The Premiere -| Review Score – 3/5
The Head and the Heart -| Review Score – 3/5
Small World -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Forget Me Not -| Review Score – 3/5
Past is Prologue -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Maze -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Best Laid Plans -| Review Score – 3/5
Irons in the Fire -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Alpha & Omega -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Cliffhanger -| Review Score – 3/5
Locke and Key is a strange kettle of fish in many ways. The first season wasn’t particularly memorable, but the bites of horror, surreal fantasy and character drama managed to blend together to strike a chord with a lot of people. Adapted from the Joe Hill graphic novels (which I have not read) the show was at its strongest when it focused on the fantasy elements and exploring Keyhouse.
However, the 10 episodes had a tendency of juggling these multiple keys with fetch quests and romantic subplots that didn’t add a lot to the story. So does season 2 rectify that? Well… yes and no.
Season 2 of Locke and Key is both somehow better and worse than the first season. On the one hand, the lore is expanded; there’s more history around Keyhouse and some neat 1775 flashbacks reveal the origin of these keys. Speaking of which, there’s some new keys coming into play this year, good character development for Tyler and Kinsey, along with a few neat fantasy elements too. And yet, through all of that, the show buckles under the weight of tired, formulaic clichés and a tendency to rely on contrivances and deus ex machina.
The story this time picks up with Gabe and Eden working together, finding fragments of Whispering Iron which can be used to craft brand new keys. Gabe (who is really Dodge in disguise, if you remember) remains hell-bent on creating a new key for an unknown mission that’s slowly revealed over time.
For the first 4 or 5 episodes though, Locke and Key is in no hurry to do anything, flirting around the teenage love triangles (step forward Kinsey, Scot and Gabe) while introducing a new romantic love interest for Nina in Josh.
Now, Josh is actually quite an interesting character and for much of the season you’re never quite sure what his purpose is. No spoilers here but he’s ultimately reduced to a walking, talking narrative device. Brilliant. This entire subplot goes nowhere by the time the season ends too, and although it does lead nicely to the next season, it also feels like wasted screen-time.
While Gabe and Eden work toward their plan and Nina heads off on her own subplot, when the story finally does get going around the midway point, the attention actually falls to Duncan. Between getting his memory back and crafting keys of his own, the race is on to stop Gabe before it’s too late.
It’s a typical cat and mouse chase in truth, and in fact, this season has a lot of similarities to The Irregulars. Both center on a group of angsty teens, both involve a mystical portal and both introduce faces from the past. However, Locke and Key is not afraid to pull the trigger when it comes to character deaths and there are a few surprising ones here. There’s also a main cast member that leaves too, but ultimately this all feels like a stop-gap for the third season to come.
Locke and Key then is a difficult one to review. It’s a show that’s somehow worse than it was the first time around but also does enough to answer big questions from season 1 to leave satisfied by the time the final credits roll. It’s just a pity that Locke and Key takes so long to get to the point.
Whether Netflix can find the right key to unlock the true potential of this show remains a mystery but in the meantime, season 2 is content with swimming the waters of mediocrity.
Verdict - 6/10