When we phoned Ray Santiago early Tuesday afternoon, he’d just finished a run, which isn’t necessarily a surprise for those who remember a chiseled Pablo from last season of Ash vs Evil Dead.
“Forgive me if I’m a little out of breath,” Santiago said. “Ya know, us sidekicks have to keep our physique in check ‘cause Ash certainly cannot run down the block, so I have to do it for him.”
By the time our conversation had come to an end, however, we were the ones in need of oxygen.
Santiago reflected on Pablo’s near death a year ago, the program’s direction under new showrunner Mark Verheiden, past characters making appearances over the next ten episodes, and whether we’ll finally see Pablito and Kelly get together.
But above all, Santiago bombarded us with enough tantalizingly cryptic teasers to keep AvED fans speculating until the curtain rises on the third season either this fall or in January of next year. The man who is Pablo noted that the Ghostbeaters “opened a can of worms” when they time traveled to save our powerful vagina, but “only ate one.” To say nothing of the fact that audiences should “expect the unexpected from Pablo,” that Season 3 offers “the best season finale” yet, or that “No one can be trusted.”
iHORROR: Let’s wind the clocks back to the end of last season. Fans were left to ponder whether they’d lost Pablo for a few weeks, only to get you back in the final episode. You’d said before that holding that secret wasn’t that difficult for you because you enjoyed the fan theories, but during that period, give us your sentiments at the outpouring of affection for that character and outcry for his return.
RAY SANTIAGO: I didn’t realize how much, in a lot of ways, Pablo was the heart of the unit, and how much of the eyes and the ears of the audience. When he was killed off in that episode, fans really came through, and that meant a lot to me. It felt like, I don’t know, if felt like I had done my job right because people cared about losing the character. It also made me understand and value the importance of Pablo in the unit and what he brings to the table, and how the team can never really be the same without him.
iH: This we just have to ask. Prior to last season, fans were offered teasers and pictures, a release date was provided well in advance of the October premiere, there was quite the promotional machine including a stop at San Diego Comic Con. But this year, nothing. Now Bruce Campbell has said that STARZ is just looking for a good slot for the show, it could be fall or even early 2018. Having said that, it all seems a bit odd. Can you touch on the change in approach for this season, has the show’s status changed in the network’s eyes, and more importantly, can you confirm that regardless of date, Season 3 will happen?
RS: Season 3 is definitely happening. It’s already been shot, it’s in the can and we will definitely be showing it to you. I think with the over-pour of horror and comedy and half-hour shows that are out there, the competition is really, really good. We want to make sure that we’re strategic about when we give it to our fans, and we know that they’re super loyal and that they’re still clamoring for Season 3. So it’s really about making sure that we get it out exactly when we feel like it’s right, and that audiences are going to be tuning in and watching. I think Bruce is definitely right, it is about that, and you will be getting it either in the fall or early January. So don’t worry, be happy. We’re coming.
iH: With the departure of showrunner Craig DiGregorio, will the show have a different look or feel with his replacement, Mark Verheiden?
RS: Yeah, I think this season Mark’s definitely focusing on bringing sort of a deeper family level to the show, particularly with Ash as we evolve and uncover some of the spoilers that have been revealed for Season 3, Ash has a daughter. He really wanted to take the characters to a different level. We’ve seen them covered in blood, we’ve seen Bruce’s head up a dead bodies ass, so why not keep that going, but add the element that perhaps people weren’t expecting, which is to see a little bit more of heart in everybody. And to see Ash struggle to be the father that he never thought he could be. For Pablo, he’s going to continue his journey to become the hero that he never thought he could be. To step into the world of not just being a sidekick, but understanding that after going through death and this undeniable relationship with the Necronomicon, has given him. I think this season, the fans should expect the unexpected from Pablo. (He) sees things differently this season, and the Evil Dead world sees Pablo differently. And you’ll come to understand that once you see Season 3.
iH: As you stated, Pablo became one with the Necronomicon last season. He went through hell, died and came back, but it’s the Evil Dead and no one ever gets off that easy. So when you talk about expecting the unexpected, there must be repercussions, and perhaps even, something of a curse / gift? Sounds like your character may have continued visions, even approaching shaman-level like your departed Uncle Brujo?
RS: Yeah, I think we planted the seed for this naive, quirky sidekick who looks past everyone’s flaws and sees a hero, and I think we set it up for him to embrace and find those things within himself. The good and evil force is out there and I think that when he was a child he was taught about it and teased about it, and now he’s perhaps at a crossroads, where he could either go one way or the other. Or both. Or maybe he’s just trying to sort it out. I think (Pablo’s) got a really good journey this season and I think that the fans are going to definitely be happy with where they take it.
iH: Some fans on Twitter have peppered Bruce about what to expect from the next ten episodes, and he responded to one of them cryptically, tweeting “The final showdown.” Is Season 3 set up in such a way that if the show doesn’t return for a fourth campaign, fans will be left satisfied?
RS: I think that’s it’s set up to go further, actually. I think we leave you with the best season finale the show’s ever had. It’s epic. It’s, for me, one of the most fun things I’ve ever shot. I think the Evil Dead franchise will never die, and I think we do leave it in a way where it might be the final showdown for someone that’s in the main core group of the Ghostbeaters, but it is definitely left open to continue, that is for sure. I think this franchise will live forever. It could go for a couple more seasons in this version, or it could continue on in another way, and I think that we’ve planted a lot of those seeds throughout the season and I definitely don’t think that the season finale is the end.
iH: We’ve heard grumblings that we’re in store for a further examination of why Ash is the “Chosen One,” foretold in the Necronomicon itself. That was off-limits during the initial season, but last year things opened up to the Army of Darkness universe. We caught a glimpse of it with Delta as DeLorean when the Ghostbeaters time traveled to save Pablo, but might we see the gang warping again in Season 3?
RS: Well (laughs), the first thing that a lot of fans have said is “Hey, you went back in time to save Pablo and the only thing that changed when they came back was him. Him coming back to life. Is that all? How can that be?” So perhaps this season we will reveal a little bit more of that. We’ve opened up a can of worms and we only ate one, there’s still a whole can, so get ready. There’s past, present, future; you just never know where we’re gonna go.
That’s the beauty of our show, it’s so out there, such an animated, far-fetched, graphic comic book novel that it just goes in so many different directions, and the audience is forgiving because you like seeing that. Where else can you go to see that? So, really again, we can go in so many different directions.
Sometimes I look at Bruce and I’m like, “It’s crazy, the absurdity of the things that we do on this show.” Bruce and I, throughout three seasons, have developed this thing that we do where, when we’re on set and there’s craziness happening, and we look into each other’s eyes and we just start laughing. The first season we did it, and now we’re just like, “Here we go again.” We don’t have to say anything. We can speak to each other with just a look, and we just start laughing. “What are we doing here? What are they doing to us?” So we have a lot of fun on this show, and like I said, we can go in so many different directions.
iH: While we haven’t gotten teasers in terms of clips or pictures, Campbell and Lucy Lawless have been busy dropping hints in interviews and what-not, with talk of Ash having a daughter (Dawn Bourn interview) and perhaps Ruby has her eyes on a more qualified “Chosen One (Legion of Leia interview).” Never mind evil Ruby emerging once again. Sounds like things might get complicated this season.
RS: Absolutely. Evil started wanting just Ash, and ultimately they are always trying to get to him, but this season we realized that there’s more than one person at stake. We’ve got to keep everyone alive in order to make this work. And no one can be trusted. No one. Like I said, expect the unexpected this season from Pablo. The world is going to see him in a different way.
iH: When we spoke with your co-star Dana DeLorenzo last summer, she commented on the status of Pablo and Kelly by saying “Just make out already!” So, we know the two are close, they bonded even further over the course of Season 2, but now that Kelly nearly lost her Pablito, will we finally see these two get together? Because it’s getting’ to a point where it’s a Jim and Pam kind of situation.
RS: (Laughs) Pablo will die trying to get the girl. I can’t tell you if it happens or if it doesn’t happen, but I can tell you he certainly will try till the very end. (Laughs)
iH: Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) popped up last year. Might we see characters from Evil Dead’s past rear their heads once again?
RS: Actually, you know, to piggyback on my answer, I will say that this season there are perhaps a couple of characters that are introduced that sort of make Pablo and Kelly realize how much they mean to each other, and how much they might actually, maybe want to be together. Maybe it takes having somebody else come into somebody else’s life to make the other person understand. So there’s a little tug of war going on there with somebody. Can’t say who.
Will we see other characters from the past? We certainly will. One in particular.
iH: We’ve covered some rumors and reveals, but short of getting yourself in hot water with the STARZ suits, give us a teaser just vague enough to keep Ash vs Evil Dead fans champing at the bit until Season 3 arrives.
RS: I think I’ve given you that already in some of my answers.
RS: Yeah. (Laughs) So I feel like anymore, I’d be giving you too much, but I would say, the final episode is pretty intense. It has that feeling of Six Feet Under’s final episode. When I watched Six Feet Under’s final episode I couldn’t stop crying for, like, days. It was really intense. I think what we’ve done with that, with our Season 3 finale, is given you something that just like, “Whoa. What just happened?”
iH: Oh, man. Yeah, that’ll work as a teaser.
RS: Got that? (Laughs)
Feature image: CineMovie