Talk about great timing, right? A resurrection episode on the day Jesus H. Christ also returned from the grave. Kind of makes that long wait from October to February worth it in hindsight, huh? Eh, maybe not. To be fair, any episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead would likely align well with Easter Sunday, if only because the conceit of the entire series is the idea that the dead will always come back to stalk Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell). Having said that, it does feel a tad poetic that a hero like Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) would fall and rise again on what’s ostensibly the most popular day for resurrection narratives.
Yes, that’s sadly the main event of “Tales from the Rift.” As we all expected, last week’s good vibes for our Ghost Beaters didn’t last very long, save for a toasted Strawberry Pop-Tart or two between Ash and his daughter Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), and the team’s Kinks-loving warrior goes down—though, not without a proper fight. No, writer Aaron Lam uses the Grand Theft Auto weapons cheat for Ms. Maxwell, arming her with a shotgun, a grenade, and, yes, the Kandarian dagger. And true to her no-bullshit ethos, Kelly wastes zero time getting down to business with Ruby (Lucy Lawless).
Before Ruby can even finish a single sentence, Kelly fires away, sending our former Warrior Princess to the ground. “That was for Pablo getting possessed,” she says before firing again. “That was for Brandy’s mom,” she adds with subtle contempt, and before she chips off a chunk of Ruby’s head, she teases: “And this one? This one’s for me.” Kelly’s gone full-on Sarah Connor—think: the scene at Miles Dyson’s swanky desert house and later at the steel mill when she nearly takes down the T-1000 before running out of shotgun shells—and it’s a good look for her. Unfortunately, that look and her unhealthy thirst for revenge is not without its share of dire consequences—you know, like death?
Ruby knows this ... and yet so does Kelly. Because once her immortal foe swipes away the Kandarian dagger—after gruesomely piecing herself back together post-grenade blast like a Peter Jackson-conceptualized T-1000—Kelly knows she’s screwed. It’s in her eyes, it’s in her attitude, and it’s in the way she leaps on the dagger to take death into her own hands. And while the whole scene is played to great dramatic effect, no doubt embellished by composer Joseph LoDuca’s emotional score, come on! Do you think we’re a gulla-bull? Or even a gulla-calf? There’s no way this is the end of Kelly, especially now that she’s the physical vessel for Ruby’s blue-eyed, otherworldly pal, Kaya. Sh’yeah.
Let’s also not forget that “Tales from the Rift” comes from the same writer who “killed” Pablo last season during “Ashy Slashy.” If you recall, Baal sliced Ash’s trusty sidekick right in half before being banished straight to hell, and while it was terrifying and slightly traumatic and some of us actually thought he was a goner ... we were so, so wrong. After all, as we know now, he’s currently the proud owner of Pablito’s Fish and Chips and was recently anointed El Brujo Especial. So, with that in mind, it might make sense to save the Kleenex until we’re absolutely sure Ash and the remaining Ghost Beaters have done everything they can to save Kelly’s soul from wherever it may be.
Though, we may already have an idea. Much to Ash’s chagrin, there are even more Knights of Sumeria willing to worship at his feet, and similar to Dalton (Lindsay Farris), they’re also kind of useless—ahem, with the exception of their would-be leader Zoe (Emilia Burns). Still, they have a few answers to all the funny business that’s been haunting the cellar of Ash’s hardware store, which naturally leads to another harrowing underground battle. This time, however, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what Pablo meant when he stressed last week that “shit’s about to get loco up in this bitch.” What he actually meant was that “there are other worlds than these,” to crib from Stephen King, and in these worlds lies an evil akin to John Carpenter’s The Thing.
That’s news both good and bad. Why good? Well, as Zoe explains to a rightfully cautious Ash, by finding a rift through the lost pages of the Necronomicon, the knights’ prophesied hero can dutifully head into the Deadlands and wage an epic eternal battle against evil. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so why bad? Eh, that same rift also has a knack for sucking in souls and vomiting out nightmarish Deadites that actually make Ash sweat for his Shemp’s. No kidding. That Carpenter reference is not a stretch by any means, and the Marcus-Deadite that takes down Zoe’s crew through disturbing metamorphoses is a rare kind of threat for this series. Major kudos to the production team for dreaming up something so revolting, so mesmerizing, and so haunting. Terrifying stuff.
Or, as Pablo wisely puts it, “Shit just got really weird.” He’s not wrong. Things are getting out of hand for Ash, what with all these rifts and resurrections, and he still doesn’t have a true grip on any of it. Then again, has he ever? By now, it’s quite obvious that Ash operates purely on instinct, a hallmark that clearly influenced his partner-in-crime, who went barging into Ruby’s without a care for the consequences. Some might argue that’s been a strength; in fact, so would Ruby, who defined evil for Kelly as “power without fear, without guilt, without pain.” For years, Ash has operated on that same selfish level, and it’s been a large part of his survival, but things have changed with Brandy: He’s terrified, he feels guilty, and he knows the pain of losing family.
Shit’s weird, alright.
- I’ve mentioned how Ruby’s attic womb is straight out of Hellraiser, right? (No need to look. I have.) Well, that comparison stands.
- Delta Driving Tip: “If that ass end begins to skid, you give it a little gas.”
- Ash, on the marvels of modern science applied to breakfast pastries: “Oh my god, this is so much better toasted.”
- The Knights of Sumeria through-line has been largely disappointing so far, but you have to love the way Ash keeps shrugging ‘em off: “You guys got discounts on kneepads?”
- Nice nod to Evil Dead 2's Annie Knowby when Ash warns the knights, “Last person who read these ended up with a dagger in their back.”
- Anyone else think of this scene from Funny People when Kelly spit back at Ruby: “Giving out gold stars, teach?” Nobody?
- “You guys are such a buzzkill. Let’s get wasted.” Okay, this felt a little too out of character, even for Ash’s standards. Why would he not be invested in what they can offer, especially after everything Brock showed him and everything that’s at stake for Brandy?
- Zoe: “Poor Gary, at least he died fighting evil.” Ash (matter of factly AF): “Actually, he picked a fight with my 75-year-old dad.” Okay, that’s funny.
- Hey, this Ruby’s not so bad: “I hated you the least of all, Kelly.”
- This week’s Top Deadite is obviously the Marcus-Thing, which may go down as the season’s best. We still have four episodes to go, admittedly, but it’s going to be tough to outdo that godforsaken monstrosity.
- Quoteworthy: “Time to suck a little saw.”
- Very interested to see how DeLorenzo evolves Kaya. Reminds me of the old Buffy episode when Willow turns evil, only it’s kind of the opposite here in terms of energy. Kelly traditionally has such a firecracker presence, so seeing her in a more subdued state will be delightfully jarring.
- Next week we’re going to the high school dance with “Twist and Shout”. Something tells me it’s going to be more Carrie and less She’s All That. Until then, see you on the flip-flop.