As I noted in my recap of “Books from Beyond,” I think Ash vs. Evil Dead’s 30-minute format is keeping things nice, tight and incredibly exciting, but boy is it soul-crushing when a stellar episode wraps up so fast, especially with a handful of very intriguing cliffhangers.
“Brujo” picks up right where “Books from Beyond” left off, with poor Amanda handcuffed and semi-helpless at Books from Beyond as Lionel approaches. She manages to hold him off for a brief moment but, as we know, gunshots won’t stop a deadite. Lionel forces her to put her own gun to her head, but before he can get her to pull the trigger, Ruby steps in.
After impaling Lionel, Ruby explains to Amanda why this is all Ash’s fault. She claims that 30 years ago, Ash killed her parents, Professor Knowby and Henrietta, and her sister, Annie, and unleashed the evil in the process. Ruby’s been seeking vengeance ever since, but Ash fell off the radar. However, now he’s back. Before Ruby can continue, she’s interrupted by Lionel who wakes up and says, “You! We know who you are! You are …,” but Ruby slices his head off before he can finish. What is she hiding? No matter for now. She and Amanda are officially a team and plan to go after Ash together. Ruby has Ash’s severed hand and it suddenly started twitching again so she’s convinced it’ll lead them straight to him.
Meanwhile, Ash, Kelly and Pablo are on the road heading towards Pablo’s uncle’s (Hemky Madera) place, but Kelly’s not feeling too hot. Pablo suggests going to the hospital, but Kelly insists that it’s just a concussion and it’ll pass. However, it doesn’t seem like that will be the case because when evil enters their car and starts messing with Ash’s radio and door locks, it seems to be messing with Kelly’s head a little as well. They manage to outrun the “drafter” and make a sharp right into Brujo’s driveway which is decorated with creepy talismans designed to keep the evil out.
Brujo comes out to greet them and he’s still pissed at Pablo for abandoning his faith and taking the easy road all his life, but when Pablo apologizes and tells him that he thinks Ash is one of the great heroes who can fight against the darkness, Brujo confirms the flame inside Ash flickers – but it’s dim. Ash is satisfied with the assessment, but Pablo’s uncle notes, “It’s not bright enough to illuminate what you seek.” Brujo assigns Pablo to tend to Kelly while he goes off with Ash to “look inside of him” with some help from a little Ayahuasca.
It takes a little time, but the “hallucinogenic medicine” finally kicks in and sends Ash on a “drug trip,” depending on whose terminology you want to run with. After watching Brujo’s face melt, ripping stitches out of his eyes and escaping a band of faceless demons, Ash lands in his happy place, Jacksonville, Florida. He’s living it up watching the sun set, chatting with his lizard Eli and drinking beers with two hands, but little does he know, trouble’s brewing in the trailer.
While Pablo tries to be the best sidekick he can be and make Ash a new hand using old video game parts, Kelly’s headache is kicking into high gear. As one might expect, the problem wasn’t a concussion. Turns out, Kelly never actually defeated Eligos. He’s inside her and can possess her at will. After distracting Brujo, Eligos makes his move and invades Ash’s mind while he’s on his trip.
Eli is busy explaining that Ash has to bury the Necronomicon deep, deep below the place where his journey began right when Eligos steps in and turns Ash’s informative dream into a nightmare. After a series of menacing scenarios and face-to-face encounters with Eligos, Ash finally takes Eli’s advance and takes control of his trip. The thing is, while Ash holds Eligos off in his dream, he’s choking Kelly in reality. Pablo and Brujo return just in time to knock Ash out and save her, but who knows if that really got them anywhere? Ash is out cold, perhaps trapped in that dream state, and Eligos is still inside Kelly.
Is there any stopping Ash vs. Evil Dead? I hope not because at this point, it’s most certainly my favorite new series of the year. Director David Frazee continues to uphold the style, tone and pace Sam Raimi established in the first episode while also putting fresh touches on the material to keep you on your toes and give the show a serious amount of forward momentum.
The writers also continue to do a downright brilliant job expanding the mythology. It’s not really a game-changing new detail, but it is nice to have a name for the mysterious force that zips through the forest and attacks its victims as we watch from its point-of-view – a drafter. Then, of course, there’s the search for that undo button and it looks as though it’ll bring us back to the cabin from the first two movies. Burying the Necronomicon deep below the cabin seems like a pretty simple fix, but Ash has a habit of getting into trouble, Ruby is coming after him and Eligos is hanging out in Kelly’s body so there’s no doubt they’ll have a tough time making that happen.
Episode Rating: ★★★★
Extras and Ashisms:
- “Make sure you project it! Don’t mess up the clear coat!” – Ash
- “Well folks, we’re eatin’ a real shit sandwich now.” – Ash
- “When evil shows up, it blows up.” – Ash
- “I need an Advil, like, right now.” – Kelly
- “Speak what you know while knowing you know nothing.” – Brujo
- “You shoot first and think later. Or don’t think at all. Yeah, shoot first, think never.” – Ash
- “Sweet shithouse mouse.” – Ash
- “Dripping donkey balls! Come on, man! This is my trip! What the hell are you doing in here?” – Ash
- Lil-Lori head-squeeze, FTW!