Previously on Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Ash (Bruce Campbell) mourned the death of his father, Brock (Lee Majors), then enlisted Chet’s (Ted Raimi) help to go after the Delta, which had roared back up the street and kidnapped Pablo (Ray Santiago). A terrified Lacey (Pepi Sonuga) was also still trapped inside. Meanwhile, Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) went to the crematorium to confront Ruby’s children. As Ash fought the Delta to save Pablo and Lacey, Ruby and Kelly were attacked by the children, but managed to kill them all. The Delta let Lacey and Pablo escape after Ash chainsawed it up real good. The Necronomicon begged an enraged Pablo to speak a word that opened a portal to hell in the Delta’s trunk. Ash and Pablo threw the Necronomicon into the portal, and walked away thinking they’d saved the world, but Ruby, miles away, felt something had gone terribly wrong. Sure enough, it was a trick; a fiery demon bursts out of the trunk of the Delta and heads for parts unknown.
Every week, I think I’m seeing the best episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead yet, and every week, the makers of this crazy show manage to top themselves. “Confinement” is a tense episode, taking ample advantage of its setting in the Elk Grove jail’s main room to create anxiety and paranoia among the assembled characters, as well as a great deal of dread in the audience. Returning director Michael J. Barrett uses surveillance camera footage, lights flickering on and off, and a skinned Deadite body that keeps attacking even after its head is shot off by Ruby, to keep the audience off-balance as the resurrection of Baal plays out.
News of the mayhem at the bar has reached law enforcement as a deputy named Margie (Lucinda Hare) investigates the bloody aftermath and finds Amber’s decapitated body. She calls Sheriff Emery (Stephen Lovatt) for back-up. She hears voices; it’s Baal (Joel Tobeck), and he’s naked. Baal seduces her, using his long fingernail to flay her back and steal her skin. It’s more than a little disturbing that the act of slicing her open increases her sexual pleasure, but the show doesn’t delve into it.
Elsewhere in town, a happy-go-lucky Ash is singing, relieved the ordeal is over. He sees a female mannequin and thinks of Linda B. and how he can seduce her (she is, after all, one of the only Lindas for him). Sheriff Emery shows up and arrests him for murdering Amber, then locks him up in cell across from Chet, who has been locked up for DUI and soliciting a prostitute, Joanie (Medulla Oblongata).
Linda brings a traumatized Lacey to see her father. Down in the cell, Ash asks for a phone call, so Emery sends Margie (Baal) to see him. The phone is dead, but starts ringing as whistling is heard—it’s Baal calling Ash to taunt him. Ash goes upstairs to tell everyone about the danger, stopping to hit on Linda because he just can’t help himself. Ruby and Kelly show up in time to keep Emery from shooting Ash.
Ruby takes control, realizing Baal is there. She demands all prisoners be brought up to the main room so they can keep track of everyone. Ruby explains who Baal is, but Linda doesn’t believe her; Lacey insists it’s true. She also says Pablo is brave and appears to have a crush on him. Sorry, Kelly, you’ve got competition!
Ruby shoots Emery in the thigh after he tries to take his gun back; she goes alone to the evidence locker to retrieve their weapons and finds Polly (Shareena Clanton), the other deputy, cowering. Baal locks them both in.
Meanwhile, Pablo shows Ash and Kelly that he has boils and scars on his stomach and thinks something is trying to get out of him. “I’ve had a million rashes in all kinds of funky places—my armpit, my gonads, my buttcrack, my buttcheek” Ash tries to reassure Pablo before he’s interrupted by Chet and Joanie accusing everyone of being the demon, including “the Mexican” (Ash, offended, defends him as “Pablo the Mexican!”).
Lacey stands up for Pablo to her dad. Emery is being abusive to everyone, even Linda. Kelly takes charge, saying Baal wants them to all be paranoid. Ash reminds Linda of the old days, but gets the details wrong, pissing her off. Chet no longer wants to stay with Ash until the wheels fall off; Emery gets everyone to vote that Ash is the demon.
Downstairs, Ruby discovers Polly is Baal after he begins seducing her. Ruby drops the Kandarian dagger and they kiss; she feels the loose skin and recoils. Baal reveals himself, takes the dagger, and reminds Ruby that they had a deal. He’s upset that she murdered their children, telling her he knows her secret—that she’s mortal. Say what!? But she wrote the Book! The Book is ancient! Now she’s aging? Oh, man!
“You were so beautiful, and now you’re growing old, like these maggots!” Baal spits at her. He’s formidable; he appears to be stronger than Ruby and says he can’t be stopped because the Book is gone. Baal knocks out Ruby and leaves.
Pablo’s rash is spreading and painful; his moaning gives Emery the chance to get the gun from Kelly. He’s about to shoot Pablo when Linda intervenes. Ash fights Emery; blood drips down on Emery’s forehead right before skinned Margie drops down and attacks! Baal appears and disappears as the lights flicker, fully enjoying the distress he’s wrought. Margie rips off Joanie’s arm and kills her. “Joanie, no! Oh, God! You were so giving!” Chet laments.
In the commotion, Baal kidnaps Linda and locks her in a cell. Ash heads down there to find her and Margie attacks. Ruby, who has recovered, arrives in time to give Ash his chainsaw, then blows off Margie’s head with the boomstick. The body keeps trying to get to Linda, so Ash carves it in half lengthwise. Linda looks horrified; Ruby and Emery look quizzical and maybe a bit impressed. Ash tries to chainsaw open the cell, but Ruby tosses him the keys and they smack him in the face.
Linda rejects Emery after his assholish behavior, leading Ash to flirt with her some more (he stole her mom’s VW and crashed it, but it wasn’t it his fault because he was “totally wasted”). They’re interrupted by Pablo’s cries, and as they rush out of the cell, Linda smacks into the bars, Three Stooges-style. Pablo is vomiting goop and is convinced he’s Baal. Ruby sees the rash, which is starting to resemble the cover of the Necronomicon; there’s also Sumerian words on Pablo’s torso. Ruby says Pablo is the only hope of stopping Baal. Credits.
Though everyone’s keyed up by Baal’s mind games, there seemed to be a strange shift in Emery’s behavior. Was he always a jerk to his family, or is it Baal’s influence? Linda, after being lovey-dovey with him previously, sure was quick to ditch him and gravitate toward Ash. I know Ash is a hunka-hunka, but Emery’s the father of her child and she seemed to really love him. Other than that, the episode, scripted by William Bromell, was chock full of fun and a really terrifying Deadite in skinned, growling Margie. We even had the return of the drunk homeless guy (Stephen Ure) who hates Ash—he was locked up in the jail, too. We also got a nice bit of sexual acceptance, as no one seemed to care that Joanie was transgender—it was never commented upon. I guess that balances the scales a little after the conflation of violence and sexual pleasure between Margie and Baal, but…no, that’s still bothering me.
Despite that, I’m very pleased with the direction the show is taking and excited that we’ve got more info on Ruby finally. So: Is Pablo turning into the new Book, or perhaps birthing a new copy of the Book (the way he gave birth to Ruby and Baal’s children)? Will Ash wind up with Linda and if so, does that mean she’s doomed to be a Deadite? How soon until you think Sheriff Emery gets possessed? As always, stay tuned!
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
Did anyone else think the bull ride was going to get possessed after it suddenly started up? I was really hoping for that.
“Once again I saved the world/Now it’s time to get the girl/Time to go to the shop, get the car back, get on the road to Jacksonville/Something something rhymes with Jacks—”
Joanie’s itchy, Chet’s itchy, and so is Baal under Margie’s skin—everything is a sexual infection in this episode!
“Oh, I’ve got eight—but I know how to make it feel like five!”
Ash: “How do we deal with this Bill guy?”
Everyone: “It’s Baal!”
The photocopies of Ash’s mashed face after Margie slams him into the copier were great.