WARNING: If you have not seen “Tales from the Rift,” turn back now. There are spoilers afoot.
Twenty-six episodes. More than two-and-a-half seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead have brought me to the realization that I still lack the vocabulary to capably describe Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell.
Thoughts of Ambrose Redmoon’s declaration that “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” danced through my head, but soon faded because that too, was an insufficient concept.
Do I go with brave or tough, intelligent or loyal? Perhaps referring to her as a leader, vigorous or formidable?
How could a single word encapsulate one of the strongest women in horror history, when so many adjectives apply?
It was a challenge, to be sure, but inspired by Friday the 13th’s finest final girl (Amy Steel), I came to the conclusion that I had to “think beyond the legend,” and “put it in real terms.”
Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly was uncompromising.
From our “El Jefe” introduction to her epic showdown with Ruby (Lucy Lawless) in Sunday’s “Tales from the Rift,” we watched a young woman grow from grieving daughter to unyielding warrior, and never give an inch.
What set Kelly apart was that she was anything but one dimensional. A badass to be sure, but one who never veered from the deepest vestiges of who she was – loving and loyal to her boys Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Ash (Bruce Campbell) – and always willing to do what needed to be done. Maxwell was the personification of Redmoon’s maxim, tossing fear aside because her new family and the fate of the world were more important than the uncertainty of her own survival.
DeLorenzo stood face-to-face with evil, the cabin, militiamen, cops, demon spawn and finally Ruby, and never blinked. And though Maxwell’s own sense of revenge was the catalyst to forging her own path, that swelled over time.
While ridding the world of Deadites, Kelly took the time to comfort Linda Emery (Michell Hurd), offer tough, motherly words that Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) needed to hear, and inspire Pablito to believe that he was, in fact, the powerful vagina he was destined to become.
And in the end, with Ruby at the height of her ruthless power, it was Kelly who bore the weight of protector on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. With no guarantee that she’d endure the day, Maxwell decided to take the battle to Ruby for Pablo. And Ash. And Brandy. And her parents. Because to Kelly’s thinking, no one, not her loved ones or anyone else’s, should have to suffer the pain of loss ever again. And if she could stop it, then she would not hesitate to embrace the opportunity, while sparing those she cherished the danger of putting their own lives on the line.
That was Kelly Maxwell’s identity. An uncompromising fighter and friend, who never altered who or what she stood for, or how she lived her life — for anything or anyone — not anguish, adversity, or evil. She lived, loved and laughed, with an eye forever on the prize of end game; the focused leader to Ash’s reluctant, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Chosen One.
She went out on her terms, doing everything within her considerable capability to save those who had her heart, while the Evil Dead fandom watched through teary eyes as an uncompromised, almost imperceptible smile turned her lips before she breathed her last.
It was a good death.