Locke & Key couldn’t have come along at a better time when it premiered in February of 2020. Cut to a month later and, as you know, we were all locked (ah, get it?) in our homes, with this epic drama, based on the IDW comic books by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, just waiting for us to binge. There was the Locke family and their epic colonial manor, which had dozens of magical keys hidden for the kids to find, not to mention a portal to a demonic world that would wreak havoc on their own. And it was good.
Now comes Locke & Key’s third and last chapter, which, among other things, drives home the point that as we grow up we shy away from the magic and fantasy and instead focus on what’s ahead of us. So while this last batch of episodes has some not-so-magical moments, it’s still a final act that successfully wraps up this story of family and childhood.
And that’s really what is. Even with all of its demons and supernatural elements, at its core Locke & Key has always been a series about family. We see this in the way Nina (Darby Stanchfield) steps up to raise her kids after struggling with alcoholism for years and losing her husband. We see it in in the bond that Kinsey (CODA’s Emilia Jones), Tyler (Connor Jessup), and Bodey (Jackson Robert Scott) share as siblings, even when Bodey uses new keys on his own over and over again after he’s been repeatedly told not to. (This stands as one of the most frustrating parts of this season. Seriously, how many times does he have to learn to leave the damn things alone?)
Back to Nina. Now that she’s able to remember the strange things that’ve been going on in her house over the last few years, it’s as if she’s unleashed her inner child. She spends much of this season playing with something she doesn’t understand, which often has dangerous consequences. And as for Tyler, his decision to toss aside magic proves frustrating as a viewer, particularly when the new Big Bad attacks and he can’t understand why a guy dressed as a Red Coat would break into his house.
Speaking of Big Bad, Frederick Gideon’s (Kevin Durand) motives feel a little too generic this time around. Basically, if he can collect all the keys ever made, he can use their power to open a portal to his world that is big enough to envelope the Lockes’. (It feels like we’ve seen this plot unfold before, no?) Although familiar, the use of the time-shift key (and the chaos that ensues) works, and it lets the show pays homage to its last two seasons, with Eden (Hallea Jones), Gabe (Griffin Guck), and even Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) making welcome appearances.
Unfortunately, where Locke & Key usually thrives, it fumbles here. First off, a lot of the magic just doesn’t add up. Plus, many of the season’s resolutions feel too convenient, with scenarios you have to shrug off and go, “Um, okay?” What’s more, new(ish) characters like Gordie Shaw (Michael Therriault) and Tyler’s flirt, Carly Miller (Oriana Leman), are introduced as essential or at least relatively important, but we barely have enough time to get to know them before they disappear.
So yes, sure, this is the weakest season. But that’s not to suggest the series leaves on a sour note or doesn’t have anything to say. After luring us in with the grandiose concept of keys that do fantastical things, Locke & Key ends on a mature note, emphasizing that there comes a time that all of us must let go of our childhood, no matter how badly we want to cling to it.