Ash vs Evil Dead wrapped up its second season this week. It will return for a third season that will no doubt involve more one-liners and repulsive fight scenes. It will not, however, follow the plot dreamed up by former showrunner Craig DiGregorio, who shared his never-realised vision in a recent interview.
Speaking to the AV Club about his decision to leave the show last month, DiGregorio admits that he often butted heads with show producer/Evil Dead O.G. Rob Tapert, noting that, “He’s a great person and producer, but creatively, we just didn’t have the same taste at all.” One example of something he had to fight for: Ash’s epic battle with a colon, which was one of the highlights of the season but almost didn’t make the cut for “not being Evil Dead enough.” But the biggest behind-the-scenes clash, and the one that will be of the most interest to Ash vs Evil Dead fans, was over DiGregorio’s original plan for the show’s finale.
On Sunday, we saw a back-from-the-past Ash (and Pablo and Kelly, but mostly Ash) being touted as the hero of Elk Grove while Evil Ruby watched from the back of the crowd — setting up next season to be Ash vs. Ruby round two. This was not the original finale, but rather one that resulted after Tapert’s last-minute changes, according to the former showrunner, who went on to sketch out his original plan for the ending:
Basically, Ash kills Henrietta, gets the book, and runs outside with it. I wanted to get the episode outside of the cabin as quickly as possible because I thought I only wanted to see the cabin for episode nine. I didn’t want it to be there in 10 because I thought it was a repeat of last year with the last two episodes in the cabin. So, we got out of the cabin quickly, and that’s when Ruby and Kelly return. Inside, young Ash has entered but the book is gone, so he never reads it in this timeline. At that moment, the trunk rattles, Pablo’s in there, and he’s ok.
So, now they have the book and they have Pablo. Ash decides Ruby and Kelly are going to destroy the book. Meanwhile, Ash and Pablo head into town because Ash secretly wants to see his present-day deceased father Brock one last time before they go back to the present — remember that in 203 Brock starts to reveal a big “secret,” we wanted Ash to want to get to the bottom of this. So, Ash and Pablo go to the bar, Kelly and Ruby go to the woods to destroy the book. In the woods, Ruby runs into 1982 Ruby and makes that same sort of plea to her, the “your life is going to be different, you don’t have to do this.” But 1982 Ruby thinks that her future self has gone completely soft, kills Ruby, but then Kelly holds her own against 1982 Ruby, grabs the book, and runs with it. 1982 Ruby chases her because she wants to bring her husband and kids back and she didn’t listen to her future self.
Meanwhile, at the bar, Ash doesn’t see his dad, but does see a nice young lady, who seems very sad because she just got passed over for a teacher position. She’s distraught, and Ash, having learned a lot about how you can fail and come back from it, starts talking to her very genuinely in the charming Bruce way. They end up drinking together and go in a bathroom stall to have some early-’80s unprotected sex. What you don’t realise is that the woman Ash is having sex with is Kelly’s future mother [a young Suzy Maxwell]. So, what happens is that Kelly, while running in the woods, all of a sudden feels her entire being change and drops the book. That’s when 1982 Ruby catches up and realises what just happened. She looks through the Necronomicon and sees Ash’s picture, and then next to it, a picture of Kelly starts to appear. Because of the unprotected bathroom stall incident, Kelly has become Ash’s daughter.
At that point, Pablo rushes into the bar, says there’s something wrong because the skies are going dark now that 1982 Ruby has the book, and they’re starting to summon things back. They go get Kelly, who’s somehow pissed at Ash, even though she doesn’t really know what happened, and while they don’t have the book, they have Pablo and use him to jump back to present day. When they get back, Ruby is standing there with Baal and her kids and they take Kelly away. Apologies, I really ran through a bunch there in about two sentences. But basically, we were setting up a season three where Ash had to go rescue his daughter… Kelly.
It was a reveal he was working toward the entire season which didn’t end up paying off. And while DiGregorio admits that the idea of Ash becoming Kelly’s dad through the magic of time travel — especially since we met her parents (and saw her bury them, after they became Deadites) in season one — is sorta silly, he also notes that “time travel is inherently nonsense and we wanted to have some fun with the medium”. When Ash vs Evil Dead begins its third season, it will have a new showrunner, Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Galactica, Daredevil), at the helm. And Kelly won’t be Ash’s daughter. But she almost was.