The Locke siblings face a demonic dynamic duo intent on bringing chaos to our world and must defend themselves, armed with only a handful of magical keys, in the second season of Locke and Key. In our 2020 year-end TV roundup, I wrote that Netflix’s adaptation of the comic book series, by Joe Hill and Gabe Rodriguez, successfully brought “the fabled Key House and the darkly fantastical world of the comics to vivid life.” The second season is even better: it’s faster-paced, it has intriguing character arcs, and it delves a bit more into the history and mythology behind Key House and its magical keys.
(Spoilers for season 1 below. Some season 2 spoilers, but no major reveals.)
Longtime fans of the comics can attest to the powerful allure of the basic premise: three traumatized siblings whose father was recently murdered return to dad’s ancestral home, Key House, with their mother and discover that the house is filled with hidden magical keys that “whisper” to the children until they find them. The TV series preserves that allure. Only kids can hear the keys whispering, and any adults who witness the “magic” of the keys in use quickly forget what they’ve seen. There is an Anywhere Key that can turn a door into a portal to anywhere in the world, for instance, and a Ghost Key that lets your spirit leave your body. A Head Key provides access to one’s inner self, and an Identity Key allows you to change your appearance.
Unfortunately, there’s an evil entity who goes by the name of Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) who desperately wants one key in particular—the mysterious Omega Key—and will do pretty much anything to get it. Over the course of the first season, we learned why family patriarch Rendell Locke (Bill Heck) moved far away from his ancestral home: there was a high school tragedy that killed two of his friends. It wasn’t an “accidental drowning” that killed them, as local lore held, but Dodge’s possession of Rendell’s best friend Lucas (Felix Mallard). Rendell and his surviving friends eventually imprisoned Dodge in the Well House—until Ellie (Sherri Saum), in a weak moment, tried to bring Lucas, her high school sweetheart, back with the Echo Key and brought back Dodge instead.
Still, Rendell’s kids proved to be a formidable match against Dodge’s many machinations. And they thought they had successfully tossed Dodge back into the void behind the Black Door and locked it behind them. But above all else, Dodge is a trickster. Dodge used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like Dodge. So it’s poor Ellie who finds herself trapped in the void, while Dodge has taken on the identity of high school nerd Gabe (Griffin Gluck), Scot’s (Petrice Jones) rival for Kinsey’s affections. Also, the academy’s resident Mean Girl, Eden (Hallea Jones), is now possessed by a different demon who escaped from behind the black door, so Gabe/Dodge has a secret accomplice.
The first season’s 10 episodes covered most of the main narrative arc in the comics but left out a lot of the background lore about where the keys came from, who made them, and who (or what) Dodge really is. Those questions are at least partially answered over the course of S2, which includes flashbacks to the American Revolutionary War and the conflict between the Locke family and a British general named Frederick Gideon (Kevin Durand). (The flashback material is partially drawn from Clockworks and will also likely feature heavily in the first arc of World War Key, a forthcoming new Locke and Key comic book series that will serve as both a prequel and sequel to the original run, according to Hill.)
As S2 opens, life for the Locke family seems stable. Tyler is dating Jackie (Genevieve Kang), Kinsey is dating Gabe, and Bode has a new BFF, Abby (Leishe Bennett). Abby’s father, Josh (Brendan Himes), is the new history teacher at Matheson Academy, and as a recent widower, he and the Locke matriarch, Nina (Darby Stanchfield), forge a tenuous romantic connection. Josh’s ancestors also have a long history in Matheson, so the two might have more in common than they realize.
But all is not sunshine and roses. Tyler and Jackie are both about to turn 18 and “age out” of the magic, prompting a frantic search for the Memory Key that Rendell and his squad (the “Keepers of the Keys”) forged to ensure they wouldn’t forget. That involves restoring their uncle Duncan’s (Aaron Ashmore) childhood memories, which turns out to have unforeseen consequences. Meanwhile, Gabe/Dodge is conspiring to forge a new key for whatever nefarious plot they’re cooking up. And demonic Eden is proving to be overly impulsive and more of a liability than Gabe/Dodge realized.