Previously on Ash Vs. Evil Dead: After getting cold-cocked by Baal (Joel Tobeck), Ash (Bruce Campbell) awakens at a decrepit asylum. Baal, posing as Dr. Peacock, attempts to brainwash Ash into believing that not only is Ash a delusional serial killer, but that he must destroy the Necronomicon—currently housed in Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) body—in order to “kill” his delusion and set himself free. Baal gives Ash a puppet, Ashy Slashy, to help him work out his mental issues (because puppets that talk back are normal reality, right?). Linda B. (Michelle Hurd) shows up to beg Ash to accept that he’s a killer—Ash thinks he murdered Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo, only to see himself on tape viciously beating people named Amanda and Reg instead. After Ash sees shadowy figures arrive in the Delta, he accepts that he’s crazy and vows to destroy the Book.
“Ashy Slashy” doesn’t have a whole lot of Ash in it until the final scene, but he looms in the background as a menacing force, stalking around with his chainsaw revving like he’s Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). As directed by returning champion Tony Tilse (from a script by Suzanne Keilly & Aaron Lam), the episode plays out like the end of a horror film, full of extended shots building dread, people creeping solo or in pairs around the dark, deserted building, and then having them ultimately confronting the evil force, Baal, who’s set them all on this godforsaken path. Plus, it has a puppet. Yay, puppets!
The episode also features yet another heart-rending death of a major character, continuing the season’s theme that none of our gang of merry Deadite Slayers is safe, and that Ash’s losses will only mount if he continues fighting against the Kandarians. With two episodes left in the season, it’s hard to see where the show goes from here, but given that the ride has been so fresh and exciting (no sophomore slump in this universe!), I have faith it will be worth holding onto the bull.
So, it turns out Ash really did see the Ghostbeaters and Ruby show up at the asylum in the last episode right before he declared to Linda that he was indeed a serial killer. The three have figured out that Baal has taken Ash to the sanitarium and are determined to save him before Baal can brainwash him and turn him against all that he loves. Pablo is still worried that he will wind up dying as the Necronomicon continues to take over his body, protection by Brujo’s pendant notwithstanding, and Kelly tries to reassure her “powerful vagina” that he is stronger than the Book and that they’ll all be okay.
It also turns out that Linda is actually at the asylum; she was not just some cruel hallucination Baal conjured to torment Ash. Linda tells Baal she did what he asked and that she wants her daughter, Lacey. Sheriff Emery (Stephen Lovatt) says he brought Linda and Lacey to Baal like Baal asked, pissing Linda off even more. She leaves. Emery goes after her and meets up with the Ghostbeaters. He tells them they shouldn’t be there, then claims that Baal messed with his head and none of this is his fault. Emery appears to be back to normal, concerned for his daughter and softened up towards the Ghostbeaters. It’s yet another tonal shift in his character, and Lovatt rolls with the shift like a pro.
Emery thinks he hears Lacey; she appears behind them and she doesn’t look well; in fact, she turns Deadite rather quickly and attacks Pablo, who uses a nail gun to protect himself. Lacey escapes after killing a hapless guard and turning him into a “unicorn” by shoving a phallic symbol into his forehead. Emery chases after Lacey; Kelly tells him to get out of the way so she can shoot the newest Deadite, but Emery tries to protect Lacey, thinking he can still save her. Kelly tries to reason with him, but the remorseful dad hugs his daughter after she says “I love you.” Deadite Lacey reveals herself again, killing Emery by breaking his neck and ripping his head off with spine attached, like she’s a Predator. “Oh, look, he does have a backbone after all,” Lacey gloats. Title card!
A horrified Kelly goes after Lacey, wrapping a firehose around her and blowing her head off with a machine gun while Ruby and Pablo continue to search for Ash. Kelly apologizes to Lacey for killing her. Kelly’s a badass, but she’s not a bad person, and she feels sad that an innocent young lady like Lacey had to be destroyed. Kelly walks away from Lacey’s bloody body and does not see Ash looming in the distance, dressed in combat gear instead of his usual blue-and-brown getup. Has he really been turned by Baal?
In a series of quick cuts, we see Linda also looking for Lacey; she thinks she hears her daughter laughing, slips in blood, and finds Emery’s severed head. We see Ash drawing the chainsaw across the wall and revving it. Pablo hears the noise and calls out “Jefe?” while the Book starts talking to him. Ruby meets up with Pablo, who’s afraid his pendant won’t keep the Book at bay for long. The two find the real Reg hanging, roaches coming out of his mouth. Ruby says this is definitely Baal’s doing. Pablo is afraid he’s going to die and Ruby, in her reassuring way, says, yeah, probably. Pablo confides in Ruby his dream of opening a food truck/electronics shop on wheels, “Pablito’s Fish and Chips” (“like computer chips—you get it?”) Oh, Pablo, never give up hope!
Ash continues to stalk Kelly, who finds Amanda shooting up heroin. She asks if Amanda has seen Ash, who she describes as “tall, dumb, [and] smells like bread.” Amanda sings the “Ashy Slashy” song and says Ash is looking for Kelly, which Kelly takes as a good sign, apparently. Oops. Meanwhile, Pablo wants to know what Baal has been doing to Ash. Ruby figures out that Baal is trying to get Ash to kill the Book when Ash shows up behind them. Ruby tells Pablo to run.
Kelly finds the room where Ash was held by Baal and where Ashy Slashy the puppet still is. She finds him adorable (which we all do, Starz, hint Christmas gift hint). Kelly is locked in the room with Ashy Slashy, who starts calling her name. Linda, still searching for Lacey, sees Amanda running down the hall; Amanda says Ashy Slashy has Kelly. Poor Linda is sore confused.
In a hallway, Ash spills gasoline and uses the chainsaw to spark a fire, and I gotta say, he looks badass framed in flames. Pablo begs Ash to be stronger than Baal, but Ash says nothing. Campbell, without saying a word, conveys that Ash has turned to the dark side. I can’t blame him—the dark side does have cookies, after all.
Back in Ash’s chambers, Ashy Slashy suddenly appears on Kelly’s arm after knocking her gun out of her hand. He’s offended she called him a Muppet, but he likes her potty mouth (as do we all—that puppet has good taste). He attacks her, developing a mouth full of fangs. Kelly manages to get him off her arm, but he keeps attacking, biting her leg and hand. He then shoves her face in a bedpan full of urine (presumably Ash’s), but Kelly knows that you “always bring a gun to a puppet fight” and blows Ashy Slashy’s felt head clean off, splattering puppet blood everywhere.
Ash continues to stalk Pablo and Ruby, who hide in a closet after reaching a dead end. Kelly is still locked in Ash’s room, but Linda finds her. Kelly immediately punches Linda to make sure she’s real and a stunned Linda punches her right back. A new friendship is born! Kelly lies that she hasn’t seen Lacey, but says that if Linda comes with her to stop Baal, she’ll help find her. Also, Kelly is a bad liar.
Ruby tells Pablo she’ll hold off Ash so Pablo can go find and destroy Baal. Pablo thinks that the more mortal Ruby becomes, the more she becomes human. “That’s creepy talk,” Ruby protests. Ash starts chainsawing through the wall of the closet—and the dead body Ruby and Pablo just discovered. Ruby thinks Ash is a lost cause, fully in thrall to Baal, but Pablo refuses to give up and tries to talk sense into him. They used to watch Monday Night Raw together, a true bonding experience. Pablo steps outside the closet to find Ash; Ash captures Pablo and drags him off, to Ruby’s chagrin.
Linda, who’s not a dummy, realizes that Lacey is dead and asks for the truth from Kelly. Kelly sadly says, “I’m sorry.” An emotional Linda cries out that Kelly didn’t think Linda “was strong enough” to hear about Lacey, and that all her life, people thought she was too weak to handle bad news. Linda vows that “it’s the last mistake that fucking demon is ever gonna make” as she readies to battle Baal.
Linda and Kelly find Pablo strung up by Ash in the same manner as in Pablo’s vision earlier this season. Ash says he’s going to kill them all and destroy his delusions. A pleased Baal, in Dr. Peacock form at first, shows up and eggs Ash on, but Linda begs Ash to stop. Ash raises his chainsaw and makes a slashing motion toward Linda and Kelly, but he cuts down and frees Pablo instead. Ash reveals to Bill (heh) that he played right into Ash’s hands. The Ghostbeaters are perplexed, but Kelly is aware enough to shoot Baal several times when he tries to attack. Ash reminds the Ghostbeaters of his “pet tracker plan” and how it worked—albeit in a haphazard fashion because it was, in the end, one of Ash’s plans. No one can believe Ash’s plan worked, but they thank him anyway.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Ash responds. “We still gotta send this hairy ballsack back to Hell.”
Pablo begins the incantation to destroy Baal, but Baal knocks him aside. Ruby shows up and puts Brujo’s pendant on Baal, which sears into his flesh and incapacitates him enough that everyone can grab hold of Baal and hold him down. Pablo starts casting the spell; the windows blow out behind him and Pablo actually gets cut and bleeds (seriously, how often does the same thing happen in action films and the heroes come out with barely a scratch? Ironic that Ash Vs. Evil Dead winds up being more realistic). Pablo jams his fingers into Baal’s eyes and the Sumerian symbols slide down his arms and fingers into Baal’s sockets. Baal slashes wildly at Pablo with his elongated coke fingernail, then explodes, getting black goo on everybody. Before they can all celebrate, though, Pablo stops talking and falls to the ground. He’s been cut in half, one of his entrails moving like a snake. NOOOOO!!!! Even Ruby is shocked, proving she has begun caring about her now-fellow humankind. End credits!!
I am not going to lie—I did not see this coming, even as other AvED fans felt that Pablo and/or Kelly could die this season, given all the other major deaths that have already occurred. Pablo’s death is even more gruesome than Chet’s two deaths put together. Coming as it does with two episodes left (and a third season ordered!), though, is it possible the death will be undone? Campbell has already spoken in interviews about time travel coming to AvED, and if that’s the plan for the remainder of the season, we could be seeing Brock, Chet, Pablo, Lacey, and heck, even Cheryl returning for good (but not Sheriff Emery—nobody cares about that douchebag reviving except maybe Lacey). For now, though, presuming the deaths stick, what comes next for Ash and the gang? Ash feels like Pablo was family; he’ll either fall into a Pink Fuck stupor fueled by guilt, or look for a way to bring Pablo back. Ruby needs the Book back in order to regain her immortality, so I would bet she’d go along with whatever plan Ash hatches, assuming he’s not too busy moping. Kelly will be looking for serious payback from someone, anyone, for taking her Pablo, and Linda will want similar payback for her daughter’s death. Where will AvED take us next? Stay tuned!
This week in Ash (and other) one-liners (plus other stuff I liked):
Eh, I’m too sad about Pablo’s death to comb through the ep for more one-liners, especially as Ash didn’t speak much this ep and I quoted my favorites in the recap itself. I will hand it to Campbell, though, for selling Ash’s transformation, or rather, for selling that Ash could hold his ruse together long enough that Baal would be tricked into showing up where all his enemies were congregated. Campbell reveals another layer to Ash that we previously haven’t seen, and for that, I’m grateful. Now do something about undoing Pablo’s death, Ash!
All photos courtesy of Starz