Michael J. Bassett and the rest of the team behind Ash vs. Evil Dead have done it again. “Books from Beyond” continues to uphold the style, tone and sky-high entertainment value set during the pilot episode but, like “Bait,” it also takes the show one step further. Whereas “Bait” broadened the series by adding an unexpected layer of heart to the mayhem, “Books from Beyond” does so by expanding the mythology.
Episode 3 opens with Ruby zipping down the road to the tune of Verdi’s “Requiem, Dies irae.” Right when she arrives at Kelly’s house, the wind pump churns, Ash’s makeshift crosses start to jitter and Kelly’s dad reaches for Ruby through the ground. Most people would freak and make a run for it, but not Ruby. She rips Kelly’s dad out of his grave, impales him with the cross and then has some fun flicking the fork in his eye while pressing him for information. When he refuses to tell her what she wants to know, she busts out her primary weapon, a giant dagger that’s capable of severely burning, if not completely vanquishing Deadites.
By the end of that scene, we’re less than three minutes into the new episode, but have already learned two important new details about the enemy. One, Deadites can feel pain, and two, Ruby’s got a serious edge on them courtesy of that dagger.
After that, we reunite with Ash, Pablo and Kelly who are just arriving at Books from Beyond. Before going inside, Ash warns Pablo and Kelly that Lionel (Kelson Henderson) is an odd duck. Ash first visited him years ago for a completely unrelated errand and when he told Lionel about the Necronomicon, he assured Ash that he could read it, no problemo. Ash is thrilled to wipe his hands clean of the Deadites yet again, but Pablo’s already a bit bummed that they’ll be breaking up the band, or rather, The Ghost Beaters. But hey, Ash is a self-proclaimed “alone wolf” anyway.
Before showing the Necronomicon to Lionel, Ash makes a pass at Amanda who had been there chatting with Lionel earlier. Lionel starts inspecting the book and the moment he opens it, it triggers something in Ruby who speeds faster towards the store. Meanwhile, just outside, Amanda manages to get ahold of the police sketch from the other night and quickly runs back in to apprehend Ash. However, she basically flashes her gun and cuffs right out in the open in the process, so Pablo and Kelly follow her inside to help Ash. Without giving it a second thought, Pablo knocks Amanda unconscious.
While Kelly keeps an eye on Amanda, Pablo, Ash and Lionel continue pouring through the book. Even though Ash is a Necronomicon pro, he insists that Lionel explain the basics to Pablo. He begins by pointing out, “This book is a gateway to hell. A way to summon forces of evil into our earthly realm.” Through an impressive and fitting animated sequence, we get additional details. In ancient times, The Dark Ones created the Necronomicon as a weapon against humanity. They made the book using the bodies of the damned and penned the passages with their blood. Those passages can create portals between our world and the underworld, so the book isn’t the source of the evil but rather, a passageway for it.
While looking for the undo button, Lionel finds a portion that says, “The annulment lies inside the origin of the man,” implying that this undo button could be inside Ash. After jokingly wishing that they could just summon the answer, Ash gets the terrible idea to summon a teeny tiny mouse demon so that they can ask him how to fix all of this. Lionel carefully whips up a fancy salt circle to contain the demon and then pinpoints one to conjure – Eligos (Ben Fransham), a demon of the mindscape that prays on the spiritually and emotionally weak. Eligos arrives and looks absolutely nothing like his tiny, blob-like picture in the book. Instead, he’s a vicious creature with a nasty set of teeth and an eerie flickering effect to his skin.
Meanwhile, Amanda’s busy trying to convince Kelly to let her go. At first, Kelly isn’t having it, but when Amanda tells her about her partner, Kelly starts to cave. Then, when it’s clear that something crazy is going down in the other room, Kelly cuts her loose. Trouble is, apparently Amanda is an expert BS-er and fires her gun at Ash, causing him to accidentally ruin the salt circle. Eligos seizes the opportunity and starts messing with Ash’s head. Amanda attempts to shoot Eligos, but he can teleport as well so that doesn’t pan out. Lionel tries to send him back to the underworld with an incantation, but Eligos hurls shards of glass in his direction before he can finish. Ultimately Kelly comes to the rescue and vanquishes him simply by hitting him with the Necronomicon. It’s not necessarily the choice most would make in that situation, but considering the Necronomicon is a portal, it works.
When things settle down, Ash makes a very noble attempt at reasoning with Amanda, but before he can even jump into his story, she tries to handcuff him. However, Ash is too quick, immediately ditches his wooden hand and handcuffs her instead. Back in the car, Pablo, Kelly and Ash reassess what just went down and decide to pay Pablo’s uncle a visit – as a team. Before the episode closes out, we cut back to poor Amanda who’s still handcuffed in the store when Lionel arises in Deadite form.
I’ve enjoyed recapping many shows over the years, but doing so for Ash vs. Evil Dead has been a real treat and a pleasure. It’s a little frustrating that the show is a mere half hour long because I’m always left eager for more, but the format is serving the material well. Not only does Ash forge forward at a rip-roaring pace, but it seems as though the shorter running time is keeping the writers more focused on a select few sequences, which is resulting in one high quality set piece after the next. And even more impressive, despite the shorter length, Ash vs. Evil Dead is still brimming with character development, plot progression and new additions to the mythology. Let’s see if director David Frazee (Continuum, Orphan Black) can keep it up in the next two episodes.
Episode Rating: ★★★★
Extras and Ashisms:
- “I’ve learned you can always make things more painful.” – Ruby
- “Book me, Pablo.” – Ash
- “Can you crack open the undo spell? It’s probably somewhere near the back.” – Ash
- “Yeah, that’s true, but reading from it again can’t make things any worse. It’s kind of like spilling paint on a painting. It’s ok because there’s already paint on it.” – Ash
- “Lionel, you find a wimpy demon yet?” – Ash
- “Die quickly. This is my only advice.” – Eligos