Ash vs. Evil Dead: “Ashes to Ashes” reminds us what this show is really about

“Ashes to Ashes” is my favorite episode yet of Ash vs. Evil Dead, and it has a lot of great things to recommend it as one of the show’s best episodes overall. It’s also an episode that really works hard to reassert that, ultimately, this show is about Ash and his journey, which is too bad, since the show’s created several characters that I really like and don’t really want to see turned into Deadites.

The biggest way that “Ashes to Ashes” reasserted the primacy of Ash’s character and development this week—and the thing that everyone seems to be talking about (to the degree that people are talking about this show)—is by killing off erstwhile cop and Ash’s new love interest, Amanda Fisher. I have so many mixed feelings about this.

I love Amanda, and I’ve been saying for weeks now that it’s a shame the show hasn’t done better with writing things for her to do, but (even though apparently literally everyone else who watches the show had called it beforehand) I really didn’t think that she would die. I’m not sure that I ever thought she and Ash would turn out to be an endgame couple, but Bruce Campbell and Jill Marie Jones have a pleasant chemistry and a good rapport that I’ve enjoyed in the last couple of episodes when I haven’t been irritated by their half-baked romance. At the very least, Amanda isn’t a character who “deserved” to die, and the way that she’s killed is incredibly brutal and in every way about servicing Ash and his story, which is just the sort of thing that I normally hate.

The thing is, I think Amanda Fisher’s death actually works. It raises the stakes by proving that the show isn’t afraid to kill its darlings, and it’s surprisingly emotionally affecting. It’s also a real surprise, which I liked, although I suppose in hindsight that it had been foreshadowed and hinted at. The actual fight between Amanda and Evil Ash is well-executed, and her impalement on the taxidermy deer is a great bit of symmetry with the fate of Amanda’s partner back in episode one. Even Amanda’s actual death is presented in a way that I like, and Ash’s tender last exchange with her is perfectly scripted and performed.

While I, in theory, hate everything about Amanda being killed off, I have to admit that I love the way the show handled it. Plus, I guess this means that she’s going to come back as a badass Deadite before the end of the season.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I’m not really sure I understand the point of the backpackers that Kelly and Pablo meet. That whole sequence felt like filler in an episode that had plenty of stuff going on. If it was meant to show Kelly’s proprietary feelings towards Pablo, I feel like there are smarter ways that could have been done.
  • That bird at the beginning was a great bit of dark humor, but why weren’t all the animals Deadites?
  • Linda’s head was equal parts hilarious and unsettling.
  • The cabin set is wonderful, and I can’t get enough of the sort of yellowish, softly-lit shots this show likes to do of creepy stuff. You’d think it might get old eventually, but it’s all so pretty I never do get tired of looking at it.
  • It’s nice to get to see more of Bruce Campbell’s range in this episode, and I appreciated his scenes with Amanda. However, Ash vs. Evil Ash is a great example of Bruce Campbell at his best and most fun to watch.

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