Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) was never a Boy Scout in the Evil Dead films. When it comes to killing deadites and defeating the evil unleashed by the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, or Book of the Dead, he’s the man for the job — especially when he gets his hand
s on his trusty “boom stick” and chainsaw. But doing the right thing? Ash has never done the right thing, and this particularly selfish-but-lovable character trait was on full display in the first season finale of Ash vs Evil Dead.
If you haven’t watched “The Dark One” yet, then proceed with caution as this post is rife with spoilers.
Ever since the pilot episode, Ash vs Evil Dead hasn’t shied away from some of the titular character’s more colorful aspects. After all, he’s an aging womanizer who thinks he’s hot sh*t — despite the fact he still works as a glorified stock boy a job he’s held at various chains since Army of Darkness in 1992. Then Ash was still able to make his menial job in a small Michigan town look cool. In 2015? Not so much.
The one thing that Ash is still able to do, however, is get himself into (and mostly out of) trouble via the powerful Book of the Dead. The only reason the deadites have returned is because he got stoned with a young woman and read aloud from the book’s made-from-human-flesh pages. In that sense, the pilot felt like a fourth Evil Dead movie. Yet the subsequent nine episodes have taken Ash much further into the story established by creator Sam Raimi and continued by showrunner Craig DiGregorio. More heroes and villains are involved now, and an entirely new threat presents itself in the guise of Ruby (Lucy Lawless), a demonic figure of sorts who claims to be the author of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the penultimate “Bound in Flesh.”
In “The Dark One,” Ruby has reclaimed her book from Ash and used it to possess Pablo (Ray Santiago). The pair then disappear into the basement of the cabin, yet another location from the films that Ash would prefer not to revisit. But as the boomstick-toting, chainsaw-adorned hero tells Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), he has to save him: “I’m not losing anybody else I care about.”
“That includes me, right?” Kelly asks. Heather (Samantha Weaving), the sole survivor of a group of hikers who stumbled upon the cabin in “Ashes to Ashes,” asks the same question. Ash’s response? “Um, yeah. Yeah sure.” Viewers familiar with the growing pile of bodies know that Heather is a goner, and that Ash — as much as he doesn’t want to admit it — knows it, too. But Kelly? Both she and Pablo have been with him since the beginning, and since that pile of bodies is there because of his idiocy, Ash really wants to keep them alive.
Which is why two of Ash’s many scenes with Ruby in “The Dark One” stick out. Not because he shoots first and thinks later, per what Raimi called the mantra of the “dumbest monster fighter in the world,” but because he actually thinks. It’s a major change for the character, and plants a rather big seed for the second season.
In the first scene, Ash falls into the basement and onto the bed of his trailer house on the night he got stoned and read from the book. The otherwise detailed flashback turns out to be a ruse by Ruby, who offers the hero an enticing deal: Refuse his own destiny as “El Jefe,” the one who would fight against her and the book’s evil forces, and instead live the life he always wanted in Jacksonville, Florida.