Ash (Bruce Campbell) and the crew meet the militia in 1×07 ‘Fire In The Hole’. Let’s bitch it out…
Unlike other episodes that build to a big action cliffhanger, ‘Fire In The Hole’ pretty much dumps everyone into a pile of sh*t within the first few seconds. Before they can hit the cabin in the woods, Ash decides that they need ammunition, so they trudge through the woods to meet up with Lem (Peter Feeney) and his militia buddies. The problem – as we know from the coda of last week’s episode – is that Lem is already a Deadite, which means the militia compound has been turned into an outtake from Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, with mutilated bodies and viscera strewn all over the place.
It’s a great, gory way to start the episode. Traditionally something loud and shiny happens to kick things off and then Ash vs Evil Dead settles into a rhythm for half of the episode before the actions starts back up and someone (Pablo) ends up covered in blood. That’s not the case here; paranoid moron / leader Crosby (Mark Mitchinson) sees the blood on the wall, decides Ash and his groupies are in league with the government and locks them up. That’s it – that’s the episode in a pinch, making ‘Fire In The Hole’ arguably the lightest on plot of any episode since 1×03 ‘Books From Beyond.’
Despite making virtually no narrative headway, there’s a surprising amount of character work that goes into the pairings. Ash and Amanda (Jill Marie Jones) are handcuffed together and dumped in the tunnels while Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) make a variety of loony escapes and captures.
Obviously if he’s within kissing distance of a woman, Ash is going to hit on her so it’s not a surprise when he immediately starts up the innuendos the moment they’re alone. What’s surprising is that Amanda reciprocates. Despite a rocky, frustrating start, Amanda is lightening-up. The “go with the flow” attitude (including a sexier down ‘do) allows Marie Jones to be looser and freer with her acting choices. Watching Ash and Amanda battle Lem is surprisingly enjoyable, as is their chemistry in the moments before they’re rescued. It’s a development that I wasn’t expecting when Amanda joined the group last week.
The lack of sexual tension in Pablo and Kelly’s story line – defused temporarily following their conversation last week in the RV following Kelly’s possession – is what makes the other half of the episode work. By eschewing the will they/won’t they dynamic, the former co-workers spend their time bonding over more important subjects, like which weapon best defines them (options include guns, pick-up trucks, grenade launchers and flamethrowers). The result is some of the series’ best comedic gags when Pablo and Kelly battle with the Deadite who latches onto the back of the truck. The attack goes on interminably and only gets funnier the gorier it becomes. Although watching Ash and Amanda bullet time Lem’s flame-spitting is pretty hilarious, seeing Pablo get tossed back and forth while Kelly sprays bullets every which way because she can’t control her gun is a great gut-busting moment. The fact that Pablo ends up covered in blood is just the cherry on top.
- Considering their situation, there really is no better time for Ash to make a move on Amanda in the tunnels. So in that sense, he’s kinda right.
- When Amanda discusses Ruby (Lucy Lawless) with Ash, we cut to the remains of the fire where she “died” last episode. Naturally Ruby isn’t dead and we see her rising from the ashes without the slightest mark on her body and the strength to crush a skull with her bare hands. Clearly there’s more to Ruby than meets the eye
- Her propensity for hidden weapons – like the bone-handled knife she keeps in a secret compartment in the glove box – is less surprising, but no less groovy.
- Ruby is either disgusted or dismayed when she sees that Ash’s hand has escaped the car. We catch with it in the closing moments, making its way to a rendezvous with its former owner at the cabin.
- In an obvious, but nonetheless sad moment Ash abandons his friends to head to the cabin by himself. He talks a big game, but he meant it when he said that they were all special to him. And we know what happens to people that are special to him at the cabin…
- Kelly: “I lost my parents. I got possessed. I think I deserve a flamethrower.”
- Ash (when Amanda asks if he thinks there’s another tunnel exit): “Uh no, but I’ll say yes just to keep hope alive.”
- Pablo (trying to determine which weapon suits him best): “I wish I had my rusty chain, yo.” Kelly: “No. Keep trying.”
- Kelly (after a militia member declares he’ll make her pregnant later): “Won’t your sister be jealous of us?”
- Kelly (spraying bullets everywhere): “It’s the gun’s fault. These things are dangerous.”
Your turn: what did you think of Ash’s run-in with the militia? Did you like how simple the militia members were? Was the battle with the Deadite on the truck the show’s best comedy bit to date? Were you hoping Ash and Amanda would hook-up? Is Ruby human? Sound off below.
Ash vs Evil Dead airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on STARZ