The seventh episode of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, titled “Delusion”, starts off with more flashbacks to the original “Evil Dead” films. It’s always great to see these flashbacks in various episodes. Fans have waited thirty years for more “Evil Dead” in their lives, so being able to revisit some of the greatest moments do a lot of good for the episode. After this introduction, Ash wakes up to find himself in an asylum that’s pretty similar to an older video game that a lot of fans might recognize. Ash’s clothes and the asylum itself bears quite a few resemblances to “Evil Dead: Regeneration”. Unfortunately, the entire thing is a delusion that Baal is fueling. He is trying to get Ash to destroy the Necronomicon.
Of course, Ash will never go down without a fight. At first he resists Baal’s attempts to break through his mind. He knows exactly what’s going on and he tries to kill Baal right then and there. We get quite a few different one-liners during their initial exchange, the kind that makes you cheer. Additionally, the music during this exchange adds to the tension to give you the same combination of apprehensiveness and hilarity that “Ash vs Evil Dead” is now known for.
Joel Tobeck has really shown his talent as an actor in the past few episodes as Strife. Throughout “Delusion”, Strife switches between being a good doctor and letting his true intentions come through in his word choices. It’s easy to see how Ash can become confused and it’s just as easy to tell what Baal’s intentions are. He decides to help Ash “break through his delusions” by introducing him to Ashy Slashy, a puppet. Baal claims Ashy Slashy is the part of Ash that wants to destroy the book and get rid of this thing for good. It’s the part of Ash that “knows” he was the one who killed his friends thirty years ago and wants to return to the real world.
Ash doesn’t fall for the puppet and starts to see through these delusions and into the real world. During this battle with himself and with Baal’s power over his mind, Baal realizes why everyone referred to Ash as the Jefe. He’s the chosen one and he can’t be easily beaten or broken. He has spent most of his life fighting and he is not the type to back down when he’s in the face of danger. It is going to take a lot of work for Baal to break through Ash’s characteristic stubbornness and make him really believe that he is seeing things. If he thinks that Kelly, Pablo, Ruby, and the deadites were all a part of his imagination, it will be easier to control the situation.
Although Ash does see his friends in this delusion, their faces constantly flash to someone else’s face. It’s clear that Baal wants him to believe that they aren’t real. “Kelly” is a patient at the asylum with him while “Ruby” and “Pablo” are part of the staff. “Kelly” has a fantastic and cringe-worthy scene in this episode of “Ash vs Evil Dead” in which she acts crazy and breaks her own fingers. The scene is almost reminiscent of Mia in “Evil Dead”. It’s good to see small nods to this film as well, despite its unpopularity among a lot of fans of the franchise. Additionally, the first confrontation between “Kelly” and Ash add to the horror aspect of the show that keeps us on our feet.
During Ash’s stay at this asylum in “Delusion” Baal attempts to use electroconvulsive therapy as a form of torture to get through to Ash. He responds to this torture with more witty one-liners that add to the strength of his character. This is why we love him, right? He doesn’t back down or give up when he is faced with some of the worst cards life can deal out.
I was surprised to see Chet in this episode even if it was short-lived. He’s there to try to add more guilt to Ash’s already heavy burden, but it serves as more comedic effect than anything else. After they are given another dose of therapy/torture, “Ash vs Evil Dead” grants us with another Ted Raimi death scene. His body is burned to a crisp. Ash’s response is the response I’m sure every fan had. That’s so not cool man, they killed him again!
Since every attempt Ash makes to talk to Ruby and Pablo yield no results, he tries to work with Kelly. She is more responsive and helps Ash start a riot. During this riot scene – which pays homage to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, features a guy banging on a piano, which sounds creepy and ads to the overall uneasiness of the entire episode. It is during this riot that Ash manages to grab a key that should let him out of the asylum.
With the help of Ashy Slashy and Kelly, he makes a break for it. Unfortunately, the key doesn’t work and Kelly ends up killing the guy that’s Pablo but isn’t Pablo. She claims that he was a demon like the ones Ash talks about. They argue about this and Ash tries to explain to Kelly that the person she killed was not a demon. During this argument, we get a pretty great “Army of Darkness” reference.
Yeah, “Ash vs Evil Dead” doesn’t have the rights to “Army of Darkness”, but we get a few ways around that and it’s good enough for me. The first season included a few scenes that help me continue to believe that the events of “Army of Darkness” did happen in this show. Although Bruce Campbell is right in saying that the show doesn’t need that film in order to be great, it doesn’t mean we be excited about finding these references. In “Delusion”, Kelly tries to explain that she killed Pablo because she was a demon dragon.
Ash responds by explaining that there are no deadite dragons – just a “Kandarian demon that flies around and makes deadites”. Now, I’m not an expert, but doesn’t that sound like the demon that kidnapped Sheila? These little nods to my favorite movie don’t have to be exact. All they have to do is add a few shots similar to shots from the movie, or add a few words that make you think of events that only happened in that movie to have fans jumping in excitement. They discuss sunlight, vampires, and “bloodites”. While Ash tries to say that sunlight doesn’t do anything to deadites, he does mention “the one time sunlight did work”. This refers to the time he spent as a deadite himself in Evil Dead 2.
Before Ash even knows what’s going on, guards show up and suddenly he’s there with only Ashy Slashy. “Kelly” is dead with her lower jaw in Ashy Slashy’s mouth. “Pablo”, of course, is dead as well. All Ash can say is he didn’t do it. Even after watching footage of himself killing these two people, he refuses to believe it. He sits in his straitjacket constantly repeating “That’s not me”. The terrible scene we see unfolding before us is our anti-hero Ash almost at his breaking point.
Ash has only one weakness it seems and that is his fondness for women with the name Linda. This is what finally breaks him. Linda appears at the asylum. She tells him that she has been visiting him for the last thirty years. He doesn’t believe she’s real. After all, every other familiar face he has seen since visiting the asylum has not been real. Unfortunately, she doesn’t change into someone else after he closes his eyes and tells her that she’s not real. This is what finally gets to him. As he watches Linda with tears in her eyes, he finally gives in. He admits that he murdered his friends and must destroy the Necronomicon.
The episode ends with the gang finally driving up to the asylum but it may be too late. Ash has agreed to do anything Baal tells him in order to get rid of the book and the “delusions”. Did Baal win? Has he finally broken Ash? Does Ash really believe that the book, the deadites, and his friends don’t exist? Unfortunately we won’t find out until the next episode, but it doesn’t look good for Ruby, Kelly, and Pablo. Baal has let Ash loose in the asylum and I’m not entirely sure that Ash is okay. It looks like “Ashy Slashy” may have won this one. Of course, I know he’s going to bounce back. You can’t break Ash and if you can, you can’t break him for very long.