We aren’t supposed to like Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) in Ash vs Evil Dead. Despite 30 years of fighting off deadites across films, video games, and in other incarnations of the Evil Dead franchise, the character hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still a cocky, idiotic womanizer with a penchant for cringe-worthy one-liners, cheap cologne and “The Classic” — a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88. Yet we love him for it, because we wouldn’t have Ash any other way.
This is precisely what Evil Dead creator and series executive producer Sam Raimi was going for. As he explained to Jamie Frevele in his Uproxx interview, Ash is “a blowhard and a coward and a braggart and just the worst hero that they ever made.” He always has been and, according to the Raimi-written and directed first episode, “El Jefe,” he always will be. After all, when we first see him in Ash vs Evil Dead, he’s neither fighting monsters nor saving the world. Instead, he’s strapping on a leather corset, blowing kisses to himself in the mirror, and hitting up the local bar for a hookup.
Ash achieves that hookup via a cheesy story about how he got his wooden hand (“It’s rosewood, hand-carved by Italian artisans”) after losing his real one (“I saved [a little boy] from certain death 30 years ago to this day”). Despite the bartender’s warning that he’s closing in 10 minutes, Ash seals the deal in the ladies’ room, though not before his new lady friend briefly turns into a deadite and threatens him, saying that they’re “coming for” him. Ash panics mid-coitus, saying “something happened that hasn’t happened in, like, 30 years.” (We see what you did there, Raimi.)
So begins Ash’s latest adventure in fighting off the titular evil dead, whom he suddenly remembers reawakening while stoned in his trailer during a previous hookup. It all happens very quickly, as all this setup — Ash being Ash, the bar visit, the flashback — occurs within the first six minutes of the 45-minute pilot. Yet this isn’t another Evil Dead film. It’s a 10-episode television series, and one that Starz has already greenlit for a second season. That means that all the deadite ass-kicking has to be stretched across another 39 minutes of pilot, as well as nine more half-hour episodes.
Hence Raimi and his writing partners — older brother Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy — have concocted a much larger story arc for Ash that includes two fellow Value Stop employees and a subplot involving a Michigan State Trooper.