In Sam Raimi’s criminally underseen horror film, Drag Me to Hell, the director masterfully stages one helluva of a gross-out dinner table scene, with Alison Lohman’s cursed loan officer struggling to make it through a meal with her fiance’s parents. In tonight’s installment of Ash Vs. Evil Dead — this one regrettably not directed by Raimi — it’s Bruce Campbell’s Ash who’s come to dinner with Kelly’s parents, including Mom (Mimi Rogers), newly back from the dead. And you’d better believe there are some unappetizing items on the menu (fork in the eye anyone?).
If you’ll recall, Kelly’s mother seemed to have mysteriously returned from the dead in last week’s premiere, and with Ash’s Deadite neighbor Vivian now dispatched, Kelly takes off on Pablo’s bike to head home. Pablo tells Ash that she’s taken the Necronomicon, too, and the fellas are forced to set out after her; Ash is convinced that there must be an incantation to “put the lid back on all this bulls—,” provided he can get the old tome over to have it translated. Ash is also convinced that Kelly’s mother is a force of evil, telling Pablo, “If Kelly’s old lady is walking around, I’m probably going to have to cut her head off.” (Foreshadowing?) But first, he’s gonna have to deal with a different Deadite.
Mr. Roper springs up from the back seat of the Olds and grabs Ash, forcing Pablo to take the wheel and sending both car and trailer swerving onto the path of oncoming traffic. Roper takes a bite out of Ash’s rosewood hand, and Ash tells Pablo to do something, so he grabs an empty beer bottle from the floor (because, of course) and smashes it over the possessed store manager’s head, which doesn’t exactly stop him cold. Ash, though, takes what’s left of the bottle and stabs it into Roper’s neck. (Those guys are really going to need a lot of towels.) Roper offers some dying words: “You sad old failure, you’ll never defeat evil,” to which Ash replies, “Oh, yeah, thanks for the heads up.” He holds Roper’s body out the window, in front of a car, and splat — here we are at the opening logo.
Meanwhile, Amanda — that would be Special Agent Amanda Fisher, Michigan State Police — shows up at Mossy Haven Trailer Park and has a chat with some of Ash’s neighbors, who happen to mention his penchant for bringing home ladies with loose morals, including one who had a tattoo on her wrist. They even heard them chanting one night. Amanda takes note of the tattoo mention and discovers on the ground the card of the book dealer Ash called about the translation.
Ash and Pablo arrive at Becky’s, just as the windmill on the property begins to spin in an unusual fashion. Ash details a plan: Bust in there, fight through the carnage, bail with the book. Let the boomstick do the talking. They run into the house, Ash’s chainsaw running, Pablo armed with what’s left of the bottle, only to find… Kelly’s family calmly seated in the living room, no evidence of possession whatsover. To explain away their gore-drenched clothing, Ash concocts a story about hitting a deer with the car… And it exploding while he was trying to remove it from the grill. Sure.
Kelly explains that her mom had been living in a homeless shelter suffering from amnesia, and finally, she began to remember who she was. But Ash ain’t buyin’ it. When it comes to evil, if something’s too good to be true? It probably is. Mom says all she can remember is driving to the store in a terrible storm, going over a guard rail, and then nothing for months. She’s well enough to make dinner, though, and she invites Pablo and Ash to stay for a meal. As they retreat to the trailer to clean up, Pablo confesses that he lied about Kelly taking the Necronomicon, a bait-and-switch to force Ash to go after Kelly. At Mossy Haven, as police sketch artists put the finishing touches on a portrait of Ash based on the neighbors’ description, Amanda, still on administrative leave, is asked to leave the scene.
Dinner (rare roast beef, naturally) is a little tense, what with Ash wearing his shotgun to the table and flashes of dramatic lightning illuminating the conversation. Ash sees blood coming from Kelly’s mother’s mouth, but maybe that’s a hallucination? Minutes later, he just flat out punches her, and while everyone’s outraged, it turns out that’s exactly what was required to bring out her inner Deadite. In seconds, Dad has a fork in his eye (yikes!) and Ash is strapping on the chainsaw. Snarling and growling, Mom climbs the walls, throws some furniture and… goes after Kelly, who’s retreated to her bedroom. (Evil Dead movie reference time: Of course Mom’s singing, “Hush, Little Baby” — too bad there’s no fruit cellar in Kelly’s house.) Ash bursts in and insists there’s no saving her, but Kelly embraces Mom, refusing to believe she’s really possessed.
As soon as he sees the all-whites of her eyes, though, Ash goes on the offensive, but his chainsaw blade gets stuck in the bedroom wall. Demon Mom jumps on his back and they struggle, but help comes from Pablo, who wedges a knife in the top of her skull. It doesn’t stay there long — she grabs it and menaces Pablo and Kelly with the weapon. But Ash frees his chainsaw just in time, and in moments, she’s without a head. In the early light of the morning sun, Ash, Pablo and Kelly stand over makeshift graves marked with roughhewn wooden crosses (we’ve seen those before in Raimi’s movies), and Ash tries to console Kelly: “You’re kind of a like a young me, Deadites ruined your life, and you’re hot as hell.” The man should have his own line of greeting cards.
Next stop Books from Beyond, where the trio is likely to encounter Amanda, who is seen outside the shop at episode’s end. Maybe next week will bring more of Lucy Lawless’ mysterious character, too? We can only hope.