The following are extensive scene-by-scene recaps on ‘Locke and Key’. A Netflix adapted horror series created and based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Joe Hill and developed by Carlton Cuse of Lost fame. With a podcast below reviewing the first three episodes of the season.
We take a look at Locke and Key’s pilot episode in the TV Talk 27.
Episode 1: Welcome to Matheson
A man walks down the street on a chilling foggy night in the middle of suburbia. Bag of groceries in his right hand. Set of jingling keys in his left. He unlocks the door to his home then picks up a phone call, where the woman on the receiver delivers an ominous message:
“Rendell Locke is dead.”
We learn here as the camera pans up, that the man is Asian — later revealed to be Mark Cho (Ken Pak), though we’ll learn more about him later. He enters the house and says he knows what to do and hangs up. Scavenging around the place for stacks up papers. Pulling out diagrams, pictures, and a map of keys which he lays on the table. Finally, Mark opens a safe and pulls out a particular key, plunging it into his heart — setting ablaze himself and his house.
Three Months Later, on a cold Massachusetts highway, Nina Locke (Darby Stanchfield) drives across country from Seattle to Massachusetts with her three kids — each within their own little world. Her eldest boy, Tyler (Connor Jessup) who is intentionally tuning out his family while listening to his headphones, the middle child, Kinsey (Emilia Jones), who sketches in a sketchbook while eating Mike & Ikes, and finally: Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), the youngest boy, who is taking polaroid pictures documenting their journey thus far. He is also bored out of his mind and so pesters his family with questions.
When they finally arrive to the quaint little town of Matheson, Massachusetts they immediately go to an ice cream parlor. Bode notices Rufus (Coby Bird) — who he says hi to just outside the ice cream shop. Inside an employee with an English accent, revealed later to be Scott (Petrice Jones), compliments Kinsey’s bracelet. He notices the name on Mrs. Locke’s card and lets them have ice cream for free, showcasing that the family is renowned for some reason.
When the family finally arrives at Key House, they’re greeted by uncle Duncan (Aaron Ashmore) who has arrived from Boston. He gifts the family party hats and welcomes them inside, a playful Bode hanging onto his leg as they enter, in an adorable childlike fashion.
Inside, Duncan gives them the tour. Shows them the drawing-room and the winter study. We notice the house has peeling wallpaper and old historical artifacts, things left behind by their ancestors from the revolutionary war: weaponry, books, and information on the town of Matheson. There’s also an ominous door set between two tall wood-paneled cabinets.
They continue across the large house, and Nina comments on the never-ceasing chill in the air. Duncan takes them to the great room, a multi-functional living room and portrait gallery of their family, most notably: Devon Locke. Though Duncan playfully tosses some incorrect names as he points at the varying portraits to Bode, noting that the most infamous member of the Locke family is missing: The Loch Ness Monster (obviously not). They conclude the tour in the kitchen where Nina tells them to unpack and pick rooms.
Moments later, Duncan visits Kinsey in her new room. He notices her different sketches of bicycles. She reveals that she’s applying to Parsons for their Summer program though finds her art a bit warped.
Outside, Tyler smokes by the edge of a cliff where he observes waves hitting the rocks. Kinsey finds him and tells him he wouldn’t smoke if dad were still here, then comments that she finds that he’s become distant — revealing that she knew Tyler and Rendell were fighting a lot before he died. She reveals that the first thing she wanted to do when they arrived was text a picture of them to their dad as he’d have liked this. She takes a selfie with her brother and sends it anyway, where at that moment, Nina hangs up her husband’s ashes on the mantle. She sees the message on Rendell’s phone, apparently keeping it on her, which triggers a memory.
In a flashback, Nina listens to ‘time of the season’ while being longingly held by her husband, while Kinsey is ‘twerp-hunting’ playing ‘wack-a-body’. Rendell suggests she check the basement. The doorbell rings, and Rendell exclaims Tyler must’ve forgotten his key again. When Nina opens the door, she is surprised to see Sam Lesser (Thomas Mitchell Barnet), a student who knows Tyler, who’s there to see Mr. Locke. He tells him they can talk Monday but Sam wants to talk now, pointing a gun at him. Mr. Locke tells him he won’t talk to him at gunpoint and so Sam shoots Nina in the leg, who drops to the floor. He threatens that he wants to know about Key House!
Mr. Locke tells him he doesn’t understand that place, and when Tyler starts knocking on the door calling for him, he tries to take the gun from Sam and fails — being shot in the process.
Outside the house, Bode finds a gated and enclosed well house. Squeezing between the bars, he looks down and takes a polaroid of the bottom, which falls down the well. As he turns away then looks back, he finds the dropped picture in front of him again somehow and asks if the thing in the well is his echo. A woman’s voice replies:
“Yes. I am. Bode”
Back in the house, Duncan reveals to Nina that his brother never let him sell the place. Nina tells him she wants to make it their new home. Tyler enters tells them Bode saw a girl in the well. Together, the family approaches the well house and find nothing but Bode swears it’s true.
The next morning, Nina tells Tyler to take his headphones off at the breakfast table. Though he doesn’t eat his eggs as there are shells in it. When she offers an omelet to Kinsey, she passes, and so Nina puts it down the garbage disposal — which immediately clogs. As Nina reaches in she mysteriously pulls out from it: a tuft of black hair.
The older siblings’ bellyache about their new boarding school, as Bode claims he’s going to spend this week off mapping out the house. It’s obvious Nina wants to help her kids, but Kinsey already has taken care of everything. Minutes later, Duncan arrives for his visit, saying he’s going to leave town soon Boston. The kids soon leave and Duncan hands the keys to the house to Nina. She promises they’ll all have dinner in the city soon. Before he leaves, Duncan takes one look at the house and flips it the bird outside — much to the chagrin of an observing Bode. When asked about if he was flipping the finger, Duncan jokingly tells Bode that the middle finger has a different meaning in some languages and was just saying goodbye. Bode questions if it’s like ‘Aloha’, and Duncan agrees, and so Bode flips Duncan the finger. The two laugh as they say bye.
At their new school, Kinsey asks to see Tyler at lunch, but he tells her he has Hockey tryouts. Adjacent, a bunch of girls talk about holding a party. One of them says they won’t invite Kinsey because she’ll likely be a ‘killjoy’, undermining Rendell Locke’s death as her own aunt had died last year and it wasn’t ‘so big of a deal’. At lunch, alone, Kinsey eats her fake bologna sandwich (she’s vegan) beneath a sign that says: “Your invitation to Hogwarts isn’t coming”.
Suddenly, she is joined by the obviously enamored boy from the ice cream shop, who gives her a nickname ‘Rocky Road’ though Kinsey says she ordered ‘Mint Chip’. He introduces himself as Scott Cavendish. Then invites her to hang with his friends, ‘The Savini squad’, named after special effects artist: Tom Savini. Kinsey rejects the invitation though Scott giving her the choice to come if she wants.
At hockey tryouts, Tyler has a flashback to the night his father was shot, just as he scores a goal. The team compliments his skills. With Javi, saying he’s been through some serious shit, so he doesn’t have to do Hockey to score with girls. They invite him to a party tonight.
At Key house, Bode skates on his Heely shoes across the floors and Nina tells him she’s going to the hardware store, asking if he wants to join. The boy politely refuses then says bye to his mom by saying ‘Aloha’ and flipping her the middle finger (thanks, Duncan). Later, he proceeds to eat sugary cereal while drinking soda and watching cartoons on his i-pad. Where suddenly, faint distinct whispers calls to Bode from a distance. He asks his gigantic G.I. Joes if they heard it, then travels back to the well house asking if anybody is there. The same woman from before replies, claiming to be his echo. She tells him that he woke her as we see a dark and mysterious silhouette of a woman standing at the bottom of the well. When Body asks why she’s down there, she says echoes can come to life in this place…
“Your house is filled with amazing keys. There’s a key that can let you step outside your body and be a ghost. And another that can change the way you look. The best is the key that can take you anywhere in the world you wanna go if you know how to use it.”
She tells him he can find them by listening for the whispers, they only call people who are special, like him. She tells him not to tell anyone about visiting the echo in the well house.
Kinsey, now at home and freezing from the cold air, wants to take a hot shower. Bode greets her but then notices the bracelet she leaves on the table while she showers. He disassembles it and pulls out a key which he uses to teleport him to the ice cream parlor. Scot notices him as Kinsey’s brother. When Bode tastes the ice cream, he realizes he is actually there and so he takes the key and opens the door to key house to grab money, arriving back in Kinsey’s room.
Now out of the shower, she gets mad at Bode for breaking the bracelet their father gave her and when he tries to prove the key works, by taking them to the Eifel Tower, it fails. She calls him delusional and kicks him out of her room.
Going through Rendell’s old high school belongings, Nina holds a piece of clothing belonging to her late husband. She finds a picture of him and his high school friends. Kinsey approaches and tells her mother that Bode broke her bracelet. Scott texts Kinsey to join them at the party. Kinsey asks why they’re there as their dad never wanted them to come here. Nina says they needed a fresh start. That it’s going to get better, but Kinsey calls her out saying: “Dad never did bullshit platitudes”.
Downstairs, Bode hears whispers of a voice down the drain and when he reaches for it, he finds another key. He approaches the woman in the well, asking why the key didn’t work for her sister to head to the Eiffel tower. She tells him it didn’t work because to travel through a door, you’d have to have seen it. When he asks how she lives down there, she says magic. He said he found a key with two faces and a mirror on it, wondering what it does. She tells him the key lets him see people who died. That death is not as final as he thinks and the whole family can see his dad again. He thanks her, the two becoming friends.
At the high school party, Jackie (Genevieve Kang), a girl Tyler is obviously crushing over, uses an 8-Ball app where Tyler greets hi to this new friend. A girl says everyone is here for him, and the two start to hook up. But as Tyler turns his head, he sees Lesser who guiltily tells him it’s his fault he’s dead. He stops her prematurely then says sorry and leaves.
With Scott and Zadie (Asha Bromfield), Kinsey joins the two for a nerdy night watching ‘Day of the Dead’. While they talk about final girls and horror, Kinsey freaks out to the movie. Remembering the guy who hunted her and was going to murder her in a flashback. She immediately rushes out of the room and Scott stops her and asks what’s wrong. She tells him some ‘final girls’ survive not by fighting the monster but hiding. That the truth is: some final girls are cowards. She rushes outside and Scott feels horrible for triggering her past trauma. Outside, Tyler finds Kinsey walking home and tells her to get in the car.
Back in key house, Bode puts the Mirror key in a door and says he wants to see his dad, but nothing happens. Suddenly, another keyhole appears in the mirror and then images invite them inside. He shows him mom and though he refuses, Nina takes the invitation.
Inside mirror world, Nina sees images of herself as the world cracks. She screams for help and so Bode goes to echo in the well to help. The woman gets out of the well and agrees to help if he gives her the anywhere key. He does, then she tells him the mirror world is actually a place to trap your enemies. He says he thought it’s a place to see people who’ve died, and she says it is, many have died in there because it’s very hard to get out.
Key in hand, the woman in the well leaves through a door. When Bode opens it, it’s now a closet, though it does have a rope. He takes it and then soon after, his siblings arrive, and he begs for their help, showing them the mirror.
The siblings see the mirror world and can’t believe it. They’re invited inside and Tyler rushes to go in, the siblings tie him with the rope, and he jumps in. Down a mirrored corridor, the two find each other but can’t tell which is real versus mirror. They close their eyes and Tyler says to follow his voice. Once he grabs his mom, he yells at his siblings to pull them out.
Bode tells them again this house is full of magical keys. A second later, Nina completely denies any of this just happened as the kids freak out, wondering what this place is.
In jail, Lesser has a visitor, Mr. Locke’s murderer has a visitor: the woman in the well.
A well-produced show with a beautiful title sequence, Locke and Key has a lot of expectations to meet that have thus far, just been barely passible. Compared to the comic, it’s a lot campier in accordance with some early reviews, though to fair, it’s also been waited on for a decade so there’ll be plenty giving it second chances and so far, overall, it’s been a promising start to a long-awaited adaptation. Just not superb.
You can watch Locke and Key on Netflix