The second episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead switches out Sam Raimi in the director’s chair for Michael J. Basett, but it definitely didn’t lose too much steam. In “Bait,” the story picks up exactly where it left off. Ash and Pablo have to jet to Kelly’s house to retrieve the Necronomicon and check to see if Kelly’s “mom” was snacking on her family, after her eerie appearance out of nowhere.
The director for this episode was Michael J. Basett, who directed Strike Back, and he did a solid job, even though he’s no Raimi. This episode was missing Raimi’s quirky style, save for a couple of Raimi-esque moments, like the point-of-view shotgun barrel scene. Basett manages to keep up the creepy atmosphere, even with just an eerily creaking windmill; however, you can feel the drop in creativity of the shots and angles now that Raimi is out.
Once you get over the fact that Raimi isn’t pulling the strings, it’s a pretty fun time. The episode starts with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” jam, as Ash warms up with a road trip brawl, using a broken beer bottle, and the roller coaster gets crazier from there.
Bruce Campbell continues to deliver the goods, as well as add to the stack of classic one-liners with this episode. Ash is on his A-game when he rolls up to Kelly’s parents’ house with Pablo, trying to sniff out the Book of the Dead. The dinner scene is quite entertaining, especially if you know about the Evil Dead universe; you already know what Ash knows, which make the exchanges between Kelly’s mom and Ash all the more fun.
Mimi Rogers, or Mrs. Kensington from the first Austin Powers flick, guest stars as Kelly’s mom, and does a terrific job of playing it straight until she goes all deadite. She’s eerie, yet in a nice way, always with her pet fly nearby. She also gets to sing “Hush Little Baby,” which is a nod to Henrietta singing the same song in the fruit cellar in Evil Dead 2, and it’s rather frightening. Pablo and Kelly don’t have to much to do in this episode outside of screaming and staying in the splash zone for blood, but they do compliment Ash well, as he gets more time to shine. We also learn a little more about Kelly’s mom, unless the deadite was playing mind games with Kelly about the whole suicide deal.
Speaking of Kelly, her character develops a little more with this episode, and she’s painted out to be almost like a female version of Ash.
“You’re kinda like a young me. Deadites ruined your life and you’re hot as hell,” Ash tells Kelly.
Is she a badass character in the making? It’s looking like she might be. She could’ve had more to do in this episode, but the runtime doesn’t give her the chance to do so.
The episode succeeds in continuing the amazing blend of horror and comedy, and also the lovely gore. It’s only the second episode, but Ash revs up his chainsaw arm to perform a deadite kill that is worthy of a nomination for the “deadite kill of the season” award. The episode continues the story at a break-neck pace, and ends on a classic Ash moment that references a scene from Evil Dead 2 that concerns Ash’s talent for making burial crosses.
Now, the CGI this time around didn’t seem too bad, so let’s hope they stick with mostly using practical effects. The definitive kill in the episode, in which Ash saws a deadite head off in grizzly, exaggerated fashion, is what Evil Dead is known for.
Overall, the episode wasn’t as spectacular as the first, but it was definitely entertaining television. Campbell continues to bring the goods, and the story seems to be going in an interesting direction where we’ll delve more into the complexities of the Necronomicon. The first episode wasn’t a fluke; this baby is truly Evil Dead, hail to the king!