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Locke and Key's final season is frustrating – and largely pointless

The final episodes will have you yelling at the TV – and not in a good way. **WARNING: Contains spoilers for Locke and Key season 3**

Locke and Key season 3 cast.
Netflix
Published: Wednesday, 10th August 2022 at 5:00 pm
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Someone stick Locke and Key in the mending cabinet because something about this final season isn't working. The fantasy series has always been a bit rough around the edges, not entirely doing justice to the award-winning source material, but it generally stood up as a fun oddity among Netflix's increasingly generic output. For this reason, it was a relief to see the show given a chance to end on its own terms, but the direction and execution of season 3 strikes as a major missed opportunity.

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This shortened closing chapter sees the Locke family take on a new foe in possessed 18th century soldier Frederick Gideon, who was summoned to the present day as an Echo in the cliffhanger season 2 ending. While there had been some foreshadowing towards this in flashback sequences, it was still a jarringly random development given the character's tenuous link to the Locke family and complete absence from the original comic books.

Gideon's expanded role in the third season fails to settle any scepticism, with actor Kevin Durand looking as if he wandered in from an amateur Civil War reenactment. His daft performance goes beyond scenery chewing (scenery devouring, maybe?), evoking only second-hand embarrassment where there is meant to be fear and intimidation. This is partly down to the writers, who lazily make no effort to develop the character into anything more than a cheesy villain from a Saturday morning cartoon.

Kevin Durand in Locke and Key
Kevin Durand in Locke and Key. Netflix

The team is restricted, to some extent, by the DNA of the show, as its primary antagonists are demonic entities from a hellish otherworld whose obsession with the keys rivals Gollum with a certain ring. They are, by their nature, rather one-note. However, the writers managed to find the fun in this premise with their first major foe, Dodge (portrayed brilliantly by Laysla De Oliveira and reasonably well by Griffin Gluck), who did show signs of growth before being vanquished. It's a great shame that they can't do the same with Gideon, who is teased as being a far more powerful being – even described as a "god" at one point – yet acts like just another brutish, incompetent goon.

Naturally, it's an absolute delight to see Dodge return in episode 3 of the new season, appearing in both their earlier forms before taking over the body of young Bode (Jackson Robert Scott, who captures the spirit of the character impressively well). Unfortunately, it's very much a flyby visit with little bearing on the season arc, really only serving as a reminder of how aggressively unexciting the current baddie is by comparison.

But while I may have been happy to see Dodge make a comeback (however short-lived), the situation that facilitates their return is undeniably contrived, involving a stunningly irresponsible action from Bode which doesn't fit the character at all. He may only be 10 years old (or thereabouts), but he's not stupid and that's been demonstrated on numerous occasions. It exemplifies a bad habit the writers fall into this season of having their heroes act irrationally purely to drum up drama. Far from fuelling the tension, this soon becomes annoying.

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I found myself shouting at the TV at several points due to the Locke family's complete lack of urgency in the face of life-threatening danger. Found a crucial key? Just stand still gawping at it as the timer ticks down. Treasured friend knocked unconscious? Leave her alone with your murderous enemy while you have a casual chat in the other room. Villain is distracted and drops all of his magical keys? Take only one and leave him with the rest; it would be rude to snatch them all.

Viewers have long complained of illogical protagonists in the fantasy horror genre over the years, with the counterargument being that if characters didn't make bad decisions then there would be no story at all. Granted, but there's misjudgement and there's plain idiocy, and the Locke family fall repeatedly into the latter category in these latest episodes. The fact is, if there is so little story that the writers have to heavy-handedly manufacture situations to keep things moving forward, then maybe the show should have just ended after season 2.

Locke and Key is available to stream on Netflix. Check out more of our Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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