RECAPITATION! Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 3 Episode 3
We open with Ash attending the funeral of his now dearly deceased wife Candy, earnestly attempting to connect with his newly discovered daughter Brandy. The tragedy, and in turn comedy, of Ash is his stunted maturity, a maturity that feels like the true arch of the series: the odd redemption of Ashley J. Williams.
Of course, par for the course for Evil Dead, nothing ever goes Ash’s way. Like giggles during a funeral, these pesky Deadites just keep popping up at the most unwanted times. This time Candy is back, wanting to make up for some sexually lost times with Ash moments before the services are to begin. Ash of course crashes this funeral by popping out of the casket as Brandy begins her eulogy. I watch the slapstick bloodletting and I can just feel a certain type of horror fan rolling their eyes, bemoaning “This isn’t Evil Dead!” or worse changing the channel. And while I admit, sometimes I do cringe at the abundance reliance on gross-out gags, the rote “What Can We Splatter On Bruce Campbell This Week?”. But then I think back to a 13 year old me, a kid who had a username for Deadites.com, a website devoted to a long thought dead horror series. That thirteen year old kid would be losing his goddamn mind over this show. It may feel like a writers crutch to rely heavily on increasingly ridiculous gore gags each episode, especially in this “Golden Age of TV”, but what more as core fans could we really ask for all these years later? The most important thing has always been the involvement of Bruce Campbell and we’re getting that in spades. And while the remake proved that Evil Dead is a property that can live beyond Ash, the series is a fan dream.
The B story of the episode is with Kelly, Pablo, and Wild One Dalton as they go back to the site of the cabin from last season in search of the Kandarian Dagger. The balancing act of the AVED is within these B-stories that slowly develop into the A as the season goes along. If the hilarious gore of the A story is what brings in the casual viewer, these B narratives are what stay the diehard fan. With that said though, relegating the meatier material to less screen time can feel like a sleight to those specific fans who think Evil Dead was always meant to be taken more seriously than it should. Because from its inception Evil Dead has been X-rated Three Stooges sketches. No more so than in the final season when Brandy’s granddad, the Six Million Dollar Man himself Lee Major is brought back from the dead by School Counselor Ruby, who may or may not just look like Ruby. Granddad seems to be killing it at bonding with his granddaughter before trying to take out our hero with a can of Pork and Beans. The gooey final moments of the episode are at least used here for purpose, driving Brandy further from Ash and into potential danger.
Now in its third season, AVED feels like it’s finally found its voice, and that voice is innocently juvenile. While this doesn’t bring much artistic gravitas to Evil Dead, despite adding a much needed emotional core through the wonderful portrayal of Brandy by Arielle Carver-O'Neill, the series doesn’t need it, or really want it. If we ever get a sequel to the blood red nightmare that was the Evil Dead remake, then the elusive purists will be sated, but until then relish in the blood gushing charm of Bruce Campbell and watch Ash Vs Evil Dead. Because no one fucks with The Ghostbeaters.