Ash vs Evil Dead (S01E01): El Jefe

Review

This series begins where the Evil Dead films left off. It is thirty years later. Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is older but not necessarily wiser. We find our hero inside a considerably messy trailer gearing up for a night out on the town. Standing before a mirror, Ash is strapping himself into a girdle, chugging Hi-C and grooving like a maniac to Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’.” Satisfied that he is “looking good, looking sweet,” he heads out.

Once at The Woodsman bar, he decides to hit on this boozy barfly.  Next thing you know they are getting it on in the bathroom. Just before the climactic moment, the girl turns into a Deadite and tells Ash, “We’re coming for you.”  Freaked out, Ash tries to figure out how he can flee the scene but is persuaded to finish the job.

Hightailing it out of the bar, Ash heads home to his humble abode at the Mossy Haven Trailer Park in search of the Necronomicon. Locating it, he breathes a sigh of relief only to have a stash of weed fall out. In an homage to Evil Dead 2 we see the temporal rift spiral and we are transported in to Ash’s memory. He is getting high with a random girl when he asks her about some ink that she has on her wrist.  She replies that it is from a French poet.

Apparently, the French language turns her on. So, the ever-accommodating Ash pulls out the Necronomicon telling her, “It ain’t French, but I got a little something for ya.” They immediately begin reading from the book.

Cut to Ash in his trailer. As he remembers that he summoned the forces of evil again, he utters an expletive and that is how the show begins. Trust me, you are quickly sucked back in to the Deadite fighting world.

After Ash’s revelation, two State Police detectives pull up in front of an ominous looking suburban house. This is our introduction to Detective Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones).  Neighbors called with a complaint about a woman screaming for her life but it is eerily quiet. The pair enter the house.

Of course, it is pitch black necessitating the remark that something isn’t right. As they investigate various rooms, Fisher stumbles upon a woman who apparently died in mid scream. Her partner is in the other room watching a rocking chair move without anyone sitting in it. At that moment, they hear sobbing.

Wheeling around, Fisher shines her light on a sheet that slowly takes the form of a person in front of the window. The sheet comes off to reveal the crying visage of Ash’s one night stand and fellow Necronomicon reader. They advise her to turn around slowly with her hands up in the air. Instead of complying, the girl turns into a Deadite and literally flips her head backwards a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

Understandably terrified, a brawl ensues and all hell breaks loose. The Deadite tells Fisher that “we know who you are.” Baffled, before Fisher can process this new information, she is stabbed in the hand with a pair of scissors. Her partner comes to her rescue and shoots the Deadite in the head.

Before anyone can get their bearings, the demon jumps up and attacks Fisher’s partner impaling him on a deer rack. Fisher retaliates by blowing the demon’s head totally off.

The next morning, Ash calls Books from Beyond and tells them that he needs help translating the Necronomicon. He saunters over to his next store neighbor and tells her he might be going away for a bit. In true Ash form, he asks her if she could clean his place for him and unclog his waste tank.

Walking toward his car, the hair on the back of his neck pricks up. Ash can feel evil. He hears his name being whispered on the wind. Creeping closer to the voice’s point of origin, Ash pulls back his neighbor’s laundry hanging on the line. She is right there smiling at him which startles Ash.

After that interlude, he heads off to work at the local Value Stop. His plan is to grab his check and cut out to Saginaw. Using his pet iguana, Eli as an excuse, Ash attempts to leave for the day. However, his boss, Mr. Roper has other plans. Annoyed, he tells him to get to work.

After some very funny shtick involving broken lightbulbs, we are introduced to Pablo (Ray Santiago). Clearly, he idolizes Ash and invites him to hang out and watch RAW. Ash declines telling him that he may have to leave town. Pablo starts probing him as to why and offers his services. He also points out that his friend, Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) could help as well. Since Kelly is a knock out, Ash being Ash has to hit on her. This is a humorous scene that results in Kelly, face planting Ash on the cashier checkout stand.

Meanwhile, Amanda is sitting in a café nursing her wounds from the demon encounter. She looks around and notices a Deadite child looking at her. Turning back, the child appears to be completely normal and smiles at her. Right after that moment, Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless) peaks out from the booth in front of Amanda’s and asks if she is alright. Amanda replies that she thought she saw something but she must have been mistaken. At this point, Ruby looks at her and tells her that sometimes what we see is real.

Back in the Value Stop world, after being humiliated by Kelly, Ash heads into the warehouse to do some work. However, the universe has other plans.

Suddenly, the lights go out and the sound of childish laughter can be heard. Ash goes to investigate where this is coming from and he stops in front of a row of dolls. Looking astutely at them, he figures out which one is the culprit. The possessed doll leaps out and latches on to his face and a battle ensues resulting in several broken flower pots across the face.

Freeing himself from the doll’s clutches, he gets a breather only to have the thing charge at him with a box cutter. Before she gets too far, Pablo intervenes and squashes her. Shaken, Pablo asks Ash what the hell was that? This is the moment where Ash relives Evil Dead 2. What makes this an exceptionally well done scene is that the exposition is presented via scenes from ED2 shown on boxes in the warehouse.  Which I think is a testament to Sam Raimi’s inventiveness.

Pablo tells Ash about his shaman uncle who told a story about El Jefe and that he believes he was talking about Ash. “You can’t run from evil.” Defiantly, Ash answers, “Watch me,” as he strides out the door.

Out on the sales floor, Kelly gets a phone call from her dad. They are video chatting. He proceeds to tell Kelly that he believes her mother has come back from the dead. He shows Kelly the door opening to reveal the silhouette of her mother. At that moment, the phone goes dead. Obviously distraught, Kelly tells a concerned Pablo that she has to get home immediately.

Mr. Roper tries to stop Pablo and Kelly from leaving. While Kelly attempts to start Pablo’s motorcycle, a frightening black cloud blows over Value Stop and the wind starts picking up. Something wicked this way is coming and at the right moment, Pablo runs out, starts the bike and they take off. Mr. Roper however isn’t so lucky. Evil slams right into him.

Pablo and Kelly show up at Ash’s trailer. Ash is in the midst of packing for his trip to Saginaw.  Something starts attacking the trailer. Unnerved, everyone watches warily and then Kelly is grabbed by a Deadite through the window. As she is fighting and Pablo is doing his best to extricate her from the demonic clutch, Ash just stands there watching. Kelly pleads for him to help her.

Cue epic music and Ash transforms into the savior that he is meant to be. He grabs an ax from beside the door and hurls it at the Deadite cutting its arm off. Just then, another Deadite comes crashing through the front door. Ash kicks open a compartment in the floor of his trailer and his shotgun comes flying up. Grabbing it, he shoots the demon in the face over his shoulder.

Before the trio can escape, they are confronted by Ash’s neighbor, Vivian. Also, a demon, she tells Ash that the time has come to test the mettle of man. Grabbing his chainsaw, Ash tries to end her but is thwarted.  After knocking Ash out, she stabs Pablo in the shoulder and then proceeds to launch an attack on Kelly.  Pablo tries his best to help her but can’t.

Yelling at Ash to wake up, finally, he comes to and sees the Deadite ready to poke Kelly’s eyes out. The chainsaw is by Pablo’s foot. Pablo lifts the chainsaw and boots it to Ash. In a superhero worthy moment, Ash goes sailing through the air, arm outstretched. The chainsaw clicks on and then he does battle with the Deadite. Sawing her head off, drenched in blood, the trio stand there observing the destruction.

Ash declares, “No more running.” Pablo and Kelly look on approvingly. Pablo asks how does it feel to which Ash replies in his signature catch phrase, “Groovy.” And that is how this episode feels, totally awesome and groovilicious.

 

 

 

 

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