Fair warning: This recap of Locke & Key “Ray of F**king Sunshine” contains more spoilers than gin Nina drinks out of a mug. That is to say, a boat load.
Welcome to the another recap of Locke & Key, the show based on the comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez. Last time, Sam took the Locke family hostage, which gave us ample opportunity to learn about his past.
This time, we learn that alcohol is a magical-memory stimulant. Meanwhile, Ellie has a very strange houseguest. And Bode and Rufus build a model airplane.
Hungry for some more information?
We open on Ellie (Sherri Saum) and Rufus (Coby Bird) cooking a “sorry you went through trauma” soup for the Locke family. There’s an ominous noise upstairs—Ellie warns Rufus that they can’t tell anyone he’s staying with them. Zoom in on Ellie’s prom photo. No! It is Lucas (Felix Mallard ). A teenage Lucas. Ellie sternly asks if he was involved in the hostage situation at Key House. He says, nu-huh, if anyone was involved, it was you.
Later, Tyler (Connor Jessup) and Kinsey (Emilia Jones) clean up the hostage crisis mess in the kitchen and philosophize about the post-tragedy casserole. Tyler’s trying to process everything: Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) is the reason their dad’s dead, that she got the Head Key. This is when Kinsey lets him know that the black door is in the sea caves and Dodge needs the Head Key to get intel about how to open it. But from inside who’s head? We don’t know. Tyler wants to see the door and this time they won’t almost-drown, because there’s an app for that.
Nina (Darby Stanchfield) comes into the kitchen and like her mug says, she is a ray of f**king sunshine. Someone’s been going through the artisanal gin. Her frenetic energy—and spearmint-fresh breath—lets the kids know something’s up. The kids know her cycle well; first she’s happy and full of energy, then weepy and then can’t get out of bed.
So, Tyler runs upstairs to look for Nina’s alcohol stash. He’s awfully pragmatic about the situation, saying he’s not surprised she fell off the wagon, considering that nothing in her life makes sense. While he and Kinsey are tossing Nina’s room, she finds information about Erin Voss (Joy Tanner ) being in a psychiatric hospital.
Unfortunately, Bode (Jackson Robert Scott ) walks in on them and wants to know what the heck they’re gonna do about Dodge. Kinsey distracts him with chocolate-chip pancakes.
Downstairs, the doorbell rings. It’s Detective Daniel Mutuku (Martin Roach)! He’s just
hitting on checking in on Nina, as a friendly Matheson neighbor. She tries to unload some of the food they’ve received, but he declines (since she doesn’t have any of Vincenzo’s lasagna). He suggest she and the fam get the heck outta dodge for a bit, but we’ve still got three episodes to go, so…Daniel notices Nina’s glassy eyes and the mug she’s got a death grip on and offers her an ear, whenever she wants to talk. She basically kicks him out and pours herself some more gin from her stash, hidden under her bathroom sink (really thorough search you performed there, teens).
Downstairs, Nina looks in the mirror and sees the alternative version of herself released by the Mirror Key. She has a flashback of her time in funhouse Hell and drops her mug to the floor. She hides the shattered pieces in the cabinet for which Bode found a key last episode.
Later, Jackie (Genevieve Kang) and Gabe (Griffin Gluck) both randomly arrive at the same time to visit Tyler and Kinsey, respectively—and they’ve brought dueling chowders. What even is this show? Nina introduces herself to her children’s suitors and is awkward drunk mom trying to pass herself off as the cool mom. She labels the attention they’re getting “as close as [they’ll] get to attending [their] own funerals.” Yikes.
And the doorbell rings! It’s Ellie and Rufus. Rufus quickly goes to play with Bode while the moms
kiss and make up. Nina tearfully apologizes for her interrogation at Joe’s memorial, but she’s just been so angry at life, man. Also getting in some sorries is Tyler, who makes up with Jackie after having been a total a**hat.
Next, Kinsey heads downstairs and sees Ellie and asks her if she’s seen any strangers who look like [description of Dodge]. Ellie looks freaked out but says no. Bode and Rufus come tumbling down the stairs—ready for a playdate at Ellie’s and while she’s not stoked on the idea because Lucas, she can’t think of a logical reason to say no, so she agrees.
Up in Kinsey’s room, we learn she got into Parsons. Fastest admittance ever. She’s not sure how she feels about it and while Gabe would never tell her how to feel, he has no problem telling her he’d miss her if she were gone the whole summer. She thinks he’d be the only one, considering the rest of the Savini Squad still isn’t talking to her. They haven’t even been by after the hostage crisis. She tells Gabe that the hostage sitch was key-related, but doesn’t go into details. He doesn’t push.
Oh look who showed up just in time for things to get awkward! It’s Scot (Petrice Jones) He tells her that what happened to her put things in perspective for him and he’s over the sea cave incident. She tries to tell him Gabe’s upstairs, but he keeps interrupting her and when he hands her a tub of mint chip, she just stops trying. But then Gabe comes downstairs anyway. Scot skedaddles. And Gabe takes off a minute later.
Meanwhile, over at Ellie’s, Bode complains about the secrets his older siblings have been keeping from him: just because they’re older doesn’t mean they’re right. That gives Rufus pause. Bode asks if he, too, has an enemy. Lucas comes waltzing in and asks who Rufus’s “little friend” is. Rufus introduces Lucas as his cousin. Bode is immediately unnerved by him and tells him they’re super busy. Ellie walks in to bring the boys some cookies and death glares at Lucas for being near the boys.
Back at Key House, Nina has found a new mug for her booze, but decides to unlock the cabinet with her mug shards. Lo and behold, she finds her mug whole, good as new. Kinsey comes in and Nina tells her what happened and looks confused that Kinsey isn’t shocked that something magical happened in the house. Nina grabs Sally the Stuffed Orca to see if the cabinet will fix her, too. Two for two. Drunk Nina recounts her morning mirror episode to her daughter. She assures Nina she’s not crazy and says she needs to go talk to Tyler, leaving her to continue playing with the Fix-it Cabinet.
Upstairs, Kinsey fills Tyler in on the cabinet. The teens are trying to figure out why their mom can suddenly retain magic. Just then, Nina runs up the stairs to share her excitement with them and overhears them realize that she’s likely able to retain the magic because she fell off the wagon—that’s the only thing that’s changed in her life; Nina runs away. The teens feel like they’ll lose Nina one way or another; if they let her keep drinking and remember the magic, they’ll lose her to the alcohol; if they get her to stop, she’ll forget it and they’ll lose that connection with her. They can’t worry about that now because the app chirps that it’s low tide and time to go to the sea caves.
While that’s happening, Dodge visits Erin at the psychiatric hospital and reveals her plan: Erin’s getting Head Keyed.
To the sea caves! As they’re walking, Kinsey finds a light stand from the film shoot and stares at it mournfully, telling Tyler she makes “terrible, reckless decisions.” He’s like Duh. Show me this door before high tide. But Kinsey’s not finished. Her Fearlessness causes her to make poor decisions and doesn’t even help when it counts; she couldn’t even pick up Sam’s gun in the woods. Tyler reminds her that she was just protecting Bode then. And also in Seattle on Murder Day. They find the door and even if they could open it, aren’t sure they want to know what’s behind it.
A few feet away, they find a list of the “keeper of the keys,” noticing everyone on that list is either dead, in a psych ward or Ellie. They realize Erin is who Dodge wants to use the Head Key on, thinking that their dad, Rendell (Bill Heck) may have told his high school girlfriend where the key to the black door was. Time to go visit Erin.
But Dodge is already entering Erin’s head. A door to the Academy appears, but there’s no “Other Erin.” Dodge shrugs it off and enters the door; the school is lit green and overrun by plants. And there are tons and tons of video tapes filled with memories. She very quickly finds memory she’s looking for and Young Erin (Nicole James) comes up behind her; she’s literally been trapped in her own mind all these years.
Meanwhile, Kinsey has arrived at the hospital, but just misses Dodge. who Anywhere Keys herself into Ellie’s home. Kinsey doesn’t realize she’s too late and warns Erin someone might try to get inside her head. Erin somehow ekes out the name “Dodge” and points to Lucas in Chekov’s photo. Lucas is Dodge! Dodge is Lucas! Together, they are Lodge! We see Dodge shapeshift into Lodge over at Ellie’s using a key she sticks into the bottom of her neck. Yowza.
Later, Nina gets the fantastic idea to put her husband’s ashes in the Fix-it Cabinet. Oh no. She sees Tyler in her husband’s jacket, thinks it’s Rendell and promptly loses it when she realizes that the cabinet can’t perform necromancy. And by loses it, I mean smashes Rendell’s urn, sending a cloud of cremains to cover the floor of the room. Kinsey gets home just in time to watch and Tyler tells his mom he’ll handle the mess.
Next, Kinsey goes upstairs to check on Nina. She’s all tears and apologies. But she doesn’t understand why it didn’t work—it’s magic. Nina blames herself for Sam taking them all hostage. Kinsey tells her that no, it wasn’t and yes, life is hard, but she cannot start drinking again. They need their mom. </3
We head over to Ellie’s. Lodge tells her he visited Erin and he found out where the omega key is—Rendell put it inside his own head. Oh dear.
Which means…yes, the omega key is in the cremains. Tyler picks it up and…end credits!
The almost impossible decision put in front of the kids this episode was heartrending. Emilia Jones and Connor Jessup wore that pain and exhaustion of years of dealing with an alcoholic mother quite well. Darby Stanchfield, too, has done a fantastic job playing this change of character in a believable way. The human elements continue to stand out above the fantasy.
Were you surprised with the reveal that Lucas is Dodge? What do you think is behind that black door? Why is it called the black door? Join me next time as I recap Locke & Key, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The first season of Locke & Key is available now on Netflix.