Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
One of the most frustrating tropes in TV and film comes from stupid characters. Horror films have been notoriously bad for this over the years, eventually leading to infamous parodies like Scary Movie. Likewise, comedies use this as a parodical tool with classics like Dumb and Dumber.
But then you get stories like season 3 of Locke and Key, which essentially takes the characters of Dumb and Dumber but plops them into a serious fantasy drama. This lack of logic and reason is ultimately the bread and butter of every issue and problem our characters face.
The ensuing result makes for a tough watch at times, was you’ll be rolling your eyes and shouting at your telly, wondering just what these people are doing. It soon becomes clear that whatever magic this show had is long gone with this third season.
Now, stupid characters acting erratically can be fun to watch as a “so bad it’s actually good” sort of watch but Locke and Key doesn’t even have that going for it.
Instead, most of the season is full of contradictions, huge plot holes, contrivances and characters that never grow or learn anything across the run-time. I’m being careful not to spoil anything here but if I’d have to point to one of the worst culprits for this, it would have to be Bode. What a journey this kid has had.
From the cute, smart and inquisitive kid in season 1 to one of the most annoying and grating players in the whole show; expect plenty of boasting, arrogance, pouting and gaslighting. And just like the moral ambiguity in Hollywood, you’ll be struggling to work out whether this guy is a villain or a hero.
“So what’s the story in all this?” I hear you say. Well, after Netflix’s handy recap to the events in season 2, the new chapter of Locke and Key picks up with the Locke family ready to get their lives back on track. Tyler is out of town with no knowledge of the keys, Nina is still in a will they/won’t they relationship with Josh while Kinsey and Bode are still mulling about Locke house, waiting for the main plot to kick in again. And kick in it does as episode 1 rolls round.
The main antagonistic threat this year comes from Captain Gideon, who’s hellbent on getting his hands on every single key from inside the house. In order to do that, he uses the power of the Well to conjure up several of his lackeys to do his bidding and invade Locke House.
Along the way, Bode and the gang stumble over numerous problems, most of which issues they’ve caused themselves. In episode 1, Nina almost kills Bode by abandoning him while using a new key. He ends up trapped in the cold in a snow globe. Now, back in season 1 we’ve learned that these keys are pretty dangerous and should be handled with care.
In season 3, all of that is out the window as the aforementioned scenario I just mentioned is a recurring trope throughout the series, as Bode finds several new keys that completely change the dynamic of the whole show… and he dives in headfirst without a regard for the consequences of his actions.
There are a couple of world-changing additions late on that are handled with about as much care as a baby with a shotgun. It’s actually quite impressive how badly these destroy the integrity of the story.
Despite how exciting the keys are, season 3 is actually rather bland and moves at a pretty poor pace. We get a whole episode dedicated to Duncan’s wedding and then he disappears from the plot completely, save for a conveniently expository voicemail late on in the game.
Meanwhile, there’s a last minute plot twist that comes out of nowhere, a distinct lack of action in the middle portion of chapters, and then, to top it all off, the final episode rockets through its antagonistic threat with such velocity that it feels like riding a gentle ride at a theme park before the hydraulics are slammed on and you rocket round the final curve back to the station.
Locke and Key is one of those shows that’s actually not too bad to binge in the moment. Sure, the characters are still incredibly stupid and make dumb decisions right the way through, but the keys are such a unique and interesting concept that you’ll stick with this in the hope that it gets better. With the exception of a few aesthetically pleasing moments late on, it doesn’t. When you finish this season and take a step back, you really do come to realize just how shockingly poor this final season is. And it pains me to write this because I actually enjoyed the first two seasons.
Now these were not without their problems but they could be overlooked by the imagination and visual flair on offer. Season 3 waits until its penultimate episode before giving us a taster of that same flair. I can’t help but feel that if this series dabbled a bit more with its visual design, it may have worked to paper over the nonsensically stupid and erratic characters at the forefront of this.
Ultimately, Locke and Key bows out its third season by burning everything behind it. This a story riddled with problems, from the worldbuilding and narrative structure through to its characters and contrivances. There are a few stand out moments but judging as a full season, this is miles below par.
Verdict - 3/10