This review contains spoilers.
Have you ever seen the Buffy episode Normal Again? It’s from the show’s sixth season. It’s about Buffy waking up in a mental institution and realizing that her life is one big delusion. This Rod Serling-esque twist was effective where it was placed in the season’s overarching narrative because it emphasised how the character of Buffy herself wanted to escape the darkness of her life at that time. The episodic plot itself was nothing new then and it isn’t new now. But this week, Ash Vs Evil Dead embraces it fully and makes it its own – and it feels more like time wasting filler than anything else, especially after the climactic events of the previous episode, which saw Ash’s childhood house ravaged by the angry townspeople of Elk Grove and his sister Cheryl resurrected as a Deadite who killed Chet. I was eager to see what would happen after Baal abducted Ash, what he would do with him, where the story would go.
Instead, the story stalls itself while taking time to play dream sequence gags. Some work, some don’t. But probably the best and most entertaining one involves Ash carrying around a puppet of himself. That smells to me like a throwback to yet another one of the Whedonverse’s greatest hits: the Angel episode Smile Time in which the titular vampire-with-a-soul gets turned into a puppet. I don’t know if this was intentional or not (not quite sure why it wouldn’t be) but the puppet joke works pretty well. It’s also going to be good for merchandising later on down the road, me thinks.
Outside of that, I really don’t have much to say about Delusion. It mostly bides its time by being predictable and taking on all the regular conceits that you’d expect it to. Pablo, Kelly, and Ruby all make appearances as either hospital staff or patients. Chet too. And Baal is supposedly Ash’s doctor, and Ash realizes that it’s a dream right away. Or is it? (Checks the name of the episode again.) Yeah, pretty sure it is.
I’m sure there will be some of you out there that really enjoyed this episode, and there are things to love about it – mostly the Ash puppet – but it felt like an episode that’s just there to fill a space in order to prolong whatever climax is coming up with the season finale a few weeks away.
This year has been fast-paced so far, with major events happening in each instalment, and it does seem a lot more planned out than last season. However many morbidly cute moments it gives us, Delusion is more of a breather than anything else and made me want to skip to the next episode but I couldn’t because it wasn’t released yet. So here we are.
Read Stephen’s review of the previous episode, Trapped Inside, here.