The first season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead flew onto the screen like a bat out of hell, exactly how Ash would have wanted it. Even though you can watch it with no prior knowledge of the film series, its technique in how it approaches what is and isn't canon is also fascinating. Army of Darkness is out for sure, due to rights reasons, but the strict adherence to the first two films is admirable. When Ash and company made it to the near-perfect recreation of the cabin last year, I lost it. This is a project that cares about its source material but isn't overly cloying with it. That said, season 2 is starting off a little half-cocked, even if it's better than the vast majority of television at the moment.
Ash vs. Evil Dead has a perfectly executed tone that it immediately picks up where it left off in the season 2 opener with Ash slicing up a beer keg in a Hawaiian shirt in his "idyllic dream city" of Jacksonville, Florida -- and that's just the first few minutes. Somehow it manages to balance camp and horror on a knife's edge, as the creatures are actually creepy, proving that practical effects still rule. This is a world we know so little about, and after decades of wondering what might have been we're getting more and more -- I'm still in awe that this show exists with each passing episode. It certainly doesn't hurt that Sam Raimi and Joseph LoDuca (who worked with the former on the original soundtrack for the films) are involved. They're veterans, and it shows.
That said, season 2 is playing things a little too close to the chest in terms of where it's actually going. It's captivating, but we're mostly just getting teases rather than revelations, despite the big cliffhanger in the previous finale. We get to see Ash's dad (who lives up to all of your deadbeat expectations), which is great, but there's not a whole lot of chemistry there yet. If Jon Voight wasn't so busy winning awards for Ray Donovan he would have been perfect here, but Lee Majors has the chops to grow. What I'm most interested in actually is the focus on Ash's internal struggle with what he did at that cabin.
Upon returning home to the town of Elk Grove, Michigan, he's immediately taunted by demons (and subsequently, locals) with the title of "Ashy Slashy," a not-so-cute nickname that subsequently forced him to live a life of solitude. I like this angle because it shows that Ash is a flawed being, and despite his over-the-top heroism and luck, it cements that he really needs people more than ever. I mean, he did re-unleash the demonic horde onto Earth due to a drug-fueled slipup, after all. Evil Dead can't rely solely on Ash, though, and I am a tad worried, as so far, Michelle Hurd's character (Ash's highschool girlfiend) is the only person I'm remotely interested in when it comes to new cast members.
Season 2 so far is pushing the reset button a little too heavily, but premium cable once again proves that it's the perfect home for Ash vs. Evil Dead. It's gruesome and vulgar, and Ash wouldn't settle for less. While the current direction seems a little too wayward, Ash is the only real hook you need to keep watching -- even if the (true to self) narcissistic focus on him keeps it from achieving greatness every now and then.