Throughout the two seasons so far of his small screen comeback, Ashley J. Williams (aka. The Chosen One, aka. El Jefe) has had to overcome some pretty tall obstacles placed in his path. However, in among the copious Deadites, resurrected siblings and a close encounter with a corpse’s butthole, it would seem that the Ghostbeating team of Ash, Pablo and Kelly had there greatest test still ahead of them… that of series cancellation.
I’ve been a huge fan of this show (despite the sometimes uneven path of season two), but even I could tell that viewing figures where going down faster than Ash in a Tijuana whore house, so with campaigns in place to save the show for the two more seasons the showrunners were hoping for (#bringbackboomstick, if you were wondering), we dived into Season 3 with no clue if this would be the end of Ash Vs Evil Dead…
With evil royally vanquished, the Ghost Beaters have settled down into relatively normal lives in an Elk Grove that still worships Ash as their workd saving hero. The great man himself has opened up a hardware slash sex store emporium (I said he was a hero, I didn’t say he’d gotten smarter), loyal Pablo actually got his food stall/tech support stall (Fish & Chips) off the ground, while Kelly keeps her butt whupping skills honed by cracking skulls at the local bar. However, their idyllic lives (I mean, I think they’re idyllic) are once again thrown into chaos when that fucking Book Of The Dead turns up on an antiques road show type of programme and the host reads aloud from one of the passages. Next thing you know, evil has returned along with evil, 80’s Ruby who once again wants the book to help her drop some demonic sprogs in order to conquer the world.
At the drop of a hat, the Ghost Beaters spring into action but are immediately distracted by a call from Candice Barr, an old flame of Ash’s whom he naturally forgot ever existed despite the fact the both got married in a drug fueled haze years prior. Even more stunning is the news that Ash also has a teenaged daughter he never knew about named Brandy and she’s currently in deep, Deadite do-do as evil has targeted her while she languishes in detention at the local school.
There’s a lot to unpack here in the first episode of Ash Vs Evil Dead’s third series, but instead of trying to ram everything in like the second season premiere tried to, Family thankfully has learned its lesson and not thrown the baby out with the blood-water. The short but sweet look at a life that Ash would deem perfect (I’ll say it again, Hardware/Sex shop emporium) is masterfully set up by one of those slightly deranged “slashing prices” ads where Ash plays up his hero status to the max and the inflatable Ash tube man located at the front of the store is insanely adorable.
Pablo is thankfully given more breathing space after spending the vast majority of last season either screaming in pain or just plain being dead and the fact we getva call back to his little business idea is nothing short of being a beautiful chef’s kiss of a moment.
However, with its notoriously tight run time to deal with and numerous revelations about Ash’s accidental parenting to drop, its inevitable that some fall by the wayside and this time it’s the turn of Kelly (kind of only has a handful of scenes confirming her establish badassery) and Ruby (grabs book, eats blood, gets preggo). Its understandable, however, as the episode not only has to introduce (and dispatch by flying cymbal) Candice, but also the result of her and Ash’s brief union in the shape of Arielle Carver-O’Neill’s troubled Brandy. However, almost as an after thought, we also get the arrival of the absurdly chiseled Dalton, a member of something called the Knights Of Sumaria and who seems to be a prospective love interest for Kelly, but as we all remember how Detective Amanda Fisher was treated back in season 1, let’s not hold our breath any time soon.
So that’s the characters and plot nicely introduced, but what Family definitely doesn’t skimp is on the Deadite action, which is also nicely well balanced, doesn’t overwhelm the plot and sees Ash, Pablo and Candice fighting off possessed versions of Brandy’s friend and the school mascot “Cougy”, a baggy cougar suit that sprouts slavering fangs and rending claws. Also taking time out to contain a typically absurd section where Ash gets assaulted by musical instruments (Three Stooges style torment is supplied this time by a couple of malevolent drumsticks), the episode contains probably one of the most spectacularly extreme Deadite takedowns the series has ever seen as Ash uses the strings of a harp to split a hag’s head into ribbons, making her face resemble a hideous loaf of sliced bread.
Obviously the centrepiece of this season will be Ash trying to bond with his newly discovered daughter and as this is only the first episode it’s obviously early days yet as the man himself can’t even remember her name. “We’re still getting to know each other.” he sheepishly admits after randomly dropping a Sandy and a Mandy in her direction.
So it’s a good start then for Ash’s hat trick season and a noticable step up from a previous season that arguably learned too far into gruesome nostalgia to stir up fan devotion. But its early days yet, so let’s see how things go as Ash raises a daughter on one hand and extinguishs the dead with the other…