Ash Vs Evil Dead – Season 1, Episode 3: Books From Beyond

After a the first two episodes rocked into our lives like a hurtling POV Cam of the demonic Deadite force itself, you couldn’t help but wonder: could Ash Vs Evil Dead possibly keep this relentless pace up? The answer, obviously, is no, but on the other hand, the Evil Dead franchise isn’t exactly known for playing the long game with it’s trademark, fantastical energy.
This brings us to the third episode of the fourth coming of Bruce Campbell’s wonderfully dimwitted Ash – a man so idiotic he happily describes himself as an “alone” wolf – and the show is now in a place where it has to provide some much needed tangibility to proceedings instead of flinging itself haphazardly at yet another gonzo action sequence or a comedy set piece.
Is the frantic fun of the show able to keep it’s energy levels up when the responsibilities of some actual story telling requires it to take it’s foot off the gas?

The mysterious woman who we saw in diner during the first episode pulls up at Kelly’s home in the aftermath of the massacre that left both her parents buried in shallow graves in the front garden. Finding the Deadite possesed father still kicking, the woman shows not only incredible strength but also some impressive sadism as she grills the creature for information. Meanwhile, Ash and his sidekicks Kelly and Pablo pull up at Books From Beyond, a store that deals in mystic artifacts that Ash hopes will shed some light on how he can finally make things right and send the evil back to hell once and for all. Elsewhere, disgraced Special Agent Fisher – who is hot on the tail of our one-handed simpleton due to his suspected involvement in the possession that killed her partner – has managed to track her quarry and head him off at the store, but she very well may end up with more questions than answers.
You see, in an attempt to get some much needed answers, Ash has elected to get store owner Lionel to use the Necronomicon to invoke a demon in order to question it and chooses to summon Eligos, a creature that deals with the mindscape and whom Ash reckons sounds like a total nerd. However, instead of being the totally manageable, squishy foetus like thing detailed in the Book Of The Dead, Eligos turns out to to be a totally buff demon who preys on the spiritually and emotionally weak (uh oh) and finds that the “Ghost Beaters” – Pablo’s new name for the group – are exceptionally susceptible targets…

Freed by Fisher arriving at the worst possible moment in order to apprehend Ash, Eligos starts doing what it does best, but is it too late for Ash to do the same?
Being the first episode that has to actually move an Evil Dead plot forward, Books From Beyond proves to be quite the mixed beast. Not only does the episode finally give Lucy Lawless’ mystery woman something to do, we also get to see she’s not entirely on the human side – but despite watching her torture a Deadite by tapping on the fork inbedded in its eye socket and getting a badass intro, this is still a tease.
On the other hand, Agent Fisher re-enters the fray with mixed results. Three episodes in and we’ve already had to bring Pablo and Kelly up to scratch with the demonic goings on of this universe and now we have to do it again with Fisher. But while Ash’s sidekicks are growing every episode to become the genuinely endearing emotional core alongside Campbell’s weapons grade buffoonery, Fisher still feels surplus to requirements and doesn’t really learn anything from her ordeal.
However, benefiting from some much needed backstory is a slightly ret-conned history of the Necronomicon itself and we gets some extra knowledge about the shadowy dark ones who bound the book in human flesh and inked it in human blood in the first place. Needless to say, the world is doomed if the one wielding the book is either very evil, or very stupid – not really many other choices in this show…
But in case it sounds like a lot of yappening and not a lot happening (Ash’s words, not mine), we still manage to get a nifty creature design in Eligos who gives the show much needed variety from the usual white eyed Deadites we’ve been getting and the demonic invoking scene is nicely reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell.

Technically Ash Vs Evil Dead’s first real attempt at having to act like a real TV show, it pulls it off mostly due to Campbell dropping a killer wisecrack whenever the info dump gets too much – but it’s secret weapon may yet be the bonding between it’s two secondary characters, something else the franchise isn’t exactly famous for.
The Ghost Beaters may be in fact the ones to beat…

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