Hey, spoilers for the first five episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead, and the movies that have inspired the show. You’ve been warned.
I’ve been supplementing my viewing of the Starz Network‘s excellent Ash vs Evil Dead show by listening to the entertaining Ash vs Evil Dead vs Bubba vs Catfish podcast, where Bubba and Catfish (they have real names, allegedly) recap and discuss the gonzo-gory show.
Each episode of the podcast features a special Bubba vs Catfish segment where a proposition relating to the show is debated. Each of the hosts will present their case, for or against the proposition, with the loyal listeners voting (typically via Twitter) to settle the argument.
Some past examples of the debates:
- Should Kelley end up with Ash or Pablo?
- Is it a wise idea to summon demons to help fight demons?
- Is killing Deadites morally justified or murder?
Some of these debates are easier than others. For example, Kelley should definitely not hook up with Ash. He’s killed three different girlfriends named Linda over the course of three movies. Also, demon summoning is probably a bad idea. A colossally bad idea.
But the question about killing Deadites is more nuanced. It’s a complicated situation.
In the movies we’ve seen Ash possessed twice, but has come back to normalcy, and on a recent episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, someone possessed by the demon Eligos (slightly different than being possessed by one of the rank and file Deadites) was successfully exorcised and certified demon free.
So, if a human that’s possessed by a Deadite can be “cured”, is it correct to kill them out of hand without trying to help them?
The Living Deadite and the Dead Deadite
We’ve seen the Deadites possess the freshly slain (usually killed by Deadites or the unseen primal evil force.) We’ve seen a handful of living humans possessed by the evil.
We’ve also seen living humans briefly “touched” by the evil, as a means to communicate with Ash, or caught observing policewoman Amanda Fisher, but not fully possessed. (We can debate this, but Ash’s bathroom-trysting barfly did not seem to be am example of full Deadite possession, nor the little girl in the diner keeping tabs on Amanda.)
It seems reasonable to say that the Deadites animating a corpse are fair targets to be killed. If the evil is driven out without further harming the host, you’re left with a corpse that could probably be reanimated again. Exercising extreme violence against a dead but active Deadite isn’t going to make the host any more deader. Totally justified.
But attacking a living Deadite, where the host is still alive, is a different matter. We’ve seen Ash rally and drive out the evil force, when he encountered the necklace he gave Linda in Evil Dead II, and Ash’s ally (and Pablo’s crush) Kelley is no longer under Eligos’ malevolent sway. So a case could be made that the priority in dealing with Deadites is to determine the viability of the host, try to reach out to their humanity, or do something crazy dangerous like invite the demon into yourself. (Pablo, you brave fool!)
Although that sounds like the ethical solution, the reality is that in most cases, the Deadites are possessing a dead body, or will kill the host themselves before allowing others to perform an exorcism.
Warm Bodies Make Bad Hosts
If the Deadites can possess any living person that they wanted to, it seems like we’d have seen more examples of that by now. Instead they’re nearly always possessing the dead, or someone who has had made themselves vulnerable by interaction with the demon-summoning passages in the Necronomicon.
This covers Ash and his friends at the cabin, along with Annie Knowby’s parents who were sort of Patient-Zero for the Deadite possessions. Nearly everyone else has died before possession.
The unnamed girl with the wrist tattoo was a focus for Deadite activity, since she was unlucky enough to read the words with Ash during his irresponsible literary foreplay with her. She ends up possessed by a Deadite, but appears to be alive when encountered by Amanda Fisher and her partner.
I assume that she was still alive when the police first encounter her. Not because she looked human, we’ve seen the Deadite-possessed appear normal. But she looked terrified. And not as part of a ruse to deceive the police. They don’t get a chance to see her human face.
The Deadite removes any chance to “cure” her by twisting her head 180 degrees. I can’t believe that the girl was a candidate for successful exorcism after that.
But when there’s doubt…
For some, we just can’t definitively say. Ash’s neighbor Viviane is lightly possessed in the same way as the bar woman, to give Ash disquieting warnings, but later she is clearly possessed. We also don’t see the trailer park’s groundskeeper killed before being possessed.
But because they don’t have any connection to the Necronomicon, it’s unlikely that they were possessed while alive. Although it’s possible that Viviane, who was already touched by the evil, found the Necronomicon while cleaning Ash’s trailer. And read it.
And killed the groundskeeper to create another ally.
So it’s hard to say.
In general, contact with the Deadites is extremely dangerous. They have no reason not to kill the living, or to even keep their own host alive, if they’ve been able to possess someone not yet dead. Self-defense is typically a reasonable and moral justification to kill, and with the Deadites, it’s kill or be killed.
And usually the Deadite is starting off in a dead body anyway. And dead is dead.
Hail to the King of the Seven Kingdoms, Baby!
Following the tradition I’ve set with my first Ash vs Evil Dead post, I’ll pretend that another television or movie property is part of the Evil Dead universe.
So, the Seven Kingdoms are Westeros are about to be inundated with a full-on invasion of Deadites, right?
This breed of Deadites don’t seem to be as articulate as their cousins in the Evil Dead movies, but they share the same feature of animating the nearly slain, which is a problem for the living.
Do we see anything like the Necronomicon or other Forbidden Knowledge at work? Not necessarily, but Melisandre seems to have something creepy going on with the smoky assassins she can produce.
It looks like something that would be chasing Ash through the woods.
Maybe some illiterate Wildling recently opened up a human-skin bound book that was in some rustic cabin far, far in the North.
But I don’t know if I have to make much of an argument. This video does the job for me (with … some other stuff thrown in…)
Hope everyone had a great Thankgiving, by the way.
Images from Ash vs Evil Dead, property of Starz. The Night’s King image is from HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Video is from Sawdust Films. It’s awesome, and therefore so are they!
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved