Ash vs Evil Dead, Season 1, Episode 2, “Books from Beyond”
Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Written by Sean Clements
Saturdays at 9pm ET on Starz
“Hey, I was toying with a nickname for us: The Ghost Beaters!”
On this week’s very special episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, Ashley and his motley crew learn a valuable lesson about teamwork. The series continues to improve as we finally start getting a cohesive chemistry between our three leads, along with Amanda (the State Trooper chasing Ash) coming into the fold in a wholly organic fashion. Plus, we got the added bonus of the show finally explaining the purpose of Lucy Lawless’ in-show existence. Overall, “Books from Beyond” pleases fans looking for both the wacky antics of dummy Ash and an effective cable-budget horror show. It left me hungry for more, too, which is always a great sign.
Picking up immediately where last week left off, we have the yet-as-of-named Lucy Lawless character interrogating the now-possessed corpse of Dana’s father (played again by Phil Peleton, this time uncredited) as to the whereabouts of Ash. It’s a spooky opening scene, with Lawless playing the character cold and unnerving. Maybe it’s just because we don’t know that much about her, or that Lawless lends the character, with her brief scene, so much gravitas about her that, as an audience member, you can’t help but be pulled into her spooky, demonic(?) game. It’ll be fun to see her finally interact with Ash…sometime.
Speaking of Ash, Bruce Campbell is as comfortable as ever with the character. Ash now has to start trying to form a real plan once we reach Books from Beyond. Sure, the owner/translator Lionel (Kelson Henderson, in a thankless, milquetoast role) can indeed read the book, finding a simple “undo button” spell isn’t as easy as Ash would have hoped. He comes up with the bright idea to summon a weak demon to ask for help. Foolproof, right? On top of that, Ash is also confronted with an undeniable truth: going alone may have worked in the past, but with this new threat and it’s potential scope, can an aging demon slayer really stay as an “alone wolf” forever? It’s neat to see the show trying to show Ash maturing slightly. We knew from the films that he’s not a complete dolt, but the show has him seeming more human than ever.
Pablo (Ray Santiago) is also starting to appear more comfortable in his place at Ash’s side. Most of the deadpan delivery comes from Pablo this time around, and more often than not, his straitlaced replies to Ash’s arrogant statements lands with a chuckle. Again, I think overall the show is finally starting to come into it’s own. The transition of Ash would be relatively easy (at least in my perspective), compared to creating new characters who not only have to gel well with Ash, but also have to become real characters themselves after time. Pablo’s weak introduction seems moot, now. Only three episodes in and characters have already “changed.” One weak point though: some of Dana DeLorenzo’s line readings as Kelly were absurdly weak. Like…the editor used the wrong take or something? Especially during the climactic demon scene, she seems like she’s sleepwalking. Otherwise, her character stayed static this time around; it was Pablo and Ash’s time in the spotlight.
Also, with our side character of Detective Amanda Fischer, we finally have her catching up with Ash at the bookstore, only to get knocked out and handcuffed. Even after witnessing a demon attack, being attacked by a demon, and saved from the demon by the Ghost Beaters (Pablo’s lame-ass nickname for the trio), she still tries to follow the “law.” What law exists when everything man knows about the afterlife is changing? What a goof. She made an impact in the episode this time around though, so her character isn’t just wasted minutes any longer. We’ll see if later in the season her prophesied secret from the first episode rears it’s head.
Honestly, this has been the best episode of the season thus far. We get a good mix of light Raimi-esque horror, zooming POV shots, humor (“That’s not a racist thing; that’s just a tasty dessert!”), and guts. The demon is legitimately creepy in this episode, which leads to an interesting fight for the conclusion. The backstory of the whole Necronomicon‘s origins are also explained in a little more detail, which starts to give a real sense of depth to the world of the show. As the team grows and bonds, I feel like my attachment to the show is also growing. I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode, where we’ll (probably) meet up with Pablo’s shaman uncle. Can you imagine the shenanigans?!