Sunday, 6 December 2015

Review - 'Ash vs Evil Dead', S01E06 - 'The Killer of Killers'

The strangest aspect of the fact that Ash vs Evil Dead limits itself to half-hour episodes is the idea that each episode will be required to significantly limit its scope. So far, it has seemed as though each episode has really only had enough room for a single encounter, of a single confrontation. This hasn't actually been a problem for the series, so far, to be fair - and, in fact, the previous three episode actually fit together quite nicely to form a plot-arc concerning the team's battle with the demon, Eligos. And, even the first two episodes of the season were set up to lead into each other in a way that maintained some sense of progress and forward momentum.

But, with this episode, we have something of a transitional period between the 'Eligos' arc, and whatever is coming next. This is a self-contained 'filler' episode, basically - and, as such, it becomes the strongest argument, so far, against the creator's decision to limit themselves to such short episodes. Not because of any dip in quality, of course. Rather, it's because the episode simply feels a bit slight - something which is especially noticeable coming right after three episodes devoted to a single story-arc.

Leaving behind the burning remains of Pablo's uncle, Ash, Kelly, and Pablo find their way to a nearby diner, where they plan their next move. Ash has come to realise that a trip back to that original cabin in the woods seems to be in his immediate future - but, displaying a nice bit of concern for his new friends, he announces that he plans on going alone. Kelly and Pablo aren't willing to be left behind, though - with Kelly, in particular, seeming more angry and determined after her first-hand experience with demonic possession.

Ruby, meanwhile, has an encounter of her own with a Deadite possessing the charred bones of Pablo's uncle - an encounter that ends with her being dragged into a fire and, seemingly, vanishing. Is this the end for Ruby, then? Well, I highly doubt it. For one thing, Ruby was set up as an integral part of story for, at least, the show's first season - someone who seems to know more about Deadites than anyone else. And, they even seem to know her. But, despite that, she hasn't actually done anything of note, yet. She hasn't even crossed paths with Ash. So, I don't believe that she would be killed off so suddenly.

The scene, itself, was still a very entertaining little moment, though - even if the CGI that went into creating that burning skeleton was a bit off. Those little hints of a deeper mystery surrounding Ruby, with the Deadite accusing her of double-crossing them and wanting the Necronomicon for herself, are also very interesting.

But, for now, Ruby is gone - and, Amanda is left to pick up Ash's trail on her own. Truly on her own, too, it seems - since Ash's possessed hand seems to have wandered off on its own. Fortunately, Amanda isn't too far behind - and, she is soon able to find her way to that same diner. Though, she manages to arrive just in time to be caught up in another Deadite attack.

This was an episode filled with some fantastic small moments. Pablo's awkwardness with Kelly, after the demon's attempts to seduce him through her in the previous episode, provided some amusing moments between them. Ash's sleazy attempt to pay off their breakfast by offering to sleep with the waitress was hilarious. Kelly working through her aggression on a Deadite, using a meat slicer and a mallet while Ash and Pablo watched in stunned silence, was a fantastic moment of gore-fuelled black comedy. But, it wasn't even the episode's most shocking moment - that honour would probably have to go to the bizarrely blatant depiction of a child being killed.

Honestly, it was almost as though this episode were trying to make up for lost time, after slowing things down for the last few episodes. Once our heroes find themselves caught up in another Deadite attack, those moments of frantic violence that we see would probably have to counts as the most over-the-top, so far. Even apart from the usual blood and gore, this episode will be remembered as the one that killed off a young boy, on-screen, in a truly absurd manner - something which was, quite clearly, included purely for the shock value. And, it worked, too. The simple fact that it actually happened was enough to elicit a moment, or two, of stunned disbelief from me - and, the fact that it was ultimately played as just another example of the show's own unique brand of bloody black comedy had me chuckling, in spite of myself.

This may have been a 'filler' episode (and one focused primarily around blood and gore, and pure shock value), but it did, at least, feel like an important episode for Amanda - a character who has existed mostly on the side-lines up until now. Previously, it had seemed as though Amanda and Ruby were intended to be borderline antagonists, as they each blamed Ash for the mayhem the Deadites caused. But, this episode's hints about Ruby's true purpose seem to promise more interesting developments in the future (because, once again, she clearly isn't dead) - especially when you consider that Amanda now has clear proof that Ash isn't the villain she believed him to be.

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