TV Review: Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1, Episode 3 “Books From Beyond” (USA, 2015)

Now that all of the initial dissension and trivial things like loved ones are out of the way, our trio finally embark on a journey that will see them fighting the manifestation of evil the best way they know how: following Ash’s tenuous connections and single vision. Books From Beyond puts our crew on the road, explores how deep and sinister the Necronomicon really is and shows us that the deadites aren’t the only enemies Ash has.

Ash finally manages to get to the book store he was so amendment on visiting before he had to make a quick stop at Kelly’s house to murder her mum.  Detective Fisher however had a lead on the place and has already questioned the owner and our two parties finally meet. By meet, I mean Pablo knocks Amanda out cold in the store and chains her up while Kelly guards her. Meanwhile Ash, Pablo and the store owner attempt to summon a weak demon to ascertain the words required to send the dead back. Of course, that does not go according to plan and the demon gets loose and gets a little kill happy.

There might come a time when Ash vs Evil Dead’s formula facilitates its downfall but for the moment it’s working.  Books From Beyond once again sticks the show in a single location and delivers what it knows so well. The funny, the gore and some great creature design.

I think the biggest surprise about AvsED is that despite its oft ridiculous tone, it still places a solid emphasis on advancing its story and characters. Lets face it, the first two films weren’t exactly brimming with narrative, but it stayed true to what it was. While the show does that too, it’s nice to see that we’re not being taken advantage of and that a change in mediums no doubt requires a little more padding.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t The Walking Dead but there are nice little touches sprinkled throughout each episode. Pablo suffers a set back with Kelly when she labels him “her little brother”; Ash, after 20 years of going it solo or in his words “being an alone wolf”, finally understands the benefit of having some help; and Kelly and Amanda trade horror stories and in answering my question from last week, Amanda posits that they’re on the same side.

Add to this the very intriguing start to Books From Beyond. Lucy Lawless’ character shows up at Kelly’s house and rips her father out of his grave, impales him on a makeshift cross and damn near slices his face off as she seeks the whereabouts of Ash. Who in the hell is this woman and why do the demons supposedly know of her existence!?

It’s something I would like to see dragged out for the remainder of the season because one of my drawbacks with this episode was that I feel like Amanda may have caught up with Ash a little too quickly.

Just a little side note too. Books From Beyond contains a lot of exposition, and one of the plot points discussed are where the demons come from. It’s explained that they are brought through portals from a realm where lost souls wander. This is touched on in Army of Darkness but due to rights issues, that film cannot be referenced (although the show-runners have confirmed that it is cannon).

When things go sour, AvsED definitely finds it stride and due to another Ash mishap, our demon breaks free from the enchanted circle it was contained in and raises hell. This particular demon looks incredible. It is actually one the most vile, unique and downright nasty creatures I have seen in some time. The make-up team deserve some credit here and if this trend continues, I am looking forward to more summoning. However, with the abilities this thing possesses, it may be wise not to. Teleporting around the back of the store and using telekinesis to penetrate shards of glass through the shop owners face, Books From Beyond shows us just what the Ghost Beaters (Pablo and Ash agreed to it, not me) are up against. It introduces a new threat, one that stretches far beyond regular Joe’s being transformed into deadites.

There was a moment in Ash vs Evil Dead where I thought that its rapid pace had finally subsided, maybe its humour was about to dry up and perhaps the action was going to be sparse. Those theories were quickly dashed when the shop erupted as the Necronomicon was being read, when Ash whipped out another analogy that completely befuddled Pablo and when that superbly crafted demon whizzed around, the camera panning and raising, perfectly capturing all these events in a cramped space.

I keep expecting to write a review where I am not singing this shows praises but as of episode 3, Ash vs Evil Dead is still rolling.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights:

      • The summoned demon looked brilliant
      • Continues to squeeze in character development
      • Intriguing story with Lucy Lawless’ character
      • Introduces new threats

Lowlights:

        • Amanda finally finding Ash should have been drawn out longer
        • Pace dips and presents a glimpse into the possible future of the show

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