LOCKE & KEY hits a home run in its thrilling and suspense-filled second season

Following the cliffhanger ending to season one, which teased some mysterious dynamics and narratives going forward, Locke & Key returns for a second season along with all the faces we know and love (and some newbies). Set shortly after the first season, Locke & Key picks back up with the Locke family going about their lives, while Dodge plots her revenge right under their noses.

Locke & Key may have stepped it up in its second season, delivering an adventure that was more fun, mysterious, suspenseful and dramatic, but it wasn’t all highs. This season kicks things off on a low note, delivering two episodes that are quite average and underwhelming. It doesn’t capitalise on the momentum from the end of season one, and fails to really set up and tease any exciting narratives going forward. There are inklings of interesting things being alluded to, but there’s nothing concrete in these first two episodes enticing enough to want to keep bingeing it. Beginning with episode three is where the fun really settles in, with multiple character-centric narratives kicking into gear and plenty of quite thrilling scenes that ramp up the overall intensity. From this episode, it’s a non-stop thrill ride to the finale. The subsequent seven episodes are equally focused in their intention, all moving towards a clear goal, and cruising along at a rapid pace with absolutely no signs of slowing down.

It feels like after every 15 minutes or so, there’s some sort of major story development, huge character moment or revealing twist that contributes to each episode being memorably awesome. The reason this season is so consistently successful is that there’s multiple individual character-centric narratives all progressing on their own and all remaining engaging along the way. This helps in ensuring every moment of every episode offers something interesting to take away, regardless of which characters are at the centre of the scene. All the while, the central hero vs villain conflict is gradually building steam in the background until it crescendos in a climax that encapsulates most of the subplots from episodes prior. I feel like the much darker tone that this season exhibits really helps in heightening the suspense to some genuinely terrifying levels.

The best way I can describe the story of this season is like an exciting rollercoaster that gets better and better the more you ride it – featuring unforeseen sharp left turns, edge-of-seat free-falls and a finale that makes the journey more than worth it. It may sound like I’m really overselling this season, but it shouldn’t be understated that the writing here is exceptionally tight across every episode. There’s barely a minute wasted on throwaway content, with every scene calculated to play into either the central narrative or into further developing one or more of the main characters. Plus, the fact that this season was made knowing there’d be a season three, gives me hope that this quality will continue.

In terms of the performances, the main trio are as good as ever. Emilia Jones (Kinsey), Connor Jessup (Tyler) and Jackson Robert Scott (Bode) all pull their weight shine in their respective scenes. They play off each other really well and effortlessly exhibit a strong sibling bond that’s endlessly entertaining to watch. Without a doubt, the best actor of the bunch is Emilia Jones. She’s the unofficial lead of the series, with the large chunk of this season’s conflict being linked directly through her character. She has the most to do and she commands the screen in every single one of her scenes. Aaron Ashmore (Duncan) is great in his supporting role, having much more to do this time around and contributing to some key sequences late in the season. The same can be said about much of the supporting cast, with Petrice Jones (Scot), Hallea Jones (Eden) and Genevieve Kang (Jackie) each having some good moments.

One thing I was worried about in this season was having Griffin Gluck (Gabe) take over as the villain of the series in place of Laysla De Oliveira, who I loved as Dodge in the first season. It had nothing to do with Griffin’s talent, and more to do with the fact that I’d miss Laysla in the role. Though I must say, Griffin Gluck does a great job in selling the conniving yet charming qualities of Dodge. He has that mischievous look locked down that has you buying him as the villain. Switching over to how the characters are handled, there’s two very small gripes I had – one I can mention, and one I can’t say more than it’s about how a specific character from season one is criminally misused. The one thing I wasn’t a huge fan of is how Bode is used as a bit of a scapegoat for when the crew makes mistakes. I understand that he’s the youngest in the group, so it makes sense he’d forget some things here and there, but it made him feel a little useless at times. But like I said – small issues with hardly any impact.

Lastly, I want to touch on the score, which is brilliantly crafted to bring out the many tones of the series. It’s mysterious, ominous and eerie in some moments, then playful, fun and upbeat in others. Despite a much darker tone overall, this duality is still present and it leads to a few great pieces of music that perfectly capture the show’s identity.

In the end, Locke & Key season two is a hefty step up in quality, thrills, suspense and fun when compared to the first season. It feels like there’s a lot more moving parts this time around, and it’s all very focused around furthering the main narrative or allowing our protagonists to grow. The writing is brilliantly tight and the fast pace ensures nothing ever slows down (once it gets moving from the third episode). They’ve pushed this series into an exciting direction with this season, and look to be thrusting it into even more exciting directions going into the already announced third season. I enjoyed this season so much more than I thought I would – it really is a non-stop rollercoaster of thrills. Any fans of the series who are yet to commit to this adventure should look forward to what it has to offer.

8.8/10

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