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Ash vs Evil Dead
Review of Episode 1:
El Jefe
Directed by: Sam Raimi

Air date: 11/01/15

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.

I'm a Bruce Campbell fan from way back. Was I his first fan? No, but that's because I was born seven years after the first Evil Dead came out. But putting space and time logistics aside, I've been a fan for quite a while. When I found out that Ash was going to once again be kicking ass and showing the world why you only need one hand if you have a chainsaw I was ecstatic. Especially since we would once again get to see Campbell and Sam Raimi join forces. I saw the first trailer and was even more elated. It looked like exactly what I would want a TV series that follows the exploits of Ashley J. Williams to be like. And I'm happy to say that the first episode of the series, to me at least, was just as much a fan's dream as any.

The opening of the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead perfectly sums up the style of the show. We are treated to the classic Evil Dead style quick cuts of Ash getting ready. However, the years have given him a few extra pounds and doing so isn't as comfortable and easy as it used to be. It's very reminiscent of the Bruce Campbell film My Name is Bruce. I'm very happy with how Bruce Campbell and the character of Ash have found common ground and merged. Anyone who has seen Campbell's performance in Bubba Ho-Tep knows that he is far from a one trick pony. What I mean is that he puts a lot of himself in Ash and being such a fan of Campbell himself, it's great to see the character become part of that entity.

The simple fact is, while that My Name is Bruce has Bruce Campbell playing himself, Ash vs Evil Dead stars Ash, missing hand and all. The years haven't been too kind. As with Bruce in My Name is Bruce he is living in a trailer and getting himself ready for a night out. After using his wooden hand in some lie to impress a woman at the bar, Ash winds up in a bathroom fling only to find himself faced with something that he hadn't dealt with in quite some time; something sinister.

Ash begins seeing the demons he once battled in this world once again and soon is completely under attack. Recalling a substance-fueled attempt to impress another girl some time earlier, Ash realizes that once again he has brought these demons into our world. Once again he spoke words from the flesh bound Necronomicon and once again he has put the world in danger. And he knows what he must do: get the hell out of town and run as fast as he can. Until an attractive coworker friend (has caught Ash's eye), gets mixed up into it and convinces him that he is the only one, the El Jefe, who can stop the cursed beings.

El Jefe is no longer than a standard television episode but they absolutely make it work. It doesn't feel too rushed or cut off for me. It moves swiftly but that's what I like about it. The show is completely aware that the core fan-base is who wanted this in the first place and doesn't needlessly try to explain everything and start off with a crawl. While most of the episode is not comprised of Ash kicking demon ass, it certainly comes to that and it's such a blast to see.

I loved to see much of the things that made the original series great featured here in full form. In the series, Ash is working at “Value Stop.” Fans will know this to be a similar establishment to S-Mart, where Ash works in the films series, prominently featured in Army of Darkness. As a fan, I cannot see this as a mere detail. They could have had Ash work at a bowling alley or anywhere if S-Mart wasn't still in the picture. Seeing as how S-Mart is a fictional company and there shouldn't be much legal recourse there, I think we're going to be seeing some S-Mart references in the future. It's made clear that Value Shop's manager is a complete asshole that everyone hates so I have to believe there's more to that element that we will be seeing. It was also wonderful to see the well-known Evil Dead POV demon shots, gliding across the ground as the sinister creatures make their way.


Part way through the episode we are given a subplot that will most likely become a major aspect of the overall series - a duo of cops uncover some demon activity of their own and once one gets impaled and turned, the other becomes aware of what has been unleashed on the world. Ash and this character have not interacted yet, but it's only a matter of time until their paths cross.

The humor and horror all goes together beautifully. Sam Raimi keeps the more disturbing elements of the first one while including the humor that the series got into later on, especially with the two sequels. The scenes with the cops battling the demons have some genuinely creepy moments. Bruce Campbell, however, reminds us that it's all in good fun with his/Ash's classic quips, one-liners and boastful personality. The show follows the continuity of the first Evil Dead film but Ash's explanation of his past exploits is similar to how he tells it in the sequels; once again making me feel right at home.

I like that Ash has new companions to join him on this journey, just as Bruce did in My Name is Bruce. Just like with Bruce we have one eager fan of his and one who is colder to start with. I say this not to accuse the creators of being lazy, quite the opposite. I'm praising that this element was acknowledged as something that worked and that they are bringing to the Evil Dead universe. Ash's friend and coworker Pablo, who sees him as the coolest guy in the world, will make for a suitable sidekick. The more reluctant but as of now pretty on board character Kelly will no doubt open up some possibilities. We will just have to see how she mixes in to the equation.

It seems that the next episode entitled Bait shows Ash and Pablo trying desperately to retrieve the Necronomicon which has been stolen, proving Kelly most likely to be a foe to some degree, at least in the near future of the series.

So far I am totally on board for Ash vs Evil Dead. I love it for the same reasons I loved the original series and that is a great thing to be able to say about this show. No violation via tree yet, but we can hope.

Check out the episode 2 trailer for Bait down below to have a peek at what's in-store for Ash and his friends (plural because I have a feeling not all enemies will stay that way) as they take on the dangerous world of the evilest of the dead.

P.J. Griffin, HMS

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