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Ash vs Evil Dead
Review of Episode 2:
The Bait
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett

Air date: 11/08/15

Editor’s Note: P.J.'s Ash vs Evil Dead reviews are done on a weekly basis and are for watchers of the show. Therefore, it's worth mentioning that there will be spoilers and heavy speculation in all of the reviews. For those of you, who wish to not be spoiled, please stop reading.

Well, Ash and the gang's adventure continued this week with The Bait, episode two of Ash vs Evil Dead. The second episode of a new television show is quite important. Sure, for obvious reasons lots of emphasis are on the first, but the second lets us know what a standard episode in the future may be like. If The Bait is an accurate representation of what the show is going to be like overall, I am overwhelmingly fine with that; here's why.

Late into last week’s episode El Jefe, Kelly is horrified to discover that her father may be in trouble. She is additionally titillated by the idea that her mother, presumed dead, is actually alive. The Bait starts with this element, beginning right after the first. Kelly races off and Ash finds himself without the book. Kelly is not really a foe, as she is not at odds with Ash or his goals specifically. She does, however, have a difference in opinion about her father's well-being taking a backseat to the world in general.

A wonderful scene with Ash and Pablo covered in blood follows - which leads to the revelation that not only is Kelly's father perfectly fine, but her mother has returned. In seems that she never died in the first place and had just now started to remember who she is following a traumatic injury. Needless to say, Ash isn't buying it. Kelly instantly believes her mother is truly back and Pablo just wants to be happy for her. Ash wants to let the mother know that he has a shotgun on him at all times and he's on to her.

Ash's assertion that Kelly's newly reunited mother is actually a deadite provides for some fun mystery. At times you think that Ash is being hilariously ridiculous, but then remember that he is more knowledgeable about these matters than anyone, including the audience. Watching the back-and-forth between sides; Ash's theories against everyone else, is a blast to watch unfold. Ash's cocky arrogance and strong belief that he is right lead to some great quips and exchanges.

Like El Jefe, The Bait has a healthy dose of comedy, but at least one frightening segment. It knows that it's fun/horror and sells both elements beautifully. This really goes to the heart of what's making this show work so well. Only one episode in and it already has such a firm grasp on what it is, what it wants to be. Granted those involved made the first movie thirty one years ago which is plenty amount of time to get their form down, but dammit they've gotten it down. It is remarkable how spot-on the story continues considering that Army of Darkness was released twenty-two years ago. Long hiatuses between installments don't automatically spell disaster, but they can easily fall that way. But nothing about Ash vs Evil Dead feels in any way like a cheap re-tread. Raimi and Campbell are not just cashing in on the established canon, they genuinely have plenty fuel left to keep Ash's chainsaw hand revving for more adventure.

One thing I love about this series is how simple and fun it stays. Don't get me wrong, I like big elaborate shows too but this show works in its confinement. Ash isn't facing an Army of Darkness style army in a desolate wasteland just yet. Will the show get there? Whenever the Deadites are released, things keep getting worse until Ash stops them so there's no reason to think it won't eventually move into that territory. But for now it's not trying to overwhelm your sense with as much grandiose concepts it can muster. Ash vs Evil Dead is about the characters first and foremost and the little adventures they get into along the way. It respects the time-tested uses of blood and visual ingenuity to make a whole lot of fun.


It must be remembered that so much of the fun of Army of Darkness culminated in a large, awesome battle, but sectioned by more fun/smaller scenes. Ash's famous “Boomstick” line, after all, wasn't uttered while taking on a thousand Deadites - it was dealing with the smaller-scale problem of being surrounded by primitive screwheads. So the scenes with him teaching the others what he knows are a joy to watch as well. And it makes the final battle all the more satisfying. I bring all this up because this is what Ash vs Evil Dead seems to be doing. It knows it’s good enough to focus on the characters and have a classic tone that is lacking from just about anything else in the horror-television world right now. I love plenty of other horror shows but this is the one that makes me feel nostalgic. It doesn't try to feel like a TV show today, it brings the 80's-early 90's horror to modern times.

Another good sign is that all the primary characters are fun to watch. Despite Kelly not being as big of a fan of Ash as Pablo, there's no real reason to dislike her and she fits in well with everyone else, holding her own as a character. The same goes for Pablo who stays consistently endearing through this new set of circumstances. I like the Amanda Fisher subplot, with the rogue Michigan State trooper no one will listen to trying to figure out what she had experienced earlier, leading her closer to Ash and his crew. Her part is minimal for understandable reasons, as the show is just starting and we need to primarily stay with our man group. It will be interesting to see when and how these two elements meet up. My gut tells me it will start with accusation and hostility but eventually lead to trust. Right now she thinks Ash is behind all the madness, but soon may find out he's one of the few people in the world who sees what she sees; one of the few who would ever believe her at this time.

I'm quite happy with all the moving parts and looking forward to seeing how they all play out. The promo for episode 3, Books From Beyond, seems to mainly be about Ash's quest to figure out the book he has in his possession. It's back in his ownership and no one human is trying to steal it. Since Kelly now has been revealed to be no threat to Ash and has no other move than to join the fight, it's going to be a blast to see how it unfolds.

Check out the trailer for next week's episode, Books From Beyond. It further hints at Lucy Lawless' involvement. Fans of Xena will be delighted to see Campbell and Lawless work together once again.

P.J. Griffin, HMS

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