Ash vs. Evil Dead: “Fire in the Hole” almost crashes and burns because of a nonsensical “romance”

I both deeply enjoyed this episode and felt as if I needed to shower once it was over, which I think is going to be, ultimately, how I feel about this whole show. This week, once again, I find myself thankful for Ash vs. Evil Dead’s half hour running time. While it’s fun to watch the show’s copious gory action scenes, and there’s some occasionally great banter, I don’t think I could stand any more, timewise, than what we’re getting.

The biggest problem I have with Ash vs. Evil Dead in general is the show’s seeming inability to write anything substantially good (or even just sensible) for Amanda Fisher to do. In “Fire in the Hole”, that becomes a huge issue in an episode that is otherwise quite good.

After having Amanda spend over half the season chasing after Ash with the mistaken belief that he was the bad guy in charge of the Deadites, she was fairly easily disabused of that notion last week. I didn’t love the way that happened, but alright. The show was always moving towards having her join up with Ash’s little gang, and Ruby being evil (although this is somehow completely unnoticed by Amanda) had always been pretty strongly telegraphed. Last week we also saw Amanda being surprisingly (and disappointingly) susceptible to Ash’s dubious (and, frankly, disgusting) charms.

This week, Amanda and Ash get handcuffed together and this gross “romantic” dynamic gets dialed up to eleven. This might be slightly tolerable if it didn’t require the complete destruction of Amanda’s character for it to even remotely “work.” The thing is, Ash is stupid, sexist, and only marginally competent at the best of times. Amanda was introduced in the first episode as an intelligent and generally sensible police officer on a hunt for the truth about a supernatural experience. She quickly transformed into a nonsensically violent and irrational impediment to our heroes, and now she’s changed again into a doe-eyed, empty-headed object for Ash to seduce.

It’s depressing (read: blind-rage-inducing) to see a potentially interesting female character so systematically diminished over the course of a series in 2015. I have the feeling that this is preparation for some kind of grand gesture or heroic act on Amanda’s part in the final episode or so of the season, but it’s mostly just tiresome. The idea that a clever, professional woman with a proper career and literally any other options would fall for Ash is the most laughable part of this show, and I don’t think that’s the intention of the writers.

Similarly frustrating is Kelly’s lack of character arc, though she’s not been wronged in the narrative in nearly the way that Amanda has. The “friendzoning” storyline with Pablo sucks, and I hate that Kelly’s development is in general kept decidedly subordinate to Pablo’s and Ash’s, and I didn’t love seeing her get semi-damselled again this week, but at least Kelly gets to use a big-ass gun instead of just gazing with inexplicable desire at some dickhead for twenty-five minutes.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The brief nude shots of Lucy Lawless were lovely.
  • I know it helps to make disposable characters seem like they “deserve” to die, but I don’t think it was at all necessary to have the survivalists straight up threaten to rape Kelly.
  • Lem is my favorite Deadite on the show to date.
  • Ray Santiago is a national treasure.
  • At this point, I am firmly on Team Severed Hand.

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