Sunday, 22 November 2015

Review - 'Ash vs Evil Dead', S01E04 - 'Brujo'





Ash vs Evil Dead continues to move at a rapid pace as we come to the fourth episode of the season. Amanda found herself trapped in the 'Books from Beyond' storeroom with a Deadite, only to be saved, at the last possible moment, by Ruby. Ash, Pablo, and Kelly, meanwhile, made their way toward Pablo's shaman uncle, hoping to find more answers, only to find themselves pursued by a cloud of demonic smoke.

The cloud of smoke may, in fact, be the most interesting aspect of the episode when you consider the clear implication that this smoke is what character's have actually been reacting to whenever the camera came rushing toward them during the franchise's iconic 'first-person chase' scenes. The exact nature of this smoke is still a mystery, of course - but, it is interesting to finally have a clear idea of what is going on behind the camera during these sequences. The sight of this massive cloud of smoke chasing their car down the high-way was certainly a visually impressive image. Although, I do have to admit that the CGI work that went into that brief shot of a car being tossed aside by the smoke was a little shaky.

Fortunately, though, Pablo's uncle also turns out to be a very real shaman, with very real power - as it is only the protective wards that he has placed around his property that allowed them to escape.

In order to uncover whatever inner power it is that Ash possesses which might allow him to deal with the evil that he has unleashed, Ash accepts an offer from Pablo's 'Brujo' uncle (Hemky Madere) to send him an a classic 'spirit journey' - a drug-fuelled trip deep into his own sub-conscious where, he hopes, there are important secrets to uncover. What follows is a fantastically surreal sequences that mingles classic rock, footage from a variety of old television shows, clips from the original Evil Dead films, and the nightmarish sight of Ash with his eyes sewn shut and surrounded by demonic figures. This is all part of the process, though. Soon enough, Ash is able to take control of his spiritual journey - finding his way to Jacksonville, Florida, of all places.

So, what is the significance of Jacksonville for Ash? Well, apparently, 30 years ago Ash had intended to go on a trip to Jacksonville, before changing his mind and heading out to a secluded cabin in the woods with a group of friends, instead. While relaxing in his imaginary version of Jacksonville, and having a conversation with his pet lizard, Ash seems to be slowly inching closer to uncovering the answers he seeks - only to be suddenly interrupted.

It turns that Eligos, the demon that had caused so much trouble in the previous episode, wasn't dead, after all. Instead, the headache that Kelly had been complaining about recently had actually turned out to be the demon working its way into her head, and trying to take over. And, now, with Kelly under its control, Eligos goes after Ash - appearing in Ash's visions as it tries to force its way into his head. Eligos was too great a creation to only appear in a single episode - so, I'm definitely glad to see the demonic creature turn up again, here. But, at the same time, I have to admit that I'm a bit confused about the logic, here. Of the three of them, Kelly was the only one that Eligos hadn't attacked directly, in the previous episode - so, why was she the one that ended up possessed? She was the one that attacked the demon with the Necronomicon, sure - but, it still doesn't make much sense.

Elsewhere, Amanda and Ruby agree to work together in their efforts to track down Ash. Ruby, it turns out, is the daughter of Professor Knowby, the owner of the original cabin - and, she blames Ash for the horror that resulted from that long ago visit (this is, of course, something that many fans would already know - but, it is good to have it officially confirmed). And, of course, Amanda is still convinced that Ash is responsible for the recent deaths. So, the two would seem to make natural partners - although, Amanda does seem to be a little bothered by Ruby's casual violence toward the Deadite Lional. Also, Ruby reveals that has actually recovered Ash's original hand - the one that he was forced to cut off when it became possessed, and started trying to kill him, back in Evil Dead 2. The hand seems to have come back to life in the brief time since Ash read from the Necronomicon, and is once more moving on its own. So, it seems that they may actually have an effective means of tracking Ash down.

I remember saying, in a review of a previous episode, that I had come to feel that half-an-hour episodes might have been the right choice - since, it had felt like making the episodes any longer than that would stretch the story too thin. But, this episode actually did seem to suffer from its short running time. It was an episode that did come across as a little muddled as it tried to cover everything from Ash's spiritual journey to Kelly's possession to Ruby and Amanda's new partnership.

The fact that this episode ended, effectively, right in the middle of the action, as Ash and Eligos battled for dominance in Ash's mind, is likely to be a considerable source of frustration for many viewers. While I still feel that half-an-hour episodes are entirely appropriate for a show like Ash vs Evil Dead, it does seem as though the episode's pacing needs to be handled better than it was here

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