[Review] - Ash Vs Evil Dead, Season 1 Finale, Episodes 9 And 10, "Bound in Flesh" And "The Dark One"

Courtesy of Renaissance Pictures
So, we've come to the end. But how to end? I've spoken in the past about the issues of series finales, that must first service the arc of the immediate season, and also serve as a punctuation mark for everything that came before it. But season finales are just as bad. First serving as a conclusion to everything that has been building, but leaving room for the story to pick up in the next season, if they are lucky enough to get a renewal. I don't know at what stage the writing for this season was at when they found out they had been renewed for a second season, but part of me suspects that wasn't an issue. The tradition of Evil Dead is that each installment leaves Ash in a worse situation than he found himself last in, with no expectation of continuation, but a sense that no matter where he goes or what he does, Ash is screwed.

So, in these two episodes, everything that this season had been building towards came to a head, and left Ash in a worse situation then he found himself in. And while everything fit together perfectly, part of me feels a little let down by the finale. Everything that happened made sense, and was in character with everyone involved. But maybe because it didn't end with Ash being plucked from the ground, or sent back in tie, or sleeping too long; maybe because it all felt like it was too easy an ending, it lacked the knock out swing after a season of working the kidneys. I'm hoping this is little more than the long drawing back of the arm, and next season they'll be aiming square for the jaw.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that beguile with radar eyes.

These episodes were really about revealing the truth behind everything that has been happening this season, and that mostly means finding out who Ruby really is. And despite knowing exactly that now, there is still some uncertainty. She is one of the co-authors of the Necronomicon, one of the Dark Old Olds from the depths of time and hell. But she is a radical. Rather than see humanity slaughtered, their soul's eaten by an army of darkness, she wants humanity to thrive. Now, good sense and reason makes me assume she views humanity as cattle rather than as equal business partners. And just because she doesn't want to see the world burn doesn't mean she wants to hold hands around the campfire.

But is she Ruby Knowby? Did Ruby Knowby ever actually exist? Has this old one possessed the body of the eldest Knowby daughter, or was Ruby a fiction the demon created? And more to the point, why? Ash, the person she's been hunting for thirty years, is the only one left alive with any knowledge of the Knowbys. He's the only one that name will carry any weight with, and he sure as shit ain't going to run a background check on her. And hell, hearing the name Knowby at any point in the last thirty years would have been just as likely to send him running as being thankful. From a promotional perspective, I see the value in the producers calling on the connection to the old movies with the new character - it immediately gives Lawless's character value. But from a narrative perspective, it only adds confusion and uncertainty to her ultimate revelation.

This season was practically flawless, but did occasionally trip over adding more elements than it needed, when the characterization of the primary characters was enough to see it through. The hitchhikers from episode 8 returned to modern traditional roles in episode 9, and were essentially there for Amanda to kill so that we knew she was really and truly evil. But keeping the blonde alive (and sorry, you weren't important to learn your name) served only two purposes. One, to get in some good old fashioned nubile blonde torture porn, and to give Kelly someone to find towards, despite not needing the additional motivation. When Kelly gets trapped outside and essentially fights a house, the episode frames it like she is fight for the blonde, whom she barely knows. This is unnecessary. Pablo and Ash are still inside, that would be enough, but she had also decreed a bloody vengeance against evil some episodes back. Fighting the evil in the cabin for the sake of fighting the evil in the cabin would have been enough for her at that point, and been a much stronger conclusion for that character arc then having her fight (and fail) to protect a stranger.

Then there is Ash, to ventures down into the basement of his greatest nightmares, and confronts the evil once and for all. And while the episode did a fantastic job with the horror elements and atmosphere, as they have all season, I have to applaud their decision to make the final climax more of a negotiation than a blood bath. Boomsticks and chainsaws have had their day this season, it was an excellent and unexpected change of pace for characters to talk things out. But, the net result was also something of a weak finish. Ash, against sense and reason, took the demon's deal and basically backed off. He finally got what he wanted - the book became somebody else's problem. And he made the selfish choice - save himself - for unselfish reasons - to save Pablo and Kelly.

The problem with this is, despite being in character, it was also against character. Time and time again, Ash had proven himself to be the hero by opting to stand against the hoards of evil at the last minute, not give up, turn tale and run. Yes, having the gang head to Jacksonville gives the writers an opening for next year, as trouble brews to the point where Ash can't ignore it any more. But within the arc of the season, it is a deflation. He went to the cabin to bury the book for good. Instead, he passed it off to someone else, someone he knows for a fact is evil. Ash is dumb, he isn't stupid. And that ending just didn't set right with me.

On the other hand, next season it is likely we'll get more of those creepy ass demon dirt babies. And those things were far and away the freakiest monsters the show has created yet.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


  1. Chinhead13 January 2016 at 18:07

    These have been my favourite AvED reviews. Many thanks.