By Milan Perera, Arts Critic Columnist
It's official: the streaming giant Netflix will not commission another season of Locke & Key, and thus, the current series marks the swan song to the franchise.
Based on the brilliant, mind-bending comic series from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, the show tells the story of the Locke family and their sprawling ancestral abode in Massachusetts, which also happens to be home to a set of magical keys. The first season of the show mixed the comic with dark family drama and the fantastical: a premise within teen dramas which, at times, appears curiously similar to the bizarre world of Riverdale (2017-).
Season 1 streamed in 2020 with much promise and potential, but this optimism was short-lived, as the second season storyline dipped in suspense and cogent villains.
Season 3 appeared determined to address these shortcomings through the introduction of the antagonist: Frederick Gideon (Kevin Durand), a British soldier from colonial Massachusetts who, in the modern day, has been possessed by a powerful demon.
The key to understanding the series – no pun intended – is to note that Gideon wants to use the keys to collapse the wall between our world and the glowing blue realm of demons for nebulous reasons.
Season 3 seamlessly kicks off where Season 2 ended, depicting a normal family life minus any supernatural drama. The eldest brother Tyler (Connor Jessup), is away building houses in Montana after an aimless road trip. More importantly, he is living a simple, honest life after voluntarily deciding to purge any magical memories from his brain.
On the other side of the narrative, Locke's mother, Nina (Darby Stanchfield), has used the keys to restore her memory of magic, so she does not feel separated from the rest of her family (in the Locke & Key universe, everyone naturally forgets about the existence of magic once they hit adulthood unless you use a special key!)
Season 3 has, in some ways, been a great let-down, with schmaltzy and predictable dialogue plus copious amounts of swearing that questions the show’s propriety for a younger audience.
Each time the tension rises, it is immediately killed off with a neat resolution that seriously hampers the smooth progression of the storyline: the viewers are brought down the rollercoaster even before they reach the dizzy heights.
For instance, in the first episode, characters Dorothy and Ada confront Nina over a snow globe while Bode was playing outside in the snow. Just as one senses an adrenaline-pumping sequence is afoot, the two sisters are overcome by Mama Nina and Sister Kinsey, trapped in a mirror and reunited with Bode, ultimately killing off any possibility of tension that would push viewers to the edge of their seats. Character development is poor in Season 3 and reduces much-loved characters to two-dimensional ones, especially Tyler.
Despite this, an aspect no one could fault is sensational acapella singing of Emilia Jones, who looks every bit the consummate professional. The actor, who hails from these shores, is no stranger to vocal gymnastics as her father, Aled Jones, enthralled a generation with his cherubic voice.
The special effects, on the whole, live up to the requirement of creating fantasy elements. Kevin Durand’s face transformation when he gets angry is particularly noteworthy. But there were times even the least knowledgeable of special effects would cringe when glistening white foreheads appear in front of a dark background, suggesting a shoot in a studio against a green screen!
This eight-episode series brings the franchise to a satisfying end before it runs out of steam and creative energy. Fans of the franchise may feel aggrieved, but with the current ending, it is highly unlikely that even a rival streaming platform would embark on a reboot.
Featured Image: IMDB
Are you disappointed by the lack-lustre ending of Locke & Key?