The idea of an Evil Dead series is a pretty great one, and when it finally materialized as Ash Vs. Evil Dead I was amazed at how awesome Season One turned out. You can read my full review of that here. In a nutshell that first season worked for me because it was basically a “road trip movie,” moving Ash and his two “sidekicks” from Point A to an unknown Point B. Well, for a while that Point B is known, for he’s trying to get to the owner of this occult bookstore to find a way to stop the Evil Dead, but what we eventually learn, much to our delight, is true Point B ends up being that cabin, aka ground zero for Ash and his ever continuing battle with the Evil Dead! And the last three episodes take place at the cabin, giving us fans a pseudo Evil Dead 4. The problem is, as great as this season was, my gut wondered if Raimi and company could come up with an equally great Season Two. Unfortunately, my gut was right, Season Two didn’t equal Season One at all.
One of my problems with season two is that they shoved Ash and his friends in a single location, aka his home town, and had his adventures branch out from there. I’ll admit there were moments when the season was great, and episodes when it wasn’t, unfortunately looking at that season as a whole it just didn’t work for me. The second problem I have with it is that they went back to the cabin again, this time with a time travel concept that puts Ash, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) in a prequel this time to Evil Dead, aka at the cabin when Professor Knowby and his wife Henrietta were the first to accidentally summon the demons. Personally, I didn’t think we needed a pseudo prequel, but for reasons known only to the makers I guess they felt the fans wanted Ash to pay a second visit to ground zero. No, no, we didn’t. That was done beautifully in Season One, why do it again?
My one major complaint of the series as a whole used to be the not quite accurate timeline. When Season One started they decided to omit any knowledge of Army Of Darkness, and for this series to exist you need to acknowledge the Theatrical Cut happened, because as you all now Ash managed to make it back from the middle ages. Finally, though, when Season Two happened Ash casually mentioned he had done some time traveling before. Excellent, great! And with Season Three the backdrop of that season’s story arc is Ash’s adventure in the middle ages. Even better. Now, all that history we learned about him in Season Two when he returns to his home town of Elk Grove and the new revelations in Season Three of having a wife and a daughter could have happened, because he could have done all those things after returning to modern times. Perfect, now we don’t have to worry about Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness’ time lines not syncing up with the series.
There’s a two year window between the last scene in Season Two and the first scene in Season Three. I was not expecting that. The connection to Army in this season is one that’s only acknowledged to we the audience, there’s even a remark by Ash and a quick flashback to when he arrived in the beginning of Army, to the rest of the cast, namely Kelly and Pablo, they only know he’s pictured in the Necronomicon and is known as The Prophesied One (the one who’s destined to defeat the Evil Dead). Descendants of the Knights Of Sumeria, (from Army Of Darkness) have a modern day branch that have committed themselves to defending and helping The Prophesied One. But there’s no onscreen scene in either Season One or Season Two that has Ash sitting Pablo and Kelly down and telling them exactly what happened to him during the events of Amy Of Darkness. I liked that; the whole series ends that way too, with the insinuation his two fellow Ghost Beaters never learn this particular backstory, unless we have to assume there was an in-depth discussion off-screen, but nothing in their onscreen interactions indicated this.
Kelly has shacked up with one of these modern day Knights Of Sumeria, Dalton (Lindsay Farris), while Pablo and Ash are preparing to re-open Ash’s father’s hardware store, which is now half a sex toy emporium. The last time we saw the Necronomicon it was going to hell in the last episode of Season Two as that wretched, evil cabin burned to the ground. But during one of those roadshow antique programs a random person walks in and presents the book to one of the experts, saying she found it. Of course, she did. And the man stupidly reads that memorable passage aloud and now we have the Evil Dead back in the world again.
Ruby’s plan this time is through a ritual involving that photo of Ash in the Necronomicon to get herself pregnant with a kid that’s half his and half Dark One, as she is. This kid, through the killing of Ash by his daughter will acquire this ability of being The Prophesied One, after which Ash’s daughter is killed thereafter. Apparently, she believes she can rule the world better by having her evil kid be “the one,” or plans to that effect. What’s great about this is Ruby’s plans go totally into the crapper in the last two eps, where she’s finally killed once and for all by her fellow Dark Ones. You see, thus far, the creators of the Necronomicon, aka The Dark Ones (they look like really tall grim reapers) have been unable to bring about Hell on Earth because Ruby stole the book from them, and the book is also missing pages (these missing pages were introduced in Evil Dead 2), so for all this world domination to go The Dark Ones way they must reclaim the book and fuse the missing pages back into it, and you know what, this happens in the final two episodes! Did not see that coming! They also find Ruby and exact a deathly draining punishment for going rogue.
I cannot believe though Producer Rob Tapert decided to go back to the cabin again in Season Three. I will say, however, it wasn’t as unnecessary like it was in Season Two. The cabin has burned down, it doesn’t exist anymore, but they need to find the Kandarian Dagger, so Pablo, Dalton and Kelly take yet another road trip to “ground zero” to dig it up in the foundation. Yet in that same episode, we go back to it yet again, because Ruby has to interrogate a possessed dude.
Now I have to lodge one more gripe about this series. I found this not to be a problem during the first season, because it was the first season, but after that it kind of annoyed me every time they played “Evil Dead’s greatest hits.” Actually, I guess that really started to annoy me in the final season when Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), Ash’s daughter, got stuck in a shed and they replayed two scenes from Evil Dead 2, Ash’s severing of his possessed hand and his confrontation with Linda’s severed head and body in the shed, letting Brandy experience them with a possessed cell phone, a severed thumb, and a demon mimicking her mother. I love the movies, but I don’t need to see a call back to something from the movies in every season. I’m watching to see Ash experiencing shit he’s never experienced before. How many times does Ash need to fight a doppelganger of himself? Yes, that kid Ruby has grows up to be a carbon copy of Ash. I’m on the fence, however, about the ripping off of the Upside Down alternate dimension from Stranger Things. It was obvious to me what this “realm” was “homaging,” but it was inhabited by creepy demons and the copied locations didn’t always link up to their “real life” adjoining locations in our world. I may give Tapert a pass on that one.
Now on to some more good, the CGI in this season was impeccable, especially in two scenes, that aforementioned shed scene had a cell phone warped into a miniature demon, and the demon kaiju in the final episode that the Dark Ones call up to start the dismantling of our realm. Those two CGI monsters were flawlessly executed images! And as always the practical gore effects were flawless as well. One of them had me thinking someone on the Evil Dead team must have been a fan of that Monsters (1988-1990) episode, “The Face,” where an old woman bites a home invader on the palm before she’s accidentally killed. That bite morphs into the old woman’s face and persists in terrorizing the thief. In the Evil Dead universe, possessed Pablo bites Kelley on the leg and the bite morphs into his lips and ‘stache and persists to verbally harass her for the rest of that scene. That was an impressive practical effect!
This season’s story arc felt more streamlined than Season Two’s, which is why I consider it an improvement, not over Season One mind you, that season was just perfect, but I would’ve liked to have seen Season Three’s story be Season Two’s, at least that way we may have gotten a Season Four. For some reason when I first heard this series was happening I got into my head the show was going to be a continuation of the director’s cut of Army Of Darkness, where the original ending was Ash taking one drop too many from that magical elixir and sleeping too long, overshooting his own time line and waking in a post apocalyptic world. Had they not changed that we fans would have been pining away for a post apocalyptic Evil Dead 4. Well, what do the powers that be tease us with, vowing to never deliver because the show was cancelled and Bruce Campbell has publicly stated he’s now retired as Ash? An epilogue that remakes that ending in the best possible way, with Ash waking in the future, discovering he now has a new and ultra-realistic hand Luke Skywalker would be proud of, and about to journey into a world where God knows what kind of technologically advanced and twisted shit the Evil Dead have now become. In a sad way though this “cliff hanger” makes sense to end it all on, because Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness ended with “cliff hangers,” so to speak.
All in all I’m still glad we got this series. I’m hoping it ages well, I suspect it will. So, now that Raimi/Campbell’s Evil Dead is now dead, all that remains is what Fede Alvarez plans to do. He’s in a prime spot now to add more installments to his remake of the mythos, I just hope he leaves out the animal murdering for any future installments. I would have loved his remake more had the dog not been killed.
All three seasons of Ash Vs. Evil Dead are already on separate DVD and blu-ray, with the option to collect the whole series in one massive DVD or blu-ray set! Buy it here on Amazon!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—7.1 English Dolby TrueHD, 2.0 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1 French Dolby Digital—English SDH, Spanish subs
Extras included (Season One/2 discs):
- Audio Commentaries On Every Episode
- Ash Inside the World (15:59)
- How to Kill a Deadite (2:31)
- Best of Ash (1080p, 1:27)
Extras included (Season Two/2 discs):
- Audio Commentaries On Every Episode
- Season 2 First Look (2:17)
- Inside the World of Ash vs. Evil Dead (Inside Episode 201: “Home”—(1:28), Inside Episode 202: “The Morgue”—(1:38), Inside Episode 203: “Last Call”—(1:22), Inside Episode 204: “D.U.I.”—(1:49), Inside Episode 205: “Confinement” —(1:41), Inside Episode 206: “Trapped Inside” —(1:52), Inside Episode 207: “Delusion”—(1:43), Inside Episode 208: “Ashy Slashy” —(1:41), Inside Episode 209: “Home Again” —(1:40), and Inside Episode 210: “Second Coming” —(1:56)
- Up Your Ash (2:22)
- Women Who Kick Ash (2:08)
- Puppets Are Cute (1:09)
- Dawn of the Spawn (1:22)
- Bringing Henrietta Back (1:35)
- The Delta (2:13)
- How to Kill a Deadite (2:18)
- Fatality Mash-Up (0:49)
Extras included (Season Three/2 discs):
- Audio Commentaries On Every Episode
- Season Overview (2:48)
- Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead (Inside Episode 301: “Family”—(2:02), Inside Episode 302: “Booth Three”—(1:40), Inside Episode 303: “Apparently Dead”—(1:55), Inside Episode 304: “Unfinished Business”—(1:48), Inside Episode 305: “Baby Proof” —(2:07), Inside Episode 306: “Tales from the Rift” —(1:46), Inside Episode 307: “Twist and Shout” —(1:42), Inside Episode 308: “Rifting Apart” —(1:55), Inside Episode 309: “Judgement Day” —(1:58), and Inside Episode 310: “The Mettle of Man” —(1:36)