Ash and the gang are given some great room to grow in "The Host."

“Shoot First, Think Never”

“The Host” is where the limitations of a thirty-minute TV show start to show. Each episode thus far has been in a singular location before moving onto the next, but “The Host” is the exception so far. In fact, it’s really the second half of “Brujo,” completing an hour long story. In that respect, it doesn’t offer a whole lot more than its predecessor did, but brought our favorite three Ghostbeaters closer together.

I was somewhat afraid that Pablo or Kelly might not make it through the episode, which would be a silly line of thought if it wasn’t for television living in a post-Game of Thrones world. Pablo, being seduced by a shotgun-bong smoking Eligos-infected Kelly had some of the best scenes this week, being level headed about his love for her without succumbing to the demon’s temptations. It was an Ash-less, intimate scene that was filled with tension and just the right amount of humor to offset it. Although I couldn’t help thinking, wouldn’t it have been easier for her to just blow his brains out while he was sitting next to her instead of the whole smoking thing?

The biggest amount of tension this week came from Kelly’s possession. With the exception of the opening of Evil Dead II where Ash sort of shakes the deadite infection, there is no other known way of dealing with a possessed person aside from removing their head (and even then…). This makes the exorcism with Kelly all the more enticing. If there’s anyone who could shake a demon, it would be Brujo, you hope. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be going very well.

“The Host” is great because it shows how Ash vs. Evil Dead can flip back and forth between the straight up gorey horror of the original film with the goofiness of the later ones. In fact, Ash was basically sidelined for half the episode. This meant the rest of the cast had to do the work, and the shotgun-bong scene between Kelly and Pablo was a great example of how the show’s chops when it’s slightly diverting away from its titular character. It was a moment of old-school deadite trickery that is played for minimal laughs, but backed by the strong characters.

Ash vs Evil Dead

Later in the episode we were granted grotesque treats such as Kelly swallowing leeches, vomiting green goo (although CG goo, c’mon that’s the perfect practical effect), and a clawing hand pushing from inside as Eligos made his way out. It’s all a slight change in tone for the show, which has so far relied mostly in funny camp and great dosages of humor. The exorcism is undercut with the idea that there’s no other way for this to end except for Kelly’s death.

This is punctuated by the scene between Ash and Evil Kelly. Seeming to break through for a moment, she begs Ash to just kill her, knowing if he doesn’t, the demon will. Half of us knows this is probably a trick, the other half knows it’s probably the truth regardless. Ash is visibly torn, and Bruce Campbell does an excellent job of showing his growth and empathy. This is a guy who cut up his girlfriend with a chainsaw soon after she turned. He knew it was the only option at the time. It would have been easy for a younger Ash to pull the trigger like he’d done to so many other turned deadites over the years.

Except this time he doesn’t. “Kelly’s Jewish…fuck you!” he tells the demon when it finally lets slip she wants her to place a cross on her grave. He can’t give it what it wants, otherwise it wins anyway. It’s a moment of tremendous growth for Ash, but more on that later.

In the meanwhile, Pablo has his own growing up to do. Pushing aside the temptations of a demonic seduction (dibs on the band name), Pablo shows his love for Kelly by offering himself to the demon, knowing it was the only way to make it leave. It’s a clever tactic that ends up working, but not without the loss of his uncle.

With both of his new companions now suffering personal losses, Ash finally realizes what he’s been doing to Pablo and Kelly. He offers a sincere apology, probably the most genuine expression Bruce Campbell has ever given the character, and arms himself with his new hand (for two beers!). The whole arc on Brujo’s property did an excellent job of giving these characters room to grow amidst all the chaos. It would have been very easy to keep the one-liners and action pumping at the expense of the characters, but the show is much better for slowing things down. While not as snappy or sharp as the earlier episodes, both “Brujo” and “The Host” are important chapters that will give the latter half of the season much needed weight.

Odds and Ends:

  • Ruby and Fisher are on their tail, using the possessed hand as a GPS system. Otherwise, nothing more to report (besides a cheek stroke, but we won’t read into that just yet.)
  • I love the idols lighting on fire as Pablo walked by. I’m not sure if that was supposed to be the pendant or perhaps Pablo himself. IS HE REALLY EL JEFE? Speculate in the comments below.
  • “Stranglehold” is the closer for the episode. Say what you want about Ted Nugent’s political beliefs, the song fits like a glove here (HEH).
  • Why didn’t Ash fashion a mechanical hand like that before? He did it with medieval tools in Army of Darkness, unless that’s still not really canon for this timeline.
  • “I see what’s inside of you Kelly, and I want you to know I think it’s beautiful” “What’s inside of me can’t wait to tear you apart.”

Steve spent the whole day writing Ash vs. Evil Dead reviews. Follow him on Twitter

Steve Dixon

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