Ash (Bruce Campbell) goes on a trip while Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) reveals a surprising tag-along from last episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
Although Ash vs Evil Dead has more or less settled into a narrative groove, I’ll admit that I’m still finding it difficult to adjust to the abbreviated nature of the show’s 30 minute run time. While I don’t think that the series has enough to say to fill a full hour, I’m often left feeling that not much has happened at the end of an episode. Case in point: ‘Brujo’ which finds the group tracking down Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) titular uncle (Hemky Madera), Ash going on a drug-induced trip and the reveal that Kelly has been possessed. There’s also a quick team-up between Amanda (Jill Marie Jones) and Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and an unnecessary action sequence involving an attack on the RV en route to Brujo’s encampment that opens the episode. That’s pretty much ‘Brujo’ in a pinch.
If it sounds like I’m more dismissive of this episode than others, I’ll confess that ‘Brujo’ isn’t my favourite entry in the series thus far. It has its share of amusing moments (albeit far fewer memorable quips than usual) and the imaginative use of archival footage from commercials and TV shows, intercut with flashbacks to the original Evil Dead, help make Ash’s trip more original than your usual drug hallucination. Even Kelly’s possession by Eligos proves unexpected, but it is hard to shake the feeling that all of the story lines remain a little under cooked. At this point I’d like to see less reliance on action and gore to carry individual episodes, especially if it means that we get more narrative headway or character development instead. The RV attack that opens the episode, in particular, feels especially gratuitous: it fails to contribute anything other than an adrenaline boost and ultimately detracts screen time from the other story lines. And for what? Keep the fan boys and CGI junkies entertained? I’m all for action, but it needs to serve the plot, not simply pad out the run time.
The balance between action and character development remains most glaring in Amanda and Ruby’s story lines, which continues to eek out more than a few lines of dialogue in any given episode. Is there a clause somewhere that puts a cap on the number of scenes without Bruce Campbell in any given episode? Sure, ‘Brujo’ confirms Ruby’s connection to Ash and her rationale for vengeance, but considering how little else happens in the episode, it would have been nice to see a bit more of the women bonding or hatching a plan to track him down.
It’s starting to feel as though there is a concern that if each episode doesn’t feature an extended fight scene then the audience will get bored. At some point the writers have to begin trusting the audience to stick around because we’re invested in the characters, not just because we want to see heads chopped off and eyes gouged out.
- The introduction of Hemky Madera’s Brujo provides a good counterpoint to Ash, in that Brujo isn’t dazzled by Ash or his survival tactics. It will be interesting to see if Brujo sticks around to do more than act as spiritual guide who helps Ash unlock his potential.
- I did not care for the reintroduction of the ValuMart doll from the premiere. She looked too CGI then, and she still does.
- The reveal that Kelly has been possessed is well-done. I couldn’t help but wonder if director David Frazee’s reveal of the demon in the mirror is an intentional shout-out to Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi, who used a similar technique in Spiderman when Harry Osborne first confronts the Green Goblin. It’s not wholly original, so it may simply be an easy way to communicate Eligos’ presence rather than immediately employ the black eyes that most shows <cough Supernatural cough> traditionally go for.
- Finally, love that Jacksonville is Ash’s happy place. Such an odd, silly choice.
- Ash (to Brujo, when he invites him in for a check-up): “Ah good, check the old prostate while you’re in there?”
- Ash (relating his life philosophy): “Yeah, shoot first, think never”
- Ash (when he spots Eligos in his trip): “Jimmy donkey balls”
Your turn: are the action sequences detracting from character work? Do you want more Amanda and Ruby? Were you surprised by Kelly’s possession? Sound off below.
Ash vs Evil Dead airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on STARZ