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ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Review: ‘The Dark One’

There are full spoilers ahead for the first season finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead. You’ve been warned!

Through the first ten episodes of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ash (Bruce Campbell) has been gearing up for his final confrontation with the Deadites at the cabin from the Evil Dead films. In last week’s episode, that battle finally arrived when Ruby (Lucy Lawless) revealed herself as one of the Dark Ones, and the writer of the Necronomicon itself.

“The Dark One” delivered on the promise of that battle, but I’m torn by the ending. On one hand, it’s darkly amusing that Ash took Ruby’s deal and essentially screwed over the world in the process. Arguably, Ash had good reasons to do so, but he also displayed his selfish side when he tried to extort money out of Ruby to seal the deal. Ultimately, Ash’s choice was very in character, but it robbed the finale of any real closure. It’s not a bad set-up for season 2, but it’s not the most satisfying ending for season 1.

Backtracking to the very beginning of the episode, “The Dark One” picked up shortly after Pablo (Ray Santiago) was possessed by the flesh of the Necronomicon. Evil Deadite Amanda (Jill Marie Jones) showed up at the cabin to make it a real party, but Ash finally dispatched her as Ruby escaped with Pablo into the basement.

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It’s a shame that Amanda’s exit happened so quickly, as Jones was quite entertaining as a Deadite. Ash’s feelings for Amanda may have been superficial, but she was one of the few Deadites to truly unsettle him. But with Evil Amanda out of the way, Ash resolved to follow Ruby and rescue “his Pablo.” Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) also wanted to rescue “her Pablo,” but Ash made her stay upstairs with “other girl”, a.k.a. Heather (Samara Weaving), and essentially guard the trapdoor to the basement.

Leaving Kelly behind undermined some of the characterization she’s received this season and it didn’t give her an important role until late in the episode. Weirdly, Kelly kind of followed in Ash’s footsteps from the Evil Dead films when she was attacked by the cabin itself and expelled in a slapstick manner. DeLorenzo had some good physical comedy moments there, and I also enjoyed the hint of madness she gave Kelly as she devised her way to get back into the cabin.

As for Heather…she finally became the Deadite bait that she seemed destined to be when she made her first appearance two episodes ago. The cabin tortured Heather before it finished her off, but it felt empty to see her go through so much and then be killed off without much fanfare. Heather was a minor character at best, but for her demise to work, the show needed to make the audience at least feel for her…and it didn’t.

Down in the basement, Ash received a vision from Ruby that gave him the chance to undo his entire adventure by not reading from the Necronomicon with Lucy (Marissa Stott), his doomed love interest from the first episode. Ruby’s offer of a truce suggested that she actually fears that Ash could defeat her. Ruby’s stated motivation (if she can be believed) is that she wants to unite evil under one ruler: her. Ash’s rejection of her deal and his put-down on The Godfather was hilarious.

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Once Ash was out of his Ruby-induced vision, he caught up with Ruby and saw the horrific fate that Pablo was suffering. As Ruby read from the book, Pablo essentially gave birth through his mouth to the creepiest child monsters in a long time. Those demon children were really unsettling and well designed. Ash put at least one of the demon kids down, but others escaped, which seemed like an obvious set up for season 2.

Outside the cabin, Kelly managed to start a fire and she got back inside to participate in the final battle. But neither Ash nor Kelly could save Pablo by themselves, and Pablo begged Ash to kill him. Pablo even told Ash that he couldn’t take Ruby’s offer for a truce…but Ash did it anyway. He even asked Ruby for $10,000 to close the deal…and he had to settle for gas money to Jacksonville, Florida.

It may be true that Ash took the deal in part to save Pablo and Kelly, but it’s also the ultimate example of Ash running away from his responsibilities as El Jefe. Ash kept Ruby’s dagger as leverage, but she got the book and the ending of the episode suggested that the effects of her spells were widespread. There’s even more evil in the world now, and the Deadites may be the least of Ash’s problems once he finally realizes what bad choice he made.

Part of the fun of Ash is watching his mistakes come back to haunt him. Starz has already lined up Ash vs. Evil Dead for another season, and Ruby’s survival means that Lucy Lawless could be back as well. Ruby was very enjoyable as the “big bad” this season, and it should be interesting to see her plans come to fruition. Team Ghost Beaters is also largely intact (R.I.P. Amanda), but neither Pablo nor Kelly seemed to be very happy with Ash’s deal.

If these ten episodes were the only installments of Ash vs. Evil Dead then this ending wouldn’t have worked. But the promise of more adventures of Ash and Team Ghost Beaters made up for the lack of resolution in this episode. I can’t wait to see where Ash vs. Evil Dead goes from here.

Tell us what you thought about the season finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead in the comments section below!


Image Credits: Starz/Renaissance Pictures

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