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Locke & Key: Season Two

The six-book graphic novel series Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez is an all-time favorite of mine, so I was thrilled when Netflix released an adaptation of it last year. Season One was strong, with more emphasis on fantasy vs horror than the book. This opens the narrative to more possibilities, and also makes it a bit more open to a younger audience, although it stills skews towards mature storylines. The ten episodes continue to tell the tale of the Locke family who are fighting an otherworldly evil and has been doing so for generations.

The season begins with the trio of siblings- Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode – not knowing that two of their friends, which includes Kinsey’s boyfriend Gabe, are evil. In fact, their naivety is frustrating, as they tell many of their friends about the magic of the Keyhouse and trust too many people. They discover more keys in and around their home, giving them various powers that will prove useful in the future. Their mother Nina and Uncle Duncan are clueless as to what is happening around them, as adults can’t remember the magic they witness afterward (even after a giant spider attack in the clip below!). Tyler is nearing eighteen, and his girlfriend who is a bit older than him begins to forget magical things that she had experienced, so Tyler knows he doesn’t have much longer to help his siblings. Luckily, a memory key returns Duncan’s memories, which is crucial as he had known how to make new magical keys when he was younger. That later Nina is also given the key of memory was important, because it had become heartbreaking that she was not privy to what her children were going through.

Many shows that incorporate teens have actors and actresses that are much older and so very perfect looking, but the casting in this series is more realistic. The cast is (mostly) age-appropriate and has a welcome diversity, not just as token representation, but how authentic town inhabitants might look. The teens make foolish mistakes, and while they do have to “save the day”, it is chaotic and messy getting there. The adults aren’t portrayed like they are stupid, and loving family ties are shown. I like how this adaptation is playing out, as it is going deeper than just replicating the storyline from the books.

I’m excited that season three was green-lit at the same time season two was. They filmed the seasons back-to-back, which was critical for Bode and the other young actors, that they not grow up too much between seasons. The television series is really starting to veer significantly off the book series, so the conclusion was not what I expected and where it will be heading next is anyone’s guess! And I will be there to watch how the Locke family deals with all the magical mayhem.

-Nancy

A giant spider?? Eeeek! This was before Duncan reclaimed his memory of his magical past.

Love Death + Robots

I am late to the game in discovering this outstanding animated anthology series on Netflix. With a scifi/fantasy concept, the different episodes somehow play to the themes of love, death and robots (although not every episode has a robot per se) and are very adult in nature. In fact, a quote that they are for “mature, messed up adults” is right on the money. I feel seen by that description!

Season one (18 episodes) came out in 2019 and season two (8 episodes) recently came out in May, with a third season promised for next year. Another bonus is that the episodes are all short- the longest about twenty minutes, but several less than ten. Instead of summaries for all the episodes, here are my favs with some spoilers:

Suits:

A farming community is under attack by aliens and they use their advanced technology to combat them. The portal closes and they are safe once again, but as the episode concludes you realise this group are actually the invaders as they have created domed communities across the planet.

Beyond the Aquila Rift:

A spaceship captain awakens from suspended animation in a space station that he wasn’t piloting to and is confused when an ex-girlfriend greets him and tells him his ship and crew accidentally came thousands of light years to this station. He rekindles his relationship with her, and they have a very graphic sexual encounter, but afterward he keeps on questioning her on how his ship got so off course. Then the horrific truth is revealed, his ship is caught in a huge space web and the spider-like alien is giving him and others caught in the web dreams based on their memories.

Shape-Shifters:

Two soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are revealed to be werewolves who are assets to their teams, yet derided by many of their fellow soldiers. When one of the soldiers is killed by a local werewolf, the first soldier wants revenge. Dog tags take a new significance in this poignant episode.

The Secret War:

Red Army soldiers stationed in Siberia valiantly fight other-worldly creatures. A high-ranking government official is shown to have accidently unleashed demons when a ceremony goes awry, but his mistake is covered up, so as to avoid bringing blame upon the higer-ups. Instead hundreds of lives are lost, with the potential of more, just to save face.

Snow in the Desert:

Snow, an immortal man with regenerative abilities, lives alone in a desert hideaway. Hirald, a woman bounty hunter, helps him escape from some others, but tries to convince him to come with her so scientists can study him. When other bounty hunters come to ambush him, a secret of Hirald’s is revealed, but it ends on a hopeful note, as Snow and Hirald might have a chance at love. The world-building in this episode was superb, and I read in another review that the author Neal Asher has a science fiction series that this episode fits into.

All Through the House:

Two English children think they hear Santa and sneak down to see him, but instead see a grotesque alien creature creeping around. They are cornered by the monster but found to be good and given a slimy present. Later they muse what if the alien had found them bad. This was a fun tongue-in-cheek episode.

The animation styles differed wildly episode to episode, with some being cartoony while others were photo-realistic. Some of the stories were funny, others heartbreaking, but all were good in their own way. Often in a collection of short stories there will be some clunkers, but all of the episodes were strong. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t watched it yet. I look forward to season three!

-Nancy

Header picture is from Luckbox Magazine and grid picture from El-Shai.com

Locke & Key: Season One

Locke & Key is one of my favorite graphic novel series, for as I said, “Locke & Key is truly one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, hands down.  It just dominates. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are superb storytellers, and this first novel makes me anxious to read the rest of the horror series”. So I was so excited to learn that it would be turned into a television series. A pilot had originally been shot for the Fox network in 2011 but they never picked it up, then Hulu had the rights but ultimately passed on turning it into a series, and finally, Netflix obtained the rights and the series debuted this February. As with many Netflix series, all ten episodes dropped at once, but I’m a busy mom who works full time, and it took me two months to finish all the episodes.

The story begins in California when a disgruntled student kills Rendell Locke,  and his grieving family heads back to Massachusetts to the Locke family estate. Nina, a recovering alcoholic is hanging onto her sobriety for dear life, while trying to help her three children adjust to their new home and reality. Tyler and Kinsey are in high school, while the youngest Bode is still in grade school. While out exploring the grounds, Bode finds a supernatural woman hiding in the well, and she convinces him to release her and help her find magical keys that are hidden around the estate. But she is malevolent, and we soon discover she was behind the killing of Rendell. He had been hiding secrets from his youth, as he too, knew of the key’s powers and how they could be twisted for evil. Now, this new generation of Lockes is battling for their lives, and pull some other people from the community into the mess.

Casting is key in any series, and I feel they really hit it out of the park. I loved all thee of the Locke children with the youngest really authentically capturing the wide-eyed innocence of Bode. The older two made the same short-sighted mistakes as they did in the graphic novel, with Tyler doing his best to be the level headed one and Kinsey’s lack of fear being a problem. The series eliminated a character who raped the Lockes’ mother and helped killed the Locke father, so Nina’s back story wasn’t as tragic and her character was allowed more growth.

I was very pleased with the series- it was a strong adaptation of the source material, especially as the pilot episode was co-written by author Joe Hill. The graphic novel was definitely in the horror genre with fantasy elements, but I’d say the series did a 180° with it skewing more towards fantasy with a few horror elements. This worked well, as some extremely dark issues were eliminated, which opened the narrative up to more ages, although it was still for a fairly mature audience.

While the series faithfully replicated much of the plot from the six-book series, many threads were left unexplored as to give the tv series room for growth if it was picked up for a second season- and it was! There were some fun reveals in the last few minutes that will lead to the Locke family facing more adversity, as there are two new demonic foes who are masquerading as friends. I look forward to more adventures with the Lockes!

-Nancy

Stranger Things

I finally watched both seasons of Stranger Things, and I LOVED it! I had heard good buzz about the show, and knew the sci-fi/supernatural show would be right up my alley, especially considering the show was set in the 1980’s (obviously the best decade to grow up in!). When my son Nick, home from his freshman year of college, said he wanted to watch it with me and my husband, I was sold. Our teen wanted to watch a series with his parents, and spend time with us! I was in a parental swoon of happiness! That the show happened to be fabulous was gravy.

I wish I was up to writing more about the series, but I’m currently having a bit of writer’s block. Despite me recently finishing my masters degree in library science, and theoretically having more time to write, I have a tsunami of commitments at work and home to deal with. In lieu of insightful commentary about Stranger Things, I will leave you with three absolutely hysterical video parodies of the first two seasons.

Sharing is caring!

Where is #JusticeForBarb?

Lucas’s parents share some #Truth!

I am so ready for season three! I can’t wait to see what direction they will go in next, especially as the child actors and actresses age before our eyes, as that might dictate certain plot lines.  Although I couldn’t summon up a lot to say in this post, I’d love to hear some feedback from others on what they liked or theories about next season.

-Nancy

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