Ash vs Evil Dead, Season 1, Episode 5, “The Host”
Directed by David Frazee
Written by Zoe Green
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on Starz
“Shoot First – Think Never!”
Ash vs. Evil Dead is a show constantly on a roller coaster. We seem to keep going up and down each week as far as quality is concerned. On some weeks (like the third week) we have fantastic episodes that really come into their own while wholly embracing the films from which they came. Other weeks, like this, we have a mostly Ash-less episode centered around exercising the demon Eligos from Kelly. Aside from a tense scene between Kelly and Pablo, the episode mostly falls flat as it aims for emotional highs. Also, it’s just generally frustrating. The writing is off, there’s no jokes of which to speak, the subplot involving Amanda and Lucy Lawless is still absolutely fucking pointless, and worst of all, it doesn’t leave me hungry for next week’s episode like last week did. And the week before. But in the episode’s defense, this is the mid-season hump. Maybe it’ll be smooth sailing from here. I really hope so.
So, we pick up again right from where we left off, with a tripping Ash getting knocked out after almost choking the life out of the still-possessed Kelly. The Brujo believes Ash is the one who actually has the demon inside of him, so he recruits Kelly and Pablo to assist in Ash’s exorcism. Going to fetch a special knife, Kelly, alone inside Ash’s trailer with Pablo, attempts to seduce Pablo and/or blow his brains out with Ash’s shotgun. Once everyone realizes it’s Kelly who’s possessed, the fellas all work together to get Eligos out in the open before Ash saves the day and then the episode ends pretty anticlimactically.
We’re still struggling with the general lifelessness of this show. I mean, sure, it’s a show about the living dead (kind of), but it’s no excuse. Was that joke worth it? Who cares. My point is, despite all of the emotional intensity this episode tried to bring, along with the end-episode demon brawl, it just doesn’t feel like…anything. I got excited by the scene between Pablo and Kelly, because I think that that situation really lampshaded the whole will-they-won’t-they thing, and the Beta Male Confession trope as well did get played out—in a legitimately earnest fashion, by the way (high props to Ray Santiago on really embracing what is basically Pablo’s Episode)—in an organic style that means we probably won’t have to deal with it again until maybe the finale or, hopefully, season two. But everything else in the episode was just really goddamn boring.
The whole exorcism bit was supposed to be spooky and kinda gross but it came off as lame and overplayed. Talks with demons in the films tended to be really tongue-in-cheek to the point of being almost silly sometimes. This was more akin to when the demon locked in the basement in Evil Dead II turns into the mother and sings that mockingbird song. Ash almost kills Kelly because of the tricky sneaky demon, but convenient writing saves her. They could have snipped a little here, I think, and added more to the Brujo and Pablo’s interactions. Or given Bruce Campbell something to do in this episode, too, that would have helped. The first thing they do in this episode is put a gag in his mouth. He still manages to be the most charismatic guy in the scene. His action scene at the end is brief, but it does actually signal Ash starting to become El Jefe by repeating the lessons learned during his trip last episode. At least he makes some progress. He gets Pablo’s new hand, too. It can make a fist. Can’t wait to see that joke splattered across the screen later. I know you know which joke I mean. I’m not gross though so I won’t write it.
Plus holy fucking shit this goddamn Lucy Lawless and Officer Amanda subplot is so obnoxiously, irritatingly fatuous that it makes me wonder why they’re even putting the effort in anymore. The show’s pacing is put off by this whole ordeal. They keep baiting and baiting and baiting us into asking “Oooooo who is she what are they doing where are they going oh man” but it’s just upsetting at this point. I am angry about it. This episode they drove in a car for one short scene, in which the most interesting thing happening was Lawless caressing Amanda’s cheek tenderly, gingerly, tellingly. Lesbian make out scene confirmed for finale. Ratings boost, baby! Worth it to interrupt the emotional flow of everything going on at Brujo’s house however? I don’t think so. Keep this shit to stingers or cold opens or something. Not mid-episode.
I keep saying I want this show to get better and I really do. This episode though didn’t necessarily make me repeat that mantra this week. In fact, the horrible, most anticlimactic end to any episode of any TV show I’ve ever seen ever kind of upset me to the point where I just don’t care about watching it next week. I’m going to, but I have no idea what to expect, where they’re going, or what the plot is at this point anymore. They basically could have ended the season here and been like “Boom Season One Done.” It’s just that…empty at the end. It’s a long, lingering shot of the trio as they drive down a high way, complete with abrupt, direct cut to credits mid helicopter tracking-shot. Everything feels resolved, there’s no plan of action, and characters changed and grew. For such a bland episode, you think they’d give something at the end to spark the fire of passionate, devoted watching. There’s honestly nothing to recommend about the episode unless you want to get inspiration for your Pablo x Kelly fanfics.