There’s something to be said for the situations and dialogue provided by Ash vs Evil Dead’s writing squadron, a team that consistently provides a franchise approaching its fortieth birthday with original splatstick week after week. At the end of the day, however, one needs to step back and realize that for what they churn out, impressive though it may be, they’re just words on a page that require the energy and vision of an artist that can bring them to life with verve and effect. Much like the Joker’s “I’m like a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it” only became iconic when Heath Ledger made it so, Lucy Lawless is making it so through Season 3’s first two episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead.

Ms. Flawless’ Ruby is straight up overshadowing Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), and fans of Evil Dead need no reminder that such a task is not easily accomplished.

In tone and delivery and body language, it is blatantly obvious that Lawless savors every moment on screen, offering blazing takes at every turn. Let’s go with sinister radiance. For as formidable as Ruby was over the first twenty episodes, one gets the distinct feeling that everything to this point was but an appetizer of the delicious to come.

Not to suggest for a moment that Ash isn’t his typical, on-point self, because the one-liners and timing are as groovy as ever. In fact, from last season’s morgue scene to this Sunday’s “Booth Three,” it’s pretty clear that the only comedic rival Bruce Campbell has in a medical setting is Tim Conway with a needle in his hand. And leg. And forehead.

Just know that this episode features a line from The King that left me laughing for a good sixty seconds. In fact, I had to pause it so I didn’t miss anything. And then I went back and watched it again.

Simply stated, it’s my new favorite thing, and it has nothing to do with Mike Trout. Wait for it.

That said, what’s been most enjoyable through Season 3’s first hour has been the maturation of Pablo (Ray Santiago). Yes, he still idolizes Jefe, but his dream of Pablito’s Fish & Chips has been realized, and his confidence is at an all-time high. No longer content in the background, pining away for Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), the days of playing the role of gentleman seem to be over. Not that Pablo is rude or disrespectful, but he now challenges Maxwell in the manner that she pushed him to be her “powerful vagina” a year ago. Pablito is wary, and a bit threatened by Dalton’s (Lindsay Ferris) Knight of Sumeria, which has the distinct scent of Kelly being jelly of Heather (Samara Weaving) from the final few chapters of Season 1. As Dana DeLorenzo once told me in an interview with iHorror, “Just make out already!” We all know why the two have yet to go Jim and Pam, but perhaps this kinda, sorta love triangle will finally seal a deal three years in the making.

And can we just take a moment to appreciate the practical effects team for this show? Just when you think that they can’t top their latest act of wonder, they offer a collective “Hold my beer.”

So Ruby is after Ash’s spawn Brandy, deftly played by Arielle Carver-O’Neill, the Chosen One is having none of it, Dalton and Pablo are equally suspicious of one another, and Kelly is stuck in the middle of it all.

To say nothing of an “Oh shit” moment that rears its head before the title graphic and horns sounds for “Booth Three.” The first image that came to mind was Cloverfield, but I’ll leave it at that.

We all know that ratings and revenue are the lifeblood of any television program, but for Ash vs Evil Dead, it really could mean the difference between the final eight episodes or a Season 4. So, if you haven’t already, add Starz to your cable package, or more conveniently, download the app, because if the first two episodes are any indication, Season 3 may be the best Ash vs Evil Dead yet.

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