After a very groovy first season, we’re back with Ash and his ‘Ghostbeaters’ for Season 2. Evil Dead fans got what they wanted last year, with Ash back to his chainsaw-wielding habits, slicing up hilariously over-the-top new deadites spun from the evil Necronomicon, and an epic three-episode arc inside the infamous cabin that capped off the season in the most groovalicious of ways. But now we’re entering uncharted territory, expanding the Evil Dead universe in ways we never could have dreamed.
Following Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) controversial decision to let Ruby (Lucy Lawless) take control of the Necronomicon, her “children” are now grown up and have turned against her, stripping her of her immortality and giving her no choice but to turn to Ash for help. This leads everyone to Ash’s hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan, where he’s known as “Ashy Slashy”. 30 years after he was forced to bodily dismember his friends in a cabin in the woods has not exactly made him Mr. Popular with the locals. Pablo (Ray Santiago) is still haunted by his torture in the cabin basement from Season 1, and it turns out he now has a more intimate connection with the Necronomicon than anyone’s ever had before. Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) becomes a more independent Deadite-killer, and even learns to trust Ruby despite everything that she’s done. As the evil spreads and consumes the town, everything points to a demon named Baal (Joel Tobeck), whose body-hopping and mind-control tactics make him an enemy to be seriously feared.
As I like to say, more Evil Dead is always a good thing. Season 2 gets off to a bloody good start and keeps the gory entertainment moving fast. Ash is as we always want him to be, pissing off everyone he meets while simultaneously saving their skins. He reunites with his estranged father, Brock (Lee Majors), whose misogyny and borderline racist comments reveal a lot about Ash’s upbringing. Ted Raimi finally joins the cast as Ash’s old buddy Chet, and they have some wonderfully hilarious scenes together that you just want to see go on forever and ever. Even Ash’s car, the “Classic”, gets its chance to shine when it’s possessed by demons and goes for an evil and driverless joy ride. And for any longtime fans of the film franchise — which should be all of you! — there are one or two familiar faces so mind-blowingly awesome that it may send you flying off the couch. Not a lot of TV shows understand their audience quite like Ash vs. Evil Dead. It may seem unfair that they had 30 years of prep, unlike other shows. But I won’t complain about good TV.
Like the first season, locations are somewhat limited. Most of this season takes place in the fictional town of Elk Grove, Michigan, with a lot of back-and-forth between the same locations and some overly familiar streets that start to feel like those cartoon backgrounds that get re-used again and again. It’s nice that they have a grounded setting for this season, but with the team not being on the road so much, it makes the world feel a tad smaller than it did in the first season. On the plus side, we get to know Elk Grove, Michigan quite well; from Ash’s home, to the local watering hole, to the police station, and of course the local insane asylum must make an appearance. This is a show with crazy stuff happening after all. And because it’s Evil Dead, they even work in the infamous cabin, for what you should all understand by now to be obvious reasons. I won’t say when and I won’t say how, but it is epic. And for those of you still concerned about Army of Darkness’ rights issues with Universal, rest assured that they get away with even MORE sneaky references in this season, including a partial but blatant homage to a famous scene. No longer do you have to pretend that this show only follows the first two movies. Whatever rights issues are holding them back, it’s clearly not enough to restrict Sam Raimi and his fellow shemps.
With Season 3 already confirmed, Season 2’s close-ended finale may be a bit confusing to some. But to me, it’s even more aggravating than a cliffhanger. Evil Dead has always ended on cliffhangers (save for Army of Darkness’ Theatrical Cut), which makes me wonder what cataclysmic event they’re planning for next fall. But until that time comes, we’re going to have to make do with this bloody and stupefyingly-hilarious second season. #Ash4President
4 out of 5