This review contains spoilers.
3.7 Twist And Shout
Early promotional materials for Ash Vs Evil Dead’s third season advertised this year as being high school-themed because most of the action in its first episode (which, oddly enough, seems like a distant memory) took place at Kenward County High. That was a bit misleading because so far, no other episode has taken place in that setting – until now.
This time around, an episodic high school dance dovetails into the ongoing storyline centered around Ruby’s machinations against Ash’s, uh, Ash-inations which revolve around seducing his daughter to the dark side. Oh, and creating an evil doppelganger of Mr Williams who is more or less the same person but with more psychotic tendencies and one-liners that aren’t as up to snuff. Cloning Ash is one of the oldest evil tricks in the Evil Dead canon, yet this is the first occurrence in which the scenario is fully taken advantage of to their bloodiest effect.
Twist And Shout is a great episode of AvED because it lives up to its name in more ways than one, referring to the dance event and the climactic way its plot manoeuvres around itself. Revelations are made to certain members of the main cast and a major death occurs at its end, all of which once again change the course of this season’s story arc. With only three episode left in Ash’s most addictive year yet, this is an impressive and frustrating turn of events. Impressive because Verheiden’s writing team once again proves that they know how to successfully mix things up for our heroes from episode to episode and keep us guessing; frustrating because we want more time to explore the bold new directions this show is taking.
Weekly dose of praise aside, Twist And Shout features an extensive high school slaughter scene when Evil Ash dashes in to rip all teenage attendees brand new death holes during the dance. Played for both comedic and horrific effect, this “wacky massacre” was a bit off-putting for me, personally speaking. I know. It’s weird to hear myself say that after having chuckled through the glorious offensiveness that was Candy Barr’s botched funeral at the beginning of the year. Alas, gore fiends, that’s how I feel.
It turns out watching – and listening to – innocent teenagers get penetrated by Evil Ash’s chainsaw for fifteen minutes wasn’t all fun and games like it sounds. What I’m saying is, this is the kind of episode that would be pulled from airing at the last minute if a tragic event were to happen in the news (gods forbid). That might be right up some of your alleys, especially if Carrie was too tame for you, but it was a little too much for me at the moment. I don’t know. Could be my current mood.
Anyway. Back to what works about Twist And Shout. I’m glad that Pablo was made privy to Kelly’s body swap from beyond pretty much immediately after the episode began, as juggling two different evil doppelganger gags would have been slightly exhausting for the viewer. Pablo’s Brujo based bravery is certainly coming through in Santiago’s performance, and it’s clear he is no longer the bumbling sidekick he used to be. He’s not the bright and shining savior of the world yet, either, but his gradual character development is being absorbed and recognised by the audience.
After being built up for most of the season, the Ash clone arc was resolved fairly quickly and conveniently here, as Good Ash took out Evil Ash in front of a bunch of mortified juniors and seniors, essentially clearing his name. He also outed Ruby in front of the whole room too – not to mention her entrails. Or, rather, she outed herself in the end by standing up after being gutted by Ash’s chainsaw and spewing moustache-twirling dialogue that any cartoon villain would find counter-productive.
In the end, however, Ruby did manage to kill off Brandy by throwing a Kandarian dagger into her back – another twist that made me shout. But as we already know, nobody stays dead in Evil Dead for long, because Brandy soon woke up in a green, foggy version of the Kenward County High School gymnasium which signals that she is stuck inside the mysterious Rift along with Kelly’s spirit. Will they escape together? I believe so, since we still haven’t seen the episode which features this promotional still. Either that, or Ash and Pablo get a one-way ticket to Rift city themselves before the season’s over. Time will certainly tell.
Read Stephen’s review of the previous episode, Tales From The Rift, here.