Ash Vs Evil Dead – Season 3, Episode 10: The Mettle Of Man
So here we are. Poised at the final, final stand of one Ashley J. Williams thanks to the cancellation of his series at the hands of the honchos at Starz. It’s been a phenomenally wild ride and as a long time Evil Dead fan (my first viewing of Evil Dead 2 was almost like a religious experience), the show has given me all the Deadite-related craziness I ever could have hoped for and more, but unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and The Mettle Of Man has a hell of a lot to wrap up in thirty short minutes.
Ending a show prematurely when you know the end is coming is a tough nut to crack and while the show runners were aware that they had to hastily tie up some threads (series villain Ruby bit the dust a whole episode ago presumably to make some much needed space), they made a good crack at ending a story despite there being at least two more seasons left in it.
When we last left Ash, he was groaning the word “fuuuuck” as a huge, monstrous demon arrived in Elk Grove after being summoned by the sinister Dark Ones – this hefty boi goes by the rather fetching title of Kandar The Destroyer and he sets about living up to his name immediately by going all Toho on the town. Fleeing the devastation with the recently reclaimed body of Kelly, Ash, Pablo and Brandy haul ass to the hardware to retrieve Kelly’s soul from the rift and stick it back where it belongs. They’d better hurry, because not only is Kandar about to engage the national guard in scrap that will surely raise Elk Grove to the ground, but Kelly’s body is starting to stink a little so while Pablo takes the high road due to his El Brujo powers making him invisible to the hordes of possessed townsfolk roaming the streets, Ash and Brandy take the low road and take the sewers only to find that the Deadites have followed them down.
After successfully reaching the hardware store and bringing a dazed Kelly back to the land of the living, attention is then turned to the gargantuan Kandar who is make short work of the planes and tanks sent to fight him. The Ghostbeaters learn that the military plans to use a nuke on the gangly-legged demon, but after Pablo insists that will only make it stronger, Ash finally decides to take his destiny by the scruff of the neck and prove the mettle of man.
So, let’s get the disappointments out of the way first: yes, the final episode leaves many plot threads hanging and a few characters underserved, but in a weird way, it gives the show a send off that feels very Evil Dead.
The main issue is the exceedingly brief goodbye to Pablo, Kelly and Brandy who are shipped off to safety by Ash before the final battle even starts and the fact that we’ll never get to see all three characters continue to thrive is a legitimate, crying shame. Also, some might take exception to the utterly bizarre final coda, which sees Ash dragged from the wreckage of Kandar’s destruction by the Knights Of Sumaria, only to wake in a post apocalyptic future. However, while this may be immensely frustrating to Evil Dead newbies, anyone who’s seen the european ending to Army Of Darkness knows that the franchise has played with dumping Ash in the future before and that such a weird and off-beat ending fits perfectly when compared to the similar, medieval-set ending to Evil Dead 2.
Bruce Campbell’s final hurrah as Ash manages to turn in more gold right up to the end and gives us some prime, old school, Ash Williams cowardice as he selfishly starts to doubt his destiny in the face of a demon the size of a buildng (“Covered in blood 24/7? Who the fuck would want that?!”). He also winningly chooses to get nice and stoned before heading into battle and even achieves something the franchise has never achieved before: an actual touching moment. The scene where he tearfully bequeaths Brandy the necklace he was going to give girlfriend Linda back in the original Evil Dead thirty years ago is a rare and genuinely poignant scene in a franchise famous for spraying blood directly into people’s faces.
It’s fun to speculate where else the series may have gone if it had lasted at least the two more seasons the showrunners had their fingers crossed for and I wonder if the show would have ever got round to properly tackling any references to Army Of Darkness and the prospect of the gang taking a trip back to medieval times and meeting up with Lord Arthur, Henry The Red or even Embeth Davidtz’s Sheila is legitimately mouth watering.
Oh well, I’ll guess we’ll never know and while we also may never find out what wacky, Mad Max style adventures Ash would have gotten up to exploring a apocalyptic future with his tricked out Delta and a hot, android companion named Lexx, the Evil Dead universe is far from being over.
After all, in 2022 alone, Ash, Kelly and Pablo will return to be featured in the upcoming Playstation video game and we still have Evil Dead Rises to come too, an unrelated movie that will no doubt continue in the gushing vein of Fede Álverez’s 2013 remake.
But until then, the thirty episodes of Ash Vs Evil Dead that we got has been nothing short of a blessing, with the later seasons boasting some amazing production values (Kandar The Destroyer is fucking gorgeous) and the series as a whole pushing the envelope with it’s ingenious and hilarious gore.
So it’s a fond farewell to that stoned, sexist idiot we know as Ashley J. Williams (Campbell has insisted he’s retired playing him in live action for good) and his ragtag gang of Ghostbeaters and while they left us far too soon, what we did get left us feeling decidedly groovy…