Just in case you were worried that last week’s awesome series premiere was some kind of wacky fluke, Ash vs Evil Dead is back this week with another fast-paced, chainsaw-slinging half hour of total chaos.
I gotta say: I did miss Sam Raimi’s distinctive, frenetic camera work a little bit, but hey—not everyone can be Sam Raimi. And director Michael J. Bassett has some neat tricks up his sleeve—including a groovy shotgun-cam.
Anyway, Ash is eager to get his Necronomicon Ex-Mortis translated a.s.a.p. so that he can find a spell to defeat the Deadites. But his plans get delayed when Pablo tricks him into stopping at Kelly’s house first—she’s gone home to visit with her miraculously resurrected mother (Mimi Rogers, who really nails an unsettling creepy/maternal vibe).
On the way to Kelly’s, Ash and Pablo get attacked by their nasty boss Mr. Roper (Damien Garvey), who is now not only nasty but nasty, evil, and dead. There ensues a truly inspired little action sequence, all within the cramped quarters of Ash’s “Classic” Oldsmobile, natch. It’s three minutes of bloody, hilarious, bloody, brutal, and bloody brawling in a confined space, as Ash, Pablo, and Roper dodge oncoming traffic and beat the living/living-dead crap out of each other.
They finally get to Kelly’s parents’ place, an idyllic farmhouse with a verrrry creepy, creaky windmill. To Ash’s confusion, they find Kelly and her parents very much alive—and not in a dead-alive way, either. Even though Ash warns Pablo that moms coming back from the dead seem a little “too good to be true”, they agree to stay for dinner.
Pablo may be too “young, dumb, and full of conflicting emotions” to sense the danger, but Ash suspects that the Deadites are trying to lure him into the open, using Kelly as bait. (Ash tries to explain the situation using some increasingly terrible fishing metaphors, but Pablo won’t hear it.)
Then, there’s an awkward dinner scene where everybody tries really hard to be nice and polite—except for Ash, who doesn’t try at all… and except for Kelly’s mom, who transforms into a Deadite and sticks a fork through her husband’s eyeball.
Cue another awesomely gruesome Ash vs Evil Dead battle scene. Basically, this episode is a series of inventive ways to coat Pablo in as much syrupy blood as possible—which, it turns out, is an amazing amount of blood. I’m also pleased to report that this episode uses less CG effects than the pilot, so score one for Good Old-Fashioned Horror Filmmaking.
Two rooms and several buckets of blood later, Ash, Kelly, and Pablo manage to chop up Kelly’s mom before she can do the same to them, and Ash buries Kelly’s poor parents in the front yard. As usual, he’s a bumbling jerk about it, but Kelly seems to appreciate the gesture. “You’re kinda like a young me,” he tells her. “Deadites ruined your life, and you’re hot as hell.” It’s actually kinda sweet that a goofy, aging lothario like Ash is learning to see Kelly as a monster-slaying mentee instead of an object for gross flirting. Look—I said kinda sweet, okay?
Anyway, Kelly agrees to join Ash and Pablo’s quest to destroy the Evil that killed her parents. And meanwhile, Fisher is still hot on the Deadites’ trail. Her investigation leads her to “Books From Beyond”—putting her on a collision course with Ash, Kelly, and Pablo.
“Bait” comes in at a short, compact 30 minutes—no frills, no filter, no filler. No stupid conversations about feelings or tiresome exposition or meaningless subplots. Not in this show. They don’t belong here.
In fact, Ash vs Evil Dead is a compelling argument against TV’s weirdly ubiquitous one-hour format for every “genre” show. It’s the perfect little horror-comedy package. It’s quickly edited, economically written, almost elegantly simple—not a superfluous line, not a wasted shot in the whole thing. It’s like a zombie haiku, not a syllable out of place. Like a bonsai tree trimmed elegantly with a rusty chainsaw— like bad taste is going out of style.