‘Lockwood and Co.’ World, Explained: What Was “The Problem”? Who Were The “Visitors”?


Based on the novels by Jonathan Stroud, the Netflix series “Lockwood and Co.” floats many concepts, terms, and phrases that are integral to its world and that need to be understood to grasp the general dynamics of it. Throughout the eight episodes of the series “Lockwood and Co.,” we hear the characters talking about an incident that happened in the past that they refer to as ‘The Problem.’ It was a significant event that paved the way for a more organized, less lethal world in which people could live without fear of being attacked or possessed by ghosts. There was a time in London when ghosts, who are referred to as visitors, were wreaking havoc, and people were not able to find any solution to get rid of them. The people had still not figured out ways and means to control these unwanted visitors, and there was widespread fear among the masses.

Amidst such chaos, there were two people who took on the mantle to come up with a cure for ‘The Problem’, stop the ghosts from emerging in the mortal world, and lay a foundation for the upcoming generation to thrive. These two people were pathbreakers, and what they did was truly magical. Marissa Fittes and her partner, Tom Rotwell, were able to find a way to send the ghosts back to the supernatural realm. It could be said that their explorations and experiments became a manual on how to deal with Visitors. They discovered the do’s and dont’s of executing tasks that were once believed to be impossible. They established the framework and guidelines that aided in restoring order to the mortal realm.

Marissa Fittes opened the first paranormal investigative agency, which recruited agents so that she could delegate her authority and, through her own experiences, impart knowledge to others. It created an independent profession, where people aspired to be agents and hunt visitors. It could be argued that agencies were analogous to any country’s police force. Just like there is a judiciary that keeps a check on the power vested in the police forces, the DEPRAC (Department of Psychical Research and Control) was a governmental body in the series “Lockwood and Co.” that monitored the activities of the agencies and made sure that every organization was acting according to the established rules and regulations. We saw DEPRAC inspector Barnes work closely with Anthony Lockwood on multiple cases, often ensuring that he followed the rules and was penalized if he did not.

Now, as it happens in any industry, there is a lot of reverence given to any organization that is the first in the business, as due credit was given to them for creating an entire ecosystem at a time when nobody was thinking about it. It is an instinctive habit of human beings to start taking things for granted the moment they come to know about them, and that is why people didn’t understand that even knowing the fact that a rapier could be used against the visitor was no less than an astounding revelation. These little combat techniques and details made sure that people could control an evil spirit and save mankind. That is why even after five decades of Marissa Fittes’ agency being established, it was still considered to be one of the best in the country.

For aspiring agents like Lucy Carlyle, it was their life’s dream to work for the Fittes Agency. But of late, there were many other, newer agencies that were being established and giving tough competition to the older ones. One such agency was Lockwood and Co., and it was garnering a lot of publicity because of the similarities its members bore with Fittes and Rotwell. There were three basic talents that a few chosen ones possessed in the world, i.e., touch, sight, and listening. Lucy possessed the talent of listening, whereas Anthony Lockwood possessed the talent of sight. Just like Marissa Fittes, Lucy could hear the visitors that belonged to the type 3 category, and she could also talk to them. Lucy realized her powers when she heard the jarred skull talking to her, and she found that in addition to that, she could also communicate with it from her end. This was probably the biggest discovery since the time Fittes and Rotwell found a solution to The Problem. This talent of talking to the Type 3 category expanded their horizons, and it meant that a lot of concepts and things that lay in the inconspicuous zone could be better understood and managed.

Apart from those who possessed talents and worked for agencies, there was an unregulated group of people, referred to as “sensitives,” who, though devoid of any talent, could feel the presence of supernatural entities due to their sharp sense. They were often hired by independent parties who wanted to know if their place was haunted or not. Those who didn’t have any talent but still aspired to work in agencies were given the post of researchers. George Karim worked as a researcher in Lockwood’s agency, and he often harbored an inferiority complex because he didn’t possess any talent. But truth be told, researchers were as significant as people possessing powers because it was them who dug out the information that helped to understand the issue in its entirety.

We realized near the end of “Lockwood and Co.” Season 1 that, aside from the various existing concepts, there were many other things that were still unknown, and even before the Problem, there were people who not only knew about the supernatural realm but also tried to harness that energy and establish contact with the undead. “Lockwood and Co.”  Season 2 would most likely shed more light on the period preceding “the problem” and determine whether it was truly capable of negatively impacting the lives of people in the present.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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