Ash vs Evil Dead review: Tales from the Rift and the journeys in between


Kelly and Ruby have an epic showdown while Ash and Pablo try to close the rift before the Dark Ones can walk the face of the earth again.

“But us humans, we get attached to people we love.” – Kelly Maxwell

It’s Not the Destination, It’s about the Journey

The first five episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead were a little more on the splatstick side. Now, the time has come. As Pablo so aptly puts it, “S*** just got really weird.” Oh, and it is about to get weirder.

The cast members warned us about this change in the weather. Things are going to get dark. Well, Tales from the Rift is the beginning of that journey. Each of the characters are starting to come full circle since we first met them in Season 1.

Ash (Bruce Campbell) is no longer the self-centered lone wolf that picks up strange women in bars. He is now a father in more ways than one. As the patriarch of the Ghostbeaters, he has more than himself to look out for now. He has a family and he will go above and beyond to protect them.

Our shy Pablito (Ray Santiago) has gone from that uncertain youth who worshipped Kelly from afar to a confident young man who has found his destiny. He is just beginning to understand exactly who he is and how he can harness his Brujo Especial powers for good.

Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) has learned well from Ash. She has grown into a fierce female warrior. A woman who takes no prisoners and marches into battle unafraid of the outcome.

As for Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), she is learning to love her father. Trusting him is no longer an issue. The bond between her and Ash grows stronger with each episode. She is starting to understand that maybe he is the Prophesized One.

The Main Event

Ash vs Evil Dead – The Main Event – Courtesy of STARZ

Anticipation for the mano a mano fight scene between Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and Kelly was at a fever pitch for fans. The chatter was all over social media.

Let me just say, it did not disappoint. This was bound to happen. Although Mortal Ruby was clearly on Kelly’s side.

For two seasons, Kelly lived with the pain of being orphaned because of evil. Her best friend and the one that she would go to the ends of the earth for Pablo died at the hands of those demonic forces. Now this season, her fellow warrior, Dalton was taken from her.

She has quite a bit to prove. “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” applies to her because she is out to get Ruby with a cold and calculating mindset. Nothing will stand in her way.

Rumble in Elk Grove

Ash vs Evil Dead – Rumble in Elk Grove – Courtesy of STARZ

Talk about event television, this epic battle was well worth waiting for and it delivered on all accounts. According to executive producer, Rob Tapert, it was extensively choreographed and it shows. The stunt people for Lucy and Dana definitely deserve kudos.

I would even go as far as to say it ranks up there with a good Jedi Knight fight in any of the Star Wars movies. That may seem like high praise but trust me on top of the intense physicality of these scenes, Lucy and Dana have to act their collective asses off and they do a great job.

With every vindictive word that Kelly utters you can feel the venom dripping behind the dialogue. What makes these sequences so effective is the fact that Ruby stays ultra-cool. She doesn’t lose her temper, she is like a lioness circling a wounded antelope.

When she speaks, you shiver because you know there is no human warmth behind her icy smile and eyes. She has no compassion and hell hath no fury like a demon queen scorned.

The give and take between these two actresses is text book and young wannabe thespians should take notes. This is a shining example of selfless acting and that is why we as the audience believe that these two women are locked in mortal combat.

What is impressive is Kelly’s tenacity. Even with a broken ankle, she stands and prepares to fight. You can even see callbacks to Evil Dead’s of yore especially when she utters, “Alright, you she devil f***, let’s go!” You can just hear her mentor Ash in that phrase. “Yo, she bitch! Let’s go!”

Did This Just Happen?

Ash vs Evil Dead – Did This Just Happen – Courtesy of STARZ

Because Kelly is fighting so hard that is why what happens next is utterly unbelievable and heart wrenching. You always hope that good will triumph over evil that every dog will have his day. Sometimes, that isn’t possible.

In Kelly’s case, her need for revenge blinded her and was the cause of her undoing. When Ruby stabs her with the Kandarian dagger, it is game over. As her lifeless body lies limp on the floor with blood pooling around her it is hard to come to grips with the fact that the heart of the Ghostbeaters is gone.

Opening the Poop Shoot

Ash vs Evil Dead – Opening the Poop Shoot – Courtesy of STARZ

While Kelly’s tragedy is playing out with Ruby, Ash has his hands full with Dalton’s Knights of Sumeria compadres. He is definitely playing the part of the reluctant hero.

While they are en route to the hardware store in the Classic he is clearly tired of hearing their mumbo jumbo about evil taking over the world. So of course, he has to interject with, “Man, you guys are such a buzzkill! Let’s get wasted!” while brandishing a Shemp’s six pack.

Ash has already given them the lost pages of the Necronomicon so they can work on keeping the Dark Ones imprisoned forever. When they get to the hardware store, and once they see the Sumerian wall things are going to go south in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Pablo is in the trailer going through Brujo’s things. While he is doing that, Brandy pops in to see if her Dad is around. Expressing her concern at not seeing him for quite some time, Pablo gets a vision of Ash in the cellar of the store.

Learning a New Language

Telling Brandy to stay put in the trailer, he rushes off to assist Ash because “Jefe needs me.” Pablo is off to save the day and Ruby on the other hand is about to open up one of the “poop shoots” so that her bestie, Kaya (Danielle Cormack) can inhabit Kelly’s body. Good times…

When Pablo arrives at the store and bounds down the stairs and into the cellar that he “didn’t know they had” he is met with a gun in his face. Ash quickly explains that this is his sidekick. Immediately Pablo is drawn to the Sumerian wall.

Suddenly, his hands latch onto it and he starts speaking perfect Sumerian. Because he has walked between the world of the living and the dead, he can conjure up the rift.

Some Doors Are Best Left Closed

Ash vs Evil Dead – Some Doors Are Better Left Closed – Courtesy of STARZ

Pablo, at Ash’s urging closes the rift before anything can happen. The Knights on the other hand have a plan. They send Marcus (Colin Moy) in to investigate. What occurs next smacks of Poltergeist and Evil Dead II.

Pablo opens the rift up and Marcus goes through. He is only in the Deadlands for a brief time before being thrown out. Of course, what arrives back in the real world is not the Knight but a demon replacement.

Time for things to go sideways. The Deadite latches on to his fellow Knight Peter and in a Lovecraftian moment they become one being. Now, Ash has to fight this creature.

This action sequence is athletic but not as involving as the Ruby and Kelly altercation. You want Ash to be the victor but somehow you know he will take care of business. There is a very cool moment when he detaches his bionic hand and does a powerslide under the hellbeast to attach to his chainsaw.

Once that happens it is time to say goodbye to the demonoid. Like John McEnroe in his prime, Ash executes a perfect backhand with his chainsaw to decapitate the Deadite. Time to die.

Kaya is now walking the mortal plane so Ruby dispatches her to deal with Brandy. Ash leaves Pablo and Zoe (Emilia Burns) the only Knight left standing to figure out how to plug up the rift. Once he returns home, he finds Kelly/Kaya there to greet him along with Brandy.

He doesn’t notice anything amiss but why would he? Kelly/Kaya hands him the Kandarian dagger. Ash tells her that this “changes everything.” As he turns around and walks away, we hear Kelly in Kaya’s voice utter, “Yes, it does.”

The Verdict

This episode is the turning point. From here until the end of the season, no one is safe. There are going to be many things that will occur that will make your head spin.

Tales from the Rift is the journey to the inevitable conclusion of the season. I have been mentioning the darker tone but it is definitely here especially with the unexpected demise of a lead character. Part of what made this episode so great was the writing and the acting.

It was like a one-two punch. Aaron Lam’s script was executed well and the actors made each and every line ring true. This is the Evil Dead that fans have been waiting for. There is still some humor but with what is about to go down, it is kept to a dull roar.

The moments between Ruby and Kelly were powerful. As an audience member, you were drawn into their deathmatch and the outcome was painful. Even the brief scene in the kitchen between Ash and Brandy was a touching moment.

They are forming a bond and one that will come into play as the story progresses. For those people who were about to write this season off, don’t. These next three episodes are going to transport viewers to another level.

Bruce Campbell is right. “Episodes 7 through 10 are where the action is. Ain’t seen nuthin.”

Next: Ash vs Evil Dead: The 411 on evil or how to ‘Baby Proof’

What did you think of Tales from the Rift? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.