‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Upends Reality with Ash’s ‘Delusion’

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Ash vs. Evil Dead Delusion

Despite his apparent victory last week in “Trapped Inside,” the episode ended with Ash (Bruce Campbell) being captured by the nefarious demon Baal (Joel Tobeck), the demon using his powers of persuasion to have Ash lower his chainsaw defenses. This week’s episode, “Delusion,” opens with Ash in the confines of an insane asylum. “Delusion” is a change of pace for Ash vs. Evil Dead, but the way the series switches things up and takes a turn into psychological horror is a welcome change of pace as this may very well be the high water mark for the season, of course that depends how things play out over the final three episodes.

Ash awakes in the dingy confines of the insane asylum to be told that his ongoing war with the scourge of the Deadites is all in his head. He’s been there for 30 years, having killed his sister in friends in that cabin. He is Ashy Slashy. Of course, the headstrong Ash refuses to believe what he’s being told, and is defiant towards the doctor (Tobeck), sometimes lashing out violently. But Ash’s defenses soon wilt when he sees the familiar faces of his friends and cohorts making up the population of decaying institution. He sees Ruby (Lucy Lawless) as a nurse, Pablo (Ray Santiago) as an orderly, and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) as a fellow patient afflicted with her own set of delusions. Those familiar faces don’t recognize him and their names don’t match what he knows them as. Ruby and Pablo see him as Ash Slashy, the mass murderer, as does the demented version of Kelly. The increasing doubts of his own sanity are amplified by the deranged hand puppet that talks to him. Is Ash truly El Jefe, or is he Ash Slashy?

Written by Hank Chilton and directed by Mark Beesley, “Delusion” features a chamber of horrors that Ash vs. Evil Dead hasn’t ventured into before. We’re used to seeing Ash and company drenched in blood that splatters in every direction from shotgun blasts and chainsaw slashes, but we’ve never been privy to Ash as the subject of shock therapy and the undermining of his understanding of reality. The episode features so many new forms of cringeworthy horrors, such as when Ash first meets the funhouse mirror version of Kelly as she counts her days within the asylum by breaking her individual fingers one by one. There’s also an ongoing distortion of the settings, like one moment where the asylum seems to be turning on itself adding to Ash’s doubt and delirium.

“Delusion” retains the oddball sense of humor that is very much a part of the DNA of Ash vs. Evil Dead. Most explicitly, this is embodied by the hand puppet that replaces Ash’s chainsaw. It’s a muppet from hell, one speaks on its own and operates as a mouthpiece for the evil trying to undermine our hero. Imagine a cannibalistic version of Lambchop and you’ve got a pretty good handle on what Ash is up against.

With three episodes left this season, Ash vs. Evil Dead has made some unexpected turns in setting the stage for its climax. Though “Delusion” completely abandons the progress of Ruby, Pablo, and Kelly outside the false reality of the asylum, it does set the stage for a showdown where the trio will likely have to face off with a delusional Ash, fracturing the quartet that has been under a shaky union throughout the entire second season. There are many questions to be answered in the last few episodes of the season. “Delusion” continues the trend of much more confined episodes throughout the second season, and leaves me wondering if the scope of the show will expand as we stare down the double-barreled shotgun of a finale.

Ash vs. Evil Dead airs Sundays at 8pm only on Starz.

Ash vs. Evil Dead
  • Delusion


The best episode of the season so far, “Delusion” features Ash in an insane asylum questioning his reality in a dementedly fun episode that diverges from the typical formula of Ash vs. Evil Dead.

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