After what feels like a forever-length wait thanks to the 2020 pandemic, Netflix’s horror-tinged fantasy adventure series Locke & Key is finally back for its second season! If you loved the first trip into this world, Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), Tyler (Connor Jessup), and Kinsey (Emilia Jones) are waiting to greet you once more! In the extended hiatus between seasons, I brushed up on the graphic novel source material and revisited the excellent debut. It may have taken a very long time for fans to finally get this iteration onscreen, but Netflix has done an admirable job of playing up the strengths of the text through a slightly brighter young-adult filter. Taking center stage is a sinister scheme to forge a new key that could spell certain doom for the Lockes and the world as we know it…

Beginning with a direct continuation of the finale’s cliffhanger, the premiere episode wastes no time diving into the aftermath. Ellie has been missing for three months after Dodge’s trickery, which left the woman pushed through the black door. The kids are just trying to move on—Tyler is making the most of the time he has left with his girlfriend, Jackie (Genevieve Kang), before her memories of magic fade when she reaches her 18th birthday; Kinsey is celebrating the debut of her little horror movie, The Splattering, which she made with friends; Bode is absorbing himself in unearthing more keys around the property like the Hercules Key, which gives superhuman strength. Both Kinsey and Bode have been spending an excessive amount of time with Gabe (Griffin Gluck), who is secretly Dodge in disguise. Dodge had used the identity key to create the Gabe persona, and has been charismatically infiltrating her way into the Locke family with the help of recently-demon-possessed Eden (Hallea Jones).

If any of this sounds complex, it certainly is; however, the deeper we get into the plot, the further things all click into place. While the sheer amount of keys with special abilities may appear to be overwhelming, each serves a purpose within the framework of the season. Even the mind-controlling music box makes a reappearance! The mythology is expanded, with the scope of the world opening up in beautiful fashion. With richer lore comes exploration of characters we already know and love; Uncle Duncan (Aaron Ashmore) is vital and a secret MVP. All of the actors do a great job this time around, possibly reenergized thanks to the extended period of being at home out of work. One feels passion in their portrayals—thankfully the script backs them up with concise arcs and propulsion. I was invested in all three of our leads equally, and surprisingly quite enthralled with the Dodge/Gabe manipulations.

What never works quite as well is the storyline of Nina Locke (Darby Stanchfield), whose character obviously cannot remember magic. The mother seems to exist concurrently to the main one, and from the first seven episodes screened, has little relevance. New character Josh (played by Brendan Hines) attempts to bridge Nina into the primary plot, but even he sort of feels like an afterthought. I cannot say with certainty that they do not eventually tie into something larger in the season’s final three episodes, so perhaps there is purpose here. Bode’s friendship with Josh’s daughter, Jamie (new cast member Liyou Abere), is powered by a strange dollhouse replica of Keyhouse that appears connected to a tiny key he finds. This invites Honey I Shrunk The Kid-style hijinks like giant gummy bears and massive spiders into the fray! 

That creepy skin-crunching sound when one unlocks the back of a person’s head (specifically when they use the Head Key) has an eerie ASMR quality to it. The fantastical aspects of this key-based drama blend spectacularly well with explosive thrills. When the action shifts to a labyrinthine maze, I was on the edge of my seat. I cannot wait to see the last three episodes, and how the creators manage to wrap up many of the dangling plot threads. We leave things in an exciting place due to cliffhangers conveniently placed at the end of each, but none as promising as episode seven, titled “Best Laid Plans.” More keys, more fantasy adventure, and diving deeper into Uncle Duncan and their father’s mysterious past—get ready for Locke & Key season 2!

Locke & Key beckons you to enter Keyhouse Manor when the full season 2 drops on Friday, October 22nd.

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