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Series / Locke & Key (2020)
aka: Locke And Key

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Locke & Key is an American supernatural series released on Netflix. Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, the show centres on the Locke siblings as they move into their ancestral home following a tragedy.

After a student attacks the Locke family, resulting in the death of patriarch Rendell, Nina Locke moves her three children, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode to her husband's ancestral home, Key House, in Matheson, Massachusetts. It quickly becomes apparent that there is more to Key House than they initially believed. The kids discover magical keys that grant an array of powers and abilities, of which the adults cannot retain memories of seeing them. The more keys they find, the more the Locke siblings discover they are not the only ones aware of them. This leads to an unraveling mystery that reveals the history of the Locke family, darker secrets under the city of Matheson and why their father was murdered.

The show premiered on February 7, 2020, and a second season is slated to air sometime in 2021. Ahead of Season 2's premiere, the show has already been renewed for a third season.


Tropes in this series include:

  • Abusive Parents: Sam Lesser's father abused Sam and his little sister.
  • Adapted Out: A few so far:
    • Al Grubb, Sam's friend and Nina's rapist in the comics.
    • Jamal Saturday, Scot's best friend and Kinsey's boyfriend.
    • Jordan Gates, Tyler's romantic interest.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Sam Lesser in the series. In the comic book he was more of a Gonk.
  • Adaptational Back Story Change:
    • When Dodge visits Erin Voss, she doesn't know what happened to Erin. This is very different from the comic when Dodge was responsible for Erin's mental issues.
    • Also Nina's reason for drinking is different because Al Grubb doesn't exist in the show.
  • Adaptational Badass: The demons behind the Black Door. In the comic book, when they emerged from the door they became whispering iron immediately and could only possess people who breached the door threshold. In the series, they shoot out like bullets actively trying to possess hosts.
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  • Adaptational Name Change: In the comics, the town was called Lovecraft. Here, it's Matheson - another major author of horror and fantasy.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Bode is still very much a kid, but shows more initiative and interest in the keys than Tyler and Kinsey, often being the first to find the keys and know what they do. Tyler and Kinsey are a lot more cautious and try to keep Bode out of certain conversations, which he does not appreciate.
  • Adult Fear: Sam's attack on the family is the stuff of nightmares. Unlike the magical events of the show, the sudden violence and subsequent emotional drama is played entirely straight.
  • Adults Are Useless: Enforced, as a function of the magic is that adults immediately forget what they saw or what happened to them. The exceptions seem to be those who explicitly find other ways of retaining their memories. This means uncle Duncan, who was privy to the magical exploits of Rendell, spaces out whenever someone asks anything about his childhood.
  • Alpha Bitch: Eden starts off as the stuck up princess at school, also The Prima Donna when it comes to acting projects. She shows more depth after a while, becoming a Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Rufus seems to have some developmental problems, he has childlike vocal patterns and a hyperfocus on certain topics. They are not nearly as pronounced as in the comic. The actor is autistic.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The kids think they won by throwing Dodge into the realm past the Black Door, but Dodge actually used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like her and that's who they tossed in. In opening the door, one of the bullets struck Eden in the arm and a demon takes over her body, which was Dodge's goal in the first place.
  • Batman Gambit: Dodge managed to manipulate the kids into opening the Black Door by confronting them with the powerful Crown of Shadows but feigned being defeated by the Matchstick Key. The kids determined throwing her in the Black Door was their best option to defeat an echo, but she had used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like her and they threw Ellie-as-Dodge into the void instead. Dodge's end goal was always to just open the door and have another get struck by one of the iron bullets, which happened to Eden.
  • Betty and Veronica: Scot is Betty and Gabe is Veronica for Kinsey. She ultimately chooses Gabe.
  • Big Bad: Dodge
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The first season ending sets one up with Gabe, who is really Dodge/Lucas, and Eden, who was possessed by a demon from the Black Door.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Tyler is very protective of his siblings.
  • Big Eater: The first thing Dodge does after being freed from the Wellhouse is indulge in a very large meal. Whenever she eats, she always eats a lot. Eden is also shown eating ravenously after being infected by one of the "bullets" from beyond the Black Door.
  • Big "NO!": Shouted by Dodge, actually Ellie Whedon made to look like Dodge, as she is tossed into the Black Door.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Kinseys' Mental World is entered through a revolving door into a mall-like structure, but which progressively gets more M. C. Escher-esque the further up you go.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Joe Ridgeway is the first character to die, although this is ignoring minor characters as well as Rendell in the backstory. This is actually made MORE notable in that the also black Detective Matuko is introduced in the following episode investigating his death, and develops a similar relationship with Nina as Joe did.
  • Bottle Episode: The episode "Dissection" takes place primarily in Key House, with only a few scenes in a convenience store parking lot and flashbacks to their old school in Seattle.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: After almost drowning in the Drowning Caves, the Savini Squad breaks their friendship with Kinsey and Gabe.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kinsey, Scot and Gabe use the Music Box key on Eden to embarrass her.
    • Later, she is specifically attacked by Kinsey's fear.
    • She is also possessed by a demon from the Black Door, adding to her unfortunate situation.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Enforced where the protagonists live where the call is taking place. The magic keys are hidden all over Keyhouse and literally whisper out to the Locke children to be found.
  • Came Back Wrong: Ellie used the Echo Key to bring back Lucas' spirit, assuming that whatever possessed him from the Black Door would not be part of it. She was wrong, and describes the demon as "bonding" to Lucas.
  • The Cameo: Both Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez cameo as paramedics. Tom Savini also cameos as the locksmith Bode goes to.
  • Canon Immigrant: Several created for the show:
    • Eden Hawkins, Jackie's friend.
    • Logan Calloway, a friend of Tyler.
    • Gabe, another love interest for Kinsey, seemingly replacing Jamal Saturday.
    • Jeff Ellis, one of Rendall's high school friends who died years ago.
    • Chamberlain Locke. While he was a Locke family member, he never appeared as an actual ghost, as shown in the series.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When viewing Duncan's memories, Kinsey sees a key that can be used to change one's appearance. Dodge has been using that exact key to make herself look like Lucas. And Gabe.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Kinsey digs up her "fear" emotion and uses it as a distraction to get away from Sam.
  • Cool Key: The premise of the series is that the Key House is filled with keys that grant amazing powers.
    • The Matchstick Key: a key which allows the user to ignite anything.
    • The Anywhere Key: allows the user to travel through one door to any other in the world, only the user must have had to have actually seen the door to travel to it.
    • The Mirror Key: lures the user into a mirror world by a reflection of themselves.
    • The Head Key: creates an entry way into someone's mind that allows them to view memories but also alter them. The entry way differs from person to person; a bright, colourful toy box for Bode, a revolving door into a mall for Kinsey, the door of their home in Seattle for Tyler.
    • The Ghost Key: allows the user to become a "ghost" who can fly and be unseen by other people.
    • The Music Box Key: when used in tandem with a special music box, the key allows the user to control the actions of another.
    • The Mending Key: a key that, when used alongside a cabinet, can repair anything put inside of it. Within reason.
    • The Identity Key: a key that allows a person's physical appearance to be changed.
    • The Echo Key: a key that unlocked the Well House. Should a person call a deceased person's name down into the well they'll come back as an "echo".
    • The Omega Key: the key that opens the Black Door.
  • Cool Old Guy: Joe Ridgeway, an English teach at the Locke's school, and the ghost of Chamberlain Locke.
  • Composite Character:
    • Scot Kavanaugh in the adaptation is a composite of the comic book version of Scot, retaining his affectation of horror movies and music, and his best friend Jamal Saturday, who also has a romantic relationship with Kinsey.
    • As for the keys, the Identity Key is a composite of the Skin Key and the Gender Key with some additional abilities.
    • In the comics, the Anthropomorphic Personifications of Kinsey's sorrow and fear were two distinct entities. Here, they're merged into a singular grief entity.
  • Covered in Gunge: Kinsey ends up being the lead in a horror movie directed by Scot, and after the monster kills someone she gets drenched in fake blood. This, of course, causes some questions when she returns home.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer and creators of the original comic Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez shows up in the last episode of the first season as a paramedic.
  • Demonic Possession: Lucas is possessed by one of the demonic "bullets" that emerge from the Black Door.
    • At the end of the first season, the same thing happens to Eden.
  • Demoted to Extra: While not exactly a main character in the comics, Duncan was featured much more frequently than he is on the show.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Oh boy, Ellie Whedon. In the original comic, she was simply Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by Lucas. Here her fate was even worse. After trying to betray Dodge and help the kids, Dodge used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like Dodge, trapping her in the Dodge form. The kids, thinking the Dodge they defeated was the real one, threw her into the Black Door into the abyss on the other side. Ellie woke up just before being able to stop them and was essentially thrown off into hell. The kids were none the wiser.
    • Joe Ridgeway is also killed differently. In the comic, he was taking a bath and was assaulted and killed by Lucas, because Joe realized the current Lucas was the same one from years ago. In the Netflix series, he was suffocated and his death was made to look like a suicide.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Dodge uses her physical appearance for her benefit.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Sam's second attack on the family, Nina falls off the wagon after being 6 years sober.
  • Eldritch Location: The location beyond the Black Door. It is a swirling blue void filled with demons trying to escape. As seen with Ellie Whedon being thrown in, it looks like she is pulled down into the void despite being horizontal with the door when thrown in.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Scot calls out both Kinsey and Gabe for going overboard in their revenge prank against Eden.
  • Fate Worse than Death: For Ellie Whedon, forcibly transformed into looking like Dodge and then being thrown into the void behind the Black Door. She barely had time to scream.
  • Final Girl: Discussed by Scot in regards to his horror movie "The Splattering". This is deconstructed by Kinsey, who actually had to deal with hiding from a crazed murderer and was too afraid to step up and fight back.
  • Forced into Evil: Lucas/Dodge forces Ellie to help him, by threatening to hurt her and Rufus.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Eden Hawkins has shades of this. The Savini Squad don't really care for her and Kinsey, Scot and Gabe use the Music Box key to try to embarrass her.
  • Generation Xerox: By the end of the season more information about Rendells' group comes to light and how they called themselves the Keeper of the Keys. About the same time Tyler, Kinsey and Bode bring in Scot, Jackie, Gabe and Eden as allies, and they start seeing their responsibilities with the keys in a similar fashion.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Dodge throws the child who gave him the Matchstick Key onto subway train tracks as a train runs over him but the actual death is not seen.
  • The Hedonist: Dodge. She eats a lot, indulges in stealing clothes and jewelry from museums, simply to change her look, takes enjoyment with very high class living conditions and engages with a hapless bystander with an offer of sex with the intent to kill them.
  • Heroic Suicide: The first scene of the series is Mark Cho immolating himself with the Matchstick Key. As we find out in Episode 9, this was because he knew Dodge would be coming for him, as he was the only one to know where all the keys were hidden, and this would deny her that knowledge.
  • He Knows Too Much: Joe Ridgeway saw Lucas with Erin Voss at her house and took a picture of him. Lucas kills him to continue operating in secret.
  • Hope Spot: Episode 7. Tyler recovered the Anywhere Key from Dodge and almost convinced Sam to perform a Heel–Face Turn. Then Dodge appears before the police arrives, stabs Sam and takes the Anywhere and Head keys.
    • Episode 10. The Lockes defeated Dodge and her shadows and they and their friends trap Dodge behind the Black Door. Unfortunately the "Dodge" they trapped was really Ellie Whedon, who Lucas shapeshifted via the Identity Key. It is also revealed Gabe is really Dodge/Lucas and always has been. Lastly, Eden has been possessed by a demon as well.
  • Hypno Ray: Anyone who stares beyond the Black Door, even through the keyhole, is compelled to go through the door.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Sam wants to be special and believes he is, further fueled by Dodge's insistence he is. As she stabs him, she reveals he is not and was lying to him from the start.
  • Immune to Bullets: Echoes like Lucas can't be killed by being shot, as Ellie found out when she tried to shoot him.
  • Invisible to Adults: Adults are not capable of remembering the effect of the magic keys. Even if they see and experience it firsthand, they magically forget their experiences a few seconds after seeing it. Subverted with Rendell, Ellie, and Mark, who somehow figured out a way to keep their memories of the keys into adulthood.
    • The only other way adults are able to temporarily remember the magic is if their brains are altered, like by being drunk or using drugs.
  • Killed Off for Real: Sam is stabbed by Dodge and falls out the Ghost Key door, separating his soul from his body. The police arrive, taking Sam's dead body away and closing the door, trapping Sam as a ghost.
  • Left Hanging: Some season 1 mysteries are left unresolved, to be resolved in later storylines:
    • How did Erin Voss become trapped in her own mind?
    • What happened to Kinsey's fear entity?
    • Sam, while technically dead, still exists as a ghost.
  • Lighter and Softer: The adaptation is significantly less dark than the comic book it is based on.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The original comic was tied in tightly to some of Lovecraft's stories, but the existence of the keys gives the characters some power against the demons behind the Black Door.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: In this series, the keys are loyal to the Lockes. Dodge has to trick Bode into giving her the Anywhere Key but he catches on they need to be given to her willingly. This does not apply to non-Locke family members, as Sam finds out.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Eden Hawkins is one. While she can be a little vain and intimidating, she is not really malicious and is reasonable, especially after learning about the magic keys. She also helps the Locke children dispose of Dodge by trapping her behind the Black Door.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The keys have different uses and different slots to be inserted in, which leaves the characters trying to figure out the individual mechanics of each key. Bode successfully uses the Anywhere Key to go to the ice cream parlor, but when trying to show Kinsey by going to the Eiffel Tower it doesn't work because it's not a door he's familiar with.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Dodge is one, especially concerning Sam. She plays on his insecurities and fears to get him to do exactly what she wants.
    • Lucas also emotionally manipulates Erin, his former high school girlfriend.
  • Mental World: The Head Key is inserted in the back of your neck, after which a duplicate body is created along with a door you can enter that leads to a physical representation of the person's mind. Bode's was a large chest leading to a room filled with various toys and electronics. Kinsey's was a revolving door that lead to a mall. All we see of Tyler's is that it is the door to their home back in Seattle.
  • Mind Rape: Erin Voss went through a form of this, leaving her in a near catatonic stupor. Somehow her Head Key self, of high school age, was imprisoned in her mind. It's implied in Lucas' initial attack she suffered severe brain damage.
    • Duncan also suffers through this. He saw Lucas killing Kim and Jeff, Rendell's friends, and Rendell killing Lucas. Rendell removed Duncan's memories of the events and the keys to protect him.
  • Mirror Self: Via the Mirror Key, a person sees a reflection of themselves beckoning into the mirror world. The reflections are Ambiguously Evil as they all have a slight Slasher Smile with the intent of trapping their victims in the mirror.
  • Missing Mom: Ellie as of the season 1 ending. Since the Locke kids inadvertently threw her behind the Black Door, she is going to be missing forever.
  • Movie-Making Mess: Kinsey finds herself being included in the Savini Squad, a group of filmmakers lead by Scot. Their main project is a horror film called "The Splattering" and Scot is always lamenting how he wants it to look better than the No Budget B-Movie it is.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Eden is the Alpha Bitch and tends to walk around in a tight, high cut shirt, and several scenes show her in just her bra.
  • Mythology Gag: A few references to the comic:
    • Duncan's childhood memories are kept in paint jars. This is similar to the same use of the jars from the comic used to hold a person's memories or emotions, which are physically much smaller compared to the Netflix version. This also makes Duncan an Expy of Erin Voss, whose memories were also forcibly removed in the comic.
    • Dodge's Shadow Queen form has yellow Hellish Pupils, which the comic book version of Dodge/Lucas had whenever he was about the commit a particularly evil act.
  • Never Suicide: Joe Ridgeway is found by Nina suffocated to death. A flashback reveals it was Lucas who killed him.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kinsey stabbed and buried her "fear" only for it to be alive later on. This is because emotions can't be killed, only buried.
    • Sam Lesser qualifies. He was almost dead after Dodge stabbed him but he stumbled through the Ghost Key door before actually dying. His soul became separated from his body and he was stopped from returning to his body, trapping him as a ghost.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The episode 9 flashback reveals key events. It was Ellie who found out about Rendall's death and she called Mark Cho, leading to his Heroic Suicide. After Dodge got the Anywhere Key from Bode, she went to Ellie as Lucas. On Lucas's request, Ellie broke into the Locke house to find the Crown of Shadows. Lastly, it was Lucas who killed Joe Ridgeway via suffocation, with Ellie as an unwitting accomplice. He left her behind, with her nearly being found by Nina.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bode and the other Locke kids call Dodge "the Well Lady" until they learn her true name thanks to Sam.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: On a minor level, the Locke kids seem to have a biometric pass to use the keys they find around the house, but others can use them if they are willingly given to them by the kids. You can't just steal and use the keys for yourself.
    • This only applies to Dodge. Sam was able to steal Bode's key, and then Dodge in turn was able to steal every key from Sam.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Echoes created via the Echo Key are dead echoes of people. They are not really alive and can't be killed in traditional ways.
    • When using the Ghost Key, a person who enters the door the key is inserted in becomes a ghost that can't be seen by anyone else.
  • Our Souls Are Different: When using the Ghost Key, the soul is separated from the user's body, making it appear the person is dead. As long as the door the key is used on is open, the person can return to it. After being stabbed by Dodge, Sam stumbles through the Ghost Key door and becomes a ghost. Police close the door on him before he can return, trapping him as a ghost.
  • People Puppets: The Music Box key controls people like this. It is best seen with Eden, who Kinsey commands to move against her will.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Rendell Locke's murder by Sam.
  • Portal Door: The Anywhere Key allows the user to travel through one door to any other in the world, only the user must have had to have actually seen the door to travel to it.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Season 1 of the series adapts the comic's first three story arcs "Welcome to Lovecraft", "Headgames" and "Crown of Shadows", along with elements introduced in later arcs, while expanding on the Lockes' home and school lives.
    • In the series, Ellie Whedon is the one who shows Tyler and Kinsey the events of 25 years ago, instead of discovering this via the Timeshift Key.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of the first season, Rufus goes to stay with his aunt and uncle after Ellie goes missing. Bode asks him to send a picture of the house's door so he can visit with the Anywhere Key.
  • Race Lift: The series version of Erin Voss is white and Ellie Whedon is black.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Gabe shows up out of nowhere as a previously unknown part of the student filmmaker group, and becomes a rival love interest to Kinsey. Gabe is revealed to be another form taken by Dodge, used to further manipulate the kids to their own end.
  • The Reveal: Gabe was Dodge all along, the person they threw behind the Black Door was actually Ellie and Eden was hit with one of the glowing bullets and is now possessed.
    • Before this, Erin Voss revealed to Kinsey that Dodge and Lucas, who died 25 years earlier, were the same person.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Ellie Whedon was already The Woobie. Her boyfriend was possessed by a demon, killed two of their friends and was killed by another one. For years she felt something was missing until she used the Echo Key to bring Lucas back. This led to her being emotionally manipulated and physically abused until she had enough and tried to fight back, only to fail. Lucas used her as part of his plan, using the Identity Key to make Ellie look like Dodge and making the Locke children and friends think they really defeated Dodge. The children ended up throwing Dodge, really Ellie, screaming into the void behind the Black Door forever.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Dodge was initially stuck in the Wellhouse until Bode brought her the Anywhere Key.
    • Whatever lies beyond the Black Door is interested in crossing through.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of Season 1, Dodge has lulled the Lockes into a false sense of security and gained their trust as Gabe, while Eden has also been possessed.
  • Slasher Smile: Gabe sports a very good one once you find out their true identity.
  • The Sociopath: Dodge doesn't care who she hurts or uses in her goal.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mark Cho, sort of. He does commit suicide via Matchstick Key in the opening moments of the first episode. His survival is significantly longer than it was in the comics, when he was Dodge's first victim, while still in high school.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The last shot of Season 1 shows a thunderstorm approaching Matheson, right after it's revealed that Gabe is a disguised Dodge, and Eden has been possessed.
  • Super Strength: Lucas/Dodge, as a result of the demonic possession, has enhanced strength.
  • There Are No Therapists: It is fairly clear regarding the fallout from Rendell's murder Nina has PTSD, Tyler is repressing a Hair-Trigger Temper and resents being forced into a father-like role, and Kinsey is depressed dealing with Survivor's Guilt. Joe Ridgeway, being a Cool Teacher, at least recognizes the issue with the family and makes an effort to talk with Tyler about it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Kinsey after removing her fear. Apparently removing this emotion also got rid of hesitations and mental filter, resulting in her saying mean spirited things.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Sam Lesser veers off into this. Him killing Rendell Locke, his own father and attacking the Locke family twice qualifies as this. Though because of his abusive father and manipulations by Dodge, he was also Driven to Villainy.
    • Bode is confronted by Dodge, who threatens him and the family, which leads to him bringing a blacksmith hammer to school for protection. Nina gets called in to help deal with the situation.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The Locke siblings consist of brothers Tyler and Bode and sister Kinsey.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bode didn't know giving Dodge the Anywhere Key would result with so much death.
    • Earlier, in a fit of depression, Ellie Whedon used the Echo Key to summon an echo of Lucas.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Sam Lesser used to be one, taking care of his little sister from his abusive dad.
  • Use Your Head: Rendall and Erin kept the Omega Key in Rendall's head for safety. Tyler and Kinsey find it in his ashes.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Thanks to the Identity Key. Dodge uses this to transform into her original self, Lucas, and switch back and forth. As well as creating the identity of newcomer Gabe.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The shadows created by the Crown of Shadows can be defeated by light from the smallest light source, like a match.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 7. Dodge stabs Sam, having no more use for him, and takes the Anywhere Key and the Head Key.
    • Episode 10. The Locke children and friends defeated Dodge and tossed her through the Black Door. Meanwhile Ellie Whedon is now missing. The wham part is The Reveal that the "Dodge" thrown into the door was actually the real Ellie, who Dodge made to look like Dodge using the Identity Key. Ellie is gone seemingly forever. It also turns out Gabe has really been Dodge since the beginning, and Eden was infected with a demon bullet while trying to close the Omega Door. And they are teaming up.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Lucas puts on the Crown of Shadows and gains control of the spectres he says "Hello darkness, my old friend." from The Sound of Silence.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Dodge, who has no problem threatening Bode and throwing an unfortunate child under a subway train, after getting the Matchstick Key from the child.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sam for Dodge, who stabs and kills him.
    • Also done for Ellie, after she tries to help the Locke children against Dodge. For her troubles, she is forcibly changed to look like Dodge and is mistakenly thrown behind the Black Door into the demonic void.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Thanks to the Head Key, anything taken out literally becomes real in the physical world.

Alternative Title(s): Locke And Key


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