Starz didn’t call it quits after the Ash vs Evil Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Bruce Campbell and executive producer Rob Tapert hung around to show off the first episode of Season 2 well before its October premiere. I was lucky enough to be in the audience for the screening that evening, and while I do want to offer some thoughts, because we’re still so far away from the Season 2 debut I’m going to keep this reaction general and very much spoiler-free.
We reunite with the Ghost Beaters in Jacksonville. Ash (Campbell) is living the dream – partying hard, showing off his chainsaw and impressing the ladies – but Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) are still skeptical about the situation. And they most certainly should be because elsewhere, Ruby’s (Lucy Lawless) having trouble keeping her children in check. They want the Necronomicon, and she isn’t strong enough to protect it herself, so she now must turn to Ash, Pablo and Kelly for help.
It’s been nearly seven months since Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 wrapped up, but mere minutes into the Season 2 premiere, it feels as though you’ve never left. You’re instantly at home in this rowdy, twisted and very, very gruesome deadite/creature-ridden world. Campbell brings his A-game as always, handling the steady stream of smirks, one-liners, and action scenes with ease, but there’s a noticeable difference when it comes to Santiago and DeLorenzo’s work as Pablo and Kelly. They were fantastic from start to finish in Season 1, but both emit an even stronger sense of confidence and control of their characters in the Season 2 premiere. And that’s something that will serve them well moving forward – especially Pablo, because the episode does touch on one very intriguing predicament for him.
Lawless is upping her game considerably as well. Similar to Santiago and DeLorenzo, Lawless delivered A+ work throughout Season 1, but Ruby’s got a major problem on her hands this time around, and it’s something that highlights her vulnerabilities, so it’s going to be a challenge for Lawless to maintain the characteristics we saw last season while also getting viewers to accept and believe what Ruby’s forced to do when her children turn on her here. However, at this point, I’ve got high hopes she’ll pull it off in the long run. She most certainly does in the Season 2 premiere episode.
Other elements of the show that stay consistent in the Season 2 premiere are the blood, guts and creature effects. There are some bloody, bloody battles in the episode, and they’re all exceptionally well done, but it’s Ruby’s children that steal the show. They were a formidable force when they were first born last season, but now that they’re all grown up, rock an especially eerie physicality and get an extra ability courtesy of a neat shadowy visual effect, you really get the impression that it’s nearly impossible to stop them.
Overall, this is a rock solid start for the second season of the show, but I do have to admit, I didn’t leave the screening with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm as when I saw the Season 1 premiere at New York Comic-Con last year. However, the Season 2 premiere fills that void with something else that the Season 1 premiere couldn’t offer – a sense of coming home. The team behind Ash vs Evil Dead did such a stellar job enveloping you in this world with these crazy characters last season, and that’s something that’s further highlighted by the fact that it’s such a breeze and treat to slip back into the situation at the start of the new season.
Rating: ★★★★ – Hail to the king, baby!