And so we get to the grand finale of Season 2 of Ash Vs Evil Dead and if I’m being brutally honest, while the journey here has been as fun and raucous as every, it’s also been noticably uneven and prone to lapsing into full blown nostalgia in favour of originality. The biggest offender so far was Home Again, the previous episode, which spent almost half of it’s limited time rehashing situations from past movies after yet another return to the cabin where all this chaos originally took place. Was it great to see Ash beat himself up to defeat an ingested little creature? Sure it was! Was it cool to see the possessed trees make a return (sans the rape)? Obviously! Was it a magnificent sight to see Ted Raimi made up as the grotesquely bloated Henrietta once again? Are you kidding? I loved that!
However, the season has a story arc to finish and focusing so much on past glories means there’s only the final episode left to wrap a lot of things up. Has Second Coming got the stones to finish the job right?
We last left Ash with a confused and mauled co-ed Tanya cowering behind him after Professor Knowby had locked them in the fruit cellar with the puss-filled, plus-sized form of his possessed wife Henrietta. As the waddling ghoul advances on them, Knowby makes a break for it with the Book Of The Dead, only to be messily dispatched by an unseen assailant, but after a knock down drag out battle that sees Tanya obliterated and Henrietta’s saggy boobs upsettingly weaponized, Ash drags himself out of the cellar only to find a new problem facing him and the remaining Ghostbeaters. As Ash, Kelly and Ruby have all traveled through time to 1982, it makes sense that the still evil and immortal Ruby from the 80’s would crash the party sooner or later and crash it she does with deadly style. Disturbed at the news that her future self is not only due to lose her powers, but also aligns herself with the despised Chosen One (Ash, to you and me), 80’s Ruby lashes out, fatally wounding future Ruby. But it’s not all doom and gloom; due to all the future changing shit Ash has carelessly been doing he’s somehow gotten back his severed hand – and even better yet, Pablo’s back from the dead which means their ridiculous mission worked.
Or has it – no, no actually it hasn’t, because Baal (whom Ash still calls Bill) isn’t as dead as everyone once thought and Ash still has one final showdown to contend with to determine the fate of everything.
No pressure then, eh?
Second Coming has a lot to pack into during it’s slightly extended run time and it wastes no time in diving straight in and ploughing through its various plot threads with frenzied abandon. Not only does the episode have to wrap up everyone’s various story lines, plus a fight with Henrietta – complete with her transforming, buck toothed, pee-wee head – it also brings back Baal and introduces a new (old) Ruby to boot so you wouldn’t be at all surprised if it rushed through things the way that season two’s first episode did and leave things way too rushed to enjoy. Thankfully, despite the fact the characters ricochet from setpiece to setpiece without barely a minute to spare is barely saved by the fact that the final episode has around an extra ten minutes to play with.
Literally not a second is wasted with a splash of gore, a plot point and a wisecrack thrown at you at a dizzying rate as events hurl themselves at you with ridiculous momentum.
It works – but only just – and just points out the problems that season two has had; if less time was spent on riffing on moments from the movies there would have been more time to explore the show’s more important notes. Kelly’s urge for independence never really got going and Pablo’s whole arc basically ended him dying a full two episodes before the end (don’t worry, he gets better) – even evil 80’s Ruby had more character development in one episode than present good Ruby has had for ten whole episodes. But what of good ol’ Ash? What does the episode hold for a character who, due to his idiocy, requires less character development or resolution than Captain Jack Sparrow? Well, I’m glad you asked because thanks to the shape shifting chicanery of Baal, it means that we get quick cameos of best buddy Chet, sister Cheryl and even his cantankerous old fart of a dad mid-fight. Rhis means that not only does he get a modicum of resolution with his father, but we also get the closest Ash has ever had to having a happy ending (this side of the US edit of Army Of Darkness, anyway) as he returns to his own time with Kelly and Pablo by his side (and in once piece) to be hailed as a hero by the people of Elk Grove who even throw a parade with confetti and everything.
It’s been a wild ride and undoubtedly fun, but you really feel now that the makers desperately need to figure out what this show is actually about or be cursed to simply keep going back over old ground, trapped in the past like its deluded hero.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore Henrietta, possessed trees, evil Ash doubles, possessed hands, Necronomicons, the cabin, Ellen Sandweiss and Ted Raimi and seeing them come back was an extra special treat, but the show has to find a way to move things forward if it’s going to have any longevity.
Still, it’s real nice to see Ash get a happy ending – far more fun than seeing him getting force fed nipple pus from a rotten mammary at any rate – and hopefully this means that Season 3 will give Ray Santiago and Dana Delorenzo more room to do things other than scream and shoot guns. It’s still groovy, but Ash Vs Evil Dead needs to find new ways to give us some sugar, baby.