This review contains spoilers.
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 Episode 5
There’s this moment that happens towards the beginning of this episode, in our only scene with Ruby and Agent Fisher, that encapsulates Evil Dead’s philosophy on storytelling pretty well.
“How does possession work?” Agent Fisher asks. “And how does Ash create those things?”
“I used to be like you,” Ruby answers. “I used to think everything had to be orderly. Logical. Life should make sense the way I thought it should make sense.”
“So you don’t believe that things should make sense?” Agent Fisher asks incredulously.
Ruby brings up respiration to illustrate her point. “When you were a baby, did you understand it? Of course not, because you weren’t concerned about the logic of things. You just kept on breathing. That’s what I want you to do – just keep on breathing.”
Since we’re already at the halfway point of season one, this is a good statement to make, because things on Ash vs Evil Dead are starting to get silly. No, not Army of Darkness silly. We have to pace ourselves here (season four, maybe?). But silly enough to warrant a few eye-rolls from the uninitiated and several quizzical looking emojis from the experts.
I’ve mentioned in my past few episode write-ups that the Evil Dead franchise wasn’t built on a foundation of solid, clearly laid out ground rules. Its attitude is far too anarchic, impudent and just plain messy for that kind of thing. Evil Dead is so notable because of how often and effectively it pranks its audience by playing with their expectations. Logic does not play a big role in its universe, nor should it be expected to, even if the new serialized storytelling format demands it.
This is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, because it can be fertile ground for creating stories that fly in the face of stale conventions. Curse, because based on what we’ve seen thus far, I’m not quite sure they’ll let it be. Also, if you don’t have just the right amount of context and world building, you risk coming across as superficial as a Saturday morning cartoon from the ‘70s. Which this show actually is, deep down.
It’s ironic that “The Host” starts off with Ash bound and gagged. His role this week was surprisingly minimal, as if we needed a break from his character after getting so up close and personal with his psyche in “Brujo.” Maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. Either way, Pablo and Kelly (or evil Kelly) spent a lot more screen time with us than usual.
Evil Kelly’s seduction of Pablo was one of the best scenes out of the whole episode, and might just be a highlight of the season so far. Note to self: if someone’s trying to get you to smoke weed out of a shotgun barrel, they might just be trying to kill you.
Thankfully, the Kelly/Eligos storyline was ultimately resolved in this episode. If you think about it, though, it might have been interesting to draw it out a bit longer, at the risk of endearing Kelly’s character to us. That said, I think the episode falls apart somewhere during her exorcism sequence. It made the third act feel like a checklist of your typical exorcist tropes. Cursing? Check. Projectile vomit? Check. Emotional fakeout? Check. Pants peeing? Check. Next?
Unfortunately, there had to be a sacrifice. It couldn’t be Kelly herself, even though they made it seem that way, since Dana DeLorenzo is a series regular. No, the sacrificial lamb this time around is Brujo, believe it or not. Yes, that very thin character with great supernatural power who would have been a great asset to Ash’s universe if he hadn’t been treated as just another a plot device. Sorry folks, he was only there to tell Ash that he was an alright guy and make a few awkwardly delivered santeria jokes. Nothing more than that.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Brujo was also there to pass on his legacy (AKA pretty necklace) to Pablo during a very funeral pyre end sequence that would make Mark Hamill feel like something was in his eye. His powers are awakening now, so he can be more than just a plucky sidekick. He can be a magic plucky sidekick. That’s way better. More respectable, even.
And here we come back to…the new hand. Pablo gives it to Ash at the end, and guess what? It fits on perfectly, it clicks in just the right places, and he can make a fist with it. Ash celebrates his new appendage made from recycled Super Nintendo and Sega CD parts by claiming that he’s going to shove it up a Deadite’s ass, bringing in a team fist pump, and then giving Pablo the middle finger. Hmm. I guess his missing iron gauntlet couldn’t do that.
This tacks on a triumphant end to an uneven half hour that reminds us that above all else, Ash vs Evil Dead is a stoner horror sitcom. True, it plays in the sandbox of its fantasy/horror TV predecessors from time to time, looking for guidance in telling longform story arcs. But we’re dealing with a different kind of beast here, one that might be more suited for a programming block like Adult Swim than we realize, that doesn’t need to justify itself. It doesn’t want you to think about the logic of things. It wants you to watch – just keep on watching.
Once again, the Ruby and Fisher team pack a lot of intrigue into only a few minutes of running time. Can you spare another scene please?
So Pablo really does have a crush on Kelly. I don’t see them ever getting together, but I like that they played it for comedic effect.
Kelly throwing up Eligos – pretty awesome.
Okay, so what exactly does Eligos do to your head again when he…oh, there I go, getting all logical again.
Eligos’ sloppy death = yumminess.
So have any of you tried smoking weed from a shotgun barrel? Leave a comment about your experience if you have.
THE NOT-SO GROOVY
Seriously, we needed some more Ash time in this episode. He was only there for reaction shots and one-liners.
Why treat Brujo’s death like a tragedy when you won’t treat his character like a person?
That last shot of the trailer driving off was curiously long. I thought something was about to happen. Maybe they came up short and needed to fill in a few extra seconds?
“Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey
“Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent