The Locke family, consisting of the mother Nina, and her children Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, are relocating from their Seattle Home to their ancestral home in New England. The father, Rendell, had been murdered and the family decided to get away and make a fresh start. They find themselves at a huge mansion called Key House and already the entire family is pretty much unhappy. The two older children, Tyler and Kinsey, no longer get along with each other and have trouble making friends. On the other hand, the youngest son Bode is happily exploring the house and the surrounding grounds when he enters into a gated well house on the property. He calls out into the well and is answered by a woman’s voice. She tells him of special keys in the house that can do some amazing things and that the keys will call to him. One by one he finds them, but they’re not all good. One particular key that allows him to travel anywhere there is another door, is conned out of Bode’s possession to this mysterious woman who isn’t as nice as she pretends. Other keys appear including one that allows the user to venture inside his or her own head. As they start to explore the mystery behind these keys their own secrets start to emerge, especially ones that surround the day their father was murdered. Kinsey gives herself the equivalent of an emotional lobotomy while Tyler wallows in self-loathing. As for the mother, she starts to discover secrets about her husband’s past including a tragic drowning that left three of his best friends dead.
Taken from the comic book series of the same name, Locke & Key was adapted and developed for Netflix after a failed attempt to bring it to Fox. I have not read the comic book series, but I have a cursory knowledge of its storyline and this series has indeed veered from the source material. Nevertheless, after having watched three episodes I find this series to be most intriguing. There is a lot of teen-angst from Tyler and Kinsey, but without having seen the rest of the series I find myself watching a show that touches on various forms of both long-termed and short-termed mental illness, and as far as the kids go this is easily supported by the trauma they are living with from their father’s murder. Kinsey’s fear overtook her to the point of paralysis, while Tyler is dealing with a personal secret that fills him with never-ending guilt. It is as if the showrunners had intended to explore the issues of internalized grief and guilt and the damage that can cause when not appropriately dealt with. Tyler emotionally shuts down only to explode with moments of anger, while Kinsey overreacts in dealing with her fear that now makes her reckless. The only child who seems to be the most balanced is Bode. The house and its mysteries are an adventure to him as he discovers new wonders with each key, including a magical moment that allowed him to turn into a ghost and visit his great-great-grandfather. While these episodes are filled with fantasy and wonder, the behavior of the kids could be seen as off-putting despite the fact they are written as guilt-ridden and grief-stricken.
The cast is fairly good here. Darby Stanchfield stars as Nina Locke, the widow of Rendell Locke, and on top of writing a character that has to deal with the loss of her husband, Nina is also a recovering alcoholic, making this a difficult role for Stanchfield to play. She shows Nina as becoming increasingly fragile, and yet there is a simmering strength in there that shows what kind of person Nina is. It will be interesting to see how she comes off in the rest of this series.
The two older children are played by Connor Jessup as Tyler and Emilia Jones as Kinsey. Jones has already shown some amazing acting as she deals with the fear within her to the point of almost coming off as schizophrenic. Jessup, on the other hand, was initially boring me out of my mind. I found his delivery to be remarkably flat until a flashback on his character revealed the source of his guilt, which has now made this performance completely understandable. What I was initially thinking of as a dull acting performance was in truth a wonderful job at showing a young man who was emotionally shutting down while also having to step in as a surrogate father for his younger siblings. Then there is Jackson Robert Scott as Bode. From the beginning, I have been enjoying this young man’s acting performance. He has shown a wide range of emotions that are perfect for a child of Bode’s age and circumstance, but never to the point of being overly cute like child actors have been known to do in years past.
This series just dropped on Netflix so I still have quite a few episodes to get through. Nevertheless, the story intrigue and supernatural mystery have held my interest, so for now, I am giving Locke & Key a big thumbs up!