Locke & Key
As Netflix shows often do, Locke and Key approaches the midpoint of its ten-episode season in a bit of a sag when it comes to momentum. Sure, the stuff with “Fearless Kinsey” is fun, and allows Emilia Jones to show some more of her range, but this episode feels particularly slack when it comes to pushing the narrative forward. At the beginning of the episode, the force that emerged from the bottom of the well needs the keys now protected by the Locke House — and that’s kind of where we still are at the end. In between, we get mostly teen relationship drama, as Kinsey gets closer to Scot and Tyler gets closer to Jackie. Nothing is particularly wrong with that — it helps that Jones and Connor Jessup are very likable young actors — but it’s hard to shake that sense of Netflix Bloat that so often happens in the middle of their original series. Hopefully the next episode will push us forward a bit more.
“The Keeper of the Keys” opens with a brand-new Kinsey. Stabbing and burying the fear monster that lived in her head has freed Kinsey Locke, but at what cost? Isn’t it good to have a little fear in your brain? Whether or not the long-term damage will be a problem, Kinsey seems much happier now. She’s up at 5 a.m. making bacon (even though she doesn’t eat it) and ready to take on the day. She dyes her hair, finally settles on a drawing to send to art school, and even takes a jab at her mom’s lack of organizational skills. Again, this all seems good for a girl who was withdrawn for the last few months, but just removing a big chunk of your personality in one go seems like something that could lead to problems, right? Until the day she realizes she needs her fear monster, though, she’s living her best life, feeling confident enough to ask Scot to come over for more of a proper date.
Meanwhile, Nina wants to get in touch with Rendell’s old friends. She learns via Ellie that they’re all dead or close to it. Mark is the one who died in the fire in the series prologue; Erin is nearly catatonic at a mental hospital. When Ellie mentions a ping-pong room in the basement, the ladies investigate and discover it was boarded up. Instead of asking why, they Kool-Aid Man through the wall and discover it’s largely in the same condition, just a little dustier. Ellie is clearly only giving some of the information that Nina is asking about, and denies knowing why Rendell drew Omega signs all over his yearbook. She probably does know why.
Speaking of Erin, she gets a visit from the Echo, calling herself Chastity. The Echo tells her that Rendell and Mark are dead. Will Erin be next? And why is Ellie being kept so free from harm if everyone who hung out in the Key House basement seems to be suffering?
Does it have something to do with Rufus, Ellie’s son? He tells Bode that the well house on the property has a long history. In fact, defectors were hung there during the Revolutionary War. If any place on Earth is going to be haunted by some sort of supernatural power, it’s a place like that, and even photographs of it seem to have something creepy going on, as Bode sees the Echo talking to him from a book. Rufus also reveals that Lucas was Ellie’s first boyfriend. Is that why she’s been kept safe?
Meanwhile, Tyler Locke has an interesting idea that indicates he’s probably seen Inception a few times: If something can be taken out of someone’s brain via the Head Key, can something be put in? He throws a book about the history of Matheson into his brain, and suddenly knows its contents. He’ll never have to study again! He does the same with a book of British history, trying to impress Jackie, but the best character beat this episode comes when Tyler learns that experiential conversation is much better than just repeating facts, and that arguing over the best clam chowder will woo a love interest more than trivia about York.
Scot finally gets to the most famous haunted landmark in town when Kinsey invites him to Key House. She’s aggressive, taking him straight to her room, but it’s not just for a make-out session. She actually shows him the Head Key and how it opens the mall inside her head. In fact, after showing him around her memory store, they share their first kiss. That could be a tough one to explain to the grandkids (or therapist) when they’re older.
Finally, Tyler and Scot are comparing relationship notes when doors start slamming. The Echo has returned to threaten Bode. She teleports him via the Anywhere Key to a ring of fire in the front yard. Why can’t she just take the key? He realizes that she needs him to give it to her, and he’s not about to do that … although maybe he’ll give it to her friend Sam Lesser. She finally drops the Anywhere Key off with the man who killed Rendell Locke, who makes it clear how far he’ll go for his rescuer: “I’ll do anything you want.”
• Anyone else a little suspicious of Mr. Ridgeway? He’s been awful involved in Tyler Locke’s life, and remember he knew Rendell and the rest of the doomed Breakfast Club of Matheson’s past. While the character seems a little strange for now, it sure is nice to see Steven Williams get a solid part. The man has been a reliable character actor for generations, appearing in everything from The Blues Brothers to The X-Files to The Leftovers to Birds of Prey. He has over 140 credits.
• Nina Locke has a mug that was given to her after a year of sobriety by her husband that says Ray of F**king Sunshine. I don’t have a year sober, but I’d sure like one of those mugs.
• Jackie talks about her favorite Jane Austen book being Sanditon, which was the author’s famously unfinished novel that has been completed by others in various forms over the years — perhaps a nod to adapting a source started by one author and expanded on by other creative voices? There’s an adaptation currently running on PBS Masterpiece, if you’re curious.
• It’s funny that it took four episodes to reach the end of the first comic book, when the Echo gets Sam the key to his freedom. It shows you how much the team behind this show has been pulling from various parts of the entire arc of the book, rearranging it into something new.