Last year I absolutely loved Ash vs. Evil Dead, I thought it added a lot to the already existing movies and showed what you could do with televised horror if the network had the cajones to just let it be horror. But what I didn’t like, necessarily, was the finale, which wrapped the whole thing up with a nice bow while still leaving it open for another season.
Well guess what? They did it again! And while this time they drifted both farther and closer to their cinematic roots, did they do so faithfully to the Ashley Williams canon? Let’s see.
Last year, Ash handed over the Necronomicon to Ruby and retired to Florida with Pablo and Kelly. Of course, that doesn’t last and now Ash and pals are on a road trip to destroy the Necronomicon no matter what it takes, even if that means recruiting Ruby and going back in time!
One of the things I said last year was that I wanted the show to go off and do things that were not covered in the movies and to a certain degree, I’m glad that they did so this year. Although honestly, some of the things they did went too far IMO. I think there are some things in the Evil Dead mythos that they really ought to leave alone, like the Necronomicon. But when Ash and Pablo destroyed it this year, transferring its evil to Pablo’s body, I thought it was an interesting twist, but not one that really felt quite right. It cast Pablo as the hero, not Ash and that bothered me. I mean, it didn’t last, but Ash is supposed to be the long-suffering anti-hero of the franchise, not Pablo. Ash is a loner, but now he’s part of a team and while I generally like the team, it’s hard to get away from Ash being a one-man show.
And speaking of the team, let’s talk about Ruby. She was a bad-ass in the first season and they’ve effectively neutered her this year. Well, until she died, but that’s something else. But actually, without her, you really don’t have the kind of adversarial conflict that the show really needs. You have to have someone for Ash to play off of and frankly, Ba’al kind of sucked. He isn’t threatening. He isn’t scary. He’s lame.
Now one thing that might make me more encouraged for the future is that AvED showrunner Craig DiGregorio is leaving the show, to be replaced by Daredevil producer Mark Verheiden. I say this only because one of DiGregorio’s favorite scenes in this season was one of my least favorites, the morgue fight where Ash got his head shoved up a demon’s ass. Now in and of itself, it was kind of a cute idea, but it went on way too long and they went out of their way to make it all scatological. In fact, I found several scenes during the season to do the same thing. The breast milk sequence in the finale was just gross, and not heads-exploding-gore-everywhere gross, but a different kind that really hasn’t been a part of the Evil Dead franchise very much. Can we please leave that kind of thing for other series?
And maybe the worst part of the finale? That Ash won and was recognized for winning. I was sure it was all a dream and maybe it was. Like last year, they wrapped up the story and gave themselves an out for a third season, which had already been confirmed just after this season started. Ash wins, he’s the hero, the people of Elk Grove love him… but 80s Ruby is there and that’s not good. But giving Ash what he wants is not how this franchise works. Ash is a thankless anti-hero. He thinks he’s amazing but nobody else does, even though he is. By giving in to his ego, especially with the Star Wars-esque ghost figures, it just cheapens the fight that he has with the Deadites, at least IMO. Maybe it will all turn out to be an illusion at the start of the next season. I hope so. Ash should never receive recognition for his heroic actions.
Still, I’m giving this show high marks because Bruce Campbell knocks it out of the park every second he’s on screen. He is Ashley J. Williams. He has the character down cold and that’s what makes the series so much fun. I’m looking forward to whatever they end up doing next year because I know, so long as Bruce Campbell is involved, it’s going to be a great ride.