Review of Netflix’s 2 Newest originals shows, Locke & Key and October Faction

Even though school is in full swing now—can you believe spring break is, like, two weeks away?—I’ve managed to binge watch two of Netflix’s new original series, Locke and Key and October Faction. Whether or not Netflix was aware, the shows contain some similar themes such as magic/supernatural creatures, families dealing with loss, and familial trust. Because both shows contain magical elements, there is also an air of mystery and suspense characters within both shows struggle to understand what’s happening as their lives keep changing. Here is a spoiler-free review of both shows, in case you’ve seen them in your recent browsing but couldn’t quite commit.

Locke & Key is based off the graphic novel written by Joe Hill, the pen name of Stephen King’s son, Joseph King. It starts off with the Locke family, still recovering from the tragic death of their father, who are being transplanted from Seattle to their father’s hometown, Matheson, Massachusetts. It’s a rocky transition, not to mention as the family starts to settle into their new home, known as Key House (which I found to be a little too literal to be honest), they begin to each experience strange phenomena. Along with their grief, they have to confront the fact that their beloved father had a lot of secrets about his past, which have come back to haunt them. What I really liked about this show was how they explored the impact of the father’s death within each of the characters. Through sequences of flashbacks we see their father, Rendell Locke, when he was alive and some of the experiences they remember with him. For the two oldest children, this is kind of a coming-of-age, at least where they begin to realize that their parents are human too, with their own issues and secrets. One of the more compelling storylines is their mother, Nina, as she struggles with maintaining sobriety from alcohol. It was surprisingly refreshing to see an addict portrayed on a show as a loving wife and mother, which is as real for some people as an abusive alcoholic father.  There ends up being a lot more twists than I expected, which made it enjoyable, but a few that I did expect. It’s a solid show, which has good potential for another season. If you are looking for something suspenseful but still relatively easy to watch that has cute moments intersecting with the intense ones, I’d head over to Netflix and let that autoplay go. 

October Faction is the other show I recently finished, and is definitely less kid friendly than Locke & Key. Also based on a comic book, this show is about the Allen family who moves back into their father’s childhood home after their grandfather's death. If all of that felt a little familiar to you, trust me, it absolutely was. I’m not sure why both of these shows dropped close together, but with such similar starting plots, it was hard not to draw comparisons. Whereas the Locke family was dealing with losing their beloved father, the loss that beings the Allen family’s journey in October Faction is not as heartfelt. Fred and Deloris Allen return to Barrington on Hudson with their twin teenagers, Geoff and Viv, for their grandfather’s funeral, who was estranged from the family. Just thought to be an eccentric old man, you soon find out that Sam Allen was part of an institution known as Presidio, which Fred and Deloris are also a part of. Presidio is like the CIA mixed with the Winchester brothers from Supernatural. Although absolutely not federally funded or supported, Presidio is a secret bureaucratic organization dedicated to fighting and killing monsters, of which their definition is basically “anything not human.” Fred and Deloris are met with a tough choice: stay in Presidio and watch their children become indoctrinated against their choice, or leave the only life they’ve spent the last 20 years dedicated to. Teenagers Geoff and Viv get embroiled in their own mysterious adventures, on their own and together, which leave you questioning what’s really going on as each episode ends. A few episodes in, you really start to see that nothing is as it seems, and that the secrets that are hidden within this family are much bigger than you realized. I enjoyed this show because it genuinely surprised me. What I thought was going to be a show about a monster-hunting family ended up raising issues of identity, morality, and a lot of themes regarding how minorities are treated, with a very X-Men-like approach of likening minorities to the “monster” being hunted. (If you’re unclear what I mean, the idea of mutations in X-Men is allegorical  to people who are in general “non-conforming,” such as people with mental illness, disabilities, people of color, who are queer/trans, or in any way a minority and the battles they face with discrimination and erasure just because of who they are.) My favorite element of the show was the question of “who is actually right,” as you explore perspectives through several characters that make you question who’s good and who is bad, while you learn that people aren’t really either/or. Everyone has some bad they’ve done, even if they are in general good people. And the people who you thought were trustworthy and on the right side end up being the real monsters. If you want a show with a lot of twists, a lot of dealing with morality, with a good cross section of magic, monsters, and gore, check it out! 

Overall, these are both pretty solid shows, and as long as you aren’t as impatient as I am to figure out what’s going on, the suspension and mystery within the shows sets up well with good payoff. At the moment, both shows are greenlit for a 2nd season, and I will definitely be ready to watch them when they drop. Hit me up on Instagram at iamof.the.sea with your thoughts on both of these shows! All opinions are welcome.