I have something of a small complaint about Locke & Key, and that would be how much the show often plays like a high school drama with worries about love and big games and the usual sort of tropes you might see in a show set in a high school. This is a show based on a horror comic about kids fighting a demon thing using the power of magic keys. I don’t care about who is dating whom.
Then there are episodes like this that do something really right about the horror.
To be fair, that “really right” thing takes a while. The episode does something with a new teacher at the school, a guy who mansplains stuff to Nina as she redecorates and renovates the school’s auditorium, teaches Tyler a class that has a pop quiz on day one, and then turns out to be the father to Bode’s new best friend and a love interest for Nina. I really have no interest in what happens to Nina, but I suppose doing anything with her beyond making her a hopeless alcoholic like the source material is something. Besides, shows like this like to make sure all the characters actually have stuff to do, so Nina’s dating the new teacher Josh Bennett while Bode befriends his daughter Jamie seems par for the course, plus the “which boy will Kinsey date?” drama.
There’s also the potentially cutesy stuff Tyler and Jackie are doing so she doesn’t forget the keys.
But the rest of this episode? Much better in many respects, particularly how the show subverts expectations for anyone who has read the comic. I am pretty sure Eden is a new character, but Dodge’s efforts to forge a key…well, they turn some fisherman into a pile of sludge, not the intended reaction. Dodge’s attempts to learn keymaking are rather clever, and it involves tricking Bode into loaning Dodge the Ghost Key, and then Dodge manages to get a Locke ancestor to explain how to make keys.
OK, that was kinda lame. Why did an ancestor just explain key-making to a guy who just floats up and claims to be dating Kinsey? I realize ghosts probably don’t really check for ID or anything, but c’mon!
And I say this as someone who basically likes Dodge as a character. Dodge is easily the most interesting person on the show no matter what shape they take. It helps, perhaps, that most of the other characters seem kinda dumb in comparison. Granted, the ones who knew Dodge existed think they’re dead, but the point stands.
But the best part was when Tyler and Kinsey, in an effort to find a way to remember the magic past the age of 18, use the Head Key to look inside the catatonic Erin Voss’s head. Normally, on the show, popping the Head Key into someone produces a copy of that person near a doorway of some kind. Not Erin. There is a door, and it doesn’t go anywhere friendly. It looks like a high school, only overgrown with plants, with items that turn to dust shortly after being handled, and books that fly out of lockers at the two teens. The atmosphere in the scene is great and quite tense, and it makes up for a lot of the sillier stuff that I sat through to get this far.
And then they find a teenage Erin, literally lost in her own head and completely unaware how much time has passed. Finding her in there allows them to lead her out…and Erin wakes up.
OK, Locke & Key, I put up with a lot of nonsense I don’t much care about to see something cool. That’s good work. Keep it up.