So after numerous chainsaw decapitations, countless demonic possessions and various bloody maulings of varying descriptions, we finally make it to the season finale of Ash Vs Evil Dead. It’s been a massively entertaining journey thus far that’s lent into the franchise’s strengths to create a deliberately uneven ride that’s proven to be quite the triumphant return for Bruce Campbell’s Ashley J. Williams.
However, shows these days can live and die on their finales and with so much at stake can the filmmakers bring the show across the finish line in a way that’ll satisfy viewers that still contain that weird little kick in the balls that an Evil Dead movie would usually finish with? Strap yourself in as Ash, Kelly and Pablo do what they can to survive in order to ensure they still have all their limbs by the time season 2 rolls into town.
After the fragile truce with Ruby predictably went to shit after a double cross occured that even a blind man could spot, part-time demon slayer full-time idiot Ash has to take stock of a situation that’s gotten hideously out of hand. The severed cover to the Book Of The Dead has attached itself to the face of the long suffering Pablo and simply won’t come off and while Kelly struggles to remove it, Ruby blasts us with the revelation that it was she who wrote the cursed Necronomicon in the first place. While Ash violently disposes of his possessed former love interest Amanda, Ruby hauls Pablo down into the fruit cellar in order to perform yet more occult tomfoolery for nefarious reasons that’ll probably boggle the mind. However, in an attempt to follow, Ash is separated from Kelly and hapless hiker Heather by the cabin itself which seems to have come alive and while the two young women battle to stay alive, Ash endures one final temptation as Ruby rationally tries to explain herself in our heroes sputtering mind.
Ruby’s plan is seemingly simple; all Ash has to do is let her have the book and finish her incantations and she’ll control over all the beasts and creatures the Necronomicon holds dominion over. Claiming she’ll govern over them and maintain a sense of order similar to that seen in the movie The Godfather, Ash’s initial response is in the negative (“I hate that movie! Too long and boring and not enough boobies!”), but with Pablo hacking up large slimy cocoons that birth creepy, bald, eyeless kids and Kelly fighting the cabin itself, can his resolve possibly hold out? After all, he’s never really had to worry about anyone’s safety before, so will the guarantee of the Ghoat Beater’s survival (plus the lure of his beloved Jacksonville) convince Ash to stupidly doom the world?
Oh c’mon, what do you think?
Those new to the world of the Evil Dead may find The Dark One somewhat a confusing ending to a series that hasn’t exactly played by the established rules of television and the main reason is that people may be expecting a final act burst of intelligence and valour from our epically flawed, resident moron.
We’ll get to the earth shatteringly final moments of the episode in a moment, but first let’s cover everything else. We bid a final farewell to Jill Marie Jones’ Amanda for the second and final time as her character is swept off the board before the main credits have even featured and while Evil Ash got rufely dispatched in a similar fashion at the start of the previous episode, valuable space is required for the wall of darkly humorous pain that’s about to hit us.
Pablo’s role in this episode is to play a victim as miserable as you could imagine. Semi-flayed by Ruby who needs new pages for the Necronomicon and with the book’s orginal cover plastered to his features tighter than a moisturizing face mask from hell, you really feel a worrying sense of danger for a man who made genuinely be Evil Dead’s sweetest ever character – Kelly on the other hand, trapped outside and desperately trying to fight her way back into the now-living cabin, is trying to save her friends while Heather, trapped inside and desperately trying to get out, is mercilessly brutalized by flying nails and angry furniture. Kelly has really come leaps and bounds as a demon killer in her own right and her tenacious attempts to rescue Heather are impressive as they are ultimately futile and so it’s a goodbye to Samara Weaving as Heather is finally ejected through the front door in pieces. So while Pablo is utterly incapacitated and Kelly manages to fight her way all the way down into the fruit cellar only to be subdued and choked by her book-faced buddy, the last nine episodes have done such an amazing job of warming us to these adorable couple of losers/survivors that we are nail-bitingly concerned for their well being.
It’s extremely tense stuff – but the question has to be asked: where the fuck is Ash in all of this?
I truly believe no other actor alive could have pulled off the finale of this season except for Bruce Campbell whose talent for playing an egotistical lunk-head truly knows no earthly bounds and after some classic, slap-stick japery involving one of those legitimately freakish kids that Ruby is spawning into this world through Pablo’s overworked esophagus, the endgame can truly begin.
After some physical rough housing, Ash finally gets the drop on Ruby by finding out that she’s as vunerable to its blade as the Deadites are, but it all turns out to be a stalemate. If Ash kills Ruby, then a possessed Pablo will crush Kelly’s windpipe and then most likely perish himself – so what is an impulsive idiot to do? Take a fucking deal save all three of their lives, give Rubt what she wants and finally start that new life in Jacksonville he’s always wanted – plus gas money – of course. Lest we forget, Ash is – and always has been – a vain, selfish, lazy, knucklehead, why wouldn’t he take the easy way out? So blindly trusting Ruby at her word (not that he actually cares much at this point) and packing the gang back into the trusty Delta Oldsmobile, off they all go to to Jacksonville while an ominous sinkhole opens up in the road as they pass.
If any other show had attempted this anti-climax of an ending, you would get (rightful) accusations of lazy writing – but in the world of Ash Vs Evil Dead, it’s an ending that’s positively genius and utterly in-character and the final shot of a gleefully jubilant Ash celebrating what he considers a savvy move while Kelly and Pablo open ponder “WTF!” in the back seat is almost perfect.
Thankfully, another season was announced, but even if it wasn’t, the non-ending of the hero choosing to give up his battle to save the world simply because a) he got a better offer and b) he couldn’t be bothered is so true to the franchise it hurts like a boomstick to the face.