Comics On TV

Locke & Key Season 2 Raises the Stakes, Cast and Producers Say

The Locke children face more danger in season 2 as demon Dodge possesses a family friend.

by | October 21, 2021 | Comments

Locke & Key is one of Netflix’s comic book–adaptation success stories. Originally published from 2008-2013, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s epic was a unique mix of family drama, horror, and magic. It immediately inspired interest from Fox, spawning a pilot in 2011 starring Miranda Otto as the Locke family matriarch, Nina. It did not go to series. In 2017, a new version of the series went into development at Hulu, but after the streaming service passed, Netflix picked it up on the strength of a second pilot — but asked all the principal cast except Jackson Robert Scott, who plays young Bode Locke, be replaced. The resulting first season favored the magic and family over the horror, but proved to be a hit on Netflix, which commissioned a second and third season.

The second season, available Friday, represents something executive producers Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill consider a deliberate tone shift.

“It’s the natural progression of the show because of the stakes being much higher this season,” Averill said when Rotten Tomatoes caught up with her, Cuse, and several members of the cast recently. “The show is maturing, our kids are maturing; the characters are coming more into their own and everything is just so much more heightened.”


(Photo by Amanda Matlovich/Netflix © 2021)

Connor Jessup, who plays teen Tyler Locke, said the tone of the new season tracks with where the characters are at emotionally, and by the second half, “it gets pretty intense. I think that the show dances with them. It reflects that.”

“I think it’s still the same show, the DNA is still there, actor added. “I think it’s definitely not a radical shift in tone, but I think as these characters grow up, as the danger that they face increases, [and] as they find more keys, that naturally, the horror of the world that they’re in deepens.”

For those who might need a refresher: the first season saw the Locke children – eldest brother Tyler, middle daughter Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and youngest child Bode – move to Matheson, Massachusetts, the ancestral home of their recently deceased father. Bode quickly discovers a magical key which lends him a magical ability. Other keys also emerge allowing the children to fix broken objects, enter their own memories and alter their psyches, astral project around the nearby woods, and influence the actions of others. The whimsy of it all is broken when an apparent demon called Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) emerges with a key allowing her to pass through any threshold and emerge wherever she desires. Her goal: obtain the “Omega Key” which will allow more of her kind to come through a doorway between realities. Mother Nina Locke (Darby Stanchfield) is mostly unaware of these events as adults cannot retain the knowledge of magic for very long.

And that last fact becomes a driver of story in the early part of season 2 as Tyler confronts the inevitability of becoming an adult.

“They’re not aware of when that actually occurs. And early on, in the very first episode of season 2, they’re going to find out what that age actually is,” Averill explained. “And so, especially for Tyler this season, we’re telling this story of what it means to cross that threshold into adulthood and what it means to not be ready to really let go of that. [We] see him fight against that, not just for himself, but also for the people he cares about.”

Jessup added, “It really dawns on Tyler at the beginning of season 2 that it’s even possible that he might forget all of this. I think season 1 is so full of movement and chaos, that he doesn’t even have time to consider it. And then, in the peace and quiet that comes after, he realizes that of course adults forget magic.

“He likes the magic, and he has a lot of good memories associated with it,” the actor continued. “And so much of the progress that he’s made emotionally is because of it. He starts to worry that he’ll lose all of that. I think it speaks to a lot of what we all feel when we grow up.”

EMILIA JONES in Locke & Key

(Photo by Amanda Matlovich/Netflix © 2021)

Despite that ticking clock, the season also opens with the Locke children more comfortable with the keys and their powers. Kinsey, for instance, still gets a WiFi signal when she goes inside her own head.

“Clearly for Kinsey, [that] was a big priority,” Cuse explained. “Also, we were trying to show that they’ve got a much greater familiarity with magic and an ability to manipulate magic to their own ends.”

And as viewers may recall, Kinsey already used the magic of the Head Key to remove her own fears – an element which may yet echo in season 2.

As the season begins, three months have passed since the children seemingly defeated Dodge. Beyond giving the Locke kids more time with the keys, it also gave Nina a chance to further heal from her traumas and step outside of the house. Viewers may find that surprising, especially if they come back into the series after a quick rewatch. And, indeed, Stanchfield was surprised herself to see Nina in a better head space.

“I did fight that instinct of like, ‘wait, too soon,’ only because the grief and the loss is so powerful, and it’s such a big part of what I focused on as an actor in season 1,” she said.

She recalled shooting an early scene with Brandon Hines, who plays newcomer Josh Bennett, and noting “[it] didn’t feel like I found my footing.” Later, she discovered why: “I realized that Nina was happy. It was really that simple. She has moved on. We get to see another sort of shade for Nina. Another view in her being that is not just grief.” It is one of the programs new and interesting tensions.


(Photo by Amanda Matlovich/Netflix © 2021)

Another new tension – Dodge has assumed the identity of Gabe (Griffin Gluck) full time, although Gluck was reticent to say if Gabe, who appeared throughout the first season, was always Dodge. In conversation with the producers and writing staff, it became clear to Gluck that character is an amalgam of Dodge, Lucas (a kid the demon possessed when the Locke children’s father was a teenager), and Dodge attempts to be a teen boy and Kinsey’s boyfriend.

“I think it’s actually hard for them to know whether or not it’s real or fake at this point. They spend so long in Gabe’s persona that I think it starts to rub off and then parts of Lucas start to shine through. I don’t even think Dodge really knows,” he said. For his part, Gluck played Gabe as real in the sense that “his feelings are real and separate yet, somehow intertwined with Dodge’s.”

Complicating matter further is the demon Dodge managed to get through the door last season, who now possesses the body of Matheson Academy mean girl Eden Hawkins (Hallea Jones). And though the character was softening and on her way to joining the small circle of teenagers who knew the Lockes’ secret, Jones said the character “definitely takes on her full form” with the addition of the demonic presence. Despite the greater understanding of Eden late in season 1, Jones reminded us that “she’s already kind of a demon. She’s just this like tormenting bully at school and she doesn’t really care much about anyone else but herself. She has her self interest always at the front of mind.”

But that self-interest is threatened by Dodge/Gabe’s goals, leading to a number of scenes in which the latter uses physical intimidation against the former.

“Griffin and I became close over filming the second and third season. So it was like nice to have someone I trusted,” Hallea Jones said of getting used to acting out the abuse. “We did a lot of physical scenes throughout the season that were demanding and crazy, but it was always in a consensual safe space and the crew [and] production made sure that was possible as well.”

“It really just takes a huge amount of trust,” Gluck added. “One in yourself — not to go too far or do anything too crazy. It takes a lot of trust in the other person for them to let you know that, ‘Hey, maybe we go a little softer this time. Maybe we take a little bit easier.’”


(Photo by Amanda Matlovich/Netflix © 2021)

The second and third seasons were shot back-to-back, which means one of the program’s unique production difficulties — Scott’s noticeable aging — will be mitigated to an extent.

“I think we managed to get through the filming of season 2 and season 3 in such a way that you don’t bump against it. It’s not a major thing. But yes, clearly he is growing up at a faster rate than our storytelling is progressing,” Cuse said. The producer also noted that Scott, as the only holdover from the Hulu pilot, has lived and breathed Locke & Key since he was eight-years-old. “This huge chunk of his life has been as a performer on this series. So it’s kind of a profound thing, when you think about it from the perspective of him as a kid and as an actor.”

“By the time we finished filming season 3, he became a teenager, which is kind of shocking,” Stanchfield said. “I think that this was a constant thing that we were talking about — especially those of us who play the family, the Lockes — was how tall he got, and how much he grew just during one season. I mean, I wouldn’t see him for a week. And I’d see him, and I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, you’re half an inch taller!’”

Scott aging into adolescence may yet impact the overall story, but Cuse said the “major bus stops in the comic” are still elements they want to adapt: “The way we get to them is wholly our own. And so I think, in general, the series follows the comic books, but it’s really its own journey. And obviously, I think the further we go downstream in the show, the more divergent the two become. They have shared elements, but each is its own thing.”

Locke & Key season 2 premieres on Friday, October 22 on Netflix.

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