I remember writing a review for a season one episode of Ash vs Evil Dead that started with “well that was different”. The final verdict was that it was the first mediocre episode of the series. Delusion also goes through a vicissitude, breaking the norm and presenting something totally different to what we have expected. Only this time, it works and it’s one of the best episodes yet.
Post K.O by Baal last week, Ash wakes up in a mental hospital (not before a very cool reel of Evil Dead footage acting as nightmares) with Baal – under the guise of a doctor – at his bedside. With the goal of somehow retrieving the Necronomicon, Baal has manufactured an elaborate illusion. In it, Ash been locked away since the murders at the cabin and he concocted an outlandish story about dead books, demons and even Kelly and Pablo. Chet even shows up in an effort to convince Ash that he didn’t die last week.
When Ash gets out of his cell, he meets Kelly (another patient), Pablo (an orderly) and Ruby (a nurse). Non of them know who he is and in the end it’s revealed that they are strangers that his mind has tricked him into thinking are friends.
Delusion works first and foremost because it takes a break from cabins and small towns and leaves Ash alone, vulnerable and not a clue as to what the hell is going on. It also works because neither do we. As the episode unravels, we’re only left with more questions and for a show that likes to keep its audience relatively in the loop, it’s a weird and wonderful feeling to be so confused.
Dena DeLorenzo deserves all the recognition for her turn in Delusion. They asked her to do something she hasn’t done before (although as of recently, she is pretty much headed this way) and she put on a clinic. She was equal parts hilarious (“you’re fucken nuts”) and loony (snapping each of her fingers as she laughs manically.) Her intermittent blinking and quirky head turns showed everyone that she can definitely be more than just a bad ass heroine.
Bruce Campbell was no slouch either. His confusion and constant turning of the old cogs meant Ash was always “on”. His final moments as he starts scheming and confesses to the murders were sombre and emphatic. But we rely on Campbell for his humour and giving him a puppet that is supposed to help him see the light was a work of genius. He is crude, funny and in the end, downright psychotic. Here’s hoping Ashy Slashy shows up again.
Delusion had an eerie atmosphere that was assisted by some great music and camera work. One scene where Ash is receiving shock therapy, there is a split focus shot that is reminiscent of the original films and it really solidifies how cognizant the producers are of where they came from, and their passion for consistently honouring that.
Ash has ostensibly given up and agreed to help Baal but knowing that he has seen the cavalry arrive outside, we know he has a plan. Regardless, the outright lack of any conclusion is tantalising and Delusion absolutely knocked this one out of the park. It was hilarious and creepy and felt like a horror version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have no idea what’s going on and I love it.
- Completely different
- DeLorenzo killed it
- So did Campbell
- Bring that damn puppet back
- Great atmosphere and camera work
- Another five star ep, can’t do it
Review Score: FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ash vs Evil Dead is streaming now on Stan.