Friday, 1 January 2016

Review - 'Ash vs Evil Dead', S01E09 - 'Bound in the Flesh'

The previous episode of Ash vs Evil Dead finally gave a sense of clear focus to a season which, while entertaining, had tended more toward meandering, so far. Ash's arrival at the secluded cabin where all of his troubles began was clearly the logical end-point for this first season - and, the sudden arrival of Ash's evil clone (grown out of the hand that he was forced to cut off way back in Evil Dead 2), effectively raised the stakes as we moved toward the end of the season.

But, despite all of this, the one question that had still remained frustratingly unanswered was exactly what role Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless) was going to play in the finale. It has been clear from the beginning of the season that she was going to be important - but, the lack of focus she had received has made it very difficult to get any sort of a handle on her (she wasn't even in the previous episode). I'm reluctant to go as far as stating that the writers have mishandled the character in any way (since the air of mystery around her, and her role, was obviously intentional) - but, the lack of screen time has made it difficult for her to make the impression that she was intended to make.

With this being the penultimate episode of the season, though, it seems fitting that we should finally get some sort of revelation about Ruby Knowby, here. As you might expect, though, the answers that we are given, here, really only serve to raise more questions - questions which aren't going to be answered until the season finale. But, before we can even get to that point, there is still the matter of Ash's evil clone, and the not unexpected return of the hikers from the previous episode, and the fact that the Necronomican seems to have gained the ability to speak for itself - and, of course, the shocking death of Amanda, whose body is quickly claimed by an opportunistic Deadite when Ash was distracted.

While it was certainly a shame to have Amanda killed off so abruptly in the previous episode, when she had only just started to become an integral part of the story, those scenes with the Deadite possessed Amanda were fantastic. Deadites have always been as much a source of black comedy as horror in the Evil Dead franchise, of course - but, their over-the-top performances have often tended more toward comedy. With Amanda, though, it seems that the show has been able to find a great balance between horror and comedy - making her one of the most frightening creatures we have seen on the series, so far, even as we find ourselves laughing at the way she goes about turning two of the hikers into puppets for an impromptu performance. The best part of all, though, is the fact that Deadite Amanda managed to survive the episode - meaning that this wont be the last we see of her.

But, that wasn't the only highlight, here, of course. Earlier in the episode, we had more of the very well-done, and well choreographed, fight between Ash and his evil clone - a scene that ended with a fairly classic 'which is the real one' moment that was resolved thanks to Ash's casual racism. Then, we had some wonderfully bloody scenes of casual dismemberment - first, with Ash chopping up is evil clone (while Bill Withers' hit song, 'Just The Two Of Us', played in the background, for an added element of inappropriate humour), then with Ruby casually carving up the two dead hikers while berating the people she had just saved. On top of that, there was the hilarious, and insult-filled, stand-off between Ash and Ruby as they met for the first time.

Overall, this was just a great episode of Ash vs Evil Dead. It was, quite possibly, the most consistently comedic episode we have had since the season's first, while still managing to fit in moments of genuinely disturbing horror - and, most importantly, it manages to leave us on a cliffhanger that feels earned, and entirely appropriate, as we move into the final episode knowing that the stakes are higher than they have ever been for Ash and his team.

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