It seems like only yesterday that Sam Raimi thrilled Evil Dead fans all over the planet with the announcement of the Starz original series, Ash vs. Evil Dead. Raimi promised to deliver fans of the franchise a true Evil Dead offering, rather than continue to push the reboot agenda after a remake/sequel was met with mixed reviews. Last night, the third episode in the series aired and after two successful episodes under its belt, Ash vs. Evil Dead continued to deliver on Raimi’s promise. Spoilers follow.
After seeing a few glimpses of Lucy Lawless’s Ruby, “Books From Beyond” decided to put the character front and center in its opening moments, providing viewers with a bit of character development. The audience wasn’t given much to start with in terms of Ruby’s back story but she is definitely hunting down Ash and she is definitely a badass. This should come as no surprise, however, as Lawless’s characters are generally ready to kick some ass and after her relationship with Raimi which stemmed from the absolutely wonderful Xena: Warrior Princess, Lawless was likely the first choice when it came to actresses to fill the role. Well played, Raimi.
Meanwhile, as Ruby continues to search for Ash and company, the Value Stop Trio (still a better name than Pablo’s suggested “Ghost Beaters”) have found the book store, Books from Beyond, where Ash is sure the Necronomicon can be translated. Once the shop owner has had a chance to take a look at the Book of the Dead, and admire it, of course, he clues the team onto the fact that the book is actually a portal to hell, not that this is a surprise for anyone who has been following the franchise since the first film back in 1981. With his usual, let’s call it “naive charm”, Ash decides that there must be a reset button hidden within the pages of the book, so the group decides that calling for a “wimpy” demon is the best course of action to take. Probably not the best idea.
In one of the most Evil Dead scenes of the episode, a demon is invoked, though, things don’t go quite as expected (surprising, right?). While Ash and Pablo are dealing with the Necronomicon, Kelly is learning a bit more about Amanda, after capturing the trooper and keeping her locked up at gunpoint. Turns out that the trooper offers to help as hell breaks loose in the next room, but, of course, once the cuffs come off, Amanda is much more interested in being a cop than in helping the situation. That is, until it seems Ash may wind up with a bit more than a scratch from the seriously angry demon. While “better late than never” generally ends in immediate success, this time, it simply managed to buy Ash a few seconds while the demon focused on Amanda. In a move that seems to lend itself to the theory that Kelly is being prepared to take up Ash’s mantle, Kelly manages to save both Ash and Pablo’s life with a bit of quick thinking and a bit more bravery.
It has been a treat to witness the return of Evil Dead. The franchise has always been a bit of a cult favorite for many reasons and Ash vs. Evil Dead’s biggest strength may also bit its biggest weakness: the series is meant for Evil Dead fans. For newer viewers, those that are unfamiliar with Ash’s previous escapades, Ash vs. Evil Dead can come off as a bit silly or disjointed but, hey, it’s their own fault for missing one of the most beloved films in horror history for the past 34 years. If you fall into this category, you need to rectify the situation ASAP.
This episode, more than last week’s, truly tapped into the Evil Dead pulse and did offer horror fans in general some wonderful stuff but the viewers that are truly enjoying the ride are those that have been enjoying the ride all along. Those viewers are receiving an even bigger treat than the new audience with the return of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. Campbell would never win an Oscar for most of the work for which he is known but there is definitely a certain appeal to his B-movie style of acting and in this new series, he offers his signature brand in spades. Pablo and Kelly (Ray Santiago and Dana Delorenzo, respectively) continue to grow as characters, though, while Pablo continues to follow the more…”bumbling” probably wouldnt be unfair, traits of Ash, Kelly is becoming the strongest member of the team, and it will be interesting to see where that leads. Ruby disappeared after the opening scene but there is no doubt that audiences will soon begin to learn much more about her as the series continues.
All in all, “Books From Beyond” proved to be another great episode to add to the stable. The episode was better than last week’s and as the action picks up, there is no doubt that Evil Dead fans will continue to get exactly what they are looking for: Deadites, one liners, and Bruce Campbell’s well defined jawline.
Take a look at the promo for next week’s episode, “Brujo”.
Are you still digging the series? How do you think Ruby fits into all of this?