'Locke & Key' Episode 1 Review: The Netflix show begins strong and brims with mystery in 'Welcome to Matheson'

The first episode teases thrilling secrets to be uncovered but spends most of the time admirably establishing its characters and the setting

'Locke & Key' Episode 1 Review: The Netflix show begins strong and brims with mystery in 'Welcome to Matheson'
'Locke & Key' (IMDb)
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Spoiler alert for 'Welcome to Matheson': Episode 1 of 'Locke & Key' 

Rendell Locke (Bill Heck) is dead. He has been killed and the news of his passing has frightened one man enough to burn himself alive with the help of a magical key. 

Rendell Locke is dead, and it happened so suddenly and violently, that all the family can manage to do is distance themselves from the scene and memory of the crime. 

Rendell Locke is dead, and all he has left to his family is the Locke name and a mansion up in Matheson, Massachusets, that is filled with hidden, magical keys. His death is what sets the events of the show into motion, and it is everything that the Lockes are trying to get away from. 

You might think, at first, that the Locke family dynamic is a little bland until it becomes obvious just how tired they all are. They're so ready to move on to something new that they're almost as blank a slate to the secrets of Matheson and the Keyhouse as the viewers themselves. 

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The series handles the Lockes, our POV characters, with gentleness. The establishing visuals in this episode are breathtaking, and the camera lingers on them long enough to immerse the viewers in the world of the show.

We're even given a tour of the Keyhouse, and it's obvious that the place is filled with more mysteries than anyone but Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) is willing to explore. 

Apart from the intense opening scene meant to hook the audience in, the show is slow to give up its magic. It instead takes the time to establish its central protagonists — Bode, Tyle (Connor Jessup) and Kinsey (Emilia Jones).

They all spend much of the episode trying to figure out what their new life will be like. Of course, it is Bode who manages to discover both the show's sinister threat, the Well-Lady (Laysla De Oliveira) and the house's magical keys — but in true to traditional fantasy form, nobody believes the kid. At least, not yet.

The opening intro for the show does need to be talked about, with this being the first episode. The intro is responsible for setting up a show's mood, and the one for 'Locke & Key' is thrilling.

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It's not the thrill of a summer blockbuster — it's the thrill of a mystery, of knowing something magical is right around the corner if you're ready to go looking. It promises wonder, if you look closely enough, and wait. 

'Welcome to Matheson' is a strong start to the series, establishing a cast worth caring about through the show's 10-episode run.

It promises a new brand of magic, one that feels familiar while still being wrapped in something that's not been seen before on TV. Fans of the comic should be thrilled at how well the setting has been brought to life, while newcomers, if they stick around and watch closely enough, are in for a treat.

'Locke & Key' is now available to stream on Netflix.

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