Previously on Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Ash (Bruce Campbell) arrived at the cabin where his nightmare started. Agent Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) shows up to help. She says Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) are also searching for the cabin. Splitting up is never a good idea in a horror film, as played out here: Pablo and Kelly, off by themselves, meet up with three fresh souls for the Deadites—although nothing happens to them in this ep, you know it’s coming—while Fisher and Ash split up as Ash heads back to the workshed and confronts his past with Linda. Ash’s evil hand, meanwhile, grows a new Ash, who cozies up to Fisher, then sticks a cleaver in her neck, whereupon she falls and is impaled on the deer antlers conveniently located behind her. Ash finds her dying and says his goodbye, then battles the other Ash. Pablo and Kelly show up to find Fisher’s body and are totally puzzled. Ruby (Lucy Lawless) is presumably heading to the cabin still, as we didn’t see her at all.
After having kicked things into high gear with the two Ashes fighting each other in the last episode, “Bound in the Flesh” (or “Bound in Flesh,” as it’s also listed on the Starz website) takes the series to a new level with its major reveal in the final moments of who Ruby really is. I know I’ve said a few times already that whichever episode I’m writing about is the best since the pilot, but this episode tops them all (until the season finale, at least). Tony Tilse returns to direct, keeping everything moving along so quickly, I couldn’t believe it had been a half hour when the closing credits came up. Credit also goes to the script by Rob Wright, who nails the action and dialogue. Let’s get to it then!
“Bound in the Flesh” opens on overhead shot of an impaled, expired Agent Fisher and her cartoonishly bright red blood. Pablo and Kelly are still trying to figure out what happened when the cabin door closes by itself. Before they have time to be scared, they hear fighting and run to see the two Ashes battling.
“Holy shit!” Kelly exclaims, followed by Pablo’s “Two Ashes?” They watch in confusion, as both Ashes make their cases for who’s the real Ash by topping one another in smart-assed remarks. Both Ashes try to use details about Pablo’s and Kelly’s pasts to convince them who the real Ash is. Finally, one Ash tells Pablo and Kelly to kill both of the Ashes because at least the bad Ash will be dead. Pablo and Kelly immediately shoot that Ash, who’s the fake. Real Ash wants to know how they knew, and they reply that the real Ash wouldn’t sacrifice himself, not to mention Fake Ash had said he hated Asians, which isn’t true of Real Ash. Mostly, though, it’s the sacrificing himself aspect that gives it away. The one true Ash has a rather healthy respect for his own life above most others’.
Ash gets ready to dismember his clone and Fisher’s body so they won’t come back as Deadites when the three hikers Pablo and Kelly had met show up. Yay, Deadite fodder! I mean, ooh, bad timing, kids! Ash tells the hikers they can’t stay because there are dead bodies—he means, dead animal bodies—in the cabin. Ash, Pablo, and Kelly trip over themselves trying to explain what’s going on. They’re veterinarians, or they could just be hunters.
Ash tells Pablo and Kelly to take the hikers back to civilization via a trail behind the cabin. Tilse gives us a close up of the trees, making them seem extra creepy. As the five set out, the blonde hiker, Heather (Samara Weaving), asks Pablo what the Ghostbeaters are really up to. She mentions he has a girlfriend and Pablo wants to know who she heard it from. Heather points to Kelly. Before Pablo can react, something growls in the woods and Heather grabs Pablo’s hand. Kelly sees them holding hands and isn’t happy.
Meanwhile, Bill Withers’ romantic ballad “Just The Two Of Us” plays while Ash dismembers his terrible twin. Fake Ash’s blood seeps into the Necronomicon, which starts breathing. Ash stops the chain-sawing briefly to listen, then resumes carving. As gory as this show can get, we only see Ash’s shadow as he holds up the pieces of Fake Ash. It’s an effective technique for ramping up the tension.
The Necronomicon calls to Ash and says that Ash burying the book is a mistake. It appeals to Ash’s vanity, saying Ash should use its power and that if he buries the book, he’ll go back to being a mere stockboy. Ash will never get to be president or anything cool without the Necronomicon. I’m taking this as an endorsement of the various “Ash for President” campaigns on the internet and will vote accordingly.
Anyway…Ash turns to dismember Fisher, but she’s gone. Uh-oh.
Back in the woods, Pablo asks why Kelly told Heather he has a girlfriend; Kelly replies that Heather is not good enough for Pablo, plus it’s not a good idea for him to get involved with her “because life expectancy is real short out here.” She doesn’t want either of them to have to deal with the aftermath. “That’s not how I want to live,” Pablo says. Once again, something growls in the woods, causing Pablo and Kelly to open fire on…a raccoon! Poor thing.
Another noise causes the guns to come out, but hiker Brad (Ido Drent) tries to stop Pablo and Kelly from shooting “another innocent animal.” Right then, Deadite Fisher sends a hand through hiker Brad’s hiker wife (Indiana Evans) and uses her body as a shield as Pablo and Kelly pump it full of lead. Deadite Fisher removes her hand and sticks it through Brad’s wife’s head. Brad tries to kill Deadite Fisher with a flare, but misses; she puts her other hand through his head and uses the couple as puppets.
Through the people-puppets, Deadite Fisher mocks Pablo and Kelly’s feelings for each other, then throws both bodies at them. They are briefly trapped under the dead weight as Deadite Fisher goes after Heather. Heather runs off into the increasingly darker woods, but Deadite Fisher gets ahead of her and starts slashing Heather with her nails. “Before you die,” Deadite Fisher taunts, “I want you to know there is no heaven.” She sure got real mean real fast.
Pablo tries to save Heather; Deadite Fisher tosses Heather against a tree, breaking Heather’s leg. Deadite Fisher then tries to kill Pablo, who is saved by…Ruby! Ruby’s acrobatic entrance is BAD-ASS. Deadite Fisher play to Ruby’s hatred of Ash, saying that Ash killed her. Ruby pulls the Kandarian blade out, which causes Fisher to revert from Deadite form, saying she and Ruby can be together. Ruby’s not exactly buying it when Heather interrupts, screaming about her broken leg. The interruption allows Fisher to escape.
Ruby begins dismembering Heather’s friends with the Kandarian blade. Ruby tells the group she’s there to stop Ash from turning more people into monsters. Her dismembering is so matter-of-fact that it unnerves both Pablo and Kelly. They head to the cabin as Ash is heading out looking for Fisher.
In the match-up we’ve been waiting all season for, Ruby confronts Ash. “And what you have accomplished all these years? You put a chainsaw on your stump? Congratulations!” she says. “You know, it’s a lot harder than it looks. Name one other person who has a functioning chainsaw arm” Ash retorts. They continue to spar verbally until Ruby gets the drop on Ash. The nemeses scuffle, and Ruby tries to start Ash’s chainsaw to use against him. Turns out Ash named the chainsaw Moe and the boomstick Larry. No sign of Curly, though I’m sure there’s a fake Shemp somewhere.
Ruby tells Ash that the Necronomicon has to be dismantled with the Kandarian knife; the book can’t be buried because some other numbskull will just find it and use it. Pablo wants to trust Ruby, but Kelly doesn’t trust her at all. Ash doesn’t know what to do, but retrieves the book from the fridge where he’d stored it earlier. Ruby instructs Ash to rip the face off the binding with the knife, telling him he can’t stop until the job is done. The book bleeds as Ash cuts and begs him to stop. Ash takes the face off and it’s gross as hell. Ruby then asks Ash to present the book to her so the power of ownership becomes hers and the ritual will be complete. It sounds good in theory, but Ash hesitates. “Just let her take your load, Jefe,” Pablo says helpfully.
Ash hands the bleeding book over and Ruby begins reading aloud from it. Kelly still has misgivings as a storm brews while Ruby recites the incantation. The cellar door starts moving. We get a point-of-view from the Deadite Force, and both the cabin and ground begin cracking. The book’s cut-off face rises up as Pablo’s medallion moves toward it, dragging Pablo along. The book’s face gloms onto Pablo’s face like a messed-up luchador mask. Ash tries to take the book from Ruby because he says she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but she uses it and a spell to slam him against the wall.
As Ash looks at Ruby while Kelly struggles to take the mask off Pablo and Heather screams impotently, Ruby says with utmost confidence and malevolence:
“Of course I know what I’m doing. I wrote this book.”
End scene; begin losing mind. What did she say? She wrote the book? We’ve been waiting all season to find out what Ruby’s deal is, and now we know some of it, and it’s a doozy of a reveal. We already knew from the possessed Brujo skeleton that the other Kandarians don’t want Ruby to control the Necronomicon. Just how bad of a demon is she that the other demons fear her? I don’t know, but what I do know is that everyone involved with Ash Vs. Evil Dead has earned my trust by providing a kick-ass off-shoot of one of my favorite properties. I cannot wait to see what the season finale has in store.
Again, much credit to Tilse and Wright this week for keeping the action moving briskly and supplying us with a ton of great one-liners to provide relief from all the dismembering and screaming, not to mention the killer reveal of Ruby’s intentions. This may have been the best set of one-liners this season. I was laughing a lot while cringing from the gore before finally staring at the ending scene in slack-jawed disbelief. Also, even though we’ve seen Bruce Campbell vs. Bruce Campbell before, he topped himself with this week’s duel. Bravo, all!
Coming next week: A BUCKETFUL OF BLOOD. That’s not the ep’s title, just a glimpse of what we’re getting. Eep!!!
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
“My asshole hand. It came back, grew another me!”
Fake Ash: “Hey, hey, I’m a racist, too. Asian babies creep me out!”
“No disrespect, Kelly, if you live in the past, you hurt the future.”
Ash: “Ok, look, there is no way in hell they’re gonna stay here ‘cause they’re gonna get possessed, then they’re gonna be on the night train to Killadelphia.”
Kelly: “With stops in Chokelahoma City and Dieami.”
Kelly: “I thought you’d like that!”
“Number two, I’m on your damn property because I’m here to save a little something I call Earth!”
“I’m gonna bury it the basement, then I can finally say to Evil, ‘Hey, Evil, why don’t you eat my butt?’” Oh, Ash, never change!