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ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Review: ‘Brujo’

This week’s episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead pondered the question of what’s inside the mind of Ashley J. Williams (Bruce Campbell). For most of his existence, Ash has been pretty much all surface and no depth. We didn’t watch the Evil Dead films and Army of Darkness looking for an intimate exploration of Ash’s character. Those movies were designed as a mixture of horror and comedy, and that’s what the audience wanted to see.

“Brujo” offered the unique experience of giving us our first glimpse inside of Ash’s head since his debut in 1981. As it turns out, we don’t know Ash all that well. And he certainly doesn’t know himself. The Brujo had it right; Ash’s complete lack of self-awareness is holding him back from the answers that he needs.

Following up on last week’s cliffhanger, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) found herself menaced by newly turned Deadite, Lionel (Kelson Henderson) before getting rescued by Ruby (Lucy Lawless). And as predicted, the two women who hate Ash (or at least blame him for the Deadites) are gonna team up against him. During her comic convention appearances last summer, Lawless spoiled the fact that Ruby is the daughter of Professor Knowby from Evil Dead 2. However, the reveal that Ruby has Ash’s original possessed hand was a nice surprise. It was alive after 30 years, and seemingly useful as a compass to find Ash.

The primary plotline of the episode was Ash’s inner journey, but first he and “The Ghost Beaters” had to outrun the Deadite sandstorm/tornado mashup that tossed aside other cars like toys. Was this the first time that we’ve seen what’s behind the camera during the Raimi-vision Deadite attacks? I don’t recall seeing it before, but it made for a great opening for the episode. For a second, I thought that the Deadites had possessed Ash’s beloved Delta before the Deadite cloud rammed them.

Any doubts about the powers of Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) Brujo uncle were dispelled when the Deadite cloud couldn’t follow Team Ash onto his property. Uncle Brujo (Hemky Madera) had an unexpectedly charming presence, even though he chided Pablo for running away from his destiny. Despite his initial annoyance towards Ash, Uncle Brujo agreed to help the Chosen One find the answers within.

At first, the inside of Ash’s mind was pretty much what you’d expect: old Playboy magazines and a montage of ‘70s and early ‘80s pop culture. More intriguingly, the Brujo guided Ash towards his “spiritual center” in Jacksonville, Florida. Ash has apparently romanticized the vacation that he never got to take with his girlfriend, Linda, before they went on their fateful trip to the cabin where Ash’s life was ruined. It says everything about Ash that his fantasy was essentially to have two hands and two beers to put in them. Even in his mind, Ash is the master of avoiding responsibility.

Ash vs Evil Dead 104 part 2

Now we need to talk about Kelly (Dana Delorenzo). During last week’s episode, Kelly appeared to have saved Ash and Pablo from the demon Eligos (Ben Fransham) simply by hitting him with the Necronomicon. This week, Kelly paid the price for that as her concussion was revealed to be the early stages of her possession by Eligos himself. Delorenzo was very entertaining as the possessed Kelly, and her electrocution of Pablo was one of the episode’s bigger jump moments. On a side note, I’m looking forward to seeing the final version of Pablo’s new “hand” for Ash.

One of the more hilarious touches in this episode was the fact that Ash’s spirit guide/animal was his bearded dragon Eli…who had a very human mouth and the ability to speak! That came in handy when Eligos invaded Ash’s vision quest. The design of Eligos is so strong that he’s inherently terrifying. Put into this context, Eligos was even more menacing than he was last week.

Ash actually had a triumphant moment when he turned the tables on Eligos, and it was especially funny and gory when he squashed the Deadite-possessed doll in his hands. But in the real world, Ash’s body was choking out Kelly, and that led a recovering Pablo to knock out Ash…leaving Eligos still firmly in control of Kelly’s body. As an ending, it made sense. But if this show was an hour-long drama, that would been the end of the first half hour. It wasn’t quite as impactful as the ending of the episode.

Four episodes in, Ash vs. Evil Dead may actually be one of my choices for the best new comedy of the year. Campbell always makes me laugh, and his supporting cast has also been excellent. Even the guest stars like Madera have been well cast, and Eligos has the makings of a great villain. That’s more than enough to keep me coming back.

Tell us what you thought about this week’s Ash vs. Evil Dead in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Starz/Renaissance Pictures

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