The horror-comedy series comes out swinging with deadites, dad jokes, and a whole lot of fluids.
Trying to pin down The Evil Dead canon is a bit like wrestling with a pissed-off reanimated intestinal tract: it’s hilariously tricky.
From earnest camp to gut-splitting slapstick, to deadly serious drama, there’s no subgenre The Evil Dead hasn’t dipped its nasty deadite toes into. Sure, there are familiar waypoints (a book, a badass, and a hell of a lot of bodily fluids) but the franchise has always been game to shift gears. And it’s this shoot-first-continuity-later attitude that makes Ash vs. Evil Dead such a goddamn blast: it’s a breakneck-paced horror-comedy series that, somewhere amidst all those fluids, has a whole lot of heart.
Season 3 of the show picks up pretty well where Season 2’s highly suspicious optimism left off. Thanks to all that time-travel fuckery, that idiot with a chainsaw Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) has gone from Elk Grove’s local shame to hometown hero, taking over his deceased dad’s hardware store and capitalizing on his celebrity at every possible opportunity. Pablo (Ray Santiago) the burgeoning Brujo is super stoked about not being dead anymore and is living out his adorable dream of running Pablito’s Fish and Chip food-cart. The aspirationally sardonic Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) is in her element bartending. And, last we saw it, that goddamn cabin in the woods went up in smoke for good. Surely evil has been defeated forever. Surely.
Look, peace and quiet don’t really seem to last for Ash and the gang. Before we even reach the five-minute mark, Evil has been unleashed back into the world thanks to the most linguistically overqualified Antiques Roadshow host of all time. Once the immediate carnage has settled, we’re reintroduced to series big bad Ruby (Lucy Lawless), who reclaims the Necronomicon and leans back into her old demon-progeny-or-bust ways. Second time’s the charm.
Speaking of progeny. The opener of Season 3 sees the introduction of Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), daughter of the improbably named Candy Barr and, you guessed it, Ash “I was using my lucky rubber” Williams. Unfortunately, the newly-summoned Evil seems to have found out about Brandy too, making a target of the trouble-making teen to get to Ash. What follows is a classic deadite throw down with a high school band room as a shenanigan-rich arena. The episode comes to a head in the form of a truly horrifying “Five Nights at Freddy’s”-reminiscent mascot (“Oh! Cougie! They got you too!”) that offers a worthy Episode One face-off set piece. Anytime I get to yell “that’s too many teeth!!” at my TV is a good time.
The episode leaves us with a proper reunion of the Ghostbeaters, that is, with a couple new additions: there’s the aforementioned Brandy, as well as Kelly’s new pal Dalton (Lindsay Farris) a member of the Knights of Sumeria, an ancient bloodline devoted to defeating The Dark Ones. There’s a sense that the presence of Brandy and Dalton might jostle the gang’s finely-tuned family dynamic. Dalton’s respect for Ash elicits some uncomfortable glances from Pablo, who has never been challenged as the №1 el Jefe cheerleader. More likely, perhaps, is a sense of romantic jealousy from Pablo, whose feelings for Kelly were a jewel in Season 2’s emotional crown.
At this stage, Brandy’s presence feels a little more narratively redundant than it probably should. Ash just spent an entire season winning over his hometown by setting the record straight re: his hero status, and it feels a bit tedious (if marginally annoying) to do the whole “Evil is real and I’m the chosen one” song and dance all over again. More to the point, we’ve already seen Ash go through the fatherly bonding motions with Kelly, who like Brandy, started as a traumatized mess, confused and resistant to the whole “kicking deadite ass” thing. However, having seen that reanimated intestinal tract fight from last season, reluctance is understandable. Sometimes the deadite ass kicks you.
Anyway, it happens that now-departed series showrunner Craig DiGregorio was planning to use the time-fuckery of Season 2’s finale to rejig Kelly as Ash’s actual daughter, solidifying her status as his sass/gun-slinging heir apparent. But behind-the-scenes drama gonna behind-the-scenes drama. And luckily, Ash vs. Evil Dead tears through plot like a deadite through a chest cavity, so there’s a solid chance (we hope) that the redundancy won’t drag out too noticeably. And, to boot, the ever-insightful Dana DeLorenzo has a compelling take on the new direction: that this way, Kelly gets to be a warrior in her own right “without having a fallback of it just being…that people would assume ‘oh it’s just because she’s his heir apparent.’”
Overall, Episode One is a strong start that does a heck of a lot of work in a short amount of time, setting up and unspooling Ash’s attempt at the good life, introducing new characters, killing new characters, pulling off some truly bonkers SFX set pieces, and gathering all our players together in one blood-soaked high school hallway to take on Evil.
Watch Out For:
- A wacky waving inflatable [mechanical] arm flailing tube man
- Lucy Lawless continuing to rock literally every hair color
- A grand slam of home hardware sexual innuendo
- The fantastically cinematic score from franchise mainstay Joseph LoDuca
- “Hi-De-fucking-Ho boys!”
- An unexpected Jaws reference
Now listen up: Season 3 might be the last we see of Ash vs. Evil Dead because the show is one of the most pirated series on premium cable. If you want to keep enjoying the show, watch Season 3 legally. Check out this handy guide that the good folks over at Screen Rant put together to help you do just that.
The third season finds Ash, having gone from murderous urban legend to humanity-saving hometown hero, discovering that he has a long-lost daughter who’s been entrusted to his care. When Kelly witnesses a televised massacre with Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns with a new friend to warn Ash and Pablo that evil isn’t done with them yet. But evil will learn to never get in between a papa bear and his cub.