[Review] - Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Season 1 Episodes 5 And 6, "The Host" And "The Killer of Killers"

Courtesy of Renaissance Pictures
I've been pretty liberal with my praise for this series, and how they've managed to strike just the right combination of action and gore that also manages to move the narrative forward. A lot of bullets, knives, chainsaws and broken bottles have ended up in a lot of eye sockets, necks and faces, but it all had a sense of meaning something. However, in Killer of Killers I found myself watching what felt like the first time a massacre with no motive. It was just blood shed to shed blood, not to any actual end game.

It's not to say that the show has hemorrhaged it's quality, it just felt like after the five solid and eventful episodes, they finally hit the moment where the decompression has started to set in. It also takes a knock by finding a fairly inorganic and insincere of bringing a particular character into Ash's gang. But he's got a kick ass new hand, and the old one is on the run. As much as it felt like episode 6 spun it's wheels, now we've got a better idea of where we're headed.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that found a piece of pie with no blood on it.

Yet again, I must highlight how Kelly is the most interesting character on the show that doesn't have a chin dimple the depth of Lake Erie. In my previous review, I mused that she is the wild card, the character the writers have complete freedom to do with as they want. And there were times in The Host that I was sure she was going to buy the boomstick. It is encouraging that the writers are going out of their way to keep her, and Pablo around, in order to continually mess with them. I suspect the mantra of the writers room is something akin to "what's the worst that can happen now?" It seems like every step Ash and the gang take is like treading though a mine field: each step unleashes some new horror. So, Kelly got possessed, and using dumb luck they managed to get her back safe and sound, though with a powerful need to punch something until they are little more than damp on the sidewalk.

The real meat of these two episodes, other than Ash realizing that his stupidity is his superpower, is the growing mystery of Ruby. Whilst being attacked by the worst CGI the show has presented yet, the following clue was dropped: "Ruby! You double crosser! The others will never let you get the book for yourself, and neither will I!" This suggests that Ruby has been, at some point, in league with the Evil Dead, and that she has broken away from them in an attempt to claim the Necronomicon for herself. The Deadites have always wanted the book essentially in order to raise more of their legion and bring endless death to the world. Whether ruby wants it to put the cork back in the bottle, or to claim the evil as her own is yet to be seen. But in what way is Ruby in league (even formerly) with the Deadites. She doesn't look like a Deadite herself, though they have been shown to be able to mimic normal, living people before. So, was she a victim of when Professor Knowby originally read from the book? If so, why would she have aged all this time? Or, has she, in the course of the intervening years, made deals with the Deadites in a quest to avenge her parents. Considering that she exploded in a funeral pyre, yet is expected to return no worse the wear in future episodes, I think it is safe to say that there is some supernatural hoodoo going on with Ruby.  

Killer of Killers might have just been a breather between the emotional roller coaster that was The Host, and the road to the end of the season, a road that apparently leads directly to the Cabin in the Woods where everything started. And this is one of three plot quibbles I had with the episode. First, dropping the bomb that the Cabin is where things need to end. Second, the introduction of the militia, and Amanda joining the main gang now that Ruby is flash fried. To each: Ash claims that he gained knowledge of the Cabin during his vision quest, but thinking back I can't remember when exactly there was any suggestion that the Cabin was the destination. Unless Ash is interpreting his vision quest wrong, which is entirely possible and likely to make everything substantially worse (also, more than likely). Taking the show back to the Cabin is nicely cyclical, but probably a great direction to take things in, but dropping it on us suddenly seems like a side effect of not being able to come up with a better idea of getting Ash headed in that direction.

Second, the militia guy as a random stranger/friend of Ash who just happens to be associated with a heavily armed group of isolationists in a fortified compound and invites Ash to come check it out is the least subtle thing the show has done, and I included every visceral disemboweling featured to that point. Gee, I wonder where the Merry Band will end up, when the demons start coming at them from all sides and the boomstick needs some back up? Again, an excellent direction to move towards, but likely could have found a more organic way to push them in that direction (I would present Pablo mention the Brujo four episodes before he showed up). And finally, Amanda. She has spent six episodes hunting Ash down, and in that time has seen a Dodge Charger full of shit. Nothing that she had seen to that point was any different or worse than what she saw in the diner. And despite Ash's clear operational ease in that situation, saving here does not on the surface suggest that he is any less responsible for this craziness than before. So, her sudden decision to trust him, to travel with him, to basically turn her characterization on a dime, felt disingenuous. Again, it was clearly what the writers needed to have happen, but couldn't come up with a better, or more natural way of getting them together.

This is a hole that a lot of writers fall into when working with very plot driven work. the intent of the author starts driving the story, and it forces the writer to have the characters behave uncharacteristically in order to fulfill the story's demands. This usually results in serviceable to terrible fiction. The ideal is to let the characters drive the plot, even if the plot unfolds in bizarre and unexpected ways. but so long as the characters reactions feel natural, then the plot does too. The third option is to just let the story tell itself. Present the characters as whole and complete, and allow situations to blossom as chance and opportunity presents itself. So far, Ash Vs. Evil Dead has been a mixture of all three, to great success. You can tell where the hand of intent is at play, but the characters are all distinct enough, and reactive enough, that you feel like you are following them rather than they are following the narrative laser pointer. This is the first time that the show has faltered. Hopefully, moving into the second half of the season, this is a hiccup, and not a pot hole.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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