Ash confronts some personal demons when he returns to the cabin in "Ashes to Ashes."

“She’s a cruel, cruel, bitch.”

Here we are, the place where it all began, where Ash and fans alike have waited thirty years to return. “Ashes to Ashes” (heh, clever title, more on that later) delivered an incredibly tense, fun, and worthy entry into the Evil Dead franchise as a whole, proving the cabin is still up to its old tricks.

Personal torment is how the deadites enjoy inflicting suffering the most, and the cabin wastes no time re-establishing that trend immediately. Ash has a lot of personal demons, pardon the pun, and the evil that lingers around the cabin exploits this. Flashbacks intercut with the original film’s moments, the wooden cross where he buried his girlfriend, and of course her skull still in the vice in the shed, helped introduce this place as an absolute literal nightmare for Ash.

Fisher, having tracked Ash down, is also not immune to its power. Even though she has no ties to the cabin itself, it still conjures up images of her own dead partner, using the antlers of the deer as a bridge that connects the original movies with this new character.

Ashes to Ashes is another example of how the show can swing from comedy to horror in one episode. Sure, it was fun horror, but jokes were definitely downplayed this episode in favor highlighting the torment of our main character. Ash spends most of this episode in the shed, battling with the talking head of Linda and fighting off saw blades while she taunts him (“I give good head. You can skull fuck me good.” – Ouch). The show ceased to be funny while it allowed Ash to confront his ex-girlfriend, almost right where they left off.

Meanwhile, Amanda is left in the cabin alone. Ash was right, no one should have followed him. Her fight against Evil Ash was brutal, from a fridge-slamming to a cleaver in her neck. This is heartbreaking for Ash, who returns only to find her impaled on the deer’s antlers. Many viewers may be upset at the premature death of a main character (there are still two episodes left!), but I’m glad Fisher’s arc ended in a way that appears to have actually affected Ash. Even though I felt their romance was rushed and her onscreen time was awkward, her death still resonates because it proves Ash was right about the cabin.

ashes to ashes vs evil dead linda s1e8

Which leaves us with Ash and Evil Ash. The notorious hand having regrown itself another body is a great twist. We’ve seen Ash vs Ash before in Army of Darkness, but the brutality in which he is portrayed this time is completely different. There are no slapstick gags and Bugs Bunny jokes this time around. He’s straight up the Evil. Watching the two fight and call out each other’s weaknesses brought back some much needed humor after the brutality of Fisher’s death. Unfortunately, we have to wait till next week to see how it all plays out.

Recognition also has to be given to the production designers, who painstakingly recreated the original cabin down to the tiniest detail. The clock, the deer head, the chalk where the chainsaw is supposed to be, everything is exactly how we all remembered it, right down to the unsettling swinging chair out front. It helped recreate the atmosphere we all know and love, and allowed the show to pick up right where Ash left it.

The showrunners deserve a lot of credit for bringing Evil Dead back to where it all began and making it fit seamlessly into the world that was created over thirty years ago. I would be completely satisfied if the remaining two episodes took place in the cabin if only to see what else they can conjure up. I’m slightly worried there will be some Ash vs Evil Ash confusion, considering both of them lost hands and have the same scratch on their face, making it impossible to tell them apart, but at this point I know the show will pull it off well.

Ash’s return to the cabin was definitely an earned reward for the show, which has proven it clearly knows how to handle Sam Raimi’s characters and story. So far the show has mixed the old and the new, while delivering buckets of blood and fun humor. The cabin is a place where the showrunners can prove they know how to innovate while giving fans what they want. Killing Fisher off this early was a bold move, but necessary for Ash’s personal journey, which the show has done a great job of taking the time to explore.

Here’s hoping Kelly and Pablo don’t share the same fate.

Odds and Ends:

  • Speaking of which, those New Zealand hikers sure are in for it.
  • It was so good to see flying inanimate objects again, including a chomping bear trap.
  • “Long time, no see Linda. Don’t get up.”

Steve is on Twitter for you to torment. 

Steve Dixon

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