Warning: The following article contains some SPOILERS for the season two finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead.
Last month, we reported that MY NAME IS BRUCE writer Mark Verheiden would be taking over as showrunner for the third season of the Starz television series Ash vs. Evil Dead. Now that the season finale of season two has aired, former showrunner Craig DiGregorio has commented on his departure from the series in an interview with A.V. Club.
The reason DiGregorio gives for the showrunner shake-up is creative differences. There are three people in control of the EVIL DEAD property: EVIL DEAD / EVIL DEAD II / ARMY OF DARKNESS director Sam Raimi, franchise star Bruce Campbell, and Raimi's producing partner Robert Tapert, and in this interview DiGregorio reveals that he and Tapert were always having disagreements over their opposing visions for the show. While DiGregorio wanted to lean into the comedic and outlandish, apparently Tapert thought the series should be more grounded and dramatic than what DiGregorio had in mind, and would frequently say that the showrunner's ideas were "not EVIL DEAD".
The main example given is the morgue sequence in the second episode of season two. Ash's encounter with a corpse's colon is one of the most shocking, disgusting, and hilarious moments in the entire franchise and it's something that went over extremely well with fans - but it's something DiGregorio had to fight for. He won that one, but a major fight that he lost aired last night on Starz.
When there's a creative change like this showrunner switch, it can be interesting to examine the point where the shift is made, and for Ash vs. Evil Dead that point was the season two finale. DiGregorio goes into detail about his plans for the finale, which were quite different from the episode that made it to the air.
While some elements are the same - the resurrection of Pablo, the death of Ruby at the hands of her past self - the story DiGregorio intended for the finale was tossed aside and replaced at the last minute, largely because Tapert didn't like the twist DiGregorio had spent the season building up to: due to time travel shenanigans, Ash was going to become the father of his sidekick Kelly Maxwell.
The whole season was a setup. I mean, honestly, if you go back and watch through, we even have lines in early episodes where Ash says, “Glad you’re not my kid.” We set up little things like that because we knew we were doing this the whole entire time. We were making Kelly more and more badass because we really wanted her to be Ash’s heir apparent. Not to marginalize Ash at all, but we thought it would be so much more emotional for him to be able to start season three knowing that he has this daughter, and since it’s Kelly, he would already have these feelings for her and that would inform his quest to go find her. Not to mention Pablo’s feelings.
... It comes down to the thing I said earlier, which is, “That’s not Evil Dead.” I argued back as much as I could, I got that colon fight in and I got countless other things in, but this—it’s the season finale and (Tapert) owned the thing. At the end of the day, he didn’t want Ash to have Kelly as a daughter and I really did.
... By the way, I pitched that “Kelly becomes Ash’s daughter” idea last year at Comic-Con. We were all in New York at dinner and I pitched to Bruce that at the end of the season, Ash goes back in time and f*cks Kelly’s mom and becomes Kelly’s dad and Bruce laughed so hard. He loved it. Again, it’s the question of, “Are we going to take ourselves too seriously or are we not?”
While DiGregorio and Tapert had different views on the kind of show Ash vs. Evil Dead should be, DiGregorio isn't bashing the producer in the interview, even saying, "I can't fault him, though. He works very hard, he's a great producer."
For the full details on how the finale would have been different and exactly how Ash would become Kelly's father, head over to A.V. Club and read the full interview.
Season three of Ash vs. Evil Dead is expected to start airing on Starz next fall. Now we wait and see what the show is going to be like with Mark Verheiden running it.