Locke & Key: Season 1   Books Included 
February 8, 2020 11:47 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

If anyone wants a show-only thread, please post it. I think if I'd liked this season more, I'd want to steer clear of book spoilers, but, I found the show so tonally jarring that knowing more about the source material might make more sense out of it.

There were glimmers of a good show in here, but the way if veered back and forth between YA-drama-rama/kid-show-silly and outright horror (like Echo throwing that kid into the subway) was jarring. It made the kids seem shallower and/or the horror less horrific. And I found myself getting confused about who had which key when. I mean - when Sam had everyone hostage at the house, didn't Kinsey still have the Music Box Key? Why didn't she use it? I assumed her plan in getting Sam out to the woods was to give Tyler time to get the key to use it to command Sam to surrender or something (but then I also hadn't realized that Kinsey had dragged her Fear out of her head into the actual woods earlier, I thought that whole sequence had taken place inside her head). There were just too many instances of people carrying the idiot-ball to move the plot along (on what planet would anyone think it was a good idea to let Ellie take the Shadow Crown Key with her in going to retrieve the Crown?).
posted by oh yeah! at 12:07 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]

I thought it was solid and enjoyed it sufficiently that I binged the whole season at once.

That said, later I've had many "refrigerator moments" and the "big bombshell" was so obvious, I was super-annoyed at how long and dramatically they dragged out the reveal at the end. I had zero doubt about who they sent through the door. And that raised the inevitable question of which one of the gang wasn't who they were. I was about 75% sure that it was him.

What I'm not clear on is if that guy was always Luke and had also (necessarily, if so) just "transferred" to the school, or if Luke had killed and replaced him. I'm unclear on exactly how they introduced the character — even given that they felt the need to show us, like, twenty flashbacks to make sure we understood what happened.

I felt like I was getting a transphobia vibe there with the presentation/subtext of the Luke/Dodge thing, but I'm not a transgendered person so it's probably not for me to judge. On the other hand, though, the idea of Dodge being precisely an XX version of Luke made me really want that identity key for that exact purpose. I have some genderqueer things about myself that I've not figured out, so... 🤷‍♂️

I'm pretty sure that was Joe Hill in a cameo as the ambulance EMT after the teen killer was at the house.

As I said, I've had a lot of refrigerator moments and I can't recall most of them at the moment, but here's one: Why the hell didn't they use the great-great-grandfather as a source of information about the keys? They also could have used the keys much more effectively, especially in combination. And stick the damn key in Duncan's neck and throw some of those memories back in his head and he might be useful!

Joe Hill really does work through his experience of his dad's addiction problems in his fiction, doesn't he? I always wonder if this makes King uncomfortable.

I wasted a lot of time wondering how it might be possible to use the key to somehow shove good judgment into her head, while leaving the fear out.

Speaking of the head key, if throwing a history book in there instantly means knowledge, then what should it logically mean when whole, actual other people are walking around in there?

I'm pretty sick of the trope of "childhood abuse results in a psychopathic murderer".

I also feel manipulated by this now-too-familiar sibling group, especially with the precocious-quirky-cute youngest one. He takes Polaroids! Until he suddenly stops once they establish his character!

I did very much like the "you weren't too scared, you were protecting Bodie" bit.

"You Should See Me in a Crown" is my favorite Billie Eilish song, but it's way, way too familiar to be used in a television show. And too on the nose for this.

Use the echo key to consult with Dad! Echoes aren't bad — it's the demons which use them! Right?

Somehow I think that inviting someone to visit inside your teenage mind might turn out to be very embarrassing, especially if you're hot for that person.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:21 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

This was fun. Not world-beating or anything, but gets a fair bit of mileage from a neat premise.

It's fun family viewing in the same vein as Lost in Space (tweens and up) while being a bit less mechanical about its thrills and at least slightly more sincere in its interest in its characters. Not sure if I zoned out less on this one because it was qualitatively better or because horror is more in my wheelhouse. Likely, it was some of both.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:15 AM on February 9

Having read and moderately enjoyed the series, it was definitely a bit baffling to try and suss out the how and why of the plot changes made for the series, especially when halfway through the series it'd seem like they wanted to pull back closer to the plot points they consciously deviated from in the first place.

-In general, the comic had the same swing from YA-level adventure to fairly dark horror, but more so. The show definitely toned down the more gruesome aspects, but if anything that made the contrast seem to stand out even more incongruously to me.
-In the book, Nina develops her drinking problem as a direct response to the horrific murder of her husband, and it slowly spirals out of control over the better part of the series. In the show they decide to completely sidestep that arc, and then realize 2/3 of the way through that it's important enough to reintroduce so there's a single fairly rushed episode of 'Nina is an alcoholic!' that also introduces the bizarrely nonsensical conflict of 'only children and drunks can see magic...?' that is definitely not book canon.
-They seem to squash two comic characters (Scot and Jamal, best buds) into a single Scot for unclear reasons, which bypasses the drama of 'oh no kinsey likes both Scot and Jamal' subplot... and then they create Gabe, who does that same plot arc for no clear reason.
-Lucas in the show is practically a non-entity, just hanging out at Ellie's house and seen once, briefly, by Bode. In the comic, Lucas actively befriends the Lockes as a new student in school, actively woos Kinsey, and is generally an infiltrator... which is now what Gabe is, which means why even bother with Gabe in the first place.
-The entire plot structure of the last episode was ridiculous nonsense, from 'send ellie unprotected with the incredibly dangerous key' to 'create a decoy to make them think they've defeated me at the same time that i'm actively trying to get the omega key from them' to 'hey dodge desperately wants the key to open the omega door, let's take dodge down to the omega door to open it with the key for no clear reason without even bothering to tie her up even tho bode knows that she was stuck in the wellhouse unable to leave for a reason'... just a bunch of weird incredulous nonsense.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:19 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

And I found myself getting confused about who had which key when.

They also could have used the keys much more effectively, especially in combination.

Yup and yup. I think that was my biggest negative about the show overall - once we're past the basic "Look what this key can do!" scenes, it feels like the kids barely use them, and don't even keep a close eye on them. The keys wind up more of a MacGuffin than, y'know, keys to magic abilities. Which you would think the kids would be more excited about and that Bode especially would constantly be trying to figure out ways to use the keys against Dodge.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:01 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Thirding the lack of key action as the most annoying aspect. Especially since they kept reminding each other that the keys were weapons. I was totally waiting for Kinsey to use the music box key on Sam when he broke in.

Still had fun with the show and the basic concepts - a nice midpoint between Harry Potter and Stranger Things. I'd totally watch some more, but hope they figure out how to do it a bit smarter.
posted by p3t3 at 12:57 AM on February 12

This show was not at all on my radar but my wife and I decided to watch it because we were bored and looking for something new to watch.

I was pleasantly surprised! The concept is fun, the cast was good, the characters were (mostly) endearing. The end of the season had a nice Buffy vibe of various teens coming together to fight the forces of ... whatever Echoes are.

Things were going really well until about the last hour worth of run-time and I feel like everything fell apart starting with the Ellie's decision to go back to retrieve the Crown of Shadows while also holding the key that activates the Crown of Shadows. I generally do not pick nits when it comes to story beats. Sometimes you just have to roll with the decisions characters make whether they are the most intelligent or logical decisions in the moment and I can suspend my disbelief to allow for plot lubrication.

But honestly knowing everything that we know about each of the characters who would be in a position to make this decision (Ellie, Tyler, Kinsey, and Rufus!) I'm 100% sure one of them would have said "hey maybe if we have this key Dodge is looking for one of us Locke kids, who Dodge cannot take the key from, should hold on to that key so she can't take it and we shouldn't send this regular ass woman back to her house where our enemy has been lurking to deliver the thing she's looking for."

And from there it's just a cascade of contrivances. Dodge just gives Ellie a regular-ass punch in the head yet Ellie is knocked out for an hour? Two hours? My girl doesn't wake up when she hears the crashing waves and salt water? And Dodge, who has been in hot pursuit of the Omega key, has the opportunity to grab the key and kill everyone in her path but just doesn't? Maybe she has a Super Secret Mega Stage 2 Plan but that involves keeping all her enemies alive and suddenly not caring about the thing she's been after? Bodie sees his enemy lying prone on the floor, his enemy who is known for using trickery and deception and runs over to where the Omega key was hidden and just pulls it out for all the world to see? Also what happened to the Echo key? Their plan was to lure Dodge back into the well house and trap her there so somebody must have had it (guessing it was Ellie?) - did Ellie also take it back to her house along with the key to the Crown of Shadows?

Like if it was just one or two of those things I don't think I would care. But it felt like they got to the last two episodes and looked at everything they had to happen and said "oh god oh fuck, ummm somebody do something" and didn't pay any attention to following the rules and logic of the world and characters they had spent a season working to build.

Overall I'd say the season was 8/10, would watch more.

One small request: next season can we get an episode where the kids go stay with Duncle and his husband? That sounds like a nice time.
posted by Tevin at 5:26 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]

One small request: next season can we get an episode where the kids go stay with Duncle and his husband? That sounds like a nice time.

Yeah, Aaron Ashmore seems kinda . . . underutilized here. I kept thinking Duncan was going to be a far bigger character.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:21 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I mostly enjoyed this (I deliberately did not re-read the comics, which I last read quite a while ago, so while I remembered and recognised the general beats I don't have a clear idea of what was changed where). I do, however, agree with all the idiot ball criticisms (sending Ellie to get the crown, with the key, was particularly absurd).
posted by confluency at 5:33 AM on February 13

I thought that the casting was on point, particularly for Dodge and Lucas (who look remarkably similar, with no CGI trickery).
posted by confluency at 5:34 AM on February 13

"the way it veered back and forth ...was jarring."

Yes, so much so. The most annoying thing about this is the Supermodelmonster ultraviolence inconsistencies. She strangles that French boy for no reason whatsoever and randomly and completely unnecessarily flings a kid under a train. I know the idea is she relishes the murdering the same way she likes to lay waste to diner food, but in that case shouldn't pretty much everybody she runs up on end up dead? There's that extremely convenient ban on violence against the main characters, and obviously she wouldn't murder people she's manipulating to do things she needs done, but what about everybody else? Why hasn't she laid waste to swathes of highschool kids and townsfolk? If you want TX Chainsaw style violence in your show, that's fine, but it still needs to be set up and earned, and it can't clash with the rest of your show. Either your show is a kid-flinger and people don't care about each other, or it's a teens Learn and Grow Together show and I have to try to care about afterschoolspecial topics like the mom's yawnerific alcoholism.

The evil smile mirror people were supercreepygood, though. Shudder!
posted by Don Pepino at 3:17 PM on February 14

I enjoyed this but had numerous issues with it.

First, I have not read the comics. How is diversity in the comics? Was this a comic full of white straight cis abled people that's been upgraded to be a little more realistic? This could still have used more diversity, like, any LGBT characters among the teens or Asian characters who don't die in the first episode.

Second, why is Bodie not in school? I'm not buying that he's too young, he's way too mature and too big for a four year old. I'd buy six or seven.

After this most of my issues were about how they approached the keys:

After finding out that Duncan's memories aren't in his head, why not use the head key and put them back, a la Tyler throwing the books into his head, and then ask? Or go into his head and put more of the backstory together? There are essentially two options: Duncan remembers the whole thing, or he instantly forgets the way Nina did. Or, since we established that alcohol lets adults remember, why not get him a beer and ask him? Duncan is underutilized, and it would be really nice if his husband were a real character.

Why not use the music box against Sam, and then against Dodge and the crown?

Why send Ellie to get the crown with the key to it rather than one of the Lockes? Or have one of the Lockes hold the key? Why have anyone besides a Locke hold a key, given that they know the Lockes can't have them taken away? This is seriously stupid planning.

Finally, why are so many of the keys just set up in the house for them to find when Dad and his friends were supposed to be looking after them? Also, why not destroy them if they're not going to be used and a demon who's already killed two (three, really) of their friends wants them?

Why do none of Kinsey's friends think to check the tide before going into the cave? Very dramatic and all, but given the locals' knowledge it seems unrealistic. When you live by the ocean, you know you can check when the tides are.

Finally, Gabe. When we meet the Savinis initially, he's not included in their headcount and then... suddenly he's in?
posted by bile and syntax at 8:26 AM on February 15

Second, why is Bodie not in school? I'm not buying that he's too young, he's way too mature and too big for a four year old. I'd buy six or seven.

There was a throwaway line in the first episode about school starting later for his grade than for the older kids. And I think in a later episode it was implied that he'd started going to school (I feel like he left the house with a backpack and said goodbye to the mom), but they never actually showed him in classes.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:52 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

Second, why is Bodie not in school?

Pretty sure in one of the early episodes they mumbled something about how Bode's school started like a week later? Which, uh, hmmmmmmm . . . means that either all this happened in a week (which doesn't really seem to jibe with the events), or, um - yeah, why isn't he in school?

Why do none of Kinsey's friends think to check the tide before going into the cave? Very dramatic and all, but given the locals' knowledge it seems unrealistic. When you live by the ocean, you know you can check when the tides are.

I kinda got the impression that how the tide works inside the caves was supposed to be either magical and/or some kind of irregular & unpredictable thing because complex water routing through rock? I dunno, though, it could just be more idiot-ball.

Finally, Gabe. When we meet the Savinis initially, he's not included in their headcount and then... suddenly he's in?

Wasn't that Gabe in the Lobster Monster costume right from the start? But yeah he did seem to kinda pop up outta nowhere as a major character.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:52 AM on February 15

I'm rewatching and Bodie does go to school, it's just not dramatic and interesting. Oops.

My big issue is now is why not put Dodge/Ellie into the well house like Ellie said would work? It's waaaaay less work than hauling a body down to the caves.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:47 PM on February 15

Ah crap it's because they didn't have the echo key. Well, my points about not learning how to use the keys and about representation stand.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:59 PM on February 15

If anyone wants a show-only thread, please post it.

I'm making one. The book talk in here is distracting, sorry.
posted by numaner at 12:11 PM on February 18

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