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TV Review: Ash Vs. Evil Dead - Season 2, Episode 1 (Comic Con 2016)

NOTE: This episode was screened at Comic-Con 2016; it won't air on Starz until October.

SUMMARY: Months after making a deal with the demonic Ruby, Ash has relocated to Jacksonville, FL, with friends Pablo and Kelly to live the good life. Unfortunately for them, the tentative truce they had with the Evil Dead has come to an end, and it's time for Ash to spring into action once again.

REVIEW: I really loved the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead. Just wanted to get that out of the way because my colleague Chris Bumbray reviewed the entire first season and this is my first (and probably last) foray into critiquing it for the site. The show just brought me so much joy, not only as a terrific continuation of the trilogy of films but as its own beast. Ash as a character was both familiar and fresh, while his younger cohorts Kelly (Dana Delorenzo) and Pablo (Ray Santiago) brought an exciting energy to the morbid proceedings. It was very well plotted out, too, and the directing was always stylish and professional. Simply put, big time fan; couldn't wait for the second chapter to begin.

And, as should be expected, the Season 2 premiere comes out of the gate blasting, spewing and gushing. Any fear of a sophomore slump can be pushed aside - for now at least - because the latest AvED is chockfull of everything fans of the films and TV series want: Crude Ash-isms, severed body parts flying, awesomely designed demons and, most of all, madcap entertainment. Hell, the first five minutes alone are as gory as you can possibly get, on TV or anywhere else.

Ash has relocated to his beloved Jacksonville in a sincere mission to party until the end of his days. Working a bar alongside Kelly and Pablo, Ash is back to his fun-loving old self, with nary a thought of the stupidity of the truce he forged with villainous Ruby (Lucy Lawless) at the end of last season. But a siege of deadites ruins the party - literally - and after about 100 gallons of blood has been shed, Ash commits to finding Ruby and ending this once and for all. (He's said that before, hasn't he?)

Going on a clue left to him by the vanquished demons, Ash and his sidekicks drive to his hometown of Elk's Grove, where he's a pariah because everyone thinks (correctly) that he killed his girlfriend and friends one dark night in the woods. The town's residents have given him a nickname: Ashy Slashy. Even Ash's father Brock (Lee Majors, perfectly cast) is unhappy with his son's return. Ash and company eventually track down Ruby, who is actually running scared from her "children," the eyeless phantoms she gave birth to (with the help of Pablo) at the end of last season. Ruby actually needs Ash's help to defeat them before they get their stinky hands on the Necronomicon and really cause some trouble.

A lot goes down in this 30 minutes, all of it over-the-top and enjoyable. Campbell is in top form, churning out corny one-liners with the usual lunkheaded enthusiasm. The relationship between he and the Majors character should be interesting to track, especially if the pissed-off father ultimately has to team up with his ne'er-do-well son. And while we don't see much new in the Kelly-Pablo dynamic in this installment, the two of them are just as entertaining to watch here as they were last year. The main cast hasn't missed a beat.

Creature design and effects work are top-notch here; you want blood, demons and dismemberments, you got 'em in spades. The episode's third act is set in a cruddy old crematorium and the production design is stellar. The episode even manages a few solid scares. The show ends on the requisite cliffhanger; it'll be a long wait until October.

Ash is back, baby, and he's as groovy as ever.

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