Locke and Key season 3 review: It ends with a whimper

When it debuted in 2020, Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Locke and key started pretty well. Based on the brilliant comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, the show tells the story of the Locke family and their sprawling ancestral home in Massachusetts, which is also home to some very cool magic keys. The show’s first season mixed the comic’s dark family drama and fantastic premise with some hilarious high school jokes. Riverdale. But with season two, a lack of a great villain and an accelerated pace took away what made the show so interesting – namely the magic and the mystery. Now the series is back with a third and final season attempting to wrap things up once and for all. But despite some good ideas, it’s not the course correction Locke and key really need.

This review contains spoilers for Season 3 of Lock and key.

Season 3 picks up where the previous one left off, meaning – at least initially – the Locke family is living life as if everything is normal. But there are some important changes. Older brother Tyler (Connor Jessup) is building houses in Montana after an aimless road trip, and more importantly, living a simple life after voluntarily deciding to erase all magical memories from his brain. At the other end of the spectrum, Locke mom Nina (Darby Stanchfield) has used the keys to restore her memory of magic so she doesn’t feel so separated from the rest of her family. (In the Locke and key universe, of course everyone forgets the existence of magic once they grow up unless you use a special key.)

Early on, Tyler returns home for his uncle’s wedding and things get pretty awkward as he doesn’t remember any of the big life events from the past two seasons. There’s not much to say to his little brother Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) and sister Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and he gets pretty suspicious that everyone is hiding something from him. He gets involved all over again, though, because — as the Season 2 finale teased — we now have a new villain in the form of Frederick Gideon (Kevin Durand), a British soldier from colonial Massachusetts who, in modern times, is possessed by a mighty demon. The most important thing to know is that Gideon wants to use the keys to collapse the wall between our world and the glowing blue realm of demons – for reasons that are never quite clear.

There are a few things the new season does well. For starters, there is the introduction of new keys full of possibilities; just like in the early days of Locke and key, it’s a lot of fun to learn about the keys and what they can do. Season 3 introduces us to a time travel key with some very significant limitations and a key powered snow globe with the potential to trap victims indefinitely. As always, these keys “whisper” to the Locke family when the time is right for them to appear. I also really enjoyed some of the more imaginative scenes, when the main key – which allows you to literally crawl into someone’s mind – is used. Much of the show’s climax takes place in the mind of a hardcore theater kid, which makes it extra, well, extra. There are also some great performances here, most notably from Scott as Bode; he’s as obnoxious as ever, but he also takes a detour as a surprisingly effective villain, giving off some strong Chucky vibes.

But all that is largely undone by the rest of the show. For starters, despite the seemingly simple premise, things are far too complicated. At this point in the story, you pretty much need a spreadsheet to keep track of what’s going on with everyone. You have to worry about the powers and locations of the different keys and who remembers magic and who doesn’t, as well as the fact that certain characters have changed their bodies or appearance. I often had to pause the show to try and remember some logistical details.

More importantly, though, just like in Season 2, the new villain is worthless. Gideon isn’t as bad as the extremely creepy Gabe (Griffin Gluck), but that’s not saying much. When the big bad guy both looks and sounds crazy, it’s hard to ever worry too much about the safety of the Lockes. It’s especially disappointing because Season 1 featured an incredible villain in Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira), who was both menacing and manipulative; unfortunately, she only makes a brief appearance in the last chapter of the story.

Maybe it’s a good thing Season 3 is thankfully short. It’s only eight episodes long, compared to the 10 of previous seasons, and a few episodes are only about half an hour long. The show doesn’t take long to reach its conclusion, which wraps things up a little too neatly for my taste. Just like season 2, it’s not like the new episodes of Locke and key are necessarily bad; they’re just okay – which, given the source material and fascinating premise, means they’re pretty disappointed.

Season 3 of Locke and key begins streaming on Netflix on August 9.

Revelation: The edge recently produced a series with Netflix.

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