There are two types TV shows. One is those that pace their stories and plan for multiple seasons; the other is those that do not. And in Season 2 of Netflix’s dark fantasy hit Locke & Key, the show leaves it all on the table, going for broke with a wild season that takes big swings that might make you think it was two and done, if the show hadn’t already been picked up for (and filmed) a third season.
…Okay, fine, there are gradations in there between those two points, but particularly since the advent of the binge it seems like more and more shows are aiming to slowly trickle out their mysteries and character arcs bit by bit. And it makes sense why you’d do that. You can’t just write yourself into a corner and blow the lid off all of your plot points (and mix metaphors), it will make it harder. If you’ve already run through all of your story, where do you go to next? That’s a scary prospect, and not that writing a TV show is easy; but trickling out your plot points over a long period of time means you have more to work with should the series be picked up for additional seasons.
However, as a viewer, the i prefer the “every season is our final season”Approach. In the case of Locke & Key Season 2, that leads to a breathless race through 10 episodes as the forces of good and evil compete for quite literally the fate of the world.
To take a big step back, though: Locke & Key, based on the graphic novels by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, follows the Locke family, who lives in a house called Keyhouse, which is filled with magical keys. There’s an evil entity named Dodge (Laysla de Oliveria) who wants those keys and will stop at nothing to get them. The short version of Season 1 is that Dodge tricked the Lockes into opening The Black Door, a portal that was the only thing stopping a dimension filled with demons. They defeated Dodge and all lived happily ever afterwards. Well, sort of.
When Season 2 picks up, the Lockes — Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones) and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) — are living their best lives, having fun with the magical keys and generally being kids for the first time since their father died (way before Season 1 started). They did, however, throw their gym teacher Ellie (Sherri saum) through the Black Door at Season 1’s end, in the form Dodge. Meanwhile, Dodge is roaming free in the form of Gabe (Griffin Gluck), who has teamed up with another demon who infected the Locke’s frenemy Eden (Hallea Jones).
Does that sound complicated? Although it is complicated, the series does an excellent job of helping you to get back in touch with the world. It also weaves the necessary information into character dialogue and motivations. Although you should have seen the first season, you can catch up with Season 2’s first episode if you miss it. That in and of itself is a little triumph… Some fans of the comics criticized the series for streamlining the narrative created by Hill and Rodriguez for TV. In Season 2, that becomes a feature, rather than a bug, allowing for a show that welcomes new fans while not alienating fans of the source material (don’t worry, comics fans: there are plenty of thrilling Easter eggs).
Photo by Netflix
And in fact, what elevates Season 2 of the series is that with the exposition out of the way — we know what the magical keys are, the Locke kids know how to use them, and the demons have a plan to enact right from the start — we’re able to jump right into the action and get rolling. There are plenty of emotional beats, and a side-trip into Locke family matriarch Nina Locke’s (Darby Stanchfield) dating life that doesn’t really pay off until the last few episodes (when it does, Stanchfield digs into it with all her prodigious acting prowess). But for the most part this season is action packed as Gabe and Eden play a game of chess with the Lockes that, for a good chunk of the season, the Lockes don’t even realize they’re playing.
Season 2 is also a hell of a lot scarier than Season 1, thanks to some visuals ranging from an enormous spider, to a trip inside one character’s head that plays like one of the more terrifying episodes of Doctor Who. That’s also thanks to the wickedly delightful performances by Griffin Gluck and Hallea Jones. The “Gabe is Dodge” reveal was saved until the very last second in Season 1, and with that out of the way Gluck is able to chew up the scenery with deliciously diabolical double-sided line readings… During a film premiere where Bode, laughing, tells Gabe that he’ll have to kill him in the sequel, for example, Gluck’s reaction is priceless. And Jones’ Eden makes a fantastic foil for Gabe, while leaning into more comedic evil. Even though she can be vicious and has the sly smile a good villain needs, the show delights in placing Eden in the worst, most embarrassing circumstances for a murderous demon. Jones enjoys it and takes full advantage of these moments.
That’s not to ignore the Locke kids, who have stand-out arcs throughout the season. Most of the emotional work is layered on Connor Jessup and Emilia Jones, as Tyler grapples with impending adulthood, and Kinsey is torn between her boyfriend Gabe (she’s unaware he’s a demon), and earnest filmmaker Scot (Petrice Jones). Scott continues to portray Bode as the bright, funny, precocious, and smart-alecky light in the Locke family. Even though Bode seems to be growing a foot taller, Scott is still able to do so. But these three actors are the anchor of the series… Without their bond the show wouldn’t work, and is at its best when the main trio is working together to solve a weird key related mystery, or figure out just what it is Gabe and Eden are up to.
Photo by Netflix
Aaron Ashmore’s Uncle Duncan Locke is also excellent. The awkward moment when he moves in to Keyhouse is early in the season. “I’m just visiting”Ashmore can also explore the deep emotional issues that he faces in Season 1. He’s not exactly the Locke kids’ father, but he does step into a paternal role, and turns out to be a crucial member of the team as the episodes roll on.
But more than anything, Locke & Key Season 2 feels like a snowball rolling down a hill. The show starts small and grows to a large extent by the end. Instead, the second season explodes the plot. It will leave you wanting more. Netflix has already announced a third season. We hope it is soon unlocked.
Locke & Key returns to Netflix on October 22.
Where to watch Locke & Key