Friday, July 20, 2018

Ash vs. Evil Dead - Twist and Shout

Get out of Ash's jazz.

Almost half of the third season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, four of the season's ten episodes, were directed by Mark Beesley, who directed the season two episodes 'Trapped Inside' and 'Delusion' before carrying on with this season's 'Family' and 'Booth Three'. While 'Booth Three' and its sperm bank battle would be tough for any episode to top, the third of Beesley's season three contributions, 'Twist and Shout', did give the director another great venue to drop the Evil Dead franchise's evil forces into: a high school dance.

That's the "A Midwinter Night's Dream"-themed dance being held at the Kenward County High School, a location that already saw some demon action back in the first episode of the season. Brandy Barr (Arielle Carver-O'Neill), the recently discovered teenage daughter of franchise hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) attends this dance with a plan to confront the demonic Ruby (Lucy Lawless), who has been working undercover as Brandy's guidance counselor. Acting as chaperones are Ash and his sidekick Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo)... problem is, Ash and Brandy haven't yet realized that Kelly has been killed by Ruby and her body is now inhabited by the evil sorceress Kaya.

I'm holding on to hope that Ash and his other sidekick Pablo (Ray Santiago) will find some way to get Kaya's spirit out of Kelly's body and Kelly's spirit back where it belongs by the end of the season, especially since Pablo gets a glimpse of Kelly's spirit on the other side through a dimensional rift that was opened by the members of a group called the Knights of Sumeria. A group that has spent centuries preparing to fight the evil beings described in the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead, but have proven to be completely worthless when they actually come face-to-face with this evil beings. So if Kelly is still floating around out there, there should be some way to save her. In the meantime, at least we still have DeLorenzo walking on the show, and in the moments when Kaya is able to show her true self the actress demonstrates the ability to do an impressive (to my ears anyway) British accent.

As soon as the idea of going to the dance is introduced, any fan of this show and/or the films that preceded it will know exactly what is going to happen there: the place is going to become a bloodbath. And that is exactly what happens, but it's not obviously demonic Deadites that crash the party. It's the evil version of Ash that Ruby brought into existence earlier in the season, which was just a toddler when Ash fought it back in the episode 'Baby Proof'. That evil Ash has now emerged from a cocoon as a full-grown adult, also played by Bruce Campbell. It's all part of Ruby's long con plan to get Brandy to murder her own father, the "Chosen One" written about in the Necronomicon.

I won't say whether or not Ruby's plan to have the bad Ash massacre high school kids is effective in getting Brandy to kill the good Ash, but I will say that the episode ends on a downer that was almost as shocking to me as the "death" of Kelly in the previous episode. Ash vs. Evil Dead is really throwing some curveballs at me, and while I have hopes it will be wrapped up with a happy ending I'm not sure just how happy of an ending it could possibly have at this point.

The build-up to that shocking moment is pretty entertaining, and there were some solid moments throughout the episode, which was written by Caitlin Meares. Meares' other credits include the Netflix shows Dawn of the Croods and Santa Clarita Diet, as well as the live action Scooby-Doo prequel Daphne & Velma. The writer scripted a great interaction between Pablo and the possessed Kelly, and allowed for Campbell to have some fun playing a very different version of an evil Ash - one which is kind of childishly naive, is dedicated to his "mommy" Ruby, and is the opposite of the real Ash when it comes to rules. This evil dweeb believes any sort of rule breaking should be strictly punished. Punishment he delivers with the chainsaw prosthetic that replaces his right hand.

Actually, evil Ash never had a regular right hand like the real Ash did. Created in Ash's image, evil Ash was born with an organic chainsaw for a right hand. Sadly, the plan to trick Brandy into believing he was her father required evil Ash to hack off his organic chainsaw and replace it with a regular chainsaw.

Rest in peace, organic chainsaw. And if things keep going the way they've been going lately, I might have to say rest in peace to everyone on this show. They're dropping like flies.

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