Locke & Key season 1 episode 3: Head Games

The Locke children find more keys while more mysteries surrounding Rendell’s past emerge. The people of Matheson clearly know more than they are letting on in this episode of Locke & Key.

In the third episode of Locke & Key, the Locke children explore their memories using the Head Key. But more mysterious keys begin revealing themselves, and some may have more nefarious purposes.

The Head Key

As revealed at the end of the previous episode, Bode had found the Head Key that allowed users, and anyone else, to explore the mind of the person the key had been inserted into.

Bode’s mind can be accessed via a chest—inside, his memories and thoughts are set up like an arcade—plenty of children’s games and toys are scattered around and the one overwhelming emotion within is glee.

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Bode also takes his siblings into a memory of their father—a story of a sea monster. Unfortunately, Bode had fallen asleep before the end of the story. However, Kinsey and Tyler both know the end.

When the audience is taken into Kinsey’s head, which is beautifully organized as a multi-level shopping mall, we get to hear the end of the sea monster story. It is indeed a happy ending, but that’s not the version Tyler was told.

Rendell had told Tyler a deeper, darker story about a person making terrible choices and being left to ponder them for the rest of eternity. One assumes Tyler didn’t sleep well as a child.

Tyler’s Secret

The storytelling sessions may have been the start of Tyler’s fractious relationship with his father. After almost beating a student to death for getting after Kinsey, Tyler reflects on his actions. He wasn’t seeing the boy at all, he was seeing his father’s murderer—Sam Lesser.

As we saw in the previous episode of Locke & Key, Tyler had been tasked by Rendell to take Lesser under his wing. They obviously got close because, on yet another day when Tyler was summoned to his father’s office, Tyler casually mentioned to Lesser that Kinsey was the perfect child but he couldn’t do anything right in his father’s eyes. Lesser was sympathetic and said he often thought about killing his own father. In jest, Tyler asked Lesser to do the same for him.

This explains why Tyler has been so withdrawn from the family since his father’s death. Not only is he grieving, but he feels guilty. He clearly thinks that he egged Lesser on to kill Rendell, but this is not true.

Nina’s Discovery

Nina spends more time with Ellie, who’s interested in helping Nina out may have to do with more than her childhood friendship with Rendell—Ellie has reason to keep an eye on the goings-on at Key House.

But we do learn something important about Nina from their evening together—Nina has been sober for six years. She regrets missing out on so much of her children’s lives, but as Ellie reminds her, Nina is there for them now.

This is an interesting departure from the book where Nina’s alcoholism only worsened after Rendell’s death. This explains why the children have seemed a bit standoffish with their mother. Their bond with her may not yet be as strong as it was with their father.

Nina also reveals to Ellie that Bode had met a scary lady in the well-house. Ellie is very interested in this fact, though she doesn’t let on to Nina.

The great thing about Nina’s commitment to sobriety is that she doesn’t let it stop her from having a good evening out, nor is Rendell’s loss impacting her resolve.

Back at home, she finds a yearbook and looks through it, stopping to look closely at Rendell’s old picture. She also sees his other friends and a photo of Lucas Caravaggio, with an Omega symbol down around him. The next few pages are littered with symbols, and Nina has seen it before—on Lesser’s wrist just before he shot Rendell.

Dodge Goes Exploring

Dodge is using her freedom to track down old friends, one of whom is Mark Cho, who we learn is the man who immolated himself in the opening scene of episode one of Locke & Key.

She uses the Anywhere Key to find his home, now burnt to a crisp. She clearly wants the burning key, but some scavenger children have stolen it. Dodge promises to show the children her Anywhere Key in exchange, but the boy who has it is cautious.

Dodge opens a door to a railway platform that gets the boy’s attention. When he’s distracted, Dodge grabs the burning key and throws the boy on to the train tracks. She’s not afraid of a little murder.

And her interest in the Locke children isn’t waning either—she follows Kinsey on an aborted night out and watches as Kinsey drags her fear out of her mind, stabs it and buries it.

A New Key

Despite repeated pleas from his siblings to stay away from keys, Bode finds another key hidden in the painting of his great-great-grandfather, Chamberlain Locke (Chris Britton).

The Ghost Key, when used on the door with a skull knob turns the user into a ghost. Bode enjoys himself flying through the grounds and the forest, and even glimpses the cave where three of Rendell’s classmates were killed.

There’s also a cemetery on the grounds, where Bode meets Chamberlain, an actual ghost, who tells him something interesting—Rendell and Duncan used to use the Ghost Key all the time when they were children.

Did they simply forget about the magical keys when they became adults? Or did something more sinister happen to make Duncan forget, and force Rendell to pretend like his life and friends in Matheson never happened? As readers of the recent Locke & Key one-shot will note, adults don’t forget about the keys without reason.

Bode also sees something else as a ghost—Ellie has a key to the well-house and she goes looking for Lucas in the well. The connection between Lucas and Dodge will be revealed in future episodes of Locke & Key.

Final Thoughts

The production design of this episode was much better than expected. Despite one’s initial disappointment about the rendering of the Head Key, Kinsey’s mental mall was stunning and the store names are worth pausing and looking over.

It’s interesting that Kinsey’s fear is highlighted in the show—in the books, it was her sorrow and her fear, and it often felt like those emotions were used to diminish her. I’m not sure whether leaving her sorrow out entirely is a good idea, but her characterization has been better in the show than it was in the books.

Tyler started off quite bland but his personality is finally coming through—although the angry jock beating on people is a bit of a trope, the backstory for his actions gives him more gravitas.

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Bode continues to be the most compelling character, mainly because he is the finder of the keys, but also because he has a reason to keep looking—he hopes he will eventually find one key that will lead him to his father. Will that be the case? We will keep watching to find out.

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