It’s taken three episodes and on Sunday (Oct. 16), not only did “Ash vs. Evil Dead” give Ash some closure — albeit temporarily — but the show provided die hard “Evil Dead” fans with a nod — albeit brief — to the third movie in Sam Raimi’s Deadite trilogy, “Army of Darkness.”
The visual of Ash (Bruce Campbell) falling to earth, along with his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, is something many “Ash vs. Evil Dead” fans probably weren’t expecting to see. When Season 1 of the Starz series premiered, it was said there would be no connection to “Army of Darkness” in the story because, simply put, they couldn’t get the rights.
It seems though, with Season 2, the sky is the limit and this may very well be the first of multiple nods to “Army of Darkness” — we see you, Ted Raimi.
Aside from these little genre goodies, Episode 3 also dealt with Ash’s estranged relationship with his father, Brock (Lee Majors). To say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree would be an understatement, but having Ash return home, and seeing the fallout caused by his road trip to the cabin all those years ago, adds some depth to everyone’s favorite slacker/hero.
Returning to Elk Grove, Michigan not only introduced viewers to the nickname (and song) “Ashy Slashy,” it helped to solidify that — while this is a horror comedy — there is a darkness in Ash that is mired in grief and lack of acceptance… or even, love.
Grief, obviously, for the death of Linda (his girlfriend in “Evil Dead”) and Cheryl (his sister). But diving into the history between Ash and his father opens up a whole new aspect to the “Evil Dead” canon. The stakes and repercussions in all his Deadite killing made a fragile family unit become much more disjointed.
Going head-to-head on a mechanical bull to finally settle who is the better man, it’s kind of hard not to see the ongoing theme throughout the episode. Brock and Ash are both bullish characters. They are both riding a mechanical bull to win the crowd’s — and each other’s — approval. And upon going all “Christine” in the beginning of the episode, Ash’s Delta 88 takes on some very bull-like characteristics.
Just how different would Brock have been if Ash never went on that road trip to begin with? Their relationship wouldn’t have been so strained, that’s for sure. But it’s also a question we have trouble asking because, without that road trip, Ash would probably never have become El Jefe and that notion leads us down a very slippery slope of “what ifs.”
Before his untimely — and gruesome — end, Brock was able to see the error in his ways and proudly recognized his son as the hero he really is. It’s a piece to the puzzle Ash has been missing for quite some time and one that will most definitely fuel his mission moving forward.
And with Kelly finding her own motherly connection with Ruby (Lucy Lawless), “Ash vs. Evil Dead” may finally be cutting through the bull. Sure, it’s a fun zombie-killing series on the surface, but underneath, the show has turned into an odd adventure tale about family values, grief and empowerment. The Deadites, as it seems, are just the icing on the cake.
“Ash vs. Evil Dead” airs Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.