Previously on Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Ash (Bruce Campbell), Pablo (Ray Santiago), and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) made it to Jacksonville, only to be summoned by Ruby (Lucy Lawless), who was having trouble with her grown-up children. Ash tracked her down in Elk Grove, his hometown, where he reunited with his dad, Brock (Lee Majors). Ash also met up with a former flame, Linda B. (Michelle Hurd), and her husband, the town sheriff (Stephen Lovatt). After fighting with Ruby’s little demons, Ash agreed on behalf of the Ghostbeaters to keep the Necronomicon out of the demon spawn’s hands.
“The Morgue” dives further into Ash’s relationship to his hometown and the people therein. Upon returning home from the crematorium, Ash has to deal not only with his dad’s emotional distance, but with his own memories, specifically of his sister, Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss, seen in flashbacks). Seeing her room brings back every awful thing that happened to her, and it’s hard for him to face.
Fun for us, though, is getting to see Ash’s room, which neither his dad nor his mom changed since he left Elk Grove, and which is a goldmine of items illuminating Ash’s teenage psyche. In addition to a plethora of empty beer cans lining the shelves, there are the posters (including Suzi Quatro, Farrah Fawcett, some centerfold nudes, Alice Cooper, films such as “Frogs” and “The Wolfman Strikes”), the “Shemp’s Beer” signs, and a dead lizard that Ash figures died of heartbreak (but was probably starvation). Thankfully, Eli doesn’t see his predecessor.
Ruby tells the Ghostbeaters that she stashed the Necronomicon in a cadaver at the town morgue because the dead flesh masks the smell of the book’s human cover. Ash and Kelly will go retrieve the book, he says, but Ruby has to agree to be watched by Pablo, who is more than ready to kill her if he needs to. Ruby’s not thrilled to be stuck in room reeking of Ash’s adolescence, but she agrees.
Pablo has a hard time guarding Ruby, given that she strings him up from the ceiling, torments him, then grows a long fingernail she uses to slash his throat. Fortunately for Pablo, this horror turns out to be another vision. Unfortunately for Pablo, he’s convinced Ruby is going to kill him. Ruby tells Pablo the Necronomicon has given him the power of precognition; upon learning about the fingernail in Pablo’s vision, Ruby tells him it’s not her but Baal, the true father of the creepy eyeless children Pablo puked up last season. That cannot be good for anybody.
Before we get to the Big Disgusting Thing That Happens at the Morgue, let’s talk a little more about Ash and his dad. The rift between them appears to pre-date what happened at the cabin. Specifically, Brock apparently used to sleep with Ash’s girlfriends, which we learn when Ash finds out Brock’s date that night is with another of Ash’s old flames.
Brock’s not a great dad, in other words, and absent anything about Ash’s mom, we’re left to assume a great deal of Ash’s boorish behavior was inherited or picked up from his pick-up artist of a father. Ash taking a paternal interest in Pablo and Kelly, being protective of them against Deadites, Ruby, and any other thing that would hurt them, is one way he’s being a better dad than he had, even if he’s not exactly conscious of it.
Down at the morgue, Ash searches for the Book while Kelly stands watch. She winds up having to keep Sheriff Lovatt from discovering Ash’s mission; when her dissembling doesn’t work, the two come to blows. Ash coming home has already been a shitshow for him, too, but it gets worse inside the morgue. Unsatisfied with the bone saw and other autopsy instruments, he fires up his chainsaw and starts carving up cadavers. Naturally, the Book is in the last place he looks: a body with a book-shaped lump in its chest.
As he reaches through viscera searching for the Necronomicon—and making wisecracks throughout—a Deadite presence has also figured out where the Book is. Ash slowly realizes something’s not right with that body; when the intestines attack him in a sequence combing the end of Re-Animator and the birth of the xenomorph in the original Alien, he knows he’s in for a world of shit. It’s also not that we need to see that world become literal, but AvED goes there—in a big, messy way.
Battling the intestinal monster results in Ash suffering the ultimate indignity: Being dragged, head first, up the ass of a Deadite. Ash manages to cut his way out, covered in liquid feces and having had a dick or two slapped across his face. When he reunites with Kelly, who’s head-butted Lovatt unconscious, she can barely stand the stench of him.
The two return to Casa Ashy Slashy to save Brock; Ash found proof Brock’s date is dead while at the morgue, and he wants to save his dad, regardless of their troubled history. He and Kelly leave the Book in the car in the rush to rescue Brock, Pablo, and Ruby from yet another Deadite. They’re successful, of course, and once the Deadite is dispensed with, Ruby wants to know where her book is (while not addressing why the Deadite called her a “traitor”).
That’s when the next obstacle rears up: Two dickheads Ash and Kelly nearly ran over on the road have shown up to steal the Delta in revenge. The gang helplessly watch as the Delta roars away, prompting Ash to remark that everything has gone “right up the pooper.”
Returning director Tony Tilse keeps the energy of the first episode coursing throughout the second, working off Cameron Welsh’s grossness-laden script. There’s a lot of good, creepy moments, more peeling back of Ash’s mask (or masks, as the case may be), and perhaps the most grotesque stunt pulled in Evil Dead history. When pictures of Ash peering out of a hairy body were first released online, some fans speculated that he’d be sucked back up into the womb. While I don’t think Ash would have cared for that fate, in comparison to what did happen, it’s probably the preferable of the two orifices for him. Can things get any worse for Ash than that? (Does a Deadite shit in the morgue? C’mon now!) And just why do the Deadites consider Ruby a traitor? Stay tuned!
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
Brock listening to “Volare” while getting prettied up for his date with Ash’s ex-whatever-she-was-to-him.
“Sack up, sunshine!” – Brock to Ash
“I’m done conversating; time for some fornicating!” – Brock to Ruby
“Actually, vaginas are powerful and life-affirming.” – Kelly (I dare Trump to try and grab hers!)
“Holy pickle dicks!” and “Sonofabitch, not again!” – Ash discovering who his father’s date is
“Ash, look first, cut later!”
“What the Harryhausen?”
“Oh, God, I’m in the butt!”
“Get your dicks off my face!”
“This town is only big enough for one asshole, and that asshole is me!”
All photos are courtesy of Starz.