Much like the frankly adorable trio who head this show, Ash Vs Evil Dead may be huge amounts of fun to hang around with but you get the distinct impression that it is wandering around as aimlessly as a lost roomba. Three episodes in and the need for the show to try and come up with with some sort of over arching plot finally comes to fruition (sort of) with Lucy Lawless’ mystery woman finally taking centre stage and ditching some of that mystery in favour of a clear and concise goal – something the show is arguably lacking…
Now while this genuinely isn’t some passive aggressive needling on my part, the need to balance the Deadite-of-the-week with some more substantial story telling is probably vital to avoid the continued Chainsaw related wackiness getting stale – or even worse – irritating. Can Brujo conjure a spell to achieve this goal?
Still handcuffed in the wreckage of Books And Beyond, Agent Fisher sees that to her horror, the ravaged corpse of Lional the store owner has been given a nasty influx of Deadite possession and advances on the helpless cop. However, Ruby, the woman Fisher randomly met days earlier in a diner, enters, whups the Deadite’s ass and starts interrogating it for the whereabouts of the Necronomicon. Once Ruby gets what she wants, she finally fills in the detective with a slight skewed version of events that paints Ash as the cause of everything (technically true) and that he is a vicious murderer (ok… kinda technically true also). How does Ruby know all this? Because she claims she is the daughter of Professor Knowby, the man who discovered and transcribed the Book Of The Dead in the first place and her entire family was butchered by Ash in the family cabin located in the Tennessee woods.
While Ruby is treating facts like they’re as malleable as play-doh, Ash, Pablo and Kelly head to Pablo’s uncle’s place in order to utilise the fact that he’s a Brujo (aka. a witch doctor) to aid Ash in finding some much needed direction. The Brujo, immediately spotting that Ash’s terminal lack of self awareness us going to make his job unreasonably tough, prescribes an ayahuasca trip to allow the egotistical idiot get in touch with his spiritual self and so everyone patiently waits while Ash muscles his way though visions of zombies and having his eyes sewn shut so he can gain enlightenment from his pet lizard Eli.
Killing time, Pablo elects to build Ash a new, robot hand as his fake, Redwood one was sacrificed when escaping Detective Fisher, but unbeknownst to him, Kelly has become possessed by the mind demon Eligos who wants revenge for being screwed with earlier…
Taking a much needed breather in order to take stock of it’s characters, it becomes apparent fairly quickly that if the show is going to succeed across its initial 10 episode run, the metaphorical Deadite it has to slay is finding a way to keep things like plot and character growth moving while not sacrificing a single second of the show’s doofy nature. To Brujo’s credit, it attempts to do just that in the most bizarre way it possibly can by giving us a long awaited look into Ash’s subconscious to find out what makes him tick in the only way that thematically makes any sense whatsoever – that of a brain frazzling, bad trip obtained by potent hallucinogenics. It’s a concept of minor genius and it’s beautify in-character that the thing that keeps the Ash going is the underwhelming goal of going to visit Jacksonville, Florida – the place he was supposed to go directly after that fateful and bloody trip to the cabin thirty years ago.
Elsewhere, Lucy Lawless finally earns her pay by adding some much needed layers to Ruby who is directly linked to the original trilogy by not only being the daughter of Professor Knowby and Henrietta, but she’s also the sister of Annie, the ill-fated heroine of Evil Dead II. The promise of Ruby finally catching up to her boomstick wielding quarry is exactly the sort of story work the show needs to keep things flowing but Agent Fisher still seems like the odd fit for the whole series despite finally having scenes with all the major players. It’s a real shame, because if any franchise could use more capable female characters, it’s Evil Dead, but the show literally doesn’t have a clue as to what to do with her as all the other story requirements have already been claimed by The Ghost Beaters.
Ah, yes, the Ghost Beaters… while Kelly’s possession by Eligos seems way too early in the season to pull a “good guy gone bad” ploy, it’s to the testament of Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago immense likability factor that it actually flies and a previous discussion where Kelly says she sees the love struck Pablo as a little brother is both genuinely sweet and sad…
But as Ash says, “When evil shows up, it blows up”, and along with a full blown car chase involving the roaring POV shot of a raging Deadite spirit barrel after Ash’s Delta, we get some truly intriguing callbacks this episode that hint at things to come. A nod to psycho dolly, Little Lori, from the first episode is a neat touch, but the most exciting instance is during the climax of the episode where Ruby reveals she’s in possession of Ash’s severed right hand that hasn’t been seen since Evil Dead II – and the fucker’s still twitching!
Who’s laughing now, indeed….