Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ash vs. Evil Dead - Booth Three

Ash is one of those cool dads, like you see in the movies.

The third season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Starz's continuation of the Evil Dead trilogy created by Sam Raimi, got off to a very promising start with its premiere episode, 'Family', which introduced an interesting new character to the franchise: Brandy Barr (Arielle Carver-O'Neill), the teenage daughter our hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) never knew he had.

Even though the episode also included the forces of evil once again being unleashed by another reading of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead, it was the discovery that he fathered a child that has really thrown Ash for a loop... Which makes sense. He has fought demons lots of times. He has never found out he had a kid before.

Brandy rejecting his attempts to bond with her so far, but her presence has Ash wondering if he might have any other offspring out there. It's a question that leads him to the local sperm bank, where he's been a regular contributor over the years. As he says, it's "easy money". But where Ash goes, evil follows...

Last season, perhaps not so coincidentally in the second episode of the season, there was an unforgettable sequence set in a morgue, with Ash battling evil forces amongst the corpses while bodily fluids spewed all over the places. It was one of the most incredible sequences in Evil Dead history, and one that is likely never to be topped in the over-the-top grossness department. But in the build-up to season three's premiere, Campbell revealed that there was a sequence in the new season that could rank right up there with the morgue one. A sequence set in a sperm bank. So with the setting spoiled and the promise of something outrageous in mind, I started getting a bit queasy as soon as Ash entered that sperm bank. Seeing the vials of semen everywhere. Anticipating the worst.

Then that sequence kicked in, with a-ha's "Take On Me" playing on the soundtrack while Ash battles a possessed woman and a sentient pornographic magazine (which allows for some of Campbell's classic slapstick) while semen splatters all over the place... and while I was cringing, it was an utter joy to watch. I think Evil Dead has officially covered all the bodily fluid bases now, and the splooge-splattered fight was brought to the screen with great energy by director Mark Beesley, who previously directed 'Family' as well as the season two episodes 'Trapped Inside' and 'Delusion'.

The sperm bank fight is the highlight of the episode, but writer Rob Fresco also finds time to digger into the franchise's mythology by letting us know more about Brandy's fellow new character Dalton (Lindsay Farris), a Sumerian Knight whose bloodline has been training to fight evil alongside the prophesied one - who happens to Ash - for centuries. Dalton offers some back story on the history of the Book of the Dead, the Dark Ones who wrote it - and were betrayed by Ruby (Lucy Lawless) a long time ago - and of a Sumerian sorceress. Information delivered in an animated sequence, and stuff that will certainly be important down the line.

Dalton also gives Ash's sidekick Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and the audience some bad news about Ash's other sidekick Pablo (Ray Santiago), claiming that there's only one way to save Pablo since he was marked by evil in previous seasons. Hopefully another way will be found, maybe something to do with the vision Pablo has that ties this episode back to season one's 'Brujo'.

Brandy wasn't given a whole lot to do in this episode, but we do see that Ruby is trying to manipulate her under the guise of a school counselor. Ruby has something else going on here, too. Something very strange, involving creating her own Ash Williams offspring by consuming his image off a page of the Necronomicon. That Ash-creature is birthed out of Ruby in a spectacularly gory way, and I can't wait to see what is going to be done with that thing as the season goes on.

'Booth Three' is an entertaining episode that sets up a lot of things to be dealt with over the course of the rest of the season, then makes sure we won't just see it as stepping stone filler by giving us that payoff of that awesome sperm bank fight. Ash vs. Evil Dead is out to give the viewer a fun time, and it succeeds.

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