As season 3 continues on its tireless efforts to get all of the plot threads ignored or abandoned by the relentless energy of season 2 to get the attention they deserve, it finally cocks its boomstick and takes aim at possibly as the series most neglected plot thread. Yes, it’s finally time to address the fact that Pablo is on the verge of becoming the next Brujo, a title previously held by his late uncle who died waaaay back in season 1 and whose payoff has been an insanely long time coming.
Ray Santiago’s adorable, vertical haired sidekick is one of Ash Vs Evil Dead’s strongest attributes, his naive energy boncing off nicely with Ash’s monstrous ego and Kelly’s take no shit attitude, but thanks to a plot thread last season that left him sidelined for numerous episodes (he was fucking dead), he has been given precious little time to progress as character except having to channel evil and screaming a lot. Can this episode finally give Pablo his due?
Ash has managed to track down where Ruby has been hiding only to find two unexpected people there in her place. The first is Natalie, the hitchhiker we saw abducted by Ruby a few episodes back who is chained to a sink and awaiting a horrific fate from the house’s other occupant; Ruby’s infant demon spawn created in Ash’s image for the purpose of killing the crap out of him. Being woken by some textbook Ash buffoonery, the freakish little fucker immediately goes on the offensive (and I do mean offensive – you’ll find out why) and launches his arsenal of special abilities upon our startled hero. Fending off the child’s piercing scream, his freaky, little fleshy chainsaw arm and the fact that it can puppeteer Natalie’s headless corpse by crawling into her… lower orrifice (nope, not the butt – the other lower orrifice), Ash manages to best the bouncing, baby, bastard, but holds off on killing it thanks to the bright idea (insert sarcasm) of keeping the terrible tyke alive as proof for Brandy.
Speaking of Brandy, she and Kelly are still taking refuge in Ash’s trailer as a possessed Pablo crazily bounces off the outside like a moustachioed Sonic The Hedgehog while on the inside, a vile version of the lower part of his face has grown out of the wound on Kelly’s leg. Brandy is all for using the Kandarian dagger to take out Pablo once and for all, but Kelly resists, hoping that her buddy can somehow pull through.
Speaking of which, in a realm somewhere between the worlds of the living and the dead, Pablo’s reconnects with his long dead uncle and realises it’s time to finally take his place as the new Brujo. But how does he correct the little matter of currently being possessed by evil? By making a risky choice of course, but if he makes the wrong one, he’ll be cursed to be a Deadite forever – or until he gets stabbed by Brandy. Which ever comes first.
Even though Baby Proof puts in a fair amount of effort to both bring Pablo’s plot thread up to speed and be incredibly offensive with Ruby’s baby’s particular brand of entry method when taking control of a body, the episode proves to be arguably the weakest of the season so far. It’s for the weirdest of reasons too, because for possibly the first time in Ash Vs Evil Dead history there’s a distinct sense of been there, done that about the episode – we’ve already seen Ash get into a farcical scrape with another one of Ruby’s demon kids in season one (ok, maybe not quite as extreme), while the extended sequences in the trailer with Brandy and Kelly don’t really expand on what we saw in the prior installment. However, it’s the handling of Pablo’s belated final ascension to becoming El Brujo Especial (“Isn’t that the name of a beer?”) that frustrates the most as its yet another sequence of him screaming while being tormented as he fights the thrall of evil. Last time it was the Book Of The Dead, this time it’s Deadite possession and while it was genuinely nice to see Hemky Madera again as Pablo’s uncle, I believe it’s way past time to ditch this endless thread and get him powered up already.
Also, the episode kind of goes nowhere with the whole Ash Vs Demon Child thing just peterimg out with no real resolution except for Brandy seemingly making the jump to suddenly sticking by her dumb daddy when he reasons that “I may be a crappy father, but I’m also a crappy liar.” In addition to Brandy’s sudden 180 turn (surely a record, even for Evil Dead standards), various plot points, like the fact that this version of Ruby has been spying on Ash for decades, are brought up and immediately discarded like used tissue. It wouldn’t be so disorienting if we had a clear view of where the season may be headed in its final five episodes, but it all feels like frantic course correction as the threat of cancellation loomed ever higher.
Still, saving the episode is the brain sizzling sight of a toddler crawling into the hoo-hah of a dead woman “Hey! You’re too young to be going in there!” and engaging in a fist fight with it’s big chinned nemesis while popping in and out of various holes like some body-horror themed jack-in-the-box. It’s by far the closest the show has gotten to matching the grotesque, corpse violating show stopper from The Morgue episode and it manages to keep everything moving thanks to sheer, unbridled, magnificent, vulgarity.
A couple of neat nods aside – the three bowls of blood Pablo has to choose from mirror the trio of books Ash had to pick from in Army Of Darkness – Baby Proof is season 3 finally losing a bit of traction as it comes round the home straight after four whole episodes of unbroken momentum. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but if the sight of a headless, plus-sized, dead woman doing a handstand so the head of an infant hellspawn can pop out of her lady garden isn’t enough to salvage an episode, you can’t possibly be watching Ash Vs Evil Dead.