Locke & Key
Updated: May 4
I binged Locke & Key the weekend it came out on Netflix. I tried REALLY hard not to. I was a failure, the show however, is not.
Before I dig into all the things I love about Locke & Key, I will fully admit that I haven't read the graphic novels but I know that the show is based off them. I was sold when I watched the trailer they released and couldn't wait to check it out. Also, this is your spoiler warning so if you don't want anything spoiled, LEAVE NOW. Anyway, without further ado, here's my take on Locke & Key.
At the beginning of the show we meet the Locke family headed to their father's ancestral home along with their mother. The Locke family recently experienced a tremendous loss in losing their father and are wanting a fresh start; or rather that's what their mom wants. We come to find that not much is known about the Locke family or their home and that's the way Rendell Locke intended it to be -- I'll explain why later. With each episode, the show reveals more about how Rendell Locke died (as well as what the Locke family went through), the keys that the Locke children find (and what the keys do), and the mysterious yet dangerous woman who wants all the keys to herself.
When the Locke family arrive at their new home, they're greeted by their uncle Duncan, Rendell's younger brother, who doesn't really remember much about living in the house (we later find out why in the season) and helps the family settle in. Duncan lives in Boston but pops in from time to time to check in on the family throughout the season. Anyway, the two older Locke children, Tyler and Kinsey, are off to start high school, while Bode, the youngest, gets to stay at home for about a week. Having all the time in the world and nothing to do, Bode wanders around his father's childhood home. It is during this time at home that he begins to hear whispers that guide him to his first key. Initially, Bode is the only one hearing the whispers but later on Tyler and Kinsey hear them too.
One pivotal moment occurs in the first episode and that's when Bode wanders off to the well-house on the grounds. This is where we meet the main villain of the show, who goes by a few different names but Bode calls her the Well Lady. It takes a few episodes before Tyler and Kinsey believe Bode but they come around pretty quickly. I mean, they obviously believe the magic of the keys so when their little brother is legit scared of an evil lady, they're bound to believe him at some point, right? The Well Lady is a master manipulator and convinces Bode to give her the first key he found, called the Anywhere Key. The Anywhere Key gives away what it does in it's name. Once inserted in a keyhole of a door, it can open a portal to anywhere the user wants. With the Anywhere Key, the Well Lady peaces out and Bode is left realizing he gave away a really powerful key to the bad guy.
There are multiple reasons why I love this show but one of the things I really appreciate is how thoughtful they are about the characters. The Locke children are... well... children... so it's no surprise that they behave like children -- but not in an annoying way (at least not too annoying) -- especially given the circumstances. Not only did their father die, they were all there to witness it and narrowly escaped with their own lives. So Bode gives away a very important and magical key to an evil lady after being manipulated by her. Well, he's a kid so the mistake, though a big one, is understandable. And throughout the season, he feels the weight of that mistake and even goes to extreme lengths to get rid of the Well Lady.
Kinsey, of all the Locke children, makes the most frustrating mistakes throughout the season. HOWEVER, she owns up to pretty much ALL of them. As an example, one of the keys Bode finds is called the Head Key. The Head Key allows the user's thoughts and memories to be removable. Each child ends up using the Head Key but Kinsey in particular is drawn to it and uses the key to remove her fear. To give a little back story, Rendell Locke was killed in their home and while the killer went searching for Kinsey and Bode, Kinsey took her younger brother to hide. Eventually, the killer is stopped but the trauma of what happened has haunted Kinsey ever since. She claims her fear has held her back from living and doing things normal teenagers do so when she come across the Head Key, she sees it as an opportunity to break free. Initially, she gains some new-found confidence and feels great, but later in the season she comes to realize that her recklessness put a lot of people she cares about in danger. In my opinion, character growth in TV shows are a vital part of storytelling and Kinsey's character growth is just one example. All the main characters go through some kind a growth that's actually a part of the show's story arc and that's one of the things I really admire about this show.
Another thing I can appreciate is the acting levels of all the main actors. In my other post about Alita: Battle Angel, I was worried about how the teenage characters would be written and portrayed. I had the same concerns going Locke & Key but was pleasantly surprised. The child actors weren't terrible and the writing for those characters weren't off base. Good child actors are hard to come by okay?! So when I see good child actors and good writing to compliment the acting, I have to give credit where credit is due.
I really love all the magical elements with the keys and I'm super curious to know where they originated from. Watching the trailer for the show, I thought they were going to lean more towards a horror vibe, which it certainly has horror moments, but I enjoyed the magic and whimsical nature of the show. One of the keys Bode discovers is the Ghost Key, which allows the user to pass through the Ghost Door as... well... a ghost. Bode passes through and is able to wander the grounds of the house. Bode gets to meet one of his ancestors, Chamberlain Locke, when he goes to the Locke family cemetery, which is something I really enjoyed seeing. I loved this interaction and I just want to know more about the Locke's ancestor. There were so many occasions in the show where the children had questions about the Well Lady and the keys and I'm sitting there like "Why don't they just ask their great-great grandfather?!" Anyway, I guess I'll have to read the books and/or wait for season 2 to learn more. All the keys exhibit magic, but for me, the coolest one is the Ghost Key.
To add more to the magic and mystery, there's the Omega Key which opens the Omega Door. The door and key aren't discovered until later in the season but its existence was made aware to the audience pretty early on. The Well Lady's whole reason to get out of the well-house is to get a hold of the Omega Key. The kids don't really know what it does but once Ellie Whedon, one of Rendell Locke's childhood friends, begins to open up about her involvement with the keys, we discover that the Well Lady is actually a demon. Long story short, Ellie is the reason the Well Lady is back. She heavily regrets that decision but realizes she bit off more than she can chew and offers her assistance and information about the keys.
As teenagers, Rendell, Ellie and their group of friends were well aware of the magic of the keys and used them frequently. However, when they come across the Omega Door and open it with the Omega Key, a demon jumps into Ellie's boyfriend Lucas, whom she often called Dodge. This demon takes over Ellie's boyfriend and obsesses over the Omega Key. When Dodge kills two of their friends over the Omega Key, Rendell steps in and kills Dodge. The friends make a pact to never use to keys again and split them up among each other. Remember when I said Rendell didn't mention the Locke house or the keys to his wife or kids? Well... this is why.
So time moves on, everyone lives their lives while Ellie stays in the same town where all the drama went down. In a moment of weakness, she uses the key she was tasked to protect, the Echo Key, to bring back her high school boyfriend. The Echo Key can bring back an "echo" of a dead person of the user's choosing. The rules are though, that the "echo" of the dead person must remain in the well-house where they're summoned and the only way for the echo to leave is by using the Anywhere Key. Hence, why the the Well Lady was manipulating Bode into giving it to her. The person Ellie brings back isn't her boyfriend, it was the demon that possessed him. I know you're thinking, "Wait a minute, how is the Well Lady Ellie's boyfriend?". Well, this is because the Well Lady, when summoned by Ellie's key, returns in the physical form of Lucas/Dodge. But the demon uses the Identity Key to change forms. We see the demon as Lucas whenever its around Ellie, and we see it as the Well Lady whenever its around the Locke children. I know... that's a lot to take in. But you'll just have to watch the show to find out the rest!
Overall, I really enjoyed this show and I hope I haven't spoiled too much of the show to deter you from watching. Like I said, I haven't read the graphic novels but I fully plan on reading them now because I'm just so curious about the lore of the keys and the Locke family. Have you seen the show and/or read the graphic novels? If so, let me know what you think!