If you saw the season two finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead, maybe you felt a little hollow about it, too. All throughout its second season, the show felt like it had been building to something remarkably different than what we got. As it turns out, there’s a darn good reason for that. Read on to find out why, but beware of spoilers!
A New Showrunner
All season, the series was pushing the envelope in cartoony mayhem. Its enthusiastic embrace of that Army of Darkness tone is one of the show’s best assets. Not every gag is a winner, but this is television and not every episode can be a masterpiece. But we all know this show is lighter fare. That’s what makes it such a blast. That’s what ex-showrunner Craig DiGregorio loved about it. But last month, his vision for Ash vs. Evil Dead came to an end when he stepped down as showrunner.
In a revealing interview with AV Club, DiGregorio revealed that tensions between himself and veteran Evil Dead producer Rob Tapert had grown too great. “He’s a great person and producer,” said DiGregorio. “But creatively, we just didn’t have the same taste at all.” Case in point — that ludicrous scene in which Ash was strangled by a corpse’s guts was something Gregorio had to fight for.
But these tensions came to a head with the season two finale, which was heavily rewritten at the “very last minute”, according to DiGregorio.
“The finale’s story is so vastly different from what I wanted it to be and tonally it feels like another show. I think anything past the first three minutes is just completely different and I thought it really suffered because of that. We set up so much stuff for the entire season, so if you wipe the slate clean of an entire season before you pay off anything, that’s not really successful.”
But what kind of finale did DiGregorio initially want? According to his AV Club interview, it would’ve been like Evil Dead meets Back to the Future. Pablo comes back, and Kelly and Ruby decide to destroy the Necronomicon. But before Ash leaves 1982, he wants to see his father alive again. He and Pablo head back to Ash’s hometown. Meanwhile, Ruby meets the 1982 version of herself. But young Ruby has motivations to keep the book, so the young Ruby kills the older one. Kelly manages to escape with the Necronomicon.
I Am Your Father
But the weirdest part of this discarded finale is yet to come. Ash and Pablo can’t find Ash’s dad at the bar. But Ash sees an attractive woman, manages to charm her into a bathroom stall. They share a brief moment of (ahem) “passion” that changes the future. As fate would have it, this woman at the bar was none other than a younger Suzy Maxwell — Kelly’s mother. In another homage to Back to the Future, young Ruby sees a picture of Ash in the Necronomicon. Next to him? A brand new image of Kelly. Congrats, Ash. You could’ve been the proud father of a woman you once hit on.
“We even have lines in early episodes where Ash says, ‘Glad you’re not my kid,'” DiGregorio explained. “We set up little things like that because we knew we were doing this the whole entire time.” Look — I love Back to the Future as much as the next guy, and I love Ash vs. Evil Dead. But I’m not certain we needed this franchise to take that turn. Star Wars is obsessed with parentage, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a soap opera mainstay. The conflict and love between parent and child is something we all inherently understand. It’s easy drama. And I’m not sure Evil Dead should ever go there.
Apparently, series producer Rob Tapert felt the same way. “At the end of the day, he didn’t want Ash to have Kelly as a daughter, and I really did,” DiGregorio said. For the upcoming third season, Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Galactica, Daredevil) will act as showrunner. Where will Ash vs. Evil Dead go now that it’s made such a messy course correction? We don’t yet know, but it sounds like the show may be less cartoony. It may go a bit more Evil Dead 2 instead of Army of Darkness. The cartoonishness will most assuredly still be there. But if the show loses its uniquely wacky tone, fans will lose something truly special.