Ash Vs. Evil Dead: “El Jefe” Review

It has been a long 34 years since Ash and his friends decided to take that trip to a cabin in the woods to have a party, get plastered, and then accidentally read a book the would unleash the forces of unspeakable evil that would come to enslave the world. The same unspeakable evil has also given birth to the chainsaw wielding, groovy badass that would become the world’s unlikely savior against the Army of Darkness. Fans have been waiting for the return of director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell to slip back into the cult classic character, re-prime his famous broomstick, and bring the rebirth to the franchise.

Yes, we did have the 2013 movie using the name “Evil Dead” that might have brought some of the same elements (and with a guest appearance from Campbell to give the movie seal of confirmation ), it can be argued that it was made more as a spiritual successor to original films, but this was clearly missing the magic, the cheesy atmosphere  and humor that  made Sam Raimi’s series such a cult classic for so many years. Well at last, in 2015, Starz has brought both Raimi and Campbell back to the franchise that  made both of their careers with a new television series and a great first episode that hits all the sweet spots from the original cult classic.

The episode “El Jefe” (translated as “The Boss” in Spanish) sets up the classic hero in a retirement scenario where we find Ash Williams hiding out in a trailer park community, where he is presented as a lot older and with a wider waistline, but clearly not much wiser. His days of fighting evil are behind him as he lives the life of an irresponsible old bigot that walks into bars, gets drunk and tells sappy sob stories on how he lost his hand, only to attract drunk women to do nasty things with in dirty bathroom stalls. To Ash, this what he would considers paradise, but that scenario goes out the window when one of his late night escapades of getting plastered with booze and high leads him and some woman to re-read the Book of the Dead. Now the evil that was concealed for 30 years has been re-awaken and has been itching to get their payback on the man that has banished it for so long.

Bruce Campbell shines in his reprized role as the iconic Ash Williams. His character comes off as being a cocky asshole with no care in the world and can be a bit full of himself at times, but in a way,  he uses this bravado lifestyle to mask the regret and mistakes that he made in the past.  With this remorse laid so heavily upon him, we also get a sense of a man who wants to help people and bring an end to madness that he has released onto the world. This is a realization that he would never have been accepted without the help of his “Wal-Mart-esque” co-workers Pablo (played by Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Played by Dana DeLorenzo) who in the beginning, finds Ash to be a creepy old jerk.

Along with Ash pairing with his co-workers, we also get a chance to see what the Book of the Dead has let loose through the eyes of detective Amanda Fisher (played by Jill Marie Jones), who is in shock and disbelief after having to put down her possessed partner from the same woman that Ash hooked up when reading the book. Fisher takes absence from her job as an officer as she struggles with what happened during that night, dealing with the hallucinations of seeing evil around her, which later on is reinforced by the reveal of Ruby (played by Lucy Lawless) late into the episode. Speaking on Lucy Lawless’ character: Ruby has a bit of a past with Ash that will be revealed as series progresses – which isn’t really a secret to fans that know the “Evil Dead” mythos or who have being paying attention to the  Comic-Con news out there, but I’ll let that be your choice to find out. What’s also great about these episodes is that we get to see classic and practical effects with the gore and blood that you come to expect from Rami’s first time directing a television episode. Humor is well place throughout the entire episode – with Ash getting attacked by a doll being my most favorite scene.

The first episode “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is the start off to a great series which captures the essence that made the cult classic movie so great. The series was made for die-hard fans in mind, but the episode also serves a nice entry point to the whole “Evil dead” series for people who may be interested in the older films. The show presents a good balance of horror and humor which may set the season up as a fun roller-coaster ride. Also: what’s more important is that Rami has established a universe that has an opportunity to grow and explore in different scenarios and avenues fair past season one, which could leave the writer and actors a lot of work on their hands, now that the show has been greenlit for a second season. This show, so far, is shining a bright light into the world of darkness and I’m looking forward to see what’s happens next.