Locke and Key season 2 continues the epic adventure from season 1, while raising the stakes and reminding our heroes there are real consequences for their actions.
The end of Locke and Key season 1 left us on a huge cliffhanger: After battling it out with Dodge and tossing her body through the door in the caves, the audience learns that Dodge is actually alive and well—living life as Gabe. This was particularly heart-wrenching, as Kinsey had recently been asked to choose between him and Scot.
So, who went through the door? None other than Ellie Whedon, of course. Rufus was forced to live in Nebraska with relatives, and Nina was left with one more mystery she couldn’t possibly hope to solve. While the kids may have felt like they’d dodged a bullet, it was clear the keys were now an integral part of their lives, and with them, there would always be more adventure and more danger.
If nothing else, season 2 promised us plenty of suspense as we sat on the edge of our seats, waiting for the Locke kids to figure out what was actually going on right under their noses. (Spoilers ahead.)
‘Locke and Key’ season 2 review
An Echo never dies
A hero is only as good as their villain, and Dodge has proven to be an interesting, intelligent, charismatic antagonist for the Lockes. Considering she didn’t die in the finale, we knew she was going to play a large part in season 2. But having the same enemy across two seasons isn’t always easy to pull off. Narratives like this can often feel stale unless you bring something new to the table. And boy did Dodge deliver.
Most of the heavy lifting was done by the fact that the Lockes had no idea Gabe was really Dodge. We had to watch them once again unmask their enemy, with the added twist that it was someone within the inner circle. That made Dodge’s unveiling even more of a betrayal, and even more heartbreaking for Kinsey and the others.
In this way, Dodge has raised the stakes considerably. Gabe knows Kinsey’s deepest, darkest secrets. He knows her strengths and weaknesses. As an insider, he also knows the ins and outs of their plans, which means he can easily manipulate all of them into revealing vital information about the keys.
Watching Gabe and Eden’s struggles and triumphs was just as interesting as watching Kinsey, Tyler, and Bode navigate the various obstacles these two threw in their way. I certainly wasn’t rooting for either of them, but there were times when I sympathized with Eden and Gabe’s frustrations.
For her part, Eden tried being a dutiful acolyte, but Dodge isn’t exactly an easy leader to follow. Gabe’s attitude can be summed up with “my way or you’re dead” (first of all, it doesn’t even rhyme), and patience isn’t one of Eden’s virtues. She wanted to be proactive about the situation, but Gabe was playing it safe. In the end, his way was probably better, but it’s not like they won, regardless. Is it weird that I felt bad for her when he was being particularly abusive?
And then there’s Gabe himself. He clearly cared about Kinsey in his own twisted way, and while I was Team Scot the whole time, I was interested to see how deep Gabe’s emotions went—were they true, or was this another manipulation? At the end of the day, I do think he cared for Kinsey, but I also think he viewed her as a material asset. She is a Locke, after all, which means she’ll have powers and abilities he never will. He wanted Kinsey on his side so he could use her, and while there were clearly some feelings there, he was willing to hurt her to satisfy his needs. Not exactly #RelationshipGoals.
The best part about this season, however, was the fact that there were real consequences to everyone’s actions. Eden was a loose canon in pretty much every episode, and Gabe often had to clean up her messes—killing the concessions guy, losing the Anywhere Key, nearly blowing their cover at every turn. The road was not easy for Gabe, and I appreciated that he needed to work diligently to stay ahead of the Lockes.
In fact, nothing was too easy for anyone. After Kinsey learned Gabe’s true identity as Dodge, she set a trap for him and Eden. But the Lockes underestimated them, and lost Bode and Duncan in the process. These two eventually escaped, but not after giving Gabe exactly what he wanted—a new key that turns people into demons.
And that’s not the end of it. I’ve never been one to relish in character deaths, but I have to admit it does drive a story forward. It felt like we had only just gotten to know Erin Voss before she was snatched away again. Sure, I had my doubts that she cared more about the Lockes than she did for her own plan to take down Dodge, but her death wasn’t gentle. And the pain it caused Duncan was the part that really hurt me.
This also made Gabe’s threats toward Nina feel more plausible. He had already killed someone with his bare hands, and while I was sure Nina wouldn’t die this season, there was still a little part of me that worried they’d go there. Points to Gabe for pouring salt in the wound by mentioning Bode would have to grow up without either of his parents. Ouch, dude.
But the most painful death of all was Jackie’s, not least because Gabe technically wasn’t the one who killed her. After Jackie was turned into a demon, Tyler was desperate to create a key that would save her. When he used the newly forged Alpha Key on her, it seemed to be a roaring success. But while the key did expel and kill the demon, it also had disastrous consequences for Jackie herself.
This one really got me—I felt so sure she was going to survive once they hugged and celebrated the win. And while I definitely didn’t enjoy the fact that she died, I have to give it up to Locke and Key season 2 for reminding us that these kids are fighting against unknown forces, using a type of magic they haven’t fully mastered. Not every story gets a happy ending, and in a world as vibrant and dangerous as this one, I have to admit I like that touch of reality.
Love and loss
Not all consequences end in death, and not all antagonists are evil. Locke and Key season 2 has provided plenty of nuances outside its main conflict between Dodge and the Lockes.
To start, everyone seems to have their own motivations. Erin Voss and Josh Bennett are perfect examples of this. Both of them are actively working against the Locke family, even if they don’t wish them any harm. Erin wanted to end Dodge once and for all—on her own, as she was the last Keeper—despite the kids telling her it was too dangerous. And that’s not even to mention how insistent Erin was about returning Duncan’s memories, versus Kinsey and Tyler’s apprehension. More on that later.
And then there’s Josh. He seems to genuinely care about Nina, but his sights are set on Key House and how the Locke family history is tied to his own. While he’s not necessarily impeding Nina and the kids just yet, he was an unwitting foil for some of their plans (like when Jamie trapped Eden in the glass). Something tells me Locke and Key season 3 will put Josh front and center, and he’ll have to choose between Nina and his family’s legacy. I have a feeling Gideon will have no trouble using him to achieve his own ends.
It’s clear that not everything in this show is life and death (even though it sometimes feels like it). A few of the more poignant scenes came at the expense of some of my favorite characters being lied to and manipulated. Locke and Key season 2 played around with trust, secrets, grief, and memory, expanding upon some of the themes we got last year.
Kinsey’s storyline had a lot to do with trust, namely whether she should trust Gabe over Scot. The answer was obvious to us, but Gabe’s performance gave her pause. She didn’t want to believe Scot would attack Gabe, but when Duncan told her the Music Box was still on her dresser, she had no reason to think someone had manipulated him into doing it. Scot only dug himself deeper by laying blame on Gabe after Gabe was quick to defend and forgive Scot.
Once the truth came out that Gabe was Dodge, it was interesting to see the same situation work in reverse. Now Kinsey had to keep up the lie, manipulating Gabe into thinking all was well between them. And although Eden was whispering in his ear, Gabe believed that Kinsey still trusted him—much to his detriment, I might add.
But these two weren’t the only ones keeping secrets. My absolute favorite aspect of this show is that the children must protect the adults. As kids, they are able to see magic and use it to their advantage. Adults, like Nina, lose any memory of it after a few minutes. That means Kinsey, Tyler, and even little Bode have to work overtime to keep her safe from this incredible world they’ve discovered.
There’s a lot of depth and heart behind the idea that the younger generation will be the ones to save the world. Not only does this instill a message in kids that they’re powerful beyond their wildest dreams, but it also reminds adults that just because they have the wisdom of their years, it doesn’t always mean they’re the right person to get the job done.
Jackie’s storyline in Locke and Key season 2 was heartbreaking, to say the least. Throughout the season, we see her losing her memories of magic. At first, it starts as a small moment, but eventually, the fear eats away at her. You can tell Tyler is devastated by the news. These two have a strong connection outside of magic, but so many of their formative memories include the keys.
That’s also what makes it so difficult to bear when Jackie chooses not to use the Memory Key. Magic is absolutely wonderful, but it’s also dangerous. I’m not sure I would’ve made the same decision, but I can’t blame her for not wanting to remember how truly terrible the world can be. It’s even more devastating to know that it’s magic that killed her in the end.
Would there have been a future for Jackie and Tyler? If she had lived, he would have to hide magic from her and keep a big part of his life secret. Then again, he’ll be turning 18 soon, too. Now that Jackie is dead, Tyler has chosen not to remember magic. But if she had lived, would he have made a different decision? And would they have been able to stay together, if so?
Unfortunately, we’ll never know. But on the bright side, not all of these endings are unhappy. One person who was able to regain their memories was Uncle Duncan. In season 1, Duncan’s memory loss forced the kids to work out the rules of this magic on their own. In season 2, however, it becomes more of a hindrance, as he has vital information they need.
I enjoyed the slow unraveling of Duncan’s memory, but there were a few bumps along the way. The scene where he knocks Bode down, thinking he’s Rendell, was horrible to witness. His manic drive to fix his car also made my heart break. As we watch him struggle to comprehend what happened in the past and what’s happening in the present, you can see him fight to keep his sanity. Learning magic is real would be difficult enough, but Duncan was also forced to remember the moment Rendell became a murderer.
Erin was of the mind that Duncan should have his memories back because she was one of the people who helped take them away in the first place. But Kinsey and Tyler were worried about their uncle’s mental health—sometimes ignorance is bliss, as we saw with Jackie. At the end of the day, Duncan did regain his memories and was a vital asset to the team, but he had to remember all the terrible moments from his childhood right alongside the wonderful ones.
And this brings me to one of the biggest themes of this series—dealing with grief. Duncan was hit with so much all at once, between his memories of Rendell and the others, as well as his sudden loss of Erin Voss, the last person alive who had been a part of that group all those years ago.
I’m glad Duncan is in the know, but I hope Locke and Key season 3 doesn’t forget all he’s been through recently. He has now found the pieces of himself that had been missing for years, but these moments will undoubtedly weigh heavy on his soul. Locke and Key has been good about not forgetting their characters’ complex histories, so hopefully we get more of Duncan next year.
When it comes to grief, however, Josh and Nina take center stage. As Josh digs further into theories about the Locke family and Frederick Gideon, Nina believes he’s he’s doing it to avoid accepting his wife’s untimely death. It’s frustrating because while she may be right, Josh is definitely on the right track here. However, when he finally comes to terms with what happened, Nina pulls back. She wants to focus on her family and make sure her own mental health and addiction are under control.
It’s a smart choice on Nina’s part, but I have to admit I loved seeing these two together. The chemistry between them felt real, and I reveled in their happiness alongside them. Jamie was an adorable addition to the show, and it was fun seeing Bode hang out with a kid his own age who’s just as precocious. I don’t think this is the end of Josh and Nina, but I am curious if next season will find a way to torture them even more or if they’ll bring them together for good.
The storyline that hit me hardest, however, was Tyler’s grief over Jackie’s death. He blames himself, of course, and has chosen to leave home for a while before heading off to college. He gives the keys to Kinsey for safekeeping because he doesn’t want to remember what he did to Jackie. I can’t say I blame him, but it feels more like he’s abandoning ship and leaving his siblings to deal with any future complications on their own.
Part of me is certain that Locke and Key won’t toss Tyler aside after everything he’s just been through (not to mention the fact that’s he’s one of the primary characters in the show), but the other part is curious to see what it would be like for Kinsey and Bode to be on their own. And what about once Kinsey turns 18? I doubt she’ll give up the keys, but she may have her own reasons to forget down the line. Would they both really leave Bode to his own devices, though? And what happens once he turns 18, too?
Luckily, we have a few years to go before that happens.
What’s in the past…
…may not stay in the past. At least if its name is Frederick Gideon. Aside from giving us a new villain, I enjoyed the way Locke and Key season 2 integrated Colonial era flashbacks into the story. It gave us some important insight into the Locke family and how they were able to create keys and use them to fight the demons that came from the other side of that portal.
More importantly, however, we got more information about how the keys are forged. This is the information Gabe was after, and why he wanted Duncan’s memories restored. We now know it requires focus, intention, and a sacrifice—namely some of that sweet, sweet Locke blood.
But even if you have all of these elements, there’s no guarantee the keys will work exactly the way they were intended, as we saw with the Alpha Key. Tyler separated the demon from Jackie all right, but he hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that it would kill her as well.
When it comes to Locke and Key season 3, I’m most interested to see what part Josh will play in all of this. We know he has a connection to Frederick Gideon, who’s back and badder than ever. But will Josh’s family legacy open the door even wider? One of the most exciting aspects of this show is discovering new keys and abilities, so I’m curious what he’ll help uncover along the way.
And then there’s the Nina of it all. I like that there’s still one adult who doesn’t know what’s going on, but this can only last so long. She’s lost so many people recently, and while Ellie is back, she’ll have some explaining to do. Will they finally bring Nina into the fold, and if so, will she try too hard to protect the kids against the dangers of this world? It might be safer to just leave her in the dark.
If nothing else, I hope Eden isn’t gone forever. Yeah, she’s a demon and she didn’t exactly help the Lockes defeat Gabe, but I don’t completely hate her. I wonder if there’s a Reform School for Demons. Maybe if they give her enough cheeseburgers, she’ll at least agree to stay out of their way. Or perhaps they’ll figure out a way to use the Alpha Key to actually save her once and for all.
All in all, Locke and Key season 2 wasn’t quite as exciting as season 1, but I guess I never expected it to be. There’s something special about that first discovery; after that, it sort of becomes commonplace.
Where season 2 excelled, however, was in balancing the action of the overarching plot with the interpersonal relationships of this talented cast. Everyone had their part to play, and each one had a journey to go through this year. All of them are changed, for better and for worse, and what they learned in season 2 will undoubtedly carry over into season 3.
Now that the kids have finally bested Dodge, Locke and Key season 3 has already promised us a new villain in Frederick Gideon. We’ve seen what a ruthless person he was in his lifetime, and now it’s time to see how he handles the modern world. Considering his first act was to drop Eden in the well, I’d say he’s going to make plenty of trouble for our favorite characters.
My question is whether he’ll make himself a menace right away, or if he’ll live in the shadows like Dodge did. He’ll have to learn how the modern world works first, and I wonder if he’ll temporarily align himself with Josh in order to get his bearings. Poor Mr. Bennett seems like someone who’ll be easy for Gideon to manipulate, and it’ll be heart-wrenching to see him finally learn the truth of who and what Gideon really is.
I have a lot of questions about where Locke and Key season 3 will go from here, but I’ll save that for next time. Until then, it’s just a waiting game. Too bad we don’t have the Timeshift Key to speed things up a bit.