Locke & Key
The second episode of Netflix’s adaptation of the hit IDW comic series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez fills in some of the mysterious background of Rendell Locke, the murdered patriarch of the Locke family, which now resides in the old family home of their deceased father. While Nina is talking to those who knew her husband and discovering new things about him, Rendell’s youngest son, Bode, is left to explore Key House, wondering where the “Echo” from the well went with his Anywhere Key, and a little worried about when she comes back. But most of all, this episode allows viewers to get to know the Locke kids a little better, deepening some of their new friendships at school and highlighting Bode’s curious personality while introducing us to a few new supporting characters.
The first scene reveals something that feels important: Adults don’t remember what the keys of this house reveal. Mom has no memory of being trapped in a mirror world, rescued by her son Tyler last episode. It might explain why Rendell never talked about his time there, although we learn later that trauma could be a factor, too. Was he holding secrets of his time in Matheson or did he literally forget them, like some of the adults seem to do on this show? When Rendell was young, three friends drowned at the end of their senior year. What if your partner never told you about something that formative from their past? Would you feel betrayed, or concerned about what other secrets they withheld? Or both?
Perhaps trauma over her husband’s death and confusion about his past explain why Nina is willing to let her young son just wander around the grounds of Key House, looking for keys and other things to get everyone into trouble. Give the kid an iPad before he causes more trouble! To that end, Bode finds a sword on a wall and then hears some whispering from behind a closet door. It turns out that Bode Locke is something of a “Key Finder” — the objects that unlock this world almost call to him — and he finds the newest one in a vacuum bag in the closet. It’s got a head on it, and fans of the book will know exactly what this means, and probably be a little startled that the show got here so fast. Clearly, Carlton Cuse & Co. are willing to play fast and loose with the mythology of the source material, bringing in elements that wouldn’t be a part of the books until much later, turning the narrative structure of the show on its head (pun only slightly intended).
Meanwhile, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are getting accustomed to life at a new school, quickly making new friends and learning about the social dividing lines at this prestigious academy. Tyler already has a potential love interest in Jackie, who advises him not to be one of the jerk dudes at school, the guys who brag about sexual conquests that never happened. While Tyler is learning how to be a good guy, Kinsey is still struggling to make friends, eating lunch alone — at least she’s in the cafeteria this time — when Scot asks her to come help him and the Savini Squad work on a movie called The Splattering. Sounds like fun, although maybe don’t woo the traumatized girl by splattering her with blood. It’s probably a courtship move that’s going to backfire.
While the arcs of the Locke kids are gently nudged forward, the Echo has an international journey with the Anywhere Key. From stealing fancy clothes to choking a man during an intimate moment — in a scene that feels way at odds with the YA tone of the show overall — she’s having a blast. She eventually works her way back to Key House in a killer outfit, where she discovers that Bode has set a trap, putting a normal key in a bear trap. It doesn’t work at all, slicing her giant stuffed teddy bear instead, but the scene ends kind of abruptly, leaving Echo’s journey with the Anywhere Key kind of vague. They’re dragging out Echo’s purpose and plan, keeping her mysterious to start the series.
Perhaps most important, Tyler makes a new friend, a student with metal legs named Logan (Eric Graise), whom he sees scratching the car of a fellow hockey player after the owner parks in a handicapped spot. School has barely begun, and Tyler is already being torn between asshole popular kids and the more genuine outsiders. Being a teenager is the worst, although it seems like Tyler is making the right decisions. He seems drawn to Logan, and he doesn’t rat him out to his buddies for the car scratch, leading to a bit of karmic payback when his new pal covers for him when Tyler is accused of shoplifting.
Finally, after the aforementioned Savini Squad film shoot goes horribly wrong, Locke & Key gets to its big ending, when Bode literally puts the Head Key in a keyhole in the back of his neck. In the book, his head just pops open, revealing physical manifestations of everything within, but that would be hard to pull off onscreen, so the show imagines Bode in a sort of out-of-body experience. He stands there in the spot where he keyed his neck, but he’s frozen, and another version is now open to explore what’s been revealed. He sees a giant chest, which he opens and crawls in, and then Tyler and Kinsey come in the room. Let’s have some fun in Bode Locke’s brain!
• Did you think the hardware-store owner looked familiar? It was none other than Tom Savini himself, the famous special-effects master whom Scot and his friends so admire that they’ve named their group after him. It’s a fun cameo.
• Speaking of small roles, that was Griffin Gluck of American Vandal as the lobster-suit-wearing newest member of the Savini Squad. It’s probably not the last we’ll see of Gluck, who’s a talented young actor.
• Do kids still carry G.I. Joe toys? I have three boys and there’s not a single one in the house, which almost makes the figures that Bode and Rufus carry around feel like anachronisms, but maybe my kids are just weird.
• So should the movie be called the The Splattering or The Spattering, as Scot insists? After all, it is called “Blood Spatter,” but blood also “splatters” on the ground. Debate among yourselves.
• If you’re curious, Eric Graise really is a double amputee, and a dancer who appeared in Step Up: High Water in 2018.