Season one of Ash vs Evil Dead was great (thank God), which means that season two definitely has a lot to live up to. This week’s premier sets up more of Ash’s world that may have been a little more subdued than the pilot from last year, but there was plenty of groundwork laid that points to a season that may rely a little more on a plot than than last season.
“Home” picks up a year after Ash (Bruce Campbell) left Ruby (Lucy Lawless) in the cabin where he first came across the Necronomicon years earlier after the two agreed to their deal: Ruby got the book and Ash got to be left alone in Jacksonville, Florida.
But a year on and things really aren’t looking so hot for the woman who created the book of evil. The episode opens up with Ruby trying to fight off her “children” – a sort of metallic band of demons without eyes. In a last-ditch attempt to control the demons, Ruby calls on the only many who can help her: Ash Williams.
Ash is living his Spring Break dream in Jacksonville. His chainsaw hand makes him popular with the ladies, and he seems to have endless amounts of alcohol that is probably provided by his fellow Ghost Beaters, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) who are both working crap jobs at a bar in Florida.
But Ash’s good times come to a quick end when the mother-daughter duo he was chatting up turn into Deadites. With his truce with Ruby over, Ash kicks into action to find the ladies off. And of course, Ash vs Evil Dead gets straight into the gore. Arms everywhere, and fantastic blood-soaked bits from Pablo and Kelly. Right before Ash finishes off mummy deadite, she begins to sing “Ashy slashy” to him.
This little clue is what leads Ash to dragging Kelly and Pablo back to his hometown in Michigan with him. The Ghost Beaters head north in the Delta, ready to take on Ruby.
When the trio arrive in Michigan, it’s to a cold reception. Plus Pablo is obviously messed up after wearing the Necronomicon on his face and Kelly keeps seeing freaky kids looming around. So nothing seems to be going quite right for anyone – exactly as things should be.
Ash takes the kids to his parents’ old house where they get to meet Mr Brock Williams (Lee Majors), a man who is clearly the inspiration to all of Ash’s rather crude nature. But after getting shot at, Ash heads to the local bar. Here he is reunited with Linda. Though Linda (Michelle Hurd), of course, is no longer available and married to the town sheriff.
On a strangely cute note, Ash keeps showing everyone Pablo’s horrible drawing of Ruby in attempts that someone will recognise her. Pablo’s drawing looks like Big Foot (according to Brock, anyway and he’s pretty accurate on that description). But it’s not any local that helps Ash out, but rather one of Pablo’s visions, in which he sees two chimney stacks.
Ash immediately knows that Pablo’s vision is of the crematorium. Because where else would a group of demons and their mother hang out?
The Ghost Beaters go straight to the crematorium, where they are separated. Each of them have to fend for themselves while they battle one of Ruby’s weird metallic demon-children. Kelly fights her own double while attempting to not drown in what looks like bloody water. Pablo is saved by grabbing the medallion he got from his Brujo uncle. And Ash attempts to fight off his own shadow.
When the group finally meet with Ruby, it’s not to fight her. Instead, she begs for their help. Of course Ash stupidly agrees to it, thinking that he’ll be back to Jacksonville by Friday with Kelly and Pablo. This will most definitely not be the case, but you can’t help but feel for the guy anyway.
Our most reluctant hero is back in form (again, thank God). But the episode felt a little restrained in comparison to last year’s season. In a way, it’s welcome as it shows that there will probably be a bit of room for a plot. Shows like Ash vs Evil Dead could easily fall into a trap of being only gratuitous death scenes with little substance.
Though it is a bit disappointing that the show has stuck to the 30-minute format instead of expanding to a full hour, the pacing worked rather well. I’ll gladly take a restrained first episode if viewers are in store for a big pay-off. Here’s hoping there’s lots of Deadites, blood and a whole lot of groovy-ness ahead.
Ash vs Evil dead airs on Starz on Sunday nights and is on Virgin on-demand in the UK.