TV Review: Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1, Episode 10 “The Dark One” (USA, 2016)

When I look back on Season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead, I realise how fantastic the writing has been; how each trivial little plot point has culminated here, in the season finale of this impressive new series.

If you’ve followed my reviews over the course of these ten episodes, you may have labelled me bias (I did warn you). But it’s more than that. I maintained my objectivity and called a spade a spade but despite all of that, despite this very peculiar and absurd premise about a guy with a chainsaw for a hand fighting off evil, there is so much brilliance woven throughout Ash vs Evil Dead and it has done its silver screen brethren proud.

The Dark One is the extremely well deserved feather in the cap of a terrific season of this fresh series. It is an episode that excels in everything the franchise is known for: Blood, laughs and for lack of a better term, a tonne of messed up shit.

Now that Ruby’s secret is revealed (that she is a head honcho in hell), she abducts Pablo – who now has the skin of the Necronomicon wrapped around his face – and takes him down into that dreaded cellar to execute the final part of her ritual.

Ash ventures down to find him while Kelly and other girl are locked out and have to deal with the cabin which is now in full crazy mode.

The crux is that Ruby simply wants to keep all of the demons under her control and all she needs is Ash to hold up his end of the deal – relinquishing his role as earths savior (including a cheeky reference to Army of Darkness), and in return his life will return to complete normalcy.

The Dark One eschews its episodic, serial tone and instead makes it feel like a mini-movie, one that honors the first two films wonderfully. However it does feed off of the work it put in. Kelly rallies to help save Pablo; Ash argues it, not wanting to lose someone else he cares about; Ruby’s arc is perfectly capitalized on, becoming the kingpin behind everything and the cabin, the unsung hero is put to fantastic use.

There is enough blood to service a whole season here too. If it isn’t Ash splattering the interior of the cabin with Amanda’s blood or shotgunning a demon child in the mouth (expanded upon by amazing camera work and lighting) then its the cabin, literally bursting with a torrent of blood, Shining-style and regurgitating other girls detached body parts. Its a gore hounds dream, the type of blood soaked television that you would expect from an Evil Dead series. Its the type of show that shouldn’t have limits lest it becomes a shallow, watered down version of its former self.

There is all manner of mind-fuckery going on as well. The cabin is truly a twisted abode and that’s exactly how it needed to be. The cabin has always been as much a malevolent force as the Necronomicon or demons. It grows eyes, bleeds when shot and concocts illusions. It all makes you feel a little like Ash in 1981 when he started going insane at the end of the film.

This is the first real time the show has gotten truly scary and horrific. Pablo’s pain and distress as he is being controlled are gut wrenching and  those terrifying demon babies will haunt the faint at heart for weeks.

The Evil Dead concludes with Ash’s heart getting the better of him and making the deal in return for the trios safety. It’s only natural, the show has been renewed and we couldn’t just end it. But it was a great little gem of continuity as Ash puts others before himself, even if it may mean the end of the world, as glimpsed in the closing moments.

The Dark One is a tour de force. An episode that can unequivocally be spoken about in the same breath as the first two films. Ash is hilarious and back to his old self, blood gushes, minds are messed with and a seasons worth of plot and character development are not simply pushed to the side in place of spectacle.

I for one am so happy this show came about, that it kicks ass, that everyone is having fun and that it embraces its roots and respects in lineage. Here’s to next season, let hope this train keeps rolling.

Highlights:

      • Every minute of it. I can’t put them all into bullet points.

Lowlights:

        • That we have to wait for next season?

Review Score: FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Ash vs Evil Dead is streaming now on Stan.

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