This Ash vs Evil Dead review contains spoilers.
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 Episode 6
While I was watching this week’s episode, something dawned on me: Ash vs Evil Dead looks kind of like Doctor Who if you squint hard enough. A ruder, nastier, far less politically correct Doctor Who, maybe. But still, they’re both very much the same in basic structure. Ash would be the Doctor, obviously, and Pablo and Kelly would be the companions, and the trailer would be his TARDIS. Dr. Ash guides his plucky young sidekicks, who are bored with the normal world, into the realm of unknown possibility, where the spooky monsters in the closet live. There, they forge strong emotional bonds that keep their spirits up while they battle multiple opponents and head towards an ominous climax that looms on the horizon at the end of the season. The outcome of their adventures effect the entire universe, if not their own personal lives, and their inner conflicts are externalized on a grand scale.
Okay, fine. Maybe Ash vs Evil Dead isn’t quite as operatic in scope as that. And, in all fairness, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures was also kinda like Doctor Who, wasn’t it? Yet the fact still stands that, on a fundamental level, both shows are reaching out of the the same bag of storytelling tricks. Speaking as a Whovian, I think that’s a groovy thing, baby.
You know what else is groovy? “The Killer of Killers.” I’m talking groovy as in “hell yes, Evil Dead is on top of its disgusting game again.” Groovy as in “Hail to the King because he’s forever going to be a lovable douchebag.” Groovy as in “this episodes is just about as satisfying as the series premiere was.” Groovy as in…okay, I’m done with this. You get the picture.
This time around, Ash vs Evil Dead takes off the stuffy tighty whiteys of normal TV convention and goes full-on commando. It declares itself an obnoxious, immature, repulsive freakshow again – the kind of experience we were hoping for all along. And in the wake of last week’s “The Host,” which played things as safe as they could possibly get, this feels like a complete and utter victory.
After watching “The Killer of Killers,” I couldn’t help but feel that what I was watching was an act of defiance, a reminder that a TV show that takes place in the Evil Dead universe is not just going to sit still and behave, not matter how much you spray it with a water bottle. As I’ve said before, the franchise is built on the burial ground of raw visceral experience. Intricate plots and well thought-out character development is not a part of its foundation. The only character that “grows” technically (and I use that term very loosely) is Ash himself. Everyone else in his world have been fuel for the unholy fire until recently, and therefore ultimately disposable.
That fire becomes a towering blaze in this episode, which has the highest body count out of any we’ve seen so far. The huge gore sequence at the end is the most startling – and awesomely bloody – spectacle to behold, as an entire diner full of peripheral characters (plus Agent Fisher’s old partner) are all slaughtered in nauseatingly outrageous ways. It’s hard not to think of this as a blood sacrifice to keep the spirit of ED satiated because it gets hungry fast and bored faster. It likes chaos. It doesn’t like order. Sorry, TV. You can’t domesticate Evil Dead, even if you try.
It’s true that the past few episodes have been entertaining to watch, and each one has managed to be historical for the franchise in its own respect. And, yes, the series is still in its infancy. However, we can all agree that this show needs more episodes that are as crude and shocking as this one. Why? Because it matches the tone and the insanity of what got us all charged up when we watched “El Jefe” for the first time, while reclaiming the video nasty mantle that made Evil Dead a charnel house name in the first place. (No kidding. That gag with the intestines had to be lifted straight out of a Lucio Fulci movie.)
And then there are the surprises. Those sweet, messy surprises. The beginning scene with Ruby and Fisher checking out Brujo’s home after Ash and the Scrappy-Doos left resulted in an Army of Darkness-ish duel with his charred corpse – and lead to Ruby getting blown up in the funeral pyre! I most certainly didn’t see that coming, as I expected Ruby and Fisher’s uncomfortably erotic partnership to last at least until when the gang gets to the cabin. Yet Ruby dies for now, even though we know she’ll be coming back before long (and especially since there’s a picture of her floating around that spoils it anyway.)
Which leads to another surprise later on: Fisher becomes one of Ash’s compan- uh, Ashlets (?) before the end credits roll. At last, she sees that Ash isn’t as bad of a guy as she thinks he his, even though he’s a misogynistic, racist old white man who unleashes the forces of evil upon the world every once in awhile. Looks like being in a gory brawl with the undead is a the perfect ice breaker.
I’m looking forward to see how Agent Fisher fits into Team Ash’s dynamic, because until this point, she’s been an orphaned character without a purpose. She’s more interesting now that she’s becoming the character that switches sides to keep us on our toes, but she’s also not interesting at the same time because she still so two-dimensional. We hardly know anything about her, and what’s worse is we also don’t have a strong desire to. She was the most fascinating in the very brief time she was paired up with Ruby because then she finally had a purpose, and that was to help us find what the hell was going on with that woman. Now that we figured that out, it’s time for her to spend some quality time with the main crew for a while, which I’m all for if it means that we get to know her better.
Meanwhile, what’s happening with Pablo and Kelly? The emotional fallout of everything Kelly’s been through in the past few months is finally taking its tole on her, and it’s manifesting itself in a very aggro way. She’s out to get revenge, dammit, because she’s a tough cookie. She’s had it with all of these dead moms coming back to kill you and the evil possessions that make you piss yourself in front of your friends. She will get retribution whether you think it’s okay or not, and she doesn’t care if she gets addicted to it in the process. This sets us up for a wickedly gruesome scene where she takes a meat slicer to a Deadite’s head repeatedly. (Eat your eyeballs out, Fulci.) Wherever this story arc will take the Kelly’s character is anyone’s guess, but I could see her becoming a turncoat later on and joining Ruby’s side, since she’s matching her style more now anyway.
Pablo, meanwhile, is dealing with his own fallout from the almost-seduction that Evil Kelly put him through in “The Host”. He confronts her about it and asks if she might really feel something for him deep down. She basically says no, but this is a TV show, after all. Relationship drama is inevitable in this format. I personally felt slightly offended by Pablo’s selfish expectation that Kelly owes him something for giving him evil blue balls while she was possessed, and in an episode that plays male chauvinism, sexual predation, child mortality and rape culture for laughs, that’s saying a hell of a lot. I understand that he’s had a crush on Kelly since before we’ve met them, but Pablo comes across as a selfish fool for thinking that she owes him a sexual experience that a demon from hell initiated while trying to shoot him in the face with a shotgun. Pablo, dude…no. Just no.
The magic necklace his uncle gave him after he died, though? It’s starting to react to the Necronomicon locked up in the trunk in Ash’s trailer. That’s more interesting to focus on.
So, let’s talk about Ash for a minute. In “The Host,” he didn’t have a lot to do, and was mostly relegated to a supportive role while we watched Evil Kelly do embarrassing stuff. “The Killer of Killers” feels like a comeback for Ash’s character, and this is a very good and very tasteless thing. We get a whole subplot devoted to his sexual harassment of a waitress. This reminds us that Ash is not the new big softie that Ash vs Evil Dead is slowly turning him into; he’s still an asshole and always will be, Super Nintendo hand or not. He gets his comeuppance for his behavior when Agent Fisher shoves his face into a random pee-filled urinal trough during their fight scene (which might be the grossest scene in the whole episode) and it feels totally justified. I’m starting to notice a correlation between the degree of repugnancy in Ash’s behavior and the vulgarity of the gore scenes that show up soon thereafter. Clever, that.
All in all, “The Killer of Killers” is a much-needed breath of rotten air after the two-part sidequest to Brujo’s house. The show reminds us that it’s still got cojones, and it’s not afraid to whip them out to make you say “ewww” when it needs to.
- That fight scene in the Western Moose diner was just incredible, folks. It’s like a better Zombieland. I’m still blown away.
- Oh yeah, forgot to mention the introduction of Lem. He’s some random dude that Ash knows. He likes to use his employee discount to get cheap ammo. Apparently he’s being chased by the evil force, so maybe he’s going to be the vessel for it? No? Whatever.
- The show finally explicitly stated that the gang is heading back to the old iconic cabin from the trilogy. I’m excited for that. I hope they spend a good two-three episodes carving up Deadites there.
- Even if they are downright offensive and always problematic, we need Ash’s misadventures in this show to keep it fun. Admit it.
- I’m glad Fisher got to keep Ruby’s sweet ride.
THE NOT-SO GROOVY
– Thankfully, this episode was short on low points, but I just wanted to reiterate my dislike of Pablo’s mindset about his predicament with Kelly. That is all.
- “Be My Lover” by Alice Cooper
- “Freakin’ Out” by Death
- “Renegade” by Styx
- There were a couple songs playing in the background during the diner scenes that I couldn’t make out…could you?