The fourth episode of Ash vs Evil Dead was directed by David Frazee and written by James Eagan. Frazee is a reliable workhorse of a TV director, having a strong background as a cinematographer before moving solely into producing and directing over the past five years. Eagan is a writer with more of a comedy background, but has been a staff writer for Ash, contributing to the first three episodes before getting full credit for “Brujo.”
So essentially, this is the first episode without a known horror director at the helm, but maintains the tradition of giving full credit to a comedy writer for the script. Episodes 1 through 3 found a nice balance of horror, gore, and comedy. Would “Brujo” stand up to the quality of what had come before?
Yeah, for the most part.
The script is pretty strong as our heroes arrive at Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) uncle’s (Hemky Madera) Deadite-proofed compound. The main focus of the episode is on Ash (Bruce Campbell), as is to be expected, who undergoes an hallucinogenic spirit quest to discover the secrets that he’s just too dim to find on his own — in his own mind.
Campbell is again, perfect, and the visual representation of the darkest parts of Ash’s mind are pretty much what you’d imagine: Playboy covers, clips of soft-core porn, women’s wrestling, exercise videos, monster trucks, and flashbacks to when he had to cut his girlfriend’s head off in Evil Dead II. I love the way that Ash vs Evil Dead doesn’t try to distance itself from the source material, instead embracing it and making sure that we know this is the same story, picked up nearly thirty years later.
And while we know that Ash is essentially a sexist Neanderthal, there’s something almost sweet about his romanticized paradise of Jacksonville, Florida; the town so nice, they named it… Jacksonville. It’s a quiet, peaceful place where he has both his hands, a beer in each one, and the possibility of fishing and enjoying the sunshine.
Until the bad shit happens.
The episode isn’t entirely focused on Ash. Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), after smacking the demon Eligos (Ben Fransham) into dispersion last episode with the Necronomicon, has come down with a small case of DEMONIC POSSESSION! It was subtle, the way the demon exploded into smoke and she was thrown across the room last time, but if you were watching closely, she appeared to have breathed in some of that smoke. And instead of the slight concussion she thinks she’s got as our heroes are making their getaway, it’s a little bit more serious.
Her possession gives Eligos a chance to kill Ash once and for all, by entering his hallucinatory vision quest and trapping him in his mind forever. And while Ash can almost take care of himself from the inside, from the outside things look very different and by episode’s end, no one’s sure what’s going on or who to trust.
It’s a great little complication that comes from out of nowhere to keep Ash vs Evil Dead lively, zigging where we think it’s going to zag.
What about last week’s cliffhanger ending, with Officer Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) handcuffed to a stair rail while a Deadite Lionel Hawkins (Kelson Henderson) approaches? Things look bleak until Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless) arrives to save the day in a gloriously old-school Evil Dead action sequence and then proceeds to drop some knowledge on us.
Turns out, Ruby is the last surviving Knowby from Evil Dead II. You remember, Annie Knowby was Ash’s girlfriend? Her parents were dead before Ash and company arrived? And then her sister Henrietta showed up halfway through the movie with more victims? Turns out, Ruby thinks Ash is the one who killed her family all those years ago and she’s been on the hunt for vengeance all these years.
She’s also got a long-forgotten friend along for the ride: Ash’s Deadite-possessed severed hand!!!
So Ruby, Officer Fisher, and Ash’s Deadite Hand are on the hunt, but Pablo, Brujo, and Demon-possessed Kelly may do more harm to Ash than they ever could.