michigan State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones). The way that Fisher linked Ash to the death of her partner is really quite stupid. Ash’s neighbors simply described Ash’s ex-girlfriend and claimed that they heard them chanting through the trailer walls…and that’s the way that Fisher is gonna blame Ash for this mess? I’m calling BS on that one! It doesn’t matter that Fisher was right, and it was Ash’s fault. It was just a dumb moment in an otherwise terrific half-hour. The only bright spot in Fisher’s story was the police artist’s sketch of Ash, while his neighbors insisted that Ash looked stupider in real life. That was funny.
The ending of the episode teased a showdown between Team Ash and Fisher at the Book from Beyond bookstore which may hold the key to finding a way to banish the Deadites again. But we’re so early in the season that I can’t see that working out well for our heroes.
Aside from some minor missteps in Fisher’s subplot, Ash vs. Evil Dead continued to be amazingly well produced. So far, I am loving this show.
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Image Credits: Starz/Renaissance Pictures