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The Ending Of Locke & Key Season 3 Explained

The fantasy horror drama "Locke & Key" made a big splash when its first season dropped on Netflix in February 2020. Since its arrival on the streaming service, the show — which is based on Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's comic book series of the same name — has developed a devoted fanbase. Viewers fell in love with the titular Locke family and everyone else in Matheson, the small town that they call home.

Unfortunately, Netflix viewers had a long wait between the first and second season because of all the post-production the show requires, with Season 2 finally arriving in October 2021. Thankfully, fans had a much shorter wait time for "Locke and Key" Season 3, which dropped on August 10, 2022, because the second and third seasons were filmed back-to-back.

There's not much of an on-screen gap between the events of Season 2 and Season 3, either. It's only been a couple of months since the Lockes defeated Dodge and Tyler (Connor Jessup) left Matheson to go traveling. The season begins with Kinsey (Emilia Jones), Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and Nina (Darby Stanchfield) adjusting to — or struggling to adjust to — life without Tyler. Immediately, Season 3 starts to answer fans' burning questions from Season 2 and confirms that Eden (Hallea Jones) is definitely dead, reveals that Tyler's been working in Montana, and establishes that Captain Gideon (Kevin Durand) is stronger than the average echo. With Tyler out of Matheson and unable to remember magic there have been some changes at Keyhouse, too. We'll break down just what led to this year's conclusion for the Lockes and where it leaves them going forward.

Kinsey takes the lead

As the oldest Locke sibling, Tyler had always taken the lead when it came to magic, the keys, and making plans. But when he left Matheson at the end of the second season, he entrusted all the keys to Kinsey and Bode. Tyler's absence, coupled with the fact that Duncan isn't around as much, really changes the dynamic at Keyhouse in "Locke & Key" Season 3. It essentially forces Kinsey to take the lead and become the magical protector of the family, a role she never expected to play.

This development is really emphasized in Episode 1, when Kinsey is out with her friends filming the second installment of "The Splattering" movie franchise. At home, Nina finds a snow globe with a model of Keyhouse she is convinced is magical. Bode dismisses her, but of course, she's almost immediately proven right when Bode finds the Snowflake Key, which activates the snow globe. They hesitate on their next action and suggest waiting for Kinsey, which is an interesting dynamic given Nina, not Kinsey, is the parent. But Nina's experience with magic is limited and Bode is often a little too keen to use magic, so it makes sense for Kinsey to take the lead on all things related to keys and magical safety.

This new dynamic continues even after Tyler returns. Even though she's happy to have him back, Kinsey has gotten used to taking charge and making the plans. It shows in Episode 8 when the siblings both come up with different plans to defeat Gideon — Kinsey wants to put him in the Well House while Tyler wants to use the Creation Key to draw some weapons. However, they end up doing both. By the end of the episode, the family act more like a democracy.

New keys become important in Season 3

"Locke & Key" introduces viewers to 19 keys in its first two seasons, almost all of which are used again or at least mentioned in Season 3. Fan favorites from Season 2 like the Angel Key and the Chain Key reappear frequently, but it wouldn't be "Locke & Key" if there weren't at least a few new keys introduced this season, too.

When we first see them in Episode 1, Kinsey and Bode are playing with the Animal Key, which they have evidently found in Tyler's absence. It's quite a brief scene and the key — which turns them into animals — could easily be overlooked. However, the Animal Key becomes the only means of saving Bode's life in Episode 6. The addition of the Snowflake Key, the Timeshift Key, the Harlequin Key, and the Creation Key brings the show's total of keys to an even 24.

Season 3 plays on the theme of the past influencing the present, and that's literally and figuratively the case with the new keys. For example, the Timeshift Key allows the user, or users, to time travel into the past. On his first adventure, Bode meets his ancestors and discovers the existence of the Harlequin Key. Later, Tyler and Kinsey find the Creation Key, which brings their dad to the forefront of the narrative again. Each of these keys highlight that even with newer storylines, villains, and adventures, this is the same story about a family grieving the loss of a loved one, which is something that we'll touch on again later.

Meeting Frederick Gideon

Kevin Durand's villainous Captain Frederick Gideon was first introduced in short flashbacks in Season 2 of "Locke & Key," but Eden summoned his echo to the present in the second season finale. In Season 3, he becomes the show's main antagonist. The Lockes first meet the revolutionary war soldier-slash-powerful demon when he breaks into their house in Episode 2. Kinsey and Tyler fight him off and, as the series progresses, they discover there's a lot more to his plan than a quick smash and grab.

After Tyler gets his memories back at the end of Episode 4, they're able to piece together who Gideon is and why he's after them or, more specifically, all the keys. In Episode 5, Bode — who's actually Dodge at this point — reveals that Gideon is a god-like demon from the world beyond the black door and explains that he plans to merge the two worlds.

Gideon needs all the keys to do this and ultimately possesses all but one of them. Thankfully, the Lockes stop him before he can enact his plan, sending him back to the world that he came from. However, there's still a lot about the villain's motivations that never really becomes clear. Why did he want to merge the worlds? Was it so he could secure ultimate power and control, or did he simply want to spread destruction and chaos? The series never explains exactly what would happen if the two worlds merged, but it says enough to know that it would definitely be bad.

Nina Locke's magical journey

In the second season finale of "Locke & Key" Bode uses the Memory Key on his mom, Nina. By the time Season 3 rolls around, she's had a couple of months to get used to the idea of magic at Keyhouse. However, the shiny appeal of the keys has by no means worn off on Nina by the beginning of Season 3. In fact, she's like a kid at Christmas discovering different magic for the first time. Of course, she becomes more cautious after the Snowflake Key almost kills Bode in Episode 1, but she still embraces magic. Nina knowing about magic and actually getting involved in the fight again Gideon ultimately helps save the day. In the series finale, she's the one who triumphantly pushes Gideon through the portal.

Nina's new magical journey makes the most sense for her character arc in Season 3 and it ultimately brings her closer to her children. Knowing about magic and sharing that connection with them affirms her abilities as a parent, which is something she's struggled with in past seasons. Ahead of Season 3's release, Darby Stanchfield explained to Collider that her character's ignorance about magic for the first two seasons has been "such a curse on this family that, for as much as they wanna be a family, they're pulled apart." So, in Season 3 she relishes in the benefits of magic. She enjoys being able to see her memories of Rendell (Bill Heck) again, and her newfound knowledge finally allows her to understand her late husband, his childhood home, and what their kids have been going through.

Tyler's emotional arc

Grief is a major thread that runs through "Locke & Key." It's been at the forefront of the series since all the way back when the Lockes first arrive at Matheson after Rendell's murder. The grief the family experiences in Season 1 comes full circle again in Season 3, but in more ways than one. For Tyler, who's struggling to cope after his girlfriend Jackie's death, it's portrayed through his emotional but transformative character arc. His sense of loss mirrors the grief that Nina carries as Rendell's widow. And just as Nina opts for a fresh start in Matheson after her husband is murdered, Tyler feels he needs to leave town and forget magic after Jackie's death. He spends a few months working construction jobs in Montana before returning home in Episode 2.

However, it isn't until Kinsey restores his memories in Episode 4 that he's actually able to reconnect with his family. In the following episode, he explains how he's feeling, saying, "I thought letting go of magic would help take my pain away, but I think that pain is always going to be with me, at least now I can understand it." It's at this moment that Tyler understands that running away didn't actually help him; being with his family and working through his pain with them was the only way to move forward. So, even though he decides to leave again after they defeat Gideon and give up magic, it's clear this time he bases his decision on a desire to move onto the next phase of his life, rather than to outrun his emotions.

A visit from a former villain

Thanks to the "Locke & Key" Season 3 trailer, viewers knew Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) was returning for the third season, despite that resolute ending of "Locke & Key" Season 2. However, it would have been difficult to predict that she returns because Bode accidentally brings her forward in time while using the Timeshift Key. Then again, "Locke & Key" is a show about magic, so literally anything is possible. Upon her arrival in the present, Dodge sets about creating chaos and even inhabits Bode's body for a time. The fact that it takes so long for Nina to work out that something seems off about Bode is a testament to just how stealthy of a villain Dodge really is, and how well she studied the Locke family.

However, there's more going on here than an old villain merely showing up to cause a bit of trouble. Dodge's reappearance starts to emphasize the consequences of the keys. Sometimes danger comes from an external force, but it often comes from Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode's mistakes. Until this point, the Lockes unanimously felt that the benefits of the keys and magic outweighed the negatives. They have all this power and ability, and Dodge is the villain trying to take it away from them. But after Bode's missteps bring Dodge back, it starts to shift their perspective. This storyline foreshadows what's coming and ultimately paves the way for the Lockes to consider giving up the keys.

Gordie Shaw was more important than he seemed

Gordie Shaw (Michael Therriault) is first introduced in Season 2 of "Locke & Key." Viewers might remember that he's a former schoolmate of Rendell's, and he works with Nina on the restoration of Matheson's theater, which he financed. You might have also noticed that same theater is renamed in Gordie's memory in the Season 3 finale. Gordie is reintroduced to viewers in Episode 1 of Season 3 as the Savini Squad's financial benefactor, channeling their creativity into a Matheson tourism film. It's a brief scene that doesn't allude to any further storylines for his character, but it turns out that he's a much more important character than viewers first thought.

A large chunk of the final showdown revolves around Gordie, and much of it even takes place inside his head. His teenage years are shown in flashbacks, and they reveal the ups and downs of his friendship with Rendell, and why Ellie stashes a key in his head. The two storylines work in tandem and are presented as a commentary on how lying to people you care about puts them in danger, which is something viewers see a lot of in Nina's storyline. Gordie doesn't remember magic and can't fully understand what's going on when Gideon shows up with Ellie and demands that he hands over the key. However, there's an unspoken moment between him and Ellie; consequently, he tells her to do whatever she needs to do to save herself, even if that means he has to die. Like Dodge's return, Gordie's death ends up being another reason for the Lockes to get rid of the keys.

Sam Lesser's redemption

As viewers will recall, Rendell Locke's murderer Sam Lesser (Thomas Mitchell Barnet) is left trapped as a ghost after he holds the Lockes hostage and then tries to escape via the Ghost Door in Season 1. He briefly reappears as a ghost in Season 2; however, he gets much more screentime in Season 3. In fact, he has a real redemption arc in the third season as he helps Tyler, Kinsey, Bode, and Nina defeat Gideon.

The Lockes learn to forgive Sam, but this forgiveness doesn't come immediately. While the family still holds so much anger toward Sam, he becomes one of their last lines of defense against Gideon, who comes close to collecting all the keys. Sam returns from his ghostly state by taking over the body of Bolton, who is originally one of the echos working with Gideon. Sam then goes with Tyler and Kinsey to protect them inside Gordie's head, and ultimately sacrifices his life to give them time to escape from Gideon.

Even after all the pain he caused them, Sam dies a hero, and the Lockes recognize that. Kinsey even gives him a special thanks at the end of her movie, telling a reporter, "If a killer lobster is capable of redemption, so is Sam Lesser."

No more keys at Keyhouse

It's the end of a magical era at Keyhouse as the Locke family choose to give up their magical keys. This is the biggest twist in Season 3, and it happens after the Lockes' final battle with Captain Gideon. When Nina pushes him through the newly created portal in their living room, Gideon takes two of the keys with him which, as Tyler deduces, causes the portal to shrink in size. After a bit of discussion and a test with the Head Key, the Lockes realize that they would have to give up all the keys in order to close the portal.

The scene is essentially presented as a moral dilemma. Desperate to keep the keys, Bode even suggests they build a new, stronger door to put over the hole Gideon created in the floor of their house, but they all ultimately agree it would be selfish to keep the keys because they would be putting more people in danger. This decision may have been quite a shock for viewers, as the Lockes have had a lot of fun with magic in the past. Ultimately, events like Dodge's return and Gordie's death have been leading the storyline in this direction.

A final trip through time

Bode has one last thing he wants to do with the keys before he agrees to give them up for good. Despite his time-travel antics causing them a bit of a bother in Season 3, he wants to use the Timeshift Key to see his dad again, which is what he's been trying to do all along. Tyler, Kinsey, and Nina all go with him this time as they have finally gotten a grasp on how to control the key. Then they give themselves an hour with Rendell.

They arrive just as their past selves are leaving and when he sees them, Rendell instantly realizes they aren't from his time. This scene works as a way to tie up all their loose ends and it provides an emotional conclusion to the journey that Tyler, Kinsey, Bode, and Nina have all been on over the last three seasons.

It becomes clear that while their grief will always be with them, they are actually starting to heal from Rendell's death. And the fact that they are also about to give up the keys makes it feel like they are not only closing the book on this magical chapter, but on that overwhelming sense of loss as well. Rendell sums it up perfectly when he tells them he's proud of them for finishing what he started and doing what he couldn't.

The Lockes are moving on

Trying to move on is a major theme in Season 3 of "Locke & Key." Kinsey, Bode, and Nina all find it difficult to move forward without Tyler, and he's unable to move past Jackie's death. But after visiting Rendell and giving up the keys, the Lockes are finally able to let go of the past and move forward.

Emotionally, big changes lie ahead for the entire family, but for Tyler and Kinsey, the future also involves geographical changes. Tyler plans to go back to Montana and be with Carly (Oriana Leman), who he met while he was working construction; Kinsey is looking at international exchange programs to be with Scot (Petrice Jones) in the U.K. This move makes complete sense for Emilia Jones' character who, after shouldering some substantial responsibility, is ready for some freedom. Now she will have the opportunity to explore her creative, artistic side — which has been on the back burner since Season 2 — without the keys to worry about.

Bode and Nina will remain in Matheson, but Jackson Robert Scott's character will get to enjoy a normal childhood without any magical threats hanging over his head. Meanwhile, Nina and Josh get their happy ending together, as Nina realizes she is finally ready to move on from Rendell.

Who will remember magic?

Before they get rid of the keys, Nina uses the Memory Key on Kinsey and Bode to ensure they'll always remember magic. However, the decision to get rid of the keys happens quite quickly, which means not everyone who they might want to remember is actually going to — so let's break down which characters will and won't remember magic.

Alongside the Lockes, fans know that Ellie (Sherri Saum) also remembers magic, having used the Memory Key as a teenager. However, her son Rufus (Coby Bird) who's also Bode's best friend and confidante, won't remember. This realization seems quite sad since Rufus is such a big part of helping the Lockes stop Gideon in Episodes 7 and 8. However, it's fitting given the theme of moving on, which is something Ellie and Rufus also struggle with earlier in the season.

Similarly, Brendan Hines' character Josh gets fully involved with magic in Season 3 and helps distract Gideon so Tyler and Kinsey can get away in the finale. Unfortunately, he won't remember any of this, and neither will his daughter Jamie once she turns 18. Likewise, Scot and the Savinis will lose their memories when they turn 18, but as Scot tells Kinsey, the magic will always be there in their movie. "No stupid rule about forgetting is gonna take that away from us," he tells her. What he's really saying is that the magic that they experienced isn't actually the keys, it's their time and experiences together and nothing is taking that away from them.

Goodbye for now

With all the keys destroyed — or more specially, lost on the other side of the portal — and the Lockes finding ways to move on, the ending of "Locke & Key" Season 3 feels like a well-rounded and complete ending for the entire series. This is because it was always planned that way. Prior to the release of Season 3, "Locke & Key" showrunners Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill confirmed it would be the show's last season. "Once we began working on the series, we felt three seasons was the ideal length to bring the story of the Locke family and their Keyhouse adventures to a satisfying conclusion," they said in a statement to Deadline.

So, with that said, "Locke & Key" definitely isn't coming back to Netflix for a fourth season, and it's goodbye for now. However, the final moments of the series finale tease new whispering from an undiscovered key or keys left behind in the real world. While we don't definitively know what this means for the "Locke & Key" franchise, it feels like Cuse and Averill were leaving the door open, suggesting that this might not be goodbye forever. Keyhouse could return in the future. Whether it will be with a new generation of Lockes or completely different characters in tow, we don't know, but definitely don't rule out the possibility of a "Locke & Key" spinoff in the future.