Last season on Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Ash (Bruce Campbell) got all hopped up on goofballs, read from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, and unleashed the Kandarian demons again. His co-workers, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), joined Ash in fighting the Deadite menace. Ash was chased by Agent Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), who thought he was a murderer, and by Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless), who just happened to have written the Necronomicon and wanted it back. After Fisher turned Deadite and had to be dispatched, Ash traded the book to Ruby in order to spare Pablo and Kelly’s lives. The three Ghostbeaters headed toward Jacksonville in the Delta, Ash behind the wheel laughing and looking a bit insane as all hell was breaking lose in the rear view.
I’ve already reviewed the first two episodes here, so let’s get right to the details of the return of this gory, funny as hell series. Ruby’s children are all grown up (and still eyeless and creepy), and they are rebelling, having decided Ruby is weak and that they should be the ones controlling the Necronomicon. In desperation, Ruby decides to reach out to Ash for help–by sending Deadites to relay her plea. That will be received well.
Ash is in a Jacksonville bar (that he presumably owns), whooping it up with the drunk youth of today and popping open kegs with his chainsaw hand. Kelly and Pablo work at the bar, albeit reluctantly on Kelly’s part, as she’s sure the other Deadite is about to drop any time. Pablo is convinced the truce will hold–or at least, he wants to be.
Before long, a storm starts up and Deadites take over a mother and daughter who were flirting with an Ash who is back to his horn-dog ways. The mother Deadite tells Ash that Ruby sent her and refers to him as “Ashy Slashy,” a name that makes him wince; he winces harder as she sings a song about Ashy Slashy the killer, which immediately clues in Ash where to find Ruby: his hometown of Elk Grove, a place he’s been avoiding for decades. A few flying limbs and buckets of blood later (and with Kelly more than ready to jump right back in and rampage), the gang piles back into the Delta to head to the scene of Ash’s youth.
On the way there, Pablo hallucinates about the Necronomicon, but keeps mum. When they arrive at Ash’s homestead, complete with “Ashy Slashy” graffito, Ash tells his Ghostbeaters that his parents died a long time ago, yet almost as soon as he enters his old home, his dad, Brock (Lee Majors), tries to shoot him with a boomstick. Brock is a crusty old man; he’s also racist, flirtatious, and funny. From his banter with his son, we learn that although Brock did believe Ash’s story about the cabin, he thought Ash should’ve stood up for himself. Ash was hurt by his dad’s actions, and declares the two have been dead to each other ever since.
Ash, Pablo, and Kelly head downtown to search for Ruby; people pull their blinds down when they see him, as if Ash is some kind of Old West villain. A homeless man then accosts Ash and accuses him of ruining his life (now taking bets on who that guy is: Scotty’s dad or brother? A friend of Cheryl’s? An old boyfriend of Linda’s?).
Ash goes into the local bar and everyone seems to recognize him, but there is no fondness in that recognition. A waitress named Linda B. (Michelle Hurd), however, seems happy to see him; turns out she is one of Ash’s old flames, a woman he would’ve taken to the cabin if she’d said yes. Linda’s now married to the town sheriff, Tommy Emery (Stephen Lovatt), who Ash and friends used to bully and call “Safety Boy.” No wonder the townsfolk aren’t happy to see Ash return–he was a dick.
Meanwhile, Pablo and Kelly are outside separately searching for Ruby. Pablo sees the homeless man from earlier floating down an alley and follows, only to have a brutal hallucination of the Necronomicon back on his face and a bewitching Ruby surrounded by black smoke. Kelly finds Pablo freaking out; he tells her and Ash, who’s joined them, about the vision, which clues Ash in to where Ruby is hiding. A troubled Pablo finally reveals that he’s been having other visions as well.
Ash suits up in his trademark blue shirt, gets his boomstick and puts on his chainsaw, then splashes on cologne with a gleam in his eye as he winks at the audience. We all know where this is leading–utter, gory mayhem.
In the basement of the crematorium Ash recognized from Pablo’s description of his vision, Ash has both Three Stooges and Marx Brothers moments. He keeps bumping his head on the pipes, hears loud noises traveling down the pipes as ovens open and shoot fire, and eventually Moes out with a “Why you!” The best, though, is the sequence of him mimicking Harpo Marx, except instead of a mirror image, Ash is suspicious of his shadow, which turns out to be one of Ruby’s grown-up children. The children are jerk-ass demons with an old-timey sense of humor and the ability to travel in shadow form.
Kelly, meanwhile, is dragged away by Ruby’s other two children into a watery pit much like the pit Ash was thrown into in Army of Darkness. Pablo calls after her and gets attacked by one of the children, who spider-walks toward him like Regan from the extended version of The Exorcist. It’s one of the creepiest images from the entire series so far.
A fearful Pablo clutches the medallion he got from his Brujo; the medallion renders him not only invisible, but apparently odorless, as the demon suddenly loses track of him (either that, or he recognized him as his “dad” a la the xenomorph/dog hybrid in Alien3 when it smells that Ridley is hosting a queen Alien and leaves her alone). The demon turns back into a shadow and skitters away like an insect.
Back in the pit, Kelly has a full-on Evil Dead 2 experience; she’s attacked by a black-eyed version of herself which chokes her, even hearing the “We’re gonna get you” sing-song. Kelly gets her gun and begins shooting randomly; blood comes out of the bullet holes in the walls, filling the room. Luckily, Pablo saves her at the last minute.
Ash finds Ruby and she tells him she needs his help, but he’s not buying it. One of her kids attacks and drags her off. The three children begin assaulting her because she doesn’t have the Necronomicon as Ash watches, prompting a dilemma only Ash would have: “Should I save her because I should, or because she’s hot?” Of course, Ash does the right thing, gutting one child with the chainsaw, only to stand horrified as the hole heals itself. The demon taunts Ash in a voice that sounds a lot like Pablo, and it calls Ash “Jefe.” By that time, Ruby has grabbed the Kandarian dagger Ash brought along to kill her and stabs her own child in the back; there is mutual pain on her and her child’s faces because of her betrayal. Ash, not having the same connection, easily blows the demon’s eyeless head off with his boomstick and watches as the body dissolves into a dark grey goo. Ruby hands Ash the dagger as a sign of trust.
Pablo and Kelly catch up with the duo as Ruby begs for their help. They’re not keen on the idea, but Ash decides it’s finally time to put an end to the Kandarian nonsense once and for all. Ruby declares, “Let’s go save the world!” End episode.
“Home” does a lot of table-setting for the new season in a marvelously fun way that packs in several references to the original Evil Dead trilogy, including the heretofore off-limits Army of Darkness. We also get Ash not only having to fight alongside his mortal enemy against a demon horde of both their making, but having to fight his own internal demons as he goes back to the hometown that soundly rejected him because its inhabitants believe he murdered his own sister and friends in a gruesome bloodbath. He also has to face the broken relationship he has with his father, even as we see that the aging-Lothario apple doesn’t fall far from the randy, sarcastic tree.
Director Rick Jacobson keeps the pace of Craig Digregorio’s script flying by; as usual, the end credits came up too soon for my liking and I was begging for more. They’ve also upped the gore considerably–the mother Deadite slipping in its own blood after Ash had lopped off its arms and head was an especially funny grotesquerie–while the relationship of Ash to the world around him remains as solidly hilarious as ever. What will the Ghostbeaters discover as they work with Ruby? Is Ruby on the level? And what of the visions Pablo is having, and of Kelly’s renewed rage and bloodlust?
Most importantly, though, is how Ash will handle being back in Elk Grove. We already know from Ash’s vision last season that he longs for an idyllic (to him) life of sitting around in Jacksonville, drinking beer and relaxing. Will fighting Deadites on his home turf help him reconcile with his dad, his town, and his own failure of achieving that idyllic (and two-handed) life? Stay tuned.
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
Ash to Hannah (the daughter of the mother he slept with): “Oh, how nice for you to meet me!”
Ash not being drunk enough to know if the vibe between him and the mother-daughter combo is “good weird or bad weird”
Ash explaining his “utility hand” to Brock “Call me Cock” Williams
“Yeah, I do. Notice I never wear gym shorts?”
“I knew exactly what I was doing when I chopped up my friends!”
“All right, get the gum out of your ears and listen up, you inbred, degenerate screwheads!” (This one got the loudest applause at the screening I attended.)
“Yes, I am Ashy Slashy, the Boomstick Butcher with the chainsaw hand, but you nimrods got me all wrong!”
“All right, you naked assholes, time to pick on someone your own size!” (Ash really had a way with the insults in this episode.)
“We gave peace a chance. Now it’s time for war.”