Season 1 Episode 7
‘Dissection’ was a tense episode, as it was meant to be, but as I sat behind my desk thinking about it, I could not quite shake off the feeling that it could have been better. What happened in this episode was the worst nightmare for the Lockes. This was what the well lady aka Dodge threatened Bode with. Sam, the kid who killed Rendell, was unleashed upon the Lockes again. It should hit harder than it did.
The strongest arc for me in this episode was Nina’s. Struggling with the trauma of a home invasion that led to the murder of her husband, Nina was shown to be particularly sensitive to strange noises inside the house (maybe she shouldn’t have insisted on living in a massive house but anyway). She freaked out that one time that Ellie entered her house without telling her. When Sam broke a window and started walking around the house, it was Nina who first sensed that something wasn’t right. Nina followed the smallest of sounds to Tyler’s bedroom, where she found Sam wearing Tyler’s clothes and pointing a gun at her.
Later, when it was all over, struggling with the return of her husband’s killer, the fact that her kids were once again in danger, and the things she did not know or could not remember, Nina reached for Ellie's housewarming gift. Nina tried to hold on to her sobriety through her trauma. She tried to hold on to her sobriety as she investigated her husband’s past, as she found a man who was kind to her dead, as she restored her husband’s ancestral home all by herself. The night with Sam was the final straw.
It’s the not knowing that bugs. Whilst the weight of the realm of magic was on the kids’ shoulders, the adults could feel that too, they just did not know what it was. Aaron Ashmore had a quietly strong performance last episode, when Duncan tried to grasp the memories he no longer had. Locke & Key is very much a young show, but I like the sensitivity in the portrayal of those around magic but could not remember it, like Nina and Duncan.
Sam came to Key House to get the head key, the key Dodge was really after, but the episode was also a way to get more background on how, exactly, did Sam get involved in the search for keys. Sam, a troubled student with a difficult home life, heard voices coming from the photo in Rendell’s office; the photo was of Key House with the well house next to it. Dodge talked Sam into checking Rendell’s notes about him. There he found that Rendell thought he might have borderline personality disorder, and that Tyler befriended him on Rendell’s instructions. Dodge needled Sam’s feelings of betrayal. When Sam went to the Locke home in Seattle, it was to find the head key. Dodge apparently needed it to get information from someone on how to open the black door (the door Kinsey found inside the sea cave).
I am starting to think that perhaps the writers are using Kinsey as a commentary on how a dose of fear helps humans make healthier decisions. Did the lack of fear within Kinsey lead her to no longer fear for the safety of her friends? But then again, caring for the lives of others is not about fear, it is about basic humanity. I am giving myself a headache as I type this.
I am trying to suss out what exactly is going on with Kinsey because she made another decision in this episode that did not quite make sense to me. After Bode told her about the return of the well lady and her threat, Kinsey's response was to shrug it off. Bode wanted to call Tyler to make sure he was okay; Kinsey just wanted to get the rest of her boxes from the basement. It was only because Bode asked her again to call Tyler that Kinsey thought to borrow their mother's phone (Kinsey lost her phone in the sea cave). When an evil magical creature who can walk through any door threatens your family, why on earth is it not instinctive to check on where they are and that they are safe?
Kinsey's decision was even more horrifying given that we, the audience, know that whilst Bode was rightfully worried, Tyler was with Dodge aka the well lady. After they had sex in the car, Tyler saw the anywhere key. Finally realising who he was actually with, Tyler ran with the anywhere key and used it to get back to Key House, where he found his family under threat by Sam, again.
Did it make sense for Tyler to tackle Sam immediately upon seeing him instead of dialing 911 first? Maybe Tyler simply reacted on instinct. Maybe Tyler was pushed by the anger he felt that his friend killed his father. Maybe Tyler was filled with guilt, because he remembered how he once mentioned killing Rendell to Sam. Later, Tyler was visibly relieved that Sam did not even remember their conversation about killing Rendell. That Sam went after Rendell had nothing to do with Tyler, after all, and everything to do with Dodge and the head key. That, at least, was some weight off young Tyler's shoulders.
That Kinsey told Sam the head key was buried in the woods was actually a good idea. Kinsey, along with Bode, led Sam to the place where she buried the fear monster. Of course Sam saw the knife that Kinsey buried there, too, before she could grab it, but the fear monster crawled her way out and attacked Sam. Sam was able to get away from the fear monster, but so did Kinsey and Bode. More importantly, the trek through the woods gave Tyler an opportunity to get out of his bounds, to get Nina out of her bounds, and for Nina to call the police.
By the time we got to the scene where Nina attacked Sam with a pair of scissors (instead of hiding in one of the many rooms in the mansion until the police came, or running outside to find Kinsey and Bode), I stopped trying to figure out if it made sense. Maybe that was the plan, to distract Sam long enough so Tyler could use the head key on him. If that were the plan, what did Tyler expect to happen? The second self that appears when the head key is used is just the same person, not a nicer version. Second Sam may have appeared apologetic, at first, but he took out the key from himself the first chance he got. When Dodge arrived at Key House, Sam had the head key, not any of the Lockes. It turned out that whilst Dodge could not take they keys from a Locke, she could take them from everyone else.
'Dissection' was an okay episode, but that was not at all enough, when the goal was to present a nightmarish scenario of a family facing the worst that could have happened to them after losing Rendell. If you read my previous recaps, then you can see that I found a lot to like about Locke & Key. I just don't think this episode quite achieved the dramatic high point that it should have been for this season.
🗝All the keys except for the ghost key (in the keyhole in the house) and the mending key (with Nina) were with Dodge by the end of the episode.
🗝When Sam first entered the house, my first thought was, Kinsey, get the music box. It was entirely plausible for Kinsey not to be able to get the music box before she and Bode ran into Sam, but I wish the show mentioned it, at least.
🗝Briefly and without commentary, this is what happened in the episode. Nina walked in on Sam at Tyler's bedroom. Kinsey and Bode knew someone was in the house, but did not yet know who it was. Bode used the ghost key and, as a ghost, he saw Sam with Nina. Knowing that he was after the head key, Kinsey hid it inside her stuffed toy Sally. Sam had Nina, Kinsey, and Bode tied up in the dining room waiting for Tyler, whom Kinsey said had the head key. After he escaped from Dodge, Tyler attacked Sam but was overpowered when Sam used the matchstick key. Tyler and Nina were left tied in the dining room whilst Sam, Kinsey, and Bode went to the woods, purportedly to find the head key. The fear monster attacked Sam, and Kinsey and Bode got away. Sam was able to return to Key House. Nina attacked him with a pair of scissors, and Tyler used the head key, which he took from inside Sally, on him. Sam was able to remove the head key from himself, just before Dodge arrived. Dodge stabbed Sam and took the head key, along with the other keys, from him. With the police arriving, Sam went through the ghost door. The police shut the door, and Sam's ghost was separated from his now dead body.
🗝Nina once more noted the omega tattoo on Sam's wrist.
🗝Bode figured out the well lady was Dodge.
Director: Dawn Wilkinson
Writer: Michael D. Fuller
Original Release Date: 7 February 2020