Hail To The King, Baby! – An Ash vs Evil Dead Episode 1, “El Jefe” Review

Halloween Night this year, our TV screens are once again graced by the return of Bruce Campbell as the Deadite-slaying, one-liner-spewing hero Ashley J. Williams, and he hasn’t lost a single step.

Though he could lose a few pounds....

Though he could lose a few pounds….

Ash vs Evil Dead, a 10-episode series of 30-minute episodes (already renewed for a second season!) reintroduces us to Ash Williams, 30 years after the mishap that caused him to become the bumbling slayer of reanimated corpses that we all know and love. Deciding to live simple and lay low, he still works as a stockboy in another supermarket chain and spends his nights trying to pick up chicks at the bar.

Screenshot_757

….to varying degrees of success.

When he accidentally tampers with the Necronomicon Ex Mortis once again, the Deadites once again plague his life. Elsewhere, State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) encounters another Deadite, introducing her as as a sort of a B-plot for Ash’s story. It is in her arc as well that Ruby (Lucy Lawless) put in a small appearance, for what looks to be a character with a large role in coming episodes.

You can say that she....cut in.

You can say that she….cut in.

This Ash is older, but not necessarily wiser, seeing as his first instinct on seeing a Deadite is to skip town. Alas, it is not to be as the Deadites decide to attack him first, and along the way introducing Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), two fellow ValueMart employees with their own experiences in dealing with the Evil Dead.

He's got a small problem....

He’s got a small problem….

It wasn’t long until the best part of this episode happened. Yes, Ash is back. Hail to the king, baby! When the Deadites close in on the trio and attacked Ash’s trailer, bringing the return of the iconic shotgun and chainsaw in an action set piece that is as gory as it is awesome.

We all (chain)saw this coming. Doesn't make it any less cool.

We all (chain)saw this coming. Doesn’t make it any less cool.

And at the end of the episode, our heroic trio comes together and we all know adventure will ensue.

The king is back, long live the king.

The king is back, long live the king.

I had high expectations for the return of Evil Dead, and by God, they went above and beyond even those. It truly felt like an Evil Dead sequel, keeping the charm of the original films while updating the presentation. The callbacks to the previous movies were also a welcome addition to the show.

The emphasis on practical effects is something that many longtime fans will greatly appreciate, though the dodgy CGI at times might stretch your suspension of disbelief a little far for some. Still, it’s refreshing to see that Raimi still hasn’t lost his touch and neither have Campbell. It’s too bad Lawless didn’t get much screen time on this, but it only served to make me even more excited for the coming episodes.

This episode felt like a huge homecoming for Ash and his fans, so here’s hoping it can continue feeling that way across the next nine. Time to fire up the Old Classic and get on this wild ride!

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