Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Review - 'Ash vs Evil Dead', S02E04 - 'DUI'

While the half-hour episode structure of Ash vs Evil Dead might be the source of occasional issues, the one thing you can never accuse the series of is wasting the audience's time with 'filler'. Sure, there were moments in the first season where the rapid pace of the series resulted in disappointing lack of focus on certain side-characters, or a glossing over of certain seemingly important plot-points – but, when everything comes together, this rapid pace becomes one of the series's greatest strengths (I say 'one of'', because its greatest strength clearly is, and will always be, Bruce Campbell).

With the season's fourth episode, for example, we have two important plot-lines brought to a sudden, and very surprising, end – each reaching an equally exciting conclusion, as the series clearly sets about wrapping things up so that it can move on to something else.

First, we have Ash – who, at the end of the previous episode, had just been forced to watch his estranged father killed by the car that he loves (which was, of course, possessed at the time).

More often than not, death on Ash vs Evil Dead has been treated as a source of rather morbid humour, rather than any sort of genuine tragedy – so, it probably makes sense that the death of Ash's father would be treated in much the same manner. There was, of course, some sense of genuine sadness to the scene of Ash kneeling over the body of the father he had only just begun to reconcile with – but, the hilariously grotesque manner in which Ash attempted to scoop his father's brains back into his shattered skull, or wondered where his father's other eye might have ended up, gave the scene a touch of comedy, too. It was, basically, a perfect example of the sort of tone that this series so often seems to aim for.

Of course, with the possessed Oldsmobile still roaming about, Ash clearly doesn't have time for grief. Soon enough, Pablo is pulled into the possessed car, alongside the sole survivor of the car's rampage in the previous episode, Lacey (Pepi Sonuga) – where he discovers that it is actually the Necronomicon, itself, behind the possession of Ash's car. At the same time, Ash is forced to rely on his old buddy, Chet (Ted Raimi), in order to give chase – soon tracking the car to a local destruction derby course, for a final show-down.

Ruby and Kelly, meanwhile, ended to previous episode resolved to set out after Ruby's demonic children. Ransacking Ash's secret stock-pile of high-powered weapons, and armed with the Kandorian dagger, the pair are soon able to track Ruby's children for a final show-down of their own.

While Ash's possessed car was clearly intended to only be a temporary threat, Ruby's children, and their goal of getting their hands on the Necronomicon, was set to be the main driving force for much of the season – so, it was definitely a bit of a surprise to see both brought to such a sudden end, here. There was also a genuine sense of excitement in the way in which the two action sequences were intercut with each other – shifting back and forth in a manner which could have every easily been a complete mess, but which somehow seemed to work. It also doesn't hurt that both Ruby's children, and Ash's possessed car, are the result of truly fantastic design by the team behind the series – so, the opportunity to see both in action, in such quick succession, certainly had a strong appeal, to me.

Of course, the action sequences which brought the episode, and the season's first plot-arc, to an end where not the episode's only high-lights. Before we even reached that point, the episode was able to find the time for some great moments of comedy between Ash and Chet, as they pursued the possessed car – with a scene that was clearly intended to make the most of the easy rapport between Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi. Chet hasn't had much screen-time, yet – but, he is already shaping up to be an entertaining addition to the cast. But, of course, he's probably going to die, soon – so, it might be for the best to not get too attached.

Also, while I can't help but find the sight of the Necronomicon actually talking to be a little too goofy, even for this series, it was a situation that created some strong moments for Pablo, as he found himself caught between attempting to reassure Lacey, while dealing with his own fear. With another horrifying vision on top of that, this was a very interesting episode for Pablo, in particular – with Ray Santiago doing a great job of taking on everything that the episode threw at him.

And so, the episode ends with what seems like not just one, but two, victories for our heroes – though, as we soon learn, there is clearly much worse in store. Also, in keeping with the precedent set by the end of the previous season, it seems as though what is to come next is entirely the fault of the heroes. With Ash and Pablo's decision to toss the Necronomicon through a portal into Hell (foolishly using a spell which the Necronomicon, itself, offered), seemingly releasing something new (most likely, Baal) into the world, despite Ruby and Kelly's best efforts, it seems as though Ash vs Evil Dead is set to introduce what should be its most formidable villain, yet, for our heroes.

It's a great set-up for the rest of the season – and, hopefully, the series is able to make the most of it. Although, given the quality of what we have already seen, I suppose its fair to be optimistic as we move into what seems to be the season's second act.

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