Based on the Graphic Novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez. All episodes available now on Netflix.
The adventures of the Locke Family continue to get more and more surreal, and prove once and for all that my "Three Episode Rule" on judging TV shows is necessary. After a fairly average start and a decent second episode, Netflix's new horror/fantasy/teenage soap opera continues to improve. Episode 3 was probably the strongest so far, delivering a solid, cohesive plot, with good performances from all involved.
Episode 3 picks up right where episode 2 ended, with the Locke Children delving into a totally-not -sinister-at-all glowing trunk. The contents of the trunk turns out to be possibly the most terrifying thing in existence; the mind of a young old boy.
Bode's mind looks almost exactly how you'd expect: lurid, neon colours, Minecraft blocks litter the floor, Spyro the Dragon runs around the walls, and super-creepy jack-in-the-boxes litter the floor. Each one filled with a precious memory of the youngest Locke.
This is where things start to spice up. The memory we are shown is of the Locke Patriarch Rendell telling a younger Bode a story. It's a somewhat unsuitable tale for a young child: a sailor finds treasure, but has to contend with a terrifying monster if he wishes to own it.
The memory ends before we can hear the end of the tale. But of course, Rendell told the tale to his other children too, so they can fill in the blanks. There's only one problem: they both remember the same story, but with wildly different endings.
This raises the question: If the endings were tailored to the child Rendell is telling the story to, how did Bode's version of the story spin? And why do I get the feeling that piece of information could be quite important for our future?
Sadly, this is the moment that Joe decides to actually hold a plot element back, so I guess we'll have to keep watching, if we want to find out.
Of course, while the Littlest Locke only sees the fun side of this key, his somewhat more damaged siblings realise how dangerous it is, and immediately take it from him. They leave it in the far more safe hands of elder sister Kinsey, who, to the surprise of no one, ends up using the key to explore her own scarred consciousness.
Sadly, things don't go quite so well for the Lockes' adventure in Kinsey's mind as they did inside Bode's. Things, in fact, rapidly start to get pretty freaky.
You see, bright colours and Mall-like setting aside, they're adventuring into a living person's mind. As uptight as she is, Kinsey doesn't have total control over her own brain. So, naturally, while exploring her memories, she ends up thinking of the one thing she doesn't want to think about...
This raised an interesting question, for me. You see, as Kinsey has just learned, there's no better way to force your mind to think about something, than to try and make it not think about something.
So, when his older brother and sister walked so casually into his mind, how did Bode not think about the time he stole $5 from his brother's wallet, or the time that he laughed so hard he nearly peed himself while reading his sister's diary?
Is this the sign of a highly organised and controlled mind? Does Bode in fact have an extreme level of mental control?
Or is he just an idiot child, too focused on the flashing lights and cool stuff inside himself to realise the dangers of the situation he found himself in?
Stepping outside of their minds, life in Matheson is continuing as normal. Tyler continues to let the guilt and sadness he feels over his father's death manifest itself as barely controlled rage.
Kinsey's quest to draw the perfect bicycle continues, and her "Will they/Won't they" nonsense with the ever so British Scot is still not interesting. But they'll keep pushing it, because, reasons. Just put the kid out of his misery, Kinsey!
Scary but attractive, in an evil way, well-dweller Echo is still doing something. Her trans-American adventure continues, as she indulges her appetites in whatever way she can. Her journey this episode bring her back to a very familiar house. Which raises the question: What on earth is she up to? And why do I get the feeling something is off, about this plot? Her actions may be questionable, to say the least, but I can't help but think there's more to her actions. I'm missing something here, and it's really bugging me.
Nina "The Best" Locke doesn't get much screen time this episode. But the time she has is used well. As the mystery of Rendell, Dunc, and Sam deepens further, and clues drip out at an excruciatingly slow pace, the biggest question remains...Just what is Ellie up to?
Overall, a very strong episode. The characters are growing on me, except for Bode, who I still hold an irrational dislike for. The plot continues at a decent pace and finally is starting to give itself time to grow. Basically, they've stopped doing all the things that annoyed me about the first two episodes, and are doing more of the things that I enjoyed. So, for now, I can't really complain.
So, let me leave you with one final question: if Bode's mind is an Arcade, and Kinsey's is a Mall: What would YOUR mind look like, if you used the Mind Key?