Review: Ash vs. Evil Dead - S3E1 - "Family"

By: Heather Seebach 

 **The following contains spoilers about S3E1** 

 When we last saw our deadite-slaying protagonists, they had gone back in time to save Pablo, banished evil to the netherworld, and celebrated with a hero's welcome from Elk Grove in an alternate timeline. As season 3 begins, Ash is content that he finished evil off for good and now owns a hardware store/sex toy emporium in-town. His grand opening celebrations are cut short when some idiot reads aloud from the Necronomicon and unwittingly unleashes The Evil once again. 

 Kandarian demons are not Ash's only problem, however, when an old flame turns up and informs him that he has a daughter. He and Pablo race to save the girl from monsters run amok at Kenward High School. Meanwhile, Kelly has a new demon-slaying buddy named Dalton, and alternate-Ruby is up to no good when she gets her mitts on the Necronomicon. 

 Season three of Ash vs. Evil Dead has big boots to fill after a mostly-stellar second season. Despite a large hiccup of a finale, last season delivered outrageous laughs and brutal gore in ways that easily surpassed its predecessor. Unfortunately, creative differences during season two resulted in then-showrunner Craig DiGregorio leaving the show. He was replaced by veteran TV producer Mark Verheiden. The latter is a worthy replacement with many solid shows under his belt; however, the significantly darker tone of his work (e.g., Battlestar Galactica; Daredevil) is undeniable, so there has been some concern that too much unwanted moodiness might be infused into AvED this season. 

 So far, this season is still pretty light-hearted, easing right into the familiar ridiculousness of the previous episodes. Episode 1, entitled "Family", opens with a corny commercial for Ashy Slashy's Hardware Store Emporium where Ash stands in front of green screen backdrops promising to "slash prices" with his chainsaw arm. "What's better than a handful of my nuts? A long screw!" The sex puns, sounds effects, and low-budget touches (e.g., a boom mic nearly whacking Ash on the head) tell the audience right out the gate: this is the same silly show you know and love. 

 The episode doubles-down on that reminder when Ash faces off with a deadite in the Kenward High's band room. Slapstick violence abounds as the musical instruments punch and poke Ash like a Three Stooges routine. This is the episode's primary gore scene, too, delivering on decapitation (with bonus severed fingers) and a harp kill (which is cool but reminds me a bit too much of that cheap slice-and-slowly-fall-apart gag with which early-00's horror was so obsessed). 

 Ash and Pablo feel pretty much the same, and I am so relieved that Kelly turned up. The Jai Courtney-looking dude in a leather jacket (Dalton? I've already forgotten) seems shoe-horned in and I hope he dies quickly. "Family" is a pretty good opener for the new season. Where it lacks in anything particularly memorable, it has plenty of laughs and little references to the films. Ash walking into Kenward High and saying, "I met my first Linda here" made me laugh harder than I care to admit. It will take a lot to top last season but I look forward to watching them try!

Favorite Line

 "You can call me Dad. Unless you're a Deadite, then you can go fuck yourself."

Easter Eggs:

 - The colors of latex paint sold in Ashy Slashy's Hardware Store included "Sticky Grey" and "Yes No Pink"

 - There is a sign on the hardware store window advertising "Groovy T-Shirts" 

- This is not really an Easter egg, but I REALLY want that inflatable tube Ash 

 - During the antique program, there is a painting in which the man looks exactly like a young Bruce Campbell It's hard to make out who the other two people are, though they distinctly have men's faces. Rob Tapert and a baby Sam Raimi, perhaps? Any guesses?

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