"The Key" is the ninth episode of season one of the 2020 Hulu original series The Hardy Boys.

Premise

Official episode premise for "The Key" from Hulu:

When J.B. Cox offers Joe up to Gloria, he is hired to find the other two pieces of the Eye. Joe’s lucky charm goes missing and Aunt Trudy uncovers the boys’ investigation. Elsewhere, Fenton rescues Rupert Khan and learns what he and Laura were working on. Frank and Joe discover their mother’s music box holds a secret.

Plot summary

With Joe as a hostage, JB demands to speak with Gloria. Stefan is initially hesitant, but with no other choice, he retrieves Gloria, and JB reveals to her that Joe knows where the piece is. Gloria distracts him long enough for Stefan to sneak up on JB and knock him unconscious.

Gloria asks Joe if it’s true that he removed the piece from the idol, but Frank tells Joe not to say anything, as she can’t be trusted. So, they’re not telling her anything until she answers their questions. Frank asks if the piece from the idol is what led to his mother's murder. This is the first Gloria is hearing of Laura having been murdered, and she becomes upset. They reveal to Gloria how Mrs. Khan hired their father to find her nephew, Rupert, as he and Laura were working on a story together.

Biff meets with Phil, who reveals that JB abducted Joe. Biff proceeds to take this information to her mother.

Chief Collig arrives to arrest JB. Gloria informs him that her daughter was murdered according to Frank and Joe. He then asks Gloria what he’s supposed to do with JB. Gloria replies that he already knows what to do.

Biff and Phil report Joe’s abduction to her mom. Phil struggles to make out the license plate but provides a very descriptive identification of the car. Jesse then calls Trudy and informs her that Joe was taken by JB Cox. Trudy wants to come and help, but Jesse tells her to stay at home in case Joe shows up.

Gloria admits that she has sheltered them from some harsh truths, but she’s going to be honest with them moving forward. She reveals that along with her father, George Estabrook, Ahmed Khan, and Sergei Nabokov, found an ancient artifact of unknown origins in the mines. And when they disturbed it, the mines collapsed. They were the only three survivors. The piece that Joe found inside the idol is called the Eye, because with it, one could achieve all their desires. It grants insight into the outcome of all things. So the Estabrooks, the Khans, and Nabokovs became three of the wealthiest families of the world. With all this insight, Frank wonders if they did anything to benefit the world like cure diseases or prevent war, but they didn’t. They were more interested in protecting their source of power. They called themselves the Circle of the Eye. And Frank and Joe’s mother was aware of all of this.

Flashback to decades before, George Estabrook, Ahmed Khan, and Sergei Nabokov are in the middle of a dispute in regards what to do with the Eye. According to George, they’re responsible for the deaths of 4,000 people. However, Ahmed and Sergei refuse to give up their power and denounce in responsibility for the lives lost. George then notices Laura standing by the door and tells Gloria to go after her.

Gloria goes on to explain to Frank and Joe that Laura had already had her suspicions about her father, but after hearing their conversation, she didn’t want any involvement with the Circle. She rejected her entire family and left Bridgeport. After Gloria’s father had this argument with his partners, he realized that the Eye was too powerful to be in any one person’s possession. So, he divided it into three pieces. One for each founding member, each with an equal fraction of the power. It was while he was flying his piece overseas that his plane crashed. After George’s death, the Circle continued to protect their interest abroad, as well as their wealth and power. Frank then asks about the door behind the bookcase. Gloria says that it’s the repository of her father’s studies into the Eye. She hasn’t been in that room since he died and presumes that the key got lost with him in the crash. And any attempt to open the door without the proper key will trigger an explosion to destroy everything behind it. Gloria explains that it’s important for them to keep their piece safe which is why she needs Joe to tell her where it is. If they can assemble all three pieces of the Eye, then with its full power it might lead them to Laura’s killer.

Just as Trudy is about to walk out the door to find Joe, he and Frank enter. She takes them upstairs and into the attic and demands answers as to what they’ve been doing.

Chief Collig pulls into an alley with JB in the backseat. He presumes that Chief Collig is about to kill him at Gloria’s behest. Instead, Chief Collig shows JB a picture of the piece that was hidden inside the idol and tells JB to find the other fraction of it that’s somewhere in town.

Frank and Joe explain everything to Trudy, from their mother’s murder to the secret society controlling the world’s events. Trudy believes them and asks why they haven’t gone to the police. They reveal that Chief Collig is corrupt. Furthermore, the less people that know the better off they’ll all be. Trudy agrees but has conditions. She tells them no more secrets and that if she feels that they’re in over their heads then she’s going to Jesse.

Rupert Khan is restrained to a chair and hooked up to a lie detector test. He is beaten and interrogated for answers. They want to know who got him out of Bridgeport and why he’s moving against them. Fenton interrupts and knocks out the interrogator. Rupert initially denies knowing Laura but reluctantly admits that they were working on a story together to destroy the Circle of the Eye.

Frank and Joe discuss the key to the secret door at their grandma’s estate. Frank doesn’t think the key is lost. He presumes it’s hidden. They need to find the puzzle that leads to the key. Joe questions if they can trust grandma, but Frank isn’t sure they can. Trudy then calls them down for school.

Callie meets with Frank after hearing Joe was grabbed by JB. She asks what happened. Before Frank can respond, they are joined by Stacy and change the subject to her and how she’s adapting to Bridgeport. She says that it’s better than her old school, Galebridge High, claiming that this one teacher, Mrs. Sumner, had it in for her.

Joe shares with Biff all that he has learned about the Circle and his family. Joe then tells Biff that he’s been considering giving his grandma the piece she’s after. Biff advises him otherwise, as they still don’t know if they can trust her. Joe believes that it may be safer with Gloria than with him. He doesn’t even like knowing where it is.

Frank, Callie, and Chet grab a seat at the lunch table. Before he can eat, Stacy calls Frank into the hallway. After Frank leaves, Callie mentions how there’s something off about Stacy. Chet questions why she’s so stuck on Stacy, presuming that it’s most likely because Frank is stuck on her. Callie brushes him off, saying that his jealousy is adorable.

Stacy wants to hangout with Frank but he doesn’t think he’ll be the best company right now. He found something out about his family that he didn’t want to know. Stacy believes that truth is always better than secrets and that he should embrace it rather than running from it.

JB puts on a wig and sneaks into Mrs. Khan’s hotel disguised as an exterminator. He slips two tubes under her door and pumps her suite with knockout gas. Just inside the room, Mrs. Khan says that she’s feeling light headed before she falls asleep. Nigel can barely stand when JB enters the room. He takes a swing at JB but the gas has rendered him unconscious. With Mrs. Khan incapacitated, JB recovers her piece of the Eye.

Callie calls her cousin, Marina. She asks if they have a teacher at Galebridge named Mrs. Sumner, which they do. She then asks Marina if she knows anyone named Stacy Baker, but she doesn’t, remarking that while she doesn't know anyone by that name that it is in fact a common name.

Jesse checks in on Trudy, who insists that Joe wasn’t abducted and that he was at Gloria’s. Jesse senses that Trudy is lying to her, but Trudy insists that everything is fine and that she’ll be the first person she’ll call if they need help.

Gloria receives an unexpected visit from Mrs. Khan, who is guided in by Nigel and Stefan. Gloria reveals that she knows that Laura’s death wasn’t an accident and that she had been working on a story with Rupert. Kanika then tells Gloria that her piece of the Eye was stolen. With Victor dead, the Nabokov line should’ve died with him. The question they now have to find the answer to is who else knows enough about the Circle to move against them.

Rupert pulls over and tells Fenton the truth about his and Laura’s work surrounding the Circle. She didn’t tell Fenton because she knew just how dangerous her work was. After learning that someone was trying to bring all three pieces of the Eye together, he and Laura planned to expose the Circle. Fenton questions who in the Circle has the power to order death, but Rupert isn’t sure. He does, however, point out that Victor Nabokov was killed. And that the two deaths are likely connected. They suddenly find themselves under gunfire and speed away.

Frank and Joe bypass Mrs. Khan on their way to see their grandma. Gloria reveals that the Khan piece of the Eye was stolen and that they're in danger as well. With that being said, Joe decides to give up the piece.

Frank, Joe, and Stefan arrive at the Westdale movie theater. Joe takes them behind the screen and points up above to the speaker. When he climbs the ladder to retrieve the piece, he discovers that it has been stolen.

Frank questions who else knows that the Eye was in the speaker. Joe neglects to tell him that Biff was with him when he hid the piece. Joe points out how everyone in the town has secrets, adding that even their secrets have secrets. This resonates with Frank who thinks back to the music box that Gloria gave him. When she gave it to him, she said that there was more than one secret inside. She also said that George Estabrook loved puzzles. Frank suspects that the key to the secret door is somewhere within the music box.

Stefan returns and tells Gloria that the piece was taken and that Joe was genuinely shocked that it was gone, suggesting that whoever is moving against them may have recovered it.

Callie reveals to Frank that she called her cousin, who goes to Galebridge. She said that she didn’t know a Stacy Baker, which doesn’t alarm Frank. He’s more bothered by the fact that Callie went out her way to call her cousin. Callie then sees Stacy and mentions her cousin who attends Galebridge, however, Stacy says that she doesn’t know anyone by the name Marina.

Joe has taken the music box apart piece by piece. He finds the symbol from their grandma’s secret door imprinted inside the music box, where they also find a cylinder-like key. With the key to the secret door, Frank and Joe sneak into their grandma’s house and unlock the hidden door.

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Quotes

  • Frank and Joe to Gloria: This lady named Mrs. Khan. She hired our father to find her nephew, Rupert. Rupert and our mom were working on a story together. We think she was killed to stop the story from coming out.
  • Gloria to Frank and Joe: I was sheltering you from some harsh truths. Because I wanted to protect you. But I can see that you two are going to find out the truth, anyway. So it should come from me. Are you familiar with the cave-in at Demon's Paw mine? Three miners, my father, Ahmed Khan, and Sergei Nabokov, they found something in the mine. Uh, an ancient artifact of unknown origin. And when they disturbed it, it caused the mine to collapse. They were the only three survivors. If you found what was in the idol, you held a piece of it. They called it the Eye, because with it, you could see what you needed to achieve all your desires. I mean, can you imagine if you knew the outcome of all things? If every decision, or, or, or choice you made in your life turned out to be the right one.
  • Gloria to Frank and Joe: They were more interested in protecting their source of the wealth, and power. And so, they closed ranks to keep the secret. The called themselves the Circle of the Eye. And they swore an oath to never speak of it.
  • Gloria to Frank and Joe: After my father had this argument with his partners, he realized that The Eye was too powerful to be in any one person's possession. So he devised a method to divide it into three pieces. One for each founding member, each with an equal fraction of the power. Splitting The Eye up didn't destroy it. He thought it was a risk worth taking. It was while he was flying his piece overseas for safekeeping that his plane crashed. After my father's death, the Circle continued to protect our interests abroad, our wealth, and our power.
  • Trudy to Frank and Joe: If you were lying, you would have come up with a more believable story. Plus, I can imagine Gloria at the head of a cabal trying to take over the world.
  • Rupert to Fenton: George Estabrook was at the center. He broke the object, The Eye, into three pieces and gave each to one of the families. Someone is trying to put it together again. Laura and I were horrified at the thought of our families unleashing that power on the world again. We were trying to expose them.
  • Joe to Frank: What's with this town, anyways? You can't throw a rock without hitting a new mystery. Everyone has a secret. Sometimes more than one. It's like their secrets have secrets.

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