Sunday, 29 November 2015

Review - 'Ash vs Evil Dead', S01E05 - 'The Host'

Things looked pretty grim for Ash and his fellow 'ghostbeaters' at the end of the previous episode. Ash was left unconscious after the demon, Eligos, unsuccessfully tried to force its way into his head. The fact that Ash's efforts to fight off Eligos in his own private dream-world had also resulted in him attacking Kelly in the 'real-world' certainly hadn't done much to win the confidence of his allies - with Ash now bound and gagged after being knocked unconscious by Pablo. Kelly, herself, is still possessed by Eligos - with the demon clearly set on causing more mayhem as it plays the innocent victim in order to keep attention focused on Ash. Pablo and his 'Brujo' uncle (Hemky Madera) have no way of knowing where the true danger lays, of course - so, they begin preparations to try to exercise the demon that the mistakenly believe is possessing Ash.

This is the third episode the feature Eligos - and, it is certainly great to have a mini-arc based around a particular threat. It's the sort of focus that this series probably needs, if it's going to be able to maintain any sort of long-term appeal. Also, even if Eligos, itself, remains a largely unknown figure, it is still the most genuine threat we have seen, so far. Deadites might be comical creatures, for the most past, but Eligos has been genuinely intimidating over the past couple of episodes - and, that continues here.

Kelly is a character who, unfortunately, still hasn't been given the same opportunities to make as strong an impression on the audience as either Ash or Pablo. She is clearly intended to be the 'straight' member of the group - there to balance out Ash's overblown bravado and Pablo's goofiness. It's an important role, sure - but, it's often a thankless one. The more overtly comedic characters are, after all, often the ones that the audience remembers. But, in both this episode and the previous one, Dana DeLorenzo is given the opportunity to do a little more as Eligos acts through Kelly.

Admittedly, there was absolutely no reason why Eligos would try to seduce Pablo in the way that it did, when it could have simply attacked him while his back was turned - but, it did provide some great moments between the two. There was certainly something both adorable and kind of goofy about Pablo responding to the demonically-possessed Kelly's offer to let him kiss her 'anywhere he liked' by suggesting that he could kiss her on the forehead. Even Eligos seems a bit stunned by that.

I do have to admit, though, that there was something about the scenes that came later, in which Eligos's possession of Kelly became more obvious, that didn't really work for me. It was the combination of the voice and the over sized teeth that Dana DeLorenzo was required to wear, I think. It was, honestly, a little disappointing the see the show's first legitimately frightening creature be reduced to the level of 'Deadite'-style comedy-horror. I am a fan of the show's combination of 'horror' and 'comedy', and I certainly don't want to see Ash vs Evil Dead become full-blown gore-focused horror - but, it should still be able to have its moments of more serious horror.

That being said, though, the scene in which Eligos finally re-emerges in its true form, by quite literally forcing its way out of Kelly's mouth, was an extremely well-done 'special effects' moment - something that came across as genuinely unsettling, and definitely a little gross.

Elsewhere, Ruby and Amanda followed directions given by Ash's possessed hand, as it seemed quite happy to lead them toward its original owner. Here, Ruby gave Amanda an amusing lesson in how to deal with the strangeness of the world she has been drawn into - which, basically, boiled down to a recommendation to 'just roll with it'. Beyond that, though, the two didn't really have very much to contribute to the episode - though, hopefully, that will change soon.

As great as it was to have an entire arc devoted to a single threat (especially one as impressively realised as Eligos), I do have to admit that I was still left a little disappointed by how little we knew about the creature. In the end, Eligos was simply an opportunistic creature who made the most of its chance to cause a little havoc when it got free, and that had no real connection to any sort of broader arc for the season. That's something that I think the season needs to establish fairly soon - because, honestly, I am growing increasingly concerned about how directionless Ash vs Evil Dead continues to feel as things progress. For the first time, with this episode, I found myself wondering if the 'joke' might be getting old - and, I really don't want that to happen.

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