Ash would bring a gun to a puppet fight.
The title of this episode, 'Ashy Slashy', is the nickname that was given to our hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) by the people of his hometown after the events of The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness. For some reason, they just couldn't believe that he had been fighting demons, and thus thought that all of the dismembered bodies left in his wake were murder victims. With this eighth episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead's second season, Ash may finally be earning that nickname.
In the previous episode, the demon Baal (Joel Tobeck) whisked Ash away to the Kenward County Asylum, where he seriously messed with Ash's mind. When Ash's companions Pablo (Ray Santiago), Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), and Ruby (Lucy Lawless) - that group called the Ghost Beaters - track their jefe down to the asylum, they find that he's no longer the wisecracking hero they know and love (or tolerate). Ash is in full slasher mode, silently stalking the halls of the asylum, determined to accomplish a specific objective: to destroy his delusions, which Baal has convinced him his friends are.
Having Campbell play Ash as a slasher for an episode was a rather genius idea, because if you strip away his charms Ash does have the appearance of being one hell of a slasher: a big guy, standing over six feet tall, with a chainsaw prosthetic where his right hand once was.
While Ash vs. Evil Dead gives the slasher genre a try, having "Ashy Slashy" stalk Pablo and Ruby through the halls of the asylum, there is also still some traditional Evil Dead fun mixed in here, particularly a scene in which Kelly has a gross encounter with a puppet that was made in Ash's image.
Ash and the Ghost Beaters aren't the only people in the asylum, either. The Emery family - Ash's high school sweetheart Linda (Michelle Hurd), her husband / the local sheriff Thomas (Stephen Lovatt), their daughter Lacey (Pepi Sonuga) - have also been drawn to the location by Baal. Once supporting characters, they now mostly serve as fodder for possession and bloodshed.
There's also a crazy patient running around the asylum (really, she's credited as Crazy Patient and is played by Jacqueline Lee Geurts) to add to the atmosphere.
The moments of Deadite action were as fun as ever in this episode and the puppet fight was great, but it was the "Ashy Slashy" stuff that really appealed to me with this episode. As a devoted fan of the slasher sub-genre, I loved seeing Ash portrayed as a slasher. As soon as I saw a silent, expressionless, chainsaw-wielding Bruce Campbell standing in the hallway of a madhouse, this episode won its way into my heart.
That ending, though... If there isn't some kind of magic reset button coming up in the next couple episodes and the character who dies in the final moments remains dead, it appears that director Tony Tilse (who previously directed the episodes 'Ashes to Ashes', 'Bound in Flesh', 'The Morgue', and 'Last Call') and writers Suzanne Keilly (who had an acting role in Evil Dead franchise creator Sam Raimi's film Oz the Great and Powerful) and Aaron Lam (a series producer making his writing debut) not only know the way to my heart, they also know how to break it.