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ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Review: ‘Books from Beyond’

ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Review: ‘Books from Beyond’

After sitting out of last week’s Ash vs. Evil Dead, Lucy Lawless’ Ruby was given a more formal introduction as she tracked Ash (Bruce Campbell) to the home of Kelly’s recently deceased parents. And in no time at all, Ruby turned the tables on Kelly’s Deadite-possessed father (Phil Peleton) by torturing him with some kind of sacred weapon for information about Ash.

That was an impressive entrance, and a much better way to bring Ruby into the show than the cameo she had in the first episode. That’s all we saw of Lawless this week, but it seems like Ash vs. Evil Dead is going to slowly build towards Ruby’s confrontation with Ash.

The bulk of “Books from Beyond” took place in the occult bookstore referenced in the episode’s title. As much as I’d enjoy longer episodes of Ash vs. Evil Dead, the shorter running time means that there isn’t much filler. For Team Ash – or the Ghost Beaters, as Pablo (Ray Santiago) suggested – there were only a few major sequences outside the bookstore and inside. That made for a pretty tightly paced episode that never gave the audience a chance to become bored.

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It did seem like a step backwards for Ash to declare himself an “Alone Wolf” after last week’s episode was essentially the team’s origin story. And much to Pablo’s obvious disappointment, Kelly (Dana Delorenzo) spelled out that she only sees him as a surrogate brother. Santiago was particularly good as his character struggled with that knowledge. It’s doubtful that Pablo would have invited Kelly to go with them if he didn’t have romantic feelings for her.

This episode also introduced the proprietor of Books from Beyond, Lionel (Kelson Henderson), and he turned out to be a very fun addition to the cast…right up until he died. Most of Lionel’s function was to give some entertaining exposition about the history of the Necronomicon‍, which was cleverly delivered alongside imagery from the book itself. While Lionel had at least a working knowledge of the Necronomicon‍, he also had a devilish glee when Ash suggested summoning a demon to give them answers about how to end the Deadite invasion.

While Ruby didn’t catch up with Ash this week, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) did. Fisher recognized Ash from the police artist’s rendition and she tried to arrest him before Pablo knocked her out. Both Lionel and Kelly were surprisingly cool with leaving Fisher handcuffed while they searched the Necronomicon.

Pablo once again emerged as the voice of reason that Ash lacks. He’s the only one who repeatedly told Ash what a horrible idea it was to summon a demon from the book, only for Ash to later repeat the assertion when it was far too late. That was pretty funny. But it was even more hilarious when the demon that Lionel summoned, Eligos (Ben Fransham), looked more like a Cenobite from Hellraiser than the puny looking demon that Ash was hoping to see. That’s right, the forces of Hell just catfished Ash. More alarmingly, Eligos addressed Ash by name and had only this chilling piece of advice: “Die quickly.”

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In the meantime, Fisher talked Kelly into letting her go when the summoning ritual caused the store to violently shake and tremble. Fisher immediately went back on her promise to aid them and she tried to arrest Ash; who inadvertently set Eligos free from his mystical circle of confinement. Eligos quickly proved to be the series’ most formidable enemy to date by murdering Lionel and causing some internal damage to both Ash and Pablo. Both Ash and Pablo seemed to be alright when it was over, but that seems like it could be revisited within the next few episodes.

The design of Eligos and the way that he was used in this sequence actually made him seem frightening. The Deadites usually incorporate dark humor, but Eligos wasn’t played for laughs at all. If this is a sign of things to come, I love it. This was a lot closer in tone to the Evil Dead remake than Army of Darkness.

However, the battle with Eligos was over fairly quickly after Kelly bashed him with the Necronomicon…and sent him back to hell? It wasn’t clear if that really worked or if Eligos simply teleported away. If Eligos is really gone, then that was a little bit of a let down after some great build up.

For his part, Ash contritely thanked Pablo and Kelly for saving him and he even admitted that he wouldn’t be alive without them. Ash also tried to explain himself to Fisher, but she made herself look bad when she immediately tried to arrest him again. Ash simply handcuffed Fisher, and thoughtlessly left her behind with Lionel’s body…which rose again as a Deadite. Presumably that won’t be the last we see of Fisher. I’m expected Ruby to make the save next week.

After three episodes, Ash vs. Evil Dead has yet to make a major creative misstep. It’s just been hilariously gory fun on a weekly basis.

Tell us what you thought about this week’s Ash vs. Evil Dead in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Starz/Renaissance Pictures

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