Locke & Key: Season 1 – Review

Locke & Key premieres February 7 on Netflix.

By Chris Flanagan

It’s good to be a Netflix Original show right now.

After the shift towards more original programming, which has been paying off lately with hits like The Witcher and strong returning seasons later this year of Narcos: Mexico and Lucifer there is no better place creatively to be than Netflix.

Enter the newest risk: Locke & Key.

The show, adapted from a popular graphic novel, has been on a decade-long path to being successful after having a pilot ordered by Fox in 2011 only for it not to get picked up for series and being shelved for several more years as the possibility of a movie had been teased. But all of that is behind it now as the show has finally found a fitting home and has already been rumored to be working on season two even before its first episode has even aired which is promising news already for its future.

Locke & Key follows a family of siblings, Bode, Kinsey and Tyler Locke, who move across the country with their mother following the witness of their father’s murder at the hands of a disturbed student whom Mr. Locke was attempting to help. The Lockes move into Keyhouse, the former childhood home of their father, Rendell, which was given to them after his passing. Keyhouse is a strange and mysterious place as the Locke children quickly begin to realize after discovering strange keys hidden throughout the house that each possesses different magical powers allowing the user to become a ghost, venture inside other people’s minds, set things on fire, repair objects and unlock a door leading anywhere one might want to travel. These discoveries set forth in motion a plan from a mysterious woman who is set on retrieving all of the keys in order to amass unspeakable power.

What makes Locke & Key interesting from the beginning is its premise. The first act of the show is a slow burn of discovery about the magical past of the keys, the house, and the children’s father. When the show is solely focused on this narrative, it is captivating and holds your complete attention. However, when the plot begins to divert from this towards the second act and chooses to follow the children’s separate paths spending more time on their poor decision-making the show greatly suffers large pockets of decline. In many ways, it felt as if the show was intentionally elongating some of its minor narratives in order to extend its screen time and episode count and became painfully obvious as the show marched towards the final three episodes.

Other aspects of Locke & Key shine throughout its first season with the most notable of these being its cast. The actors portraying the Locke siblings are well cast with only a few moments of cringe being delivered by the young actor who plays Bode Locke (Jackson Robert Scott) who you will recognize from IT. The supporting cast is also incredibly well-rounded as both Tyler and Kinsey’s friends help ground the story in an empathetic manner as friends of teens who are trying to get through trauma as well as blend into a new town. The show utilizes their strengths as they play a larger role in the plot as the season progresses.

Overall, Locke & Key provide enough mystery and intrigue mixed with dynamic character relationships that it should be worth a watch. I found myself becoming irritated with some of the absurd decisions the Locke children would make throughout the season which all came to a predictable head in the final act. But if you are able to look past these minor annoyances, Locke & Key can be a really fun and entertaining watch with limited emotional investment that is easy to complete in a weekend. After I managed to finish the series and despite my gripes, I have been able to think of nothing else than Keyhouse and its magical keys. Good things can take time to develop and in the case of Locke & Key it needed almost a decade to achieve its vision. Let’s hope season 2 doesn’t take as long.

I give Locke & Key a B+.

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