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After a more than successful return to the world of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, fans of the film series have been riding high all week in anticipation of the second episode of the Starz original series, Ash vs. Evil Dead.  The almost perfect pilot definitely set the bar, and audiences expectations, high but the problem with highly successful pilots is that it makes it tough for the series showrunners to continue that type of momentum throughout the series, often leaving viewers dissatisfied by the time the series wraps up.  Luckily, for those same fans that waited years for the return of Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams, it appears that Sam Raimi has absolutely no intention of slowing down, and the second episode of the new series was just as great as the first.  Spoilers follow.

Ash vs Evil Dead

The episode picks up right where the last left off.  After saving the lives of his Value Stop coworkers, Ash has decided to get the Necronomicon to someone who can translate the book and find the right phrase to close the door that he has opened.  Of course, as with any plan laid by The Great Deadite Killer, the plan doesn’t start off too smoothly, and his quest is put on hold when Kelly decides to leave the group to save her parents.  

While saving one family isn’t very high on Ash’s list of priorities, Pablo convinces El Jefe that Kelly has stolen the Necronomicon in an attempt to save her mother, who may be a Deadite.  During the most awkward dinner since your sister brought  home her new boyfriend, Kelly’s mother is revealed to be a Deadite, leading to a wonderfully creepy scene between (dead)mother and daughter, and a character defining moment of bravery from Pablo.  Now that they have each witnessed just how quickly the Deadite evil is spreading, both Pablo and Kelly have decided to commit themselves to helping Ash in his quest, which, hopefully, will begin to roll with the next episode.

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Ash vs. Evil Dead continues to be a welcome addition to the Evil Dead mythos, rather than an attempt to cash in on a fan favorite franchise.  While Sam Raimi didn’t write or direct this episode (those jobs went to Dominic Dierkes and Michael J. Bassett this week, respectively), the series creator’s fingerprints were all over it.  Bassett chose to mimic Raimi’s POV camera shots in some scenes, for instance, reminding the viewers just why they loved Raimi’s work.  

Campbell continues to be perfection as Ash Williams, and the ego displayed throughout this episode was brilliant when considering the character, e.g. his response to Kelly and Pablo’s amazement at his killing skills: “I’d say it was god-given but that would be giving god too much credit – this is all me, baby”.  It’s just so perfect.  Gems like this one were spread throughout the episode and it felt like there were great one-liners and/or quotable lines every 2-3 minutes or so.

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Pablo (Ray Santiago) continues to grow as a character and while he seemed to have a bit of hero-worship when it came to Ash in the pilot episode, this episode had the character noticing Ash’s flaws while also growing and showing his own strength.  Now that he has proven to himself that he has this courage within himself, it will be interesting to see where the series take Pablo.  It is very possible that by the end of the series, Pablo may be the new Ash.  Ok, no one could ever be the “new Ash”, there is only one.  However, the possibility of Pablo becoming another Great Deadite Killer…now that is something that could definitely be seen at the bottom of the tea cup.  Just like reading those tea leaves, however, at this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

While Kelly (Dana Delorenzo) still hasn’t had much to do up to this point, what we have seen on screen from the character could definitely lead to some interesting things down the road, so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on her development as the series continues.  Considering how headstrong and independent she is, Kelly may well be the character to unlock the secret of the Necronomicon long before her companions or, perhaps after the encounter with her mother, perhaps she will find a piece of her heart that wants to help bring the Deadites to power.  So little is known about this character that, at this point, every theory is valid, and the direction her character takes will be fun to watch.

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All of this being said, this particular episode, while wonderful, didn’t pack quite the same Evil Dead punch that the pilot was able to throw.  Specifically, the balance between horror and comedy wasn’t quite as defined as it should be for an Evil Dead property.  The one liners were all there, mostly thrown by Ash, of course, but the horror aspect was more silly than creepy; more bloody than chilling.  Basically, the episode served as a device to move the plot forward but this is par for the course for any series and there is no doubt that an even truer return to form will take place with next week’s episode, Books From Beyond. Take a look at the trailer.

Ash vs. Evil Dead really is the sequel to Army of Darkness that fans have wanted for decades.  Every time Ash’s smile sparkles, you can almost bet that an angel is getting its wings and with every slice of his chainsaw arm, a Deadite quakes in fear.  In other words, things really are just as they should be, and better.  If the series can find that perfect balance between horror and comedy, as it displayed in the Raimi-directed pilot episode, there is absolutely no doubt that fans will continue riding this one as long as Starz is willing to host the party.

How did you feel about the latest episode?

Category: reviews, TV

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