On the date of April 20th 2018, the news all Evil Dead fans were dreading (yet totally expecting) finally broke when it was announced that Ash Vs Evil Dead would officially be ending with season 3. On top of this body blow, Bruce Campbell announced his retirement from playing Ash in live action and would finally be hanging up the boomstick for good, effectively quelling any chance of the show being saved, Lucifer style, by Netflix or any other streaming service. It seemed that all the petitions and campaigning was no match for the plummeting ratings and despite the show runners hoping for a five season run, Starz took a chainsaw to this beloved series and buried it in the earthen floor of a fruit cellar. But while Ash’s TV adventures were due to end, we still had two episodes left to air, so instead of mourning this premature burial it was time to celebrate and cherish what little time we had left with the Ghostbeaters.
After his quick jaunt through a supernatural rift managed to put Brandy’s soul back in her murdered body but failed to do the same for the still-dead Kelly, Ash determines that enough is enough and heads out to put the evil Ruby out of the game once and for all. After pinpointing her location thanks to yet another one of Pablo’s blossoming powers allows him to see through the eyes of the Necronomicon, El Jefe tools up and goes to retrieve Kelly’s body (still possessed by Ruby’s henchwoman Kaya) or kill her trying.
But as Pablo takes his place at the entrance to the rift located in the basement of Ash’s hardware store and readies himself to open it, Brandy gets to walk a miles in her father’s shoes when she’s assaulted by first an evil force and then her possessed cell phone.
However, matters turn decidedly apocalyptic when the Dark Ones themselves finally show up with the intention of finally reclaiming the Book Of The Dead, getting revenge on Ruby and turning the people of Elk Grove into Deadites. If Ruby is scared she isn’t a match for these intensely powerful robed creatures, what hope does a chainsawed-armed, store clerk have, Prophesied One or not?
Settling down to watch Judgement Day back in 2018 for an Evil Dead fan was pretty bitter sweet, but I’ll save any lingering emotions for the review of the next episode – what we have in front of us is yet another edition that puts the pedal to the metal and doles out an embarrassment of riches.
Firstly, yes, Kelly is still dead, meaning Dana Delorenzo is still playing villainous henchwoman to Ruby while her English accent takes the strain and her plot threads are still very much on pause. But while our resident, female, ass-kicker is still pole-axed by possession, the character of Brandy finally gets to have a succession of classic-style Evil Dead encounters that puts her on a more equal footing with her dim old dad. Shaking off the residual effects of being dead by vomiting down Ash’s back while giving him a long overdue hug, Brandy questions why her father isn’t feeling equally as crappy (Ash: “I don’t even get hangovers.”), before he hurtles out the door for yet another final showdown with Ruby. Left on her own, Brandy is subsequently chased around the house much like before engaging in some cat and mouse shit with a bug-eyed phone monster that causes her to have visions of a Deadite possession spreading up her arm. Essentially giving her a trial by fire via an intensive Evil Dead 2 crash course (she even gets to scream “Who’s laughing now?” as she runs over the beastie with a lawnmower), she finally earns her belated Evil Dead stripes with honors.
Meanwhile, Pablo now seems to be nothing more than Ash Vs Evil Dead’s resident magic boi as his one-spell-fits-all powers seem conveniently slot into whatever scenario the show throws at him like a gadget laden car in a Roger Moore Bond film – but as the show hurtles towards its premature end it’s utterly understandable and totally forgivable, so it gets a pass from me.
However, one thing Judgement Day does seemingly close the book on early is that of Lucy Lawless’ Ruby who is rushing to close the rift to the other side before any Dark Ones cross over to take a paranormal-sized dump on her plans. Of course that’s exactly what happens, but not before she performs the most harrowing murder the show has seen to date. After a long list of shock deaths over its three seasons that’s included virtually everyone Ash has ever met, Ruby’s destruction of his legendary chainsaw as she crushes it with her bare hands is nearly too much for our hero (or us) to handle.
Still, we get our pound of flesh, when the oft-mentioned/seldom seen Dark Ones finally bring their robed, malevolent asses into our world. While there’s no real time to get to know these mysterious cloaked bastards, who have been referenced as far back as the original movie, we certainly get a glimpse of their power as they yank Kaya’s spirit out of Kelly’s body without breaking a sweat and seemingly manage to put Ruby down for good by draining her lifeforce like a clogged sink. It’s a weird moment, watching the arch villain for the entire show get dispatched so easily, but once again, it seems like the writers are trying to close off as many plots as they can before the end comes – but as off-hand as Ruby’s apparent death is, it’s also incredibly satisfying chiefly thanks to Bruce Campbell’s triumphantly venomous and mocking commentary of “Oh Ruby! “I’m melting!” Fuck off, bitch!”. Classic.
Ending the episode on a cliff hanger that sees a massive, kaiju-sized, demon hand emerging from whatever hocus pocus the Dark Ones have conjured, the finale of Ash Vs Evil Dead will no doubt be absolutely massive, but will it be the send off that does Ash, the Evil Dead and its many rabid fans justice? Judgement day, indeed.