‘Ashy Slashy’ Unleashes Questions About the Future of ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’

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Ash vs. Evil Dead Ashy Slashy

I genuinely thought I knew where this season of Ash vs. Evil Dead was heading. When the Necronomicon was jettisoned back to Hell and the demon Baal (Joel Tobeck) emerged, it seemed like the show was paving the way for a blood-splattered ride towards a massive climactic showdown between Ash (Bruce Campbell) and merry band of misfits. Perhaps the first sign that things weren’t going to play out as forecast was last week’s demented U-turn into the looney bin, “Delusion,” though its conclusion certainly didn’t dissuade my prediction. However, this week’s episode, “Ashy Slashy,” has proven me wrong, and I’ve never been happier to be so wrong before. “Ashy Slashy” thins the herd of characters and ends on a note so surprising that I have absolutely no clue as to where Ash vs. Evil Dead will wind up with its final two episodes of its second season.

I wish there was a way to discuss the events of “Ashy Slashy” without venturing into spoiler territory, but there simply isn’t. So if you’re not entirely caught up with Ash vs. Evil Dead, I highly suggest you stop reading now and return when you’ve finished “Ashy Slashy”

Seriously, this is your last warning. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The episode opens with Ruby (Lucy Lawless), Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), and Pablo (Ray Santiago) arriving at the abandoned insane asylum where Baal has taken Ash. They were able to track down Ash’s whereabouts due to a pet tracking app that was part of a harebrained scheme that the hapless hero concocted in “Trapped Inside.” Within the asylum, Baal is reneging on his deal with Sheriff Thomas Emery (Stephen Lovat) and his estranged wife Linda (Michelle Hurd). For the first time all season, Sheriff Emery has a moment of conscience, leading to an attempt to help Kelly and Pablo. But things quickly go astray as it is revealed that his daughter Lacey (Pepi Sonuga) has become a Deadite. (RIP Lacey) Unprepared for the deception employed by the Deadites costs Sheriff Emery his life, as his daughter gruesomely decapitates her father in an act of demonically possessed patricide. (RIP Sheriff Emery)

Meanwhile, Pablo and Ruby wander the decayed halls of the asylum in search of Ash. When they finally encounter the show’s hero, he’s covered in stained, ragged garb with his chainsaw firmly affixed to his hand. Ash speaks barely a word as he roams the halls after Pablo and Ruby like the Terminator. Their issues are compounded by the fact that Pablo is continuing his melding with the Necronomicon, which could result in his death even if he were to successfully use his new powers to send Baal back to Hell. Interestingly enough, Ruby’s newfound mortality is softening her gruff exterior and providing the character with a level of empathy that we’ve never seen before.

Once again, Ash vs. Evil Dead is making the most out of keeping these situations in very confined spaces. The series benefitting greatly from reducing the scope of the series to single locations with parallel action taking place. It could be tempting for the creative team of the show to expand the scenarios beyond these sparse, atmospheric locations but the time constraints of weekly series would play against that and I really like that they’re not trying to do too much with what they have available. It’s all working to the show’s benefit, keeping each week’s story lean and mean.

Speaking of mean, Kelly finds herself in a rather mean position when she finds the demented hand puppet from last week. At first, the newly hardened Kelly thinks it’s an odd little artifact left behind, but quickly learns that this demonic piece of felt is itself possessed. What other show on television could make a scene that is so brazenly bizarre yet retain a level of suspense, as well as grossness, with an actress battling a hand puppet from Hell? I can’t think of one.

All of which brings us to the shocking ending “Ashy Slashy.” Much to our surprise, Ash wasn’t under the influence of Baal and played along in order to get Pablo, whose melding with the Necronomicon gives him the power to send the demon back to hell, in proximity of the nefarious demon, thus sending him back to Hell. That alone would be shocking enough of a finale for the episode, leaving us to wonder where the threat would come for the final two episodes of the season. But that’s not even the most jaw-dropping moment of the episode. Upon sending Baal back to the fiery pits of Hell, it’s revealed that the demon was able to lay a lethal blow to Pablo, bisecting the beloved character. Split in two, his guts lying beside him on the floor, the episode then goes to black.

Now we’re left to ask: Where does Ash vs. Evil Dead go from here? Is Pablo really dead or is there some way that the power of the Necronomicon can heal the bisected hero? If the show does resurrect Pablo does that undermine the impact of any future character deaths on the show, making us question if anybody ever really does die in the series? What’s going to be the major conflict that drives the final two episodes of the season? For the first time in all 18 episodes so far of Ash vs. Evil Dead, I’m completely at a loss as to where it is headed going forward. I’ve always enjoyed the show’s goofy playfulness and confidence in itself, but I always had a sense of where it was going. I don’t anymore, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This may very well be the crossroads for the series. Directed by Tony Tilse and written by Suzanne Keilly and Aaron Lam, “Ashy Slashy” is real cliffhanger of an episode. There are so many unanswered questions that are left in the wake of the episodes ending, and how the series answers those questions over the next two episodes may very well dictate the course of action for Ash vs. Evil Dead moving forward. Let’s hope that they don’t screw it up, because Ash vs. Evil Dead has been one hell of a ride lately.

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

Ash vs. Evil Dead
  • Ashy Slashy
4

Summary

A shocking episode that leaves viewers with all sorts of questions, “Ashy Slashy” may very well be a turning point for Ash vs. Evil Dead, with its cliffhanger ending and uncertainty looming over the final two episodes of the season.

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