There’s been a ton of anticipation for the premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead, the television follow-up to the cult classic Evil Dead film franchise, and the series (already renewed for a second season) finally premiered on Halloween. Let’s see if the premiere lived up to all the hype by taking a look at the episode, titled “El Jefe.”
The series opens with our aging hero, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) tightening up a corset and dancing to music while getting ready for a night out. He heads over to a bar (arriving ten minutes before they close, of course), and uses his fake hand (remember the movies?) to pick up a woman with a fake story. They head into the bathroom to have sex, but they’re interrupted by when Ash sees a vision of a Deadite (“Hasn’t happened for about 30 years.”). He drives back to his RV to check and make sure that the Necronomicon Ex Mortis is still safe, and he remembers getting high and accidentally, once again, releasing the Evil Dead upon the earth.
The opening is followed up by a really great homage transition that fans will recognize from the films before we’re introduced to Michigan State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), who is investigating a crime scene with her partner after getting a call. At the scene, she stumbles across a young woman (revealed to the audience as being the same girl that released the Evil Dead with Ash) who has become a Deadite. The woman ends up “killing” Amanda’s partner, but he flips into Deadite mode for a really great fight scene. If the opening scene with Ash showed that this series is going to retain all of the franchise’s trademark humor, Amanda’s introduction proved that the over-the-top gore and horror-comedy that the Evil Dead is known for is still here to stay.
As Ash heads to work to pick up his paycheck before skipping town, we’re introduced to his cohorts in the series, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana Delorenzo). It’s great to see the ValueStop playing a role in the series, and I really like that it’s what led to Ash being acquainted with these two. We’re also introduced to Lucy Lawless’ Ruby as Amanda (now disgraced after the events from the house) has breakfast at a diner, and we see that she, too, is now starting to be aware of the Deadite presence in the world.
The scene in which Ash finally reveals the secrets of the Evil Dead to Pablo is absolutely fantastic, and the show makes great use of footage from the films to help visualize the events of the past. Pablo is more conscious of the supernatural aspects of the world than we were at first aware, and he tells Ash that he must be the legendary “El Jefe” that will rise up and stop the evil. Ash thinks that his time has come and gone, though, and attempts to leave town in order to get away from what’s coming. As Pablo and Kelly try to convince him to stay and stop this, the evil reaches his home, and Ash is forced to spring into action. Wielding his sawed-off shotgun and chainsaw-hand, Ash wards off the Deadites, grabs the Necronomicon, and regains his position as the hero he’s destined to be.
If “El Jefe” is anything to go off of, Ash vs Evil Dead is going to be an absolute hit. The series keeps all of the great things about the films that made them so very special to so many people while managing to really carve out its own place on television. The show’s practical effects are also extremely appreciated in today’s television environment, and I hope that the series continues to rely on these through the season. There were a few CG effects that stood out (most notably with the doll in the stock room), but they were still able to blend in with the episode well enough that they were easy to overlook. The acting on the show is top-notch, and I think that even newcomers to the franchise will quickly fall in love with Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams. The rest of the cast, too, really shines, with the most notable performances coming from Jill Marie Jones and Lucy Lawless. I’m a huge fan of the Evil Dead franchise, and this show is exactly what I never knew I needed in my life. I absolutely can’t wait to see where the story goes from here, and I think I’m willing to follow this series anywhere. “El Jefe” did a solid job at introducing the Evil Dead to those that may not be very familiar with it while still offering enough fun, gore, and humor to hook more diehard fans from the start.
What did you think of the series premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead? Are you excited for the rest of the season? What would you like to see happen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!
[Photo via Starz]
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