This review contains spoilers.
2.10 Second Coming
Holy camel toe, it’s season finale time already?! I thought we had two more in the can for some reason. Huh? Oh well.
Last year, my reviews for Ash Vs Evil Dead were more involved, nay, extensive on an episode-by-episode basis than they were this year. That’s because of two things. 1) time constraints and 2) the realization that this show isn’t written with as much texture as I wanted it to be. I still heart Ash Vs Evil Dead and everything, even if it makes some questionable choices here and there from time to time, but Westworld it ain’t. It’s hard to write reams and reams about Ash hacks off a Deadite woman’s head while giving her a swirlie. I mean, I could… but that would only highlight the problematic things about it, like the misogynistic symbolism that nobody in Ash’s target demo really wants to read, do they? No, they probably don’t.
I guess what I’m trying to say is – I don’t want to read too much into a show that prides itself in being uncomplicated fun. After watching season two of Ash Vs Evil Dead, I know now that the show may have a lot of moving parts, but it’s simple at its core. It should be taken at face value. Or ass value. Whatever you’re into.
Second Coming follows some very sloppy logic for a season finale, but it’s a fitting denouement for an oddly paced year. All of the events the past nine episodes have bombarded us with gel together here, even if there is not much explanation for why certain big wishes are granted (like the resurrection of Pablo for instance). It’s also perhaps this year’s most lucid attempt at storytelling, functioning both as The Big Climax and a shop vac that tidies up after the slight mess that got started in the Delusion/Ashy Slashy duology. Yes, it’s rushed. And yes, it left my head spinning and making cartoon wheezing noises. But that’s Ash Vs Evil Dead for you.
This episode is one of the strongest written entries this year. That’s saying a lot in a highly experimental season that took on as many risks as it did new characters – and scribes, for that matter. If you haven’t already noticed, each episode of season two has been written by a different writer, most of them completely new to the staff. This is a fantastic way to keep things creatively fresh and try out new directions, even if some of these weren’t completely aligned with the true spirit of Evil Dead.
Returning to the cabin in the woods for finale time again was clever, but does this mean we’re going to do that every season? Second Coming would say no, since it blew up and disappeared into hell. But… the show already proved that it’s studied at the Steven Moffat School of Time Travel, so it’s probably going to be regurgitated at some point or another. Probably this time next year. As I mentioned in last week’s review, I think there should be a policy of revisiting it once a season to reset Ash’s tone, a safe zone for the series to return to when it feels like it’s having an identity crisis.
We should talk about the death of Good!Ruby (or MostlyRedeemed!Ruby). It was nice having her on the team roster this year, even if it felt like her character was wearing a muzzle most of the time. And her partnership with Kelly? Spin-off worthy. But without Lucy Lawless positioned in the anti-Ash role, the show lacks bite. (Baal was not a very good substitute for this, but we’ll get to him in a moment.) I see why they decided to reboot her character – again – by introducing the sassier, more conniving, more deadly, more Bronze Age Marvel-esque 80s Ruby. I have a feeling that she’ll cause trouble with the gang throughout Season 3 while Kelly tries to redeem her because the time they spent killing demon children together this season, like, changed her life so much, y’know?
The resurgence of Baal is a necessary evil, I suppose. It’s not that I dislike this character, it’s more that I don’t find him threatening in the least. 80s Ruby is more intimidating than he is. Hell, so was Ash’s possessed Delta! So what if he can slaughter you with his talon-nail thing? Big deal. So what if he can do the First Evil thing and transform himself into dead people just to mess with Ash’s head during a fight (mostly to facilitate the cameos from guest stars)? His presence on the show had more impact when he wasn’t around. I really don’t like to say these kinds of things, and I’m not insulting Joel Tobeck’s performance, but come on. If you’re going to have a demon-themed Big Bad on this show, he or she has to be pretty goddamn terrifying. Baal was not. The skin gag was a neat trick and all, but we need someone more scary next time please.
I’m happy that Pablo is resurrected again because I was getting worried there for a minute. I liked the foreshadowing that we got from Home onward in the form of his psychic visions. But I don’t quite understand why he came back to life again after the Necronomicon and the cabin and Skinless!Baal were flushed down god’s toilet. Was I supposed to? Was that part of the deal or something? Moving on.
I would love to touch on the Baal/Ash chainsaw duel, which was most excellent (I mean that in the Bill & Ted way), but I’ll let that stand on itself. What I really want to touch on right now is the final scene of Second Coming because I need to get something off my chest.
It… angers me.
I was sure it was a dream sequence or would twist around and be another one of Baal’s delusions again. Instead, it turned out to be gospel. That’s right. A huge festival celebrating Ashy Slashy in Elk Grove, touting him as a hero, with little kids cosplaying as Bruce Campbell and everything. Yeah. Hold on. Do you hear something? That’s the sound of me shaking my damn head. I’m all for Ash Williams getting his wish fulfilment and a time in the spotlight for everything he’s been through in the past three or four decades (who’s counting?). But this… this is ridiculous. And don’t get me started on the Jedi spirit ghosts of Brock and Cheryl and Ted Raimi hanging out in the crowd watching him. How did they get back to the present day anyway? Since they changed history who would even fucking remember they did any of this stuff since they destroyed the cabin in the 1980s before young Ash ever went there in the first place?
Huh?!? Tell me! I’d like to know! Bad Ash vs Evil Dead! Bad time travel logic! Don’t make me get the spray bottle!
Ahem. Pardon that outburst.