I’m breaking with my usual format to bring you a special Dezbot Commentary on That Scene. You know the one if you’ve seen the episode and if you haven’t, why are you reading this spoilerrific recap? Go watch the show on Starz and come back!
A Special Dezbot Commentary
We’re halfway through the season and it’s become very apparent: We need to talk about Kevin—I mean, Ash vs. Evil Dead. We need to talk about Ash vs. Evil Dead, a show that’s currently on the bubble and previously had some backstage turmoil that probably hasn’t helped its bubble status.
After last season’s “Ash-up-the-colon” spectacle, I wondered if the series had reached its apex of grotesqueries; instead, the show said “Hold my beer” and added a new definition to “spermicide” in “Booth Three.”
“Surely,” I thought, “Ash’s slip-and-slide adventure in the clinic is the grossest this series could get,” even as I suggested here that a monthly female occurrence might be next on the List of Lines This Show Will Gladly Cross, So Deal With It.
Well, I was wrong—kind of. AvED said “Hold my Pink Fuck” and out came “Baby Proof,” wherein writer Luke Kalteux takes a woman’s body through some serious violations. Good God Almighty, that scene with Natalie’s headless corpse and the Demon Child was disturbing and uncomfortable, even as I marveled at its audacity and laughed a bit. But I also cringed. I cringed a lot.
It’s not that I’m surprised AvED would go there. It’s the nature of horror to push boundaries, and the entire Evil Dead series has always been up to that task. That it completely threw out all boundaries is what surprised me, as well as my active recoil at what I was seeing. It was horrifying enough to see that little boy’s smiling face pop out between Natalie’s legs, and then to see the show be so cavalier about it really got to me.
Yes, I know Kandarian demons have frequently used the bodies of the possessed to commit vile acts, and have also committed vile acts on the bodies while they’re still human (the infamous “tree rape”). I also know the creators are influenced by the Three Stooges and violent comedy has always been a part of the Evil Dead canon. This, though, was something else. While Ash does mention what the little demon does is wrong, everything goes right back to business as usual. The body flops around, the head pops out here and there, I try to parse some intellectual meaning from it, and all that comes out from me is: Ew.
And worse: I laughed. I laughed, and cringed, and cringed some more, but I kept laughing. What is wrong with me? Maybe that’s the real question!
Will this make me stop watching the show? Oh, hell, no, but I do wish, when the show was concocting this latest bodily outrage for shits and giggles, they’d have put a little more thought into it. Maybe they would have scaled back. Or maybe, they would’ve said: Not this time. Besides, we already had Pablo’s nose and mouth coming out of Kelly’s leg! What more do we need for horror and comedy than that?
Back to the usual. Here’s the recap and a little bit of review with it. Despite my misgivings about that one scene, I really liked the rest of the episode.
Previously on Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Ghost Brock (Lee Majors) told Ash (Bruce Campbell) about the Knight of Sumeria (Will Wallace) who came to visit him at the hardware store many moons ago. The KOS had the lost pages of the Necronomicon. Brock subsequently thought he killed the guy when he knocked him into the cellar, so he just walled it up, as you do. Ash went into the cellar and found the KOS’ bones, the lost pages, and some writing and symbols on the wall. Tentacles came out of the wall and attacked Ash. Speaking of attacks, Deadite Pablo (Ray Santiago) attacked Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill); DP bit Kelly’s leg, and his face started coming out of the wound. Meanwhile, Ruby (Lucy Lawless) spoke to a bound soul in the Necronomicon, then found Deadite Dalton (Linsday Farris) and briefly rehumanized him. Before she could get information from Dalton, he sacrificed himself by blowing his own head off. Ash, based on Ghost Brock’s memories of the real Mrs. Prevett, went to her house and found Natalie (Samantha Young) chained to a sink. He also found Ruby’s special little bundle of hell sucking on a severed finger.
Natalie babbles in Norwegian at Ash, and he says he doesn’t speak French. Ash’s unintended progeny looks at the real chainsaw, but Ash, thinking this is one of Ruby’s Baal-children, tells the kid his boomstick is a candy dispenser so he can blow a hole through the monster. “Holy hacksaw, that’s a little me!” Ash exclaims when he notices the toddler’s mutated hand. He wants the child kept alive, but Natalie wants to kill him. Ash lovingly refers to his newly discovered son as a “little shit.” He and Natalie fall down the stairs; she’s still handcuffed to the sink, and Ash’s metal hand is still stuck to it. Just as Ash says “that little runt can’t get through this” (the door), the kid chainsaws through with his hand and nails Natalie in the shoulder. Bloody opening credits!
Natalie grabs Ash’s shotgun and he says, “You keep your hands offa my boomstick, you got that?” (Who’d have thought he’d ever say that!) She shoots at the kid through the door. The spawn breaks it down, but is distracted by his toy duck, which has a quacking laugh. Ash wants to capture the kid and show Brandy he’s telling the truth about everything.
Back at Ash’s trailer, Deadite Pablo’s attack continues, and his face is also talking from Kelly’s leg wound. The face mentions that Brujo (Hemky Madera) thinks he can save Pablito from the grave. Kelly punches the leg-face and it hurts her. Deadite Pablo gets on the roof, smashes through the window, and grabs Brandy. Kelly hangs on to Brandy’s legs for dear life, then grabs one of Ash’s hidden bongs and hits Deadite Pablo with it. Kelly shoves a cloth in her leg-face to make it shut up; it affects Deadite Pablo, too. As he attacks Brandy, Kelly pours oil in the leg-face’s mouth and sets it on fire, causing Deadite Pablo to belch fire. Brandy stabs Deadite Pablo with the Kandarian dagger. Brujo’s face appears as Pablo thrashes. A normal(ish) Pablo is in the trailer holding the dagger, and also in a forest with fires and tikis all lit up. The Masked Woman (Hannah Tasker-Poland) appears. Brujo says her name is Maritza. Brujo stops Pablo’s wound from bleeding; in the real world, the wound turns black.
At Prevett’s, Ash and Natalie come out of hiding and look for the kid. Ash frees himself from the sink with a knife. While he checks Ruby’s den—which also has the writing from the cellar—Natalie looks for a way to escape. She finds the key to unlock her handcuffs. Ash finds pictures of his wedding night in Ruby’s den, along with pictures of him and Candy having sex in the Delta ‘88. Ruby’s been watching him for years, he realizes. The toy duck appears, and Natalie brains a distracted Ash with the sink and grabs the boomstick.
Brujo is in a void between realms that’s masked from evil, he tells Pablo. Maritza grabs the dagger, while Brujo gives Pablo a necklace to help him aid The Prophesized One. He says the power of the “Brujo” will help him harness the evil inside.
Natalie tries to escape, but the kid and duck come in. She shoots the duck and the kid attacks her. Ash comes to and grabs a cord to tie up the kid. He goes into the den and finds a headless Natalie, who he calls “Heidi” (so he doesn’t just do it to Sandy—er, Brandy!). The kid runs under a table. Ash tries to coax him out softly: “We should play.” The little shit throws a Speak ‘n Spell as Ash that spells out “F U.” Aww, just like daddy!
Brujo reminds Pablo of the rituals of his people, setting out three bowls of blood. Pablo needs to pick the right blood to mix with his own to become “El Brujo Especial.” Pablo takes the challenge.
“Here, kiddie, kiddie!”: The child knocks Ash on his ass, then crawls inside Natalie’s headless body through her vagina. Yeah, that happened. The body animates and attacks; the baby’s blood-covered head pops out of Natalie’s neck. “There’s something you don’t see every day,” Ash deadpans.
Pablo has to pick. Maritza cuts his stomach and chest to “release the beast” as the blackness spreads on Pablo’s real-life body. Meanwhile, Natalie’s body is kicking Ash’s ass. The child’s nasty little head pops out between her legs. That is so wrong in so many ways, as Ash himself notes. Ash picks up a bowling ball (Prevett was an avid bowler) and hits the kid with it. He sits the body on a ball (EWWWWW) to trap the kid inside, wraps the corpse in a carpet, ties it up, and puts it in the trunk of the Delta ‘88.
Pablo’s Brujo says, “Don’t see with your eyes,” then disappears. Pablo has to choose the right blood, and everything around him looks spooky. He holds the dagger over the bowls and tries to “feel” the right bowl while his real-life body thrashes. He mixes his blood with the bowl on the right; the torches all flame up. Pablo says triumphantly, “Mi Nombre Pablo Simon Bolivar y yo soy el Brujo Especial.” Real Pablo’s body is back to normal, but he’s still out. Kelly cries and lays on his chest, thinking he’s died. Pablo finally wakes up and Kelly plants a big smooch on his lips. “Pablo, you’re alive,” Kelly cries as she kisses him all over, “and you’re not all fucked up!” Naturally, the first thing he asks is, “Where’s Ash?” Poor Kelly is flabbergasted.
Pablo says the end is coming and they need to go. Kelly asks what just happened, and he says something “especial.” Brandy asks if he’s normal now, but Kelly’s forgotten what that word means. Kelly is going to take care of her wound while Brandy will seek out Ash. Kelly says for her to stay the fuck away from Ruby. Kelly also vows that she is done being fucked with by Ruby. I love Kelly’s vocabulary, I really do.
At the hardware store, Ash arrives just after Brandy does. He tells her he’s going to prove Prevett is full of crap. The sheriff (Jodie Hillock) shows up, too. Ash proclaims that he has Ruby’s demon son, but when he opens the trunk, the child looks normal, albeit covered in blood. Natalie’s body is gone (Ash forgot that finger!). The child innocently says that Ash hurt him. Ash says he should’ve as he makes the “backhand slap” gesture (a very “Three Stooges” move). Ash tells Brandy he’s always told the truth; he knows he’s a crappy father, but he’s also a crappy liar. Ruby/Prevett says she’ll take Brandy home. Brandy, however, jumps in the car and tells Ash to get in, then hauls ass out of there before the sheriff and Ruby can do anything to stop them. End credits as “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop plays!
Daniel Nettheim continues his excellent direction, creating enough suspense in the cat-and-mouse with Ash’s little shit to keep the audience off-guard before everything goes full “Three Stooges” thanks to Luke Kalteux’s script. I don’t blame him for going so far out; after all, if the showrunners didn’t want that scene, it wouldn’t be in there. I just wish, as I said earlier, that he hadn’t gone quite that far.
Other than that, the rest of the episode was a delight, especially Kelly’s “Wow. Ok.” response to Pablo asking for Ash first before acknowledging Kelly’s feelings for him (good thing Kelly doesn’t know about Maritza). Maybe it’s time for the show to lay off the beers and Pink Fucks for awhile, though.
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
“Nobody screws Ashley J. Williams like Ashley J.—that sounded so much better in my head!”
“Wait, isn’t that the name of a beer?” – Pablo reacting to the name “El Brujo Especial”
“Baby Proof” is a pretty clever pun.
“The Passenger” could be Ash in his own car as Brandy drives, or any Kandarian demon possessing a human being, but it could also be the demon brat using Natalie’s body as a puppet. Ick. I don’t want to think about it any more.
Linda B. watch: There is no Linda B. in this episode. Yes, I’ve seen the casting news about Michelle Hurd’s new series. No, I won’t give up on this. Something is still off about what’s happening in Elk Grove post-time travel and I want to know what it is!
All photos courtesy of Starz.