“Knock Knock,” the latest episode of Doctor Who, had one of the strangest opening for the series. Starting with Bill and some new friends looking for a flat, this episode had the poppiest, upbeat little opening. Like something from a nineties sitcom, the new crew of buds all super upbeat and racially diverse, looked like a college brochure come to life.
Luckily for them, after a number of shabby apartments to choose from, they just happen to meet an old man who offers them a huge Victorian house to live in for far less than any other home they’ve visited so far. I wonder if this should be a red flag of some sort? Nah, too good to be true always works out well right? Right!?
Anyways, I very much enjoyed seeing Bill utilize the Tardis to basically be a moving van for her crap. Even suggesting The Doctor rent it out as such. Again, the writers are using her to take some of the hot air out of the more serious aspects of the series. Even after hearing about regenerations, which The Doctor quickly brushes off, Bill doesn’t give it a second thought. In fact she is downright embarrassed of The Doctor this week. Oddly telling everyone he’s her grandfather. You’re friends with a time traveling alien and you’re ashamed of him? Poor Capaldi even suggests saying dad, he’s far too young looking to be her grandfather, right? The chemistry with these two just continues to be a pleasure. Such a Donna Noble-like dynamic.
So we get into the meat of the story: the house and surrounding trees creak unnaturally and odd noises are heard from the house. One of the flatmates is holed up in his room for more than a day, which no one thinks twice about. Here was my biggest problem with the episode. Bill refuses to even entertain the idea that her house could have something wrong with it. After what she has already seen with The Doctor, how can she be so dense? It literally takes seeing her flatmate absorbed into a wooden wall to get the message through.
I understand having her friends being oblivious and skeptical but I just didn’t get why they wrote her so stubborn and stupid this week. So it turns out the monster this week is an alien bug that lives in the wood of the house, consuming young people every twenty years to keep someone alive. The twisty heartbreaking surprise came when her identity is revealed.
We are led to believe the old man who rents out the house is this woman’s father. But later on we see she has been turned into living wood, a very creepy bit of effects work by the way, and The Doctor notes on how her “father” is still human and the ages don’t make sense. Also he claims he brought her the bugs to cheer her up, a weird thing for a dad to do for a sick girl. A clever twist revealed he is really her son, fully grown and having lived a life providing victims to keep his dear mother alive. His creepy demeanor and odd behavior make more sense as a child who never really grew up. So sad seeing his mother, having had no memories for years, finally realizing she is the parent and not him.
Having the mother stop her son’s attacks and have the bugs consume them both was another typically heartbreaking move for Doctor Who. If anything this one was a bit too much like what we’ve seen before. A horror facade that ends up being something else entirely, with a sad ending and almost zero real impact. As in this one, all of Bill’s friends who were thought to be dead are fully restored, not a bit of harm.
So while another fully entertaining episode it also felt without real stakes, no real substance. Though after four years or so of huge plots with lots of death it is kind of nice to have some lighter fare.
The Doctor ends this week by entering the mystery door we’ve been seeing. This time with food and a story to tell. It most definitely must be The Master behind that door. Who else is he friendly with that would enjoy such a morbid story?
For its formulaic and non-impactful story, this was still a very good episode that expanded Bill’s and The Doctor’s relationship well. I thought Capaldi even played well off her friends too. Can’t wait to see what kind of interactions are coming next!