It seems weird that for a season that based its early promotional material so heavily around the fact that Ash would be visiting his old high school, we’ve actually only spent minimum time there. After doing his thing in the first episode where he obliterated the school mascot, shredded the head of a Deadite with harp strings and discovered that numerous doobies he’d hidden around the school as a kid where still there, Ash hasn’t had a reason to go back since.
However, as the show gears up to finish and the plot threads start dropping bombs (Kellys dead! Ruby’s demon spawn has grown!), it’s finally time for horror’s dumbest hero to go back to his place of learnin’ and teach evil a thing or two.
After Ruby killed Kelly after their grudge match and put the essence of her evil ally Kaya into her opponent’s body to aid her in her dastardly plan, said plan ramps up with the birth of her demon spawn from a gooey cocoon. Aged like a fine wine and looking the exact image of Ash himself, this latest version of Evil Ash is finally ready to play a major part to the destruction of the Chosen One by going to the school dance and slaughtering everyone he can see to make Ash’s daughter, Brandy, mistakenly kill the good Ash and thus end the prophecy that’s been stopping Ruby from taking over everything. Armed with a larger vocabulary than the actual Ash could ever hope to muster, the nefarious double takes a hacksaw to his flesh-and-blood chainsaw arm to make the illusion complete and throws on some clothes and heads to the school to do his mother’s bidding.
Meanwhile, as Pablo consoles the last surviving member of the Knights Of Sumaria in the basement of Ash’s hardware store, his brand new Brujo powers kick in once more as that funky wall with the freakish writing on it comes alive to show Kelly wandering through an eerie, green cityscape. After communicating with her and finding to his dismay out she’s actually deader than a dead thing on the day of the dead, Pablo races off to tell Ash that the Kelly he’s been hanging with is an imposter (well, it is her, but she’s dead and – you know what? You get it.).
In some desperate need of some normality after getting near-constantly sprayed with gore, Brandy gets Ash to drive her to the dance, but while there Ruby, still disguised as her kindly guidance counsellor, starts to get inside her head and starts to undo all the progress she’s made with her dad.
Cue Evil Ash 3.0, as the demon spawn with the devilishly handsome jawline enters the fray and starts slicing teens into cutlets left, right and centre, leaving an utterly confused Brandy not knowing which way to turn. As Pablo races to the rescue (he hopes) and Ash copping the blame for a pile of dismembered kids, what choice does his poor daughter have but to pull the Kandarian dagger on him?
In any other series, Twist And Shout would be the finale. After all, everything has been building to this exact moment as everything Ruby has being planning is finally coming to fruition: Demon spawn born and matured? Check. Brandy confused by conflicting peer pressure? Check. A school based massacre that makes Carrie look like a teenager’s tantrum? Big fuckin’ check! Capitalising on Kelly’s surprise death in a way the show rarely has time to, the clueing in of Pablo early gives him a shot to live up to his uncle’s wishes and finally attempt to be the hero he was destined to be – o the other hand, while Dana Delorenzo isn’t given that much to do yet as Kelly’s Kaya possessed form, I have to admit, I’m liking her punt at an english accent.
However, finally having a chance to go full villain as her decades in the making plan finally gets put in motion is Lucy Lawless’ Ruby, who for most of her run has been playing straight man to all the lunacy she herself been putting into action. Having to act eternally collected whether tearing people to sheds or getting blown up by a hand grenade, there’s a moment during the chaos where she chooses to put the cherry on the cake and throws herself on Ash’s saw to fake her death (immortal, remember?) and spray everyone in the room with her insides while her phenomenal facial expression suggests that she’s starting to get off on excessive mutilation. Similarly, when her plan fails, her frustration is palpable, raging that no one could possibly be that good or that lucky and the inevitable fallout leads to yet another major character biting the dust – or do they?
Twist And Shout may be season three’s strongest episode yet, giving us all the gore and comedy we crave while simultaneously wrapping up plot threads as it promises that things ain’t quite over yet. The second shock death in two consecutive episodes may feel a little excessive, especially when we already know that Kelly’s spirit is kicking about in the netherworld somewhere, but even though Brandy’s fatal sacrifice will probably be undone before the credits roll on the next episode, it’s still a shock.
Issues? Well, if I’m being a bit nit picky I could suggest that the whole Pablo tormented by a possessed Kelly thing was already covered way back in season one, but on the other hand, that was at the beginning of their relationship and there’s been a lot of blood under bridge since then. Similarly, you could let out a groan and complain that we have yet another evil Ash clone (hey, that rhymed), but if I’m being truly honest, I’m just a sucker for an Evil Ash no matter how many times it shows up and even though he’s dispatched within one episode of maturing – it’s also fucking great as good Ash blows off a third of the doppleganger’s skull with his broomstick only for it to laughingly claim that he missed. Lucky he’s got another round in the chamber, then…
Funny, action packed and loaded with stakes, season three is managing to keep that all-important Evil Dead energy flowing nicely and the fantasic shool dance massacre and subsequent showdown is awesome. With only three episodes to go in the season (and probably the show in general), quality is high and evil most definitely got schooled.