Creators: Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi, Tom Spezialy
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless
Season 3 Episode 1 Family
After defeating and burying the evil of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (The Book of the Dead) in the previous series, Ash (Bruce Campbell) and crew returned to an Elk Grove that has been altered by their magical time-jumping shenanigans. Ash now runs a combine hardware store/sex emporium, and is a local hero rather than reviled slasher.
However as any Greyjoy will tell you, “that which is dead can’t truly die”, and after a brief ancient Sumerian incantation, both the Necronomicon and the demonic Deadites threaten the world once more. This time, Mulier Demonis Igni (the demon woman of fire), or as we better know her, Ruby (Lucy Lawless), seeks to destroy “the seed of Ash” and create her own Chosen One. All of which comes as a surprise to the generally clueless Ash, for although he knows about the vast quantity of his seed deposited at a local Sperm Bank, he’s unaware of the fact that he has a living breathing daughter (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) – at least for the moment.
The first episode of season three highlights a number of things that makes Ash vs Evil Dead work so well. Drawing from a very simple horror basis, the show leans heavily into its very pulpy gore soaked roots, and revels in them. Hence each episode plays out like a short horror film, complete with blood splattered climax, as well as enriching the larger season arc. In traditional Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Spiderman) fashion, Ash vs Evil Dead delights in its viscera, taking these fountains of ichor to comical levels. It neatly balances on that line between comedy and horror, effectively crossing between the two as desired.
In part, this is because it’s coming from a place of strength. Through the two previous seasons it has built the cannon of it’s world, and developed the mythos from the original film series into a solid foundation. Part of that strength though is also an understanding of genre, and a willingness to be playful with it. This episode uses it to great effect, pitching Ash into a battle with a Deadite in a school music room. Not only do you get the vast array of instruments used as improvised weapons to cause carnage, but it also allows for an impish commentary on horror score, allowing the Deadite to diegetically insert oft used instrumental refrains (normally before using said instrument for the previously mentioned carnage). It points to an intelligence, a love of the genre, and thoughtfulness of design… you know… in amongst the blood, dismemberment, and cheesey quips.
Finally, and this really can’t be stated enough, there is the brilliance of Bruce Campbell. The man was born for the role of Ash, and has crafted it over three films, and three seasons of the show. With perfect comedy timing, and a natural aptitude for action Campbell has walked the character from traditional horror protagonist, to a uniquely iconic creation. The show has not been shy about finding the humour in the disreputable side of Ash’s nature, and the odd line between datedly daggy and ironically cool that the character now walks. Ash is an effectively broken man, a man-child with tragically out-dated attitudes, comically incapable of functioning as an adult in the real world, but amazingly competent at fighting evil (through a combination of grit, experience, talent, and sheer dumb luck). Campbell embraces that, and backed up by an able cast of series regulars (Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless), exploits it for all that it’s worth.
All of which makes Ash vs Evil Dead a rather unique experience. An immensely entertaining weekly dose of carnage, comedy and mayhem in a way that no other show even comes close to delivering. Hail to the king, baby!