This week’s Ash vs Evil Dead has a solid double meaning for it’s title. While Pablo has the power of the Necronomicon stuffed inside of his body, Ash, Ruby, Kelly, Linda and Lacey are trying to protect him while a barrage of locals trying to get into Ash’s old house. Lest we forget, someone else is inside the house as they’re trapped too. A bit of Night of the Living Dead, a shade of Exorcist and a pinch of a reprisal from The Evil Dead, making me wonder… why the hell wasn’t this the Halloween episode instead of “Confinement?” Welp, with all the hostility, gunfire and conspiracy at foot, it at least seems appropriate as the election week episode of Ash vs Evil Dead. However, Ash isn’t dealing with emails as much as he is the Deadites getting pretty personal.
Right off the bat, Pablo is in a world of hurt. As he’s vomiting up blood and bile, Ruby tries to use her incantations to keep the spirits within him at bay. It’s an appropriate start for the episode that keeps the stakes from last week firmly in mind. Plus, it once again shows Ray Santiago‘s commitment as a physical performer. All while he’s writhing on the ground, rising up during possession and getting massive tattoos via Kandarian demons, Pablo himself is occasionally breaking through to say that things’ll work out. That it’ll be fine. This type of Charlie Brown-style optimism in the face of horror is what makes Pablo one of the more endearing facets of a show as often cynical and brutal as Ash vs Evil Dead. Even when others suffered similar pain in earlier episodes or even the films, there wasn’t nearly this much heart and resilience on display. Plus, it shows the connection strengthen between him and Kelly. She’s incredibly protective of him (to the point of firing at a crowd of civilians, which Ash confirms is a felony) and reaffirming his status as her “tough vagina.” D’aww.
Unfortunately, the biggest weakness of “Trapped Inside” is that Pablo’s struggles get sidelined by the end of things. There’s a brief moment that sort of leaves this on an abrupt cliffhanger for our big Ash fight, but at least that’s built up decently well (we’ll get to that). It’s more an editing error than anything else, given we could have gotten this as the ending post-our final confrontation. I guess we needed to have more Baal as our finale moment, which gives me more worry about our new Season 2 characters. Baal as a villain continues to lack authentic intimidation, mostly because he’s so focused on getting Ruby through Sheriff Thomas Emery, another lacking character. The hypnotic spell over Emery does little to engage, given both are rather two dimensional characters who serve more of a plot purpose than anything engaging on their own. Doesn’t help that Linda and Lacey are really just sidelined to reaction shots. I’ve said before that the biggest strength of Ash vs Evil Dead has been the trio of Ash, Pablo & Kelly. Yet, the show’s consistent flaw has always been characters around that main bubble. Hopefully, we get something more than this from these characters than Amanda Fisher, especially so putting persons of color to the side doesn’t become a trend with Ash vs Evil Dead.
Meanwhile, Ash has some unresolved issues about his sister Cheryl, as indicated by glimpses of Cheryl’s door we’ve gotten in previous episodes. For “Trapped Inside,” Ash finally gets some closure. While helping Kelly defend the house, Ash investigates some noises coming from Cheryl’s room, only to find… Chet. Touching her stuff. While we get this awkward scene, we get a look into Linda’s living quarters that are honestly haunting. The Ash vs Evil Dead set designers did a great job of making things feel sparse while including nice details like Cheryl’s drawing board. It’s dusty and hollow, like a room that hasn’t been touched in 30 years. The reasoning for why Chet is in Cheryl’s room is one that’s only heavily implied, but not confirmed due to Chet being… “Kali Mah”-ed, as it were by our big guest star. Yes, Cheryl’s room ends up being key once an undead force comes through, causing blood to drench out of the floor and seep onto Cheryl’s clothes. Said clothes – through the usual unspecified nature of Kandarian demon magic – result in Ellen Sandweiss returning to her role as Cheryl.
Despite 30 years of time, Sandweiss slips back into her part with ease. In The Evil Dead, Sandweiss pretty much established all the hallmarks for a Deadite, which are all on display here. The taunting tone of voice, the immediate jerky motions, the angular contortions of the face. She even reprises the hands through the wall bit from the original film. All of it’s there and not just for the purposes of nostalgia either. There’s both an emotional arc and general plot reasoning to bring Cheryl back. It helps Ash give the final sense of closure by permanently getting rid his last connection to Elk Grove with Chet and allows the residents to finally accept that Ash wasn’t lying this entire time. Before they can throw a “we’re so sorry party” for Ash, this chapter of Ash vs Evil Dead ends with the boy in blue getting taken by Emery and a disguised Baal. Based on our song selection for this week, it looks like we’re going to “The Funny Farm.”
Kill of the Night: Deadite Cheryl by decapitation, obviously. Also hope Chet’s death means we get some Ted Raimi Deadite action in the future.
Best Ash Line: “Come on, buddy. You’re scaring me-These people.” Oh Ash. Feel your feelings!
Next Week on Ash vs Evil Dead: “Delusion,” which will feature Ash thinking he’s been in an asylum for three decades. Oh. I’m sure that twist will stick.
One More Thing: Was really not a fan of Ash referring to the supernatural rape of his sister as “Branch Banged.” I know Ash’s inability to be mindful is a running joke, but… dude, that was your sister.
Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 2 Episode 6: “Trapped Inside”: (4 / 5)