The mid point of a series is critical in order to hold on to the viewers who watched out of curiosity or because they liked the trailer. Since it debuted last Friday, there have been mixed interpretations from the media regarding how successful the show has been thus far. While clearly beloved by those familiar with the books and liked by many people like me who had no prior knowledge its as yet unclear whether Lockwood & Co has made an impact in the wider audience. It may be too soon to tell; one report says it could become one of Netflix's biggest series, another claimed that due to being a YA series it may not even get a second season. What is clear is that this review is stalling because anything I say about these episodes amounts to one big spooky spoiler!!! So if you've not seen it yet, please watch first.
The fourth episode sees something of a step up in terms of scares with a very disturbing excavation in a graveyard from which a ghost appears and there's also that talking `type 3` skull who rants inside a glass container. It’s a startling image in what is something of a key episode for the trio. Differences are aired and shouting matches follow but from this comes a fresh respect for each other’s abilities. It’s a great episode for them all, especially Ruby Stokes who has the fire to argue with the best of them yet can still be scared or inquisitive when needed. The case comes courtesy of that great television veteran Jeff Rawle who plays a council official; he is a versatile actor who pops up in all kinds of productions.
Lucy is somewhat distracted after her encounter with the screaming skull and the whole thing nearly goes wrong. Then the key bone glass mirror is stolen to add to the mystery. This object is crucial to the story and seems to have taken an odd hold on George, something that will simmer for the rest of the season. Whenever it’s uncovered it buzzes in a manner that is as disturbing to the viewer as it is to the fictional characters. Its becoming a hallmark of the series that it can still summon up these edgy things from such moments.
The episode is really the start of an ongoing storyline that will snake out through the remaining episodes with a cut off point here when Lockwood and rival Kipps agree to race to find the mirror- with the loser agreeing to go out of business forever. Of the episodes so far this has the best balance between the horror material and character work. The rows between the principals edge out any risk of matters settling into a formula and the story gives an opportunity for a little more ghostly background to be filled in. As for that potential romance between Lockwood and Lucy, it seems to go up a notch here in a scene where he is treating her wound. One thing to point out is that this is Cameron Chapman’s first tv role and he is making it look easy, slipping between the secretive, the commanding and the sympathetic with ease. Ali Hadji-Heshmati meanwhile has breathed life into George who could easily just be the standard geek but there’s a charm there too.
In episode five, the search for the mirror unveils some great characters who seem to have been hewn from the world of Dickens as Lockwood and Lucy explore the seedier parts of London. Here so called relic men ply their trade buying and selling the possessions of the dead. We meet Flo Bones, the only relic woman who knows Lockwood from the past and is played with vigour by Haley Konadu. Then there’s the team’s most frightening enemy yet- and he’s very much alive. Played by Ben Crompton with a mad demeanour and starting eyes, he’s the man who has the mirror but as we discover is not going to release it easily. His methods of interrogation when he finds Lockwood and Lucy exploring his warehouse at night are brutal indeed, the actor carrying an air of menace that radiates from the screen. It’s a sequence in which we’re teased with some more hints regarding Lockwood’s history which may well be troubled though you’re never sure with this character. Will he say anything to get out of trouble? Or is there some truth in what he says?
You’ve got to love the musical cues this series sometimes serves up. In episode six, the team are invited to a party at the Fittes house where they can find some vital clues but George ends up staying behind leaving Lockwood and Lucy to go together. The music? `Party Fears Two`. It’s an episode of two halves actually, the first mostly set in an empty mansion the former home of Edward Bickerstaff who turns out to be known to the skull in a box and the owner of that scary mirror. I really think that creature has become the signature image of the series, it’s both frightening yet also intriguing and the decision it should be yellow makes quite a difference. Just look at that photo above, it's even disturbing as a still image. Did it just move?
From there we go the ball which is a well populated event - this is not one of those series that skimps on extras when needed- and the house itself contains plenty of unusual visuals including ghosts on display inside glass columns. In a sequence that has all the hallmarks of a spy thriller as Lockwood and Lucy mingle with guests before breaking into the so called Black Library where they are discovered by yet another character whose name is not revealed but who is nifty with a rapier. The episode is a little too full of new information so much so that I actually forgot what they were looking for in the library! The scale of what we see seems to be growing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a Young Adult series the relationship between Lockwood and Lucy has become more pronounced as they clearly have feelings for each other but dance around it. There’s fabulous chemistry between the actors which can only be to the series’ advantage and all this stuff makes you overlook the fact this episode doesn’t really have a cliff-hanger.