This Ash vs Evil Dead review contains spoilers.
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 Episode 4
Wow. I’m speechless.
Okay, not really. It’s just…there’s a lot to say about this particular episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead. The thing is, I think the characters have said it all themselves.
Without a doubt, the chattiest entry in the Evil Dead canon yet. Ash and his friends have never yapped as much as they have in this episode. Characters are breathlessly recapping key moments from AvED’s drunk and disorderly timeline of events while cracking jokes left and right and keeping the story moving along.
Basically, it’s one big exposition orgy. But it’s not a boring one – and that’s what matters.
“Unfinished Business” is a condensed piece of television and another impressive achievement for Ash vs Evil Dead in general. I’ve reviewed this series from the very beginning, and never before have I felt the need to re-watch an episode to fully absorb and process. Never would I have thought that I’d have to, either.
Up until season three, Ash vs Evil Dead has played things fast and loose, sometimes unsatisfyingly so. It was hard to put my finger on what exactly was off about the show during its first two seasons, but now, it’s shockingly clear: it didn’t take itself seriously. It wasn’t trying to build on the legacy of Evil Dead, it was trying to reformat it.
Okay, so all of my reviews of this season have basically been me saying, “Seasons one and two suck now! Season three forever, bitches!” While that is a near-accurate portrayal of my personal feelings towards the program as of this writing, I admit that this season might also not be for everyone. Some fans may choose to look past the funny gags, the loving tributes, and the 80% more Raimi-esque cinematography and see a show that is working overtime to justify Ash’s new daughter, if not its very own existence. A show that’s becoming more “soft” or “sensitive”, even “sillier”. A show that has drifted off into full-blown sitcom territory.
To them I ask, what are you smoking? Because I don’t want any of that sh*t.
Take note, all you theoretical haters smoking figurative bad weed out there. “Unfinished Business” is a good example of what the AvED aspires to be these days. It behaves as an ensemble show should, engaging all of its cast members in its major storylines that work in tandem with their character arcs.
It gives us just enough nostalgia to feel satisfied – just enough, not too much. It keeps us on the edge of our seat, even while exposition is being perpetually vomited all over the sets. And, more importantly, it insists on surprising us at all bends, dips, and turns.
So…I guess this show is kind of like a roller coaster in that respect. Does that sound cliche? Yes. Do I care? No.
The underlying theme I’ve noticed in this episode is one of balance. There’s the balance between exposition and action sequences, for example. Then there’s the juxtaposition between Ash and Brock’s quest into the past and Kelly and Brandy’s struggle to ward off Deadite Pablo. We also have two sequences that neatly mirror each other and practically bookend the episode – Ash’s descent into the tool store’s basement, and his ascent into Ruby’s attic.
These are nice, graceful touches that writer Nicki Paluga added to give “Unfinished Business” an added dimension that can be felt throughout it.
The decision to tie in the “big family secret” Brock was about to reveal before he was run over last season – a moment I completely forgot about until now – to the current Knights of Sumeria mythos is a clever move. It doesn’t make as much sense in retrospect, but it works better than it should. It’s nice to see this series pay attention to its own details for once. Whoops, there I go again.
Other than the sheer size of its storytelling cojones, the Top 5 Highlights of “Unfinished Business” (for me) are:
1. Deadite Pablo. “It’s me! Your powerful vagina!” How can you go wrong with a setup like this? I knew Pablo would be evil at some point own the line. Well, looks like it’s sooner than later. Does this mean he won’t be the big bad this year? Fingers…crossing…now…
2. Kelly and Brandy’s bonding activities. Dana DeLorenzo told us before this season aired that she was going to spend some time training the new recruit, and boy, did she ever. Am I right? Jokes aside, this serves as a fantastic checkpoint that shows just how far Kelly has come since we first met her, and re-establishes her status as a badass friggin’ hero. Also, the mouth that grew on her leg thanks to Pablo’s bite…better than the Ash puppet.
3. Ruby on Facebook. Okay, don’t take that too literally. She basically peered into the Necronomicon to communicate with one of her associates from the spirit realm. What was her name? Did they even say it? Who cares. The special effects were awesome.
4. Brock Williams. How is it that I like this character now better than I did during season two? Back then he felt like a long, drawn-out joke that wouldn’t end. Now, I’m hoping he sticks around for the long haul. Don’t go away, six million dollar grandpa!
5. The end scene. Ash’s trip to Ruby’s attic was surprising, tonally perfect, and cleverly constructed. It kept us in the moment, waiting to see what would happen. In other words, it successfully captured the magic of Evil Dead – much like the rest of this episode.