Ash vs Evil Dead, Season 1, Episode 6, “The Killer of Killers”
Written by Nate Crocker
Directed by Michael Hurst
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on Starz
Ash vs Evil Dead returns to its gory roots with “The Killer of Killers.” It took six episodes, but at last the show has hit its stride, delivering a fast, funny, blood-soaked extravaganza. Ash (Bruce Campbell), Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo (Ray Santiago) end up at the Western Moose diner — because more than one location per episode be damned on this show! — and have to contend with more Deadite nastiness. The difference here is that the trio is much more adept at dealing with evil by now, and proceed to slice and dice any foes in their path.
At that start of “The Killer of Killers”, the ever mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless, still doing so much with so little) and Amanda (Jill Marie Jones) show up at Brujo’s burning compound just after Ash and the team have hit the road. That constantly roaming Deadite force comes storming across the land and inhabits the charred funeral pyre corpse of Brujo, causing him to spring back to life in the form of a terrible looking CGI skeleton. Ash vs Evil Dead balances its practical effects and its wonky CGI fairly evenly, and budgetary restrictions might have limited how effectively the producers could render a walking, talking skeleton, but come on. The effects used in this scene would even make the giant cartoon of Dwayne Johnson’s The Scorpion King from The Mummy Returns blush. The Brujo-skeleton knows exactly who Ruby is, and lets slip that she’s been searching for the book for her own gains. It’s been clear for a while that Ruby isn’t telling Amanda, and by extension the audience, everything about herself, and this all but confirms it. Unfortunately, viewers will never really know what Ruby was up to because she’s killed! R.I.P. Ruby, we shall never look upon thee again.
In all seriousness, even though the cartoon skeleton pulls Ruby into the fire and her body is nowhere to be found after a sudden explosion, it’s impossible to accept her character is dead already. She’ll be back, it’s just a matter of when. Her absence, however, finally leads to Ash and Amanda joining forces, and what a relief it is. For too long, Jill Marie Jones’ Amanda has been stuck on the sidelines with a seemingly useless character. “The Killer of Killers” gets her off the bench and into the game.
Pablo is still a bit frazzled from having to deal with the amorous, murderous, possessed Kelly, and a new kind of tension springs up between the characters. Santiago and DeLorenzo’s chemistry with one another was never weak, but here it’s perfected. There’s an honest sweetness at play during the moments between Pablo and Kelly. And DeLorenzo’s Kelly, in particular, is fast becoming one of the most interesting characters on the show: this week Pablo questions her about her motives. Is Kelly’s blood-lust at a fever-pitch? Does she not want any of this to end because she needs an excuse to keep killing Deadites as a way to avenge her parents? “The Killer of Killers” gives her an outlet for all her rage when she proceeds to pummel a possessed waitress before ramming her face-first into a deli meat slicer and then smashing her head to smithereens with a meat tenderizer.
This moment of ultra-brutality comes during the big bloody climax, which unfolds like a particularly graphic episode of The Three Stooges. Of course, Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi is a big fan of the Stooges, and their slapstick influence can be felt in The Evil Dead films (particularly Evil Dead II). In “The Killer of Killers”, episode director Michael Hurst taps into Raimi’s Three Stooges admiration by staging a gory finale where characters are killed by ice skates to the head and by being thrown up into spinning ceiling fans. Things get pretty pun-heavy during these moments; after an unfortunate kid is killed by that aforementioned ceiling fan, his Deadite killer cracks, “Another member of my fan club!” It’s groan-worthy, but works anyway. The terrible puns are needed, because if not for them, this entire scene would be grim carnage with no relief, and that’s not the tone Ash vs Evil Dead is going for at all.
Campbell’s Ash is in lecherous overdrive this week, planning to get out of a diner bill by offering sex to his waitress. Later, when Amanda confronts him in the diner men’s room (after he’s smashed up some candy to mix with water and use as cologne, by the way), the two tussle for control of Amanda’s gun, all while Ash is leering at her cleavage. Even for a character like Ash, these super horndog moments seem forced and unnecessary. Randiness aside, Ash is still showing signs of growth. By the end of the episode, Ash, Kelly, Pablo and new cohort Amanda are about to hit the road again, now with a clear destination in sight: the cabin from The Evil Dead. After Ash reveals to Kelly and Pablo that he needs to return to the infamous cabin, he tells the duo they can’t come with him. He cares about his new pals, and doesn’t want to see them killed, possibly by his hand should they become possessed. But Kelly and Pablo won’t be dissuaded. “If I was a Deadite,” Pablo says, “I’d be honored to have you cut off my head.” What else are friends for?