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'Locke & Key' Season 3 Finishes on the Same Flat Note as It Began

By James Field | TV | August 29, 2022 |

By James Field | TV | August 29, 2022 |



Dodge is defeated. The Echoes are gone. The Door is closed. Finally, the Locke family can use the keys without fear of interference or violence, until demonic redcoat Captain Frederick Gideon (Kevin Durand) returns from the dead to claim the keys and tear open the boundary between our world and the blue Hell that lies beyond. Can the Lockes defeat him while oldest brother Tyler can’t even remember the magic of the keys?

Spoiler alert: They can. After 3 seasons of frustratingly shallow characterizations and growing disregard for the rules of its own universe, Locke & Key comes to a satisfying conclusion. Satisfying, in this case, means the show is over and I can stop rooting for the demons.

What cursed monkey’s paw gave the King family so much talent while damning their stories to such uninspired television adaptations? Stephen King’s been chained to so many terrible productions over the years that I’m amazed he still grants permission. Even the spooky first season of Castle Rock was overshadowed by its dull, confusing sequel. Meanwhile, the adaptation of his son Joe Hill’s graphic novels demonstrates exactly why Neil Gaiman fought for decades to keep The Sandman off the screen until it could be done properly. Hill should ask him for some tips before he sells the rights to anything else.


The final season of Locke & Key strips a lot of the confusing side characters and subplots from the story, no doubt hoping to add some tension to its game of cat & mouse. It doesn’t work. Kevin Durand sputters and roars his way through the season as Captain Gideon, and is the only source of fun on the screen even as his every plot fails. It’s also not his fault I will always see him as X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s godawful Blob. Gideon murdered Eden, the one demon with a grasp of the 21st century, and is left with minions so incompetent they might as well be 3 feet tall and bright yellow. He begins with a pair of amusingly insane witches, but they’re defeated in less than an episode. They’re replaced by the Sneerington brothers (not their real names), redcoat Echoes whose stupidity at least explains why the Brits lost the Revolutionary War.

Nina Locke, mother to our little Darwin Award nominees, proves no better at using the keys than her children, whom she lets turn into sparrows and ghosts like they’re changing clothes. She takes a deep dive into her hazy alcoholic memories while daughter Kinsey, nominally in charge since Tyler moved to Montana to become a carpenter, struggles with the weight on her shoulders. She, at least, isn’t completely without sense this season. Tyler, who chose to forget magic after he killed his girlfriend, returns to the fold but takes a back seat for much of the action. His primary job is to stand there and exchange meaningful looks with his siblings any time they should run away, which happens a lot. Mrs. Field (love her cookies) suggested a drinking game where you take a shot every time a character has to tell the kids to run, and 2 any time you shout it at the screen. I’m fairly certain it would kill me.


Bode remains a powerful endorsement of birth control. Previous seasons demonstrated that Bode’s ability to screw up a good thing is unparalleled in human history, and the issues only compound when the kid finds the Timeshift key. It allows the wielder to travel back in time to a selected date and time, but only for a certain period. Anyone they interact with will forget they visited as soon as they return to their own time. Anything they bring back to the future will vanish after a set period of time “to avoid paradoxes.” We don’t have time to go into all the ways it doesn’t make sense. The important thing is that Bode, who I guess never watched a single time travel movie, immediately uses it in the worst way possible. It’s such a ridiculous turn of events I nearly gave up in disgust with only a few episodes remaining in the series. I still wonder if finishing was the wrong decision. In the end, the Locke family finally makes a smart decision, albeit one guaranteed to turn future Bode into a supervillain as he goes hunting for lost magic.

Locke & Key remains a shining example of missed opportunities. Unable to settle on a tone and burdened with some of the most nonsensical writing since Charmed was a thing, it reaffirmed why the Kings’ stories are so much better on paper than screen. If you haven’t begun the series, don’t. If you have, you may as well watch to the end. It’s the only way to be sure it’s finally over.