Locke & Key Season 1: Review/Opinion

Season 1 of Locke & Key, a supernatural horror drama series, premiered on Netflix in February 2020. This is a review/personal opinion of the first season.

In relation to his recent interview with cast member Jesse Camacho (Doug Brazelle), Editor-in-Chief Conor O’Brien watched all 10 episodes of Locke & Key on Netflix.

Locke & Key released all 10 episodes on Netflix in February 2020. The horror drama series was developed by former LOST co-showrunner Carlton Cuse, Meredith Averill and Aron Eli Coleite. The show is an adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s popular comic book series of the same name

1. The Cast

Emilia Jones, Jackson Robert Scott and Connor Jessup in ‘Locke & Key’ (Netflix)

First and foremost, the casting choices in Locke & Key Season 1 rewards viewers who have broad tastes in watching television and movies. Many of the cast, both regular and supporting, are familiar faces from a variety of different projects. This somewhat follows the mould of Scream (1996, dir. Wes Craven), who infamously killed off their biggest name in the opening scene of the movie.

For example, fans of Scandal will recognise onscreen matriarch Darby Stanchfield (Nina Locke) for her role as Abby Whelan on all 7 seasons. Likewise, Connor Jessup (Tyler Locke) starred in TNT apocalyptic alien drama Falling Skies between 2011-2015. Griffin Gluck, who plays Gabe, was a co-lead of American Vandal, a mockumentary satire released on Netflix for 2 seasons.

Jackson Robert Scott (Bode) also portrayed ill-fated Georgie Denborough in IT Chapter One (2017) and It Chapter 2 (2019). Meanwhile, Aaron Ashmore (Duncan Locke) has starred in a succession of science-fiction shows prior to Locke &Key which include Smallville, Warehouse 13 and Killjoys.

While I’m sure that casting talented unknowns in Locke & Key Season 1 would not have hurt the show, the actors’ prior work turned out to be an asset. After all, people would be more nervous about a character’s safety if they had a face that fans knew and loved from another series. Although Emilia Jones, Petrice Jones and Laysla De Oliveira were not as known before, Locke & Key was not their first gig.

Another reason why I enjoyed the familiar actors was finding amusement in the “crossovers” that were taking place. After all, who could imagine a world inhabited by characters from Scandal, Falling Skies and American Vandal? Yes, they are actors playing different roles on Locke & Key season 1 rather than their old characters. The concept, however, is crazy to think about.

2. The Story/Characters

Locke & Key (Netflix)

Overall, I found the storyline in Locke & Key Season 1 to be interesting, well-told and full of twists. Considering this is the work of Carlton Cuse and Joe Hill, among others, this is not too surprising.

Rather than fully adhere to the horror genre, there were also elements of a classic teen drama. Tyler (Connor Jessup) had a romance with Jackie Veda (Genevieve Kang). Kinsey (Emilia Jones) was embroiled in a love triangle with Scot (Petrice Jones) and Gabe (Griffin Gluck). This is something that has depicted countless times which makes it difficult to make this storytelling thread any more or less interesting than other attempts.

Furthermore, there are also slight similarities to Harry Potter – being orphaned or losing a parent in sudden and tragic circumstances, discovering magic, the phrase ‘Keeper of the Keys’ was attributed to Rubeus Hagrid as Groundskeeper . The kids even attend an old-fashioned boarding school, albeit as day pupils, which seems reminiscent of Hogwarts.

Locke & Key even includes a direct reference to Harry Potter in an early episode. Kinsey (Emilia Jones) saw graffiti on a wall which read “Your invitation to Hogwarts isn’t coming.”

Emilia Jones and Petrice Jones in “Locke & Key” (Netflix)

To become invested in any story, the first step is liking the characters. As I have said already, some elements of the Locke siblings’ backstory has been shown in fiction on numerous occasions. Even a counsellor character being shot and killed (Rendell Locke, played by Bill Heck) by someone they were treating was an important component of The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

That being said, I did enjoy following the journeys of these characters in Locke & Key Season 1. All of the major players, even within the Locke family itself, are unique to themselves. It’s rare to enjoy an entire main cast without exception. Everyone brings something different to the metaphorical table of Locke & Key rather than all coming across similarly.

I also enjoyed ‘getting to know’ some of the supporting characters. In particular, some of my favourites were Ellie (Sherri Saum) and Rufus (Coby Bell). Their relationships and contrasts with a respective Locke – Nina and Bode, were very compelling

Additionally, I was surprised and delighted to discover that Coby Bell was the same actor who played ‘Liam West’ in The Good Doctor. Bell has autism in real-life, much like both Rufus and Liam. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), the lead character in The Good Doctor is autistic – ‘Liam West’ was his first-ever patient who also had autism. Of course, this was a memorable episode of that show and it was nice to see yet another recognisable actor in Locke & Key.

3. Its Future

Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones and Sherri Saum in “Locke & Key” (Netflix)

As of March 2020, Netflix has officially renewed Locke & Key for a second season on its streaming platform.

Therefore, all the surviving characters would be expected to return. Hopefully, we will also discover the answers to questions that were presented about certain characters in the Season 1 finale.

From the early episodes, Locke & Key seemed to be a vast, overarching story. Again, in a similar vein to Harry Potter. For this reason and taking into account how well-executed the first season was, the renewal makes complete sense in my opinion. Some may have even thought it was inevitable.

Considering Cuse’s storytelling history with Damon Lindelof on LOST, there’s no telling where the Locke family, their friends and enemies could be going next. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Locke & Key is currently airing on Netflix.

Follow Editor-in-Chief Conor O’Brien on Twitter and Instagram – @CourageousConor.

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