Locke and Key Cover: the back of a boy's head; there's a key inserted in a lock shape on the back of his neck


Title: Locke & Key (Season #1)
Released: 2020

Fix: Mysterious Houses, Parents With Pasts, Magical Artifacts
Platforms: Netflix

Netflix Summary:

After their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances, the three Locke siblings and their mother move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, which they discover is full of magical keys that may be connected to their father’s death.

FYA Summary:

The Locke siblings aren’t too pleased to be moved to Matheson, Massachusetts so their mom can fix up her dead husband’s family mansion while they process their grief over his murder. But when Bode, the youngest, starts finding magical keys hidden around the home that awaken them to the possibility of the fantastical, their lives become intertwined with the terrible secrets of their father’s past. Now there’s a spirit with questionable motives on the loose trying to steal the keys from them, and it’s up to all three Locke children to keep the keys safe and uncover the mystery of Rendell Locke’s teenage years before they are doomed to repeat his history. 

Familiar Faces:

Ryan Phillippe Connor Jessup as Tyler Locke 

We could not get over how much this dude reminded us of a baby Ryan Phillippe! My husband recognized him as the kid from Falling Skies but I had never seen him in anything prior to this. Tyler is the oldest Locke and vacillates between the need to be a big brother and the need to ignore his family so he can get laid.

Emilia Jones as Kinsey Locke 

Emilia is also “new” to me, and her face and mannerisms bring to mind a famous doppelganger though I couldn’t pinpoint exactly who as I did with Connor/Ryan. She made Kinsey before and after she “conquered” her fear feel like two different characters, so kudos to her, because while I didn’t mind mopey, grieving Kinsey at first, “cool” Kinsey, with her rash decision-making and lack of concern for consequences, was thoroughly smackable for the latter half of the season.

Jackson Robert Scott as Bode Locke 

This little nugget was the poor kid in the yellow rain jacket from It who got eaten by a clown. Bode starts off with more of the focus but he sort of recedes to the background as Tyler and Kinsey (as the teens) move the story along. He makes some dumb moves, like listening to an evil spirit and testing out keys without adult supervision and somehow just wanders around town alone ALL THE TIME, but I can forgive him more easily than the rest since he’s actually a child.

Darby Stanchfield as Nina Locke 

Nina is a recovering alcoholic who does home restorations and just lost the love of her life. She learns about the keys pretty early on, but there’s magic afoot that causes adults to forget the magic they just witnessed, so the poor lady spends a long time fruitlessly trying to figure out what’s going on. She also spends a good majority of the season seemingly fine with her youngest child wandering around unsupervised, so I do question her mothering abilities. You may recognize Darby as one of Olivia Pope’s lackeys from Scandal, as I did.

Aaron Ashmore as Uncle Duncan Locke 

I know he and Shawn Ashmore are twins, but famous identical twins who both act are pretty rare, so I get a kick out of seeing either of them whenever they pop up. I wonder which one has more name recognition? They both have about the same number of acting credits. Shawn has the X-Men franchise, but Aaron has done more recognizable television like Veronica MarsWarehouse 13, and Smallville. Random tidbit I’m sure you were dying to know: I’ve had a minor crush on Shawn ever since he played Jake on Animorphs way back when.

Anyway… Aaron plays Duncan, Rendell’s younger brother who pops in from Boston every so often to see how the Locke children are getting along. He also has almost no memories of his childhood, which seems problematic to us and a non-issue to him. I’d like to see him have a larger role in the second season, as I think there’s some stories to mine there, and these kids need a positive male role model now that their dad’s gone. 

Couch-Sharing Capability: Don’t Go It Alone

If you are a bit of a weenie about supernatural or scary things, you’ll want someone around to keep you company (my friend who I watched this with freely admitted she would not have continued with it alone). We tuned into the first episode on a lark and somehow ended up watching seven of them in a row, and half the fun was commenting on the characters, their choices, and the plot points. She finally had to beg off at 11 p.m. so I ended up binging the final few episodes on my own, but I did really miss having someone to bounce critiques off of (and now I’m dying waiting for her to fiiiiiiinish already!). So I’m strongly in favor of watching with a buddy, particularly one who doesn’t mind talking over the show and rewinding if necessary.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Dealer’s Choice

There are some twists and turns, but the show goes out of its way to over-explain them eventually (complete with multiple extended flashbacks), so while I watched sober, I’d say feel free to imbibe and not worry about missing much.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Decent

This show has been in Netflix’s new “Top 10 in the U.S. Today” list for a while now, so I’m betting a bunch of you have already binged this horror-lite fare. I hadn’t planned on watching all ten episodes at once, but there was something going for it that kept me intrigued. Some characters made TSTL choices and it lacked some nuance (you can find plenty of critiques online from readers of the original comic book series that say it toned down the violence, gore, and scary bits), but overall, I had fun with it. 

In the future, I would love for there to be more standalone episodes that delve into the Locke siblings learning the uses of specific keys, as opposed to everything happening for the benefit of the overarching mystery plot, but I have a feeling I won’t get my way. Still, I’m sure my finger will be inching towards that play button whenever the second season arrives. 

Have you already watched season one? What key would you want to use the most? (I am so torn between the Anywhere key and the Head key, but probably the Anywhere key because, hello, free vacations and zero commute.) Let me know your thoughts in the comments. (Beware spoilers!)

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.