This week if you thought the titular “Knock, Knock” meant learning more about what’s in that mysterious vault then guess again! It’s a creepy “haunted” house story this time around and in this episode we get to see some of what makes up the best and worst of this era of Doctor Who.
We open with Bill meeting up with a friend and mutual acquaintances who are attempting the age old past time of trying to find an affordable home for let. After more and more dead ends they find a too-good-to-be-true deal on a large, 1930’s house belonging to a mysterious elderly man who is just the right amount of eager and slightly creepy from the get-go. Bill is skeptical at first but goes with it and so enlists the Doctor to help her move her boxes via the TARDIS. Upon seeing the house, the Doctor’s danger senses start tingling and he gets curious even though Bill insists it’s nothing nothing, “nothing to see here, Grandad!” as she introduces the Doctor as her grandfather to her housemates and not-so-subtly tries to get him to leave because old houses are creaky, it’s just how it is. Except it’s not. Early on, one of their housemates disappears and it sounds like there are cats or something scattering around but the landlord isn’t exactly forthcoming with detail, just content to tweak the walls with a tuning fork. Pay attention to that bit, it will be important later.
Unfortunately for Bill, getting a huge house for a screaming deal is too good to be true, as more of her housemates start disappearing and Bill and the Doctor once again need to find out what’s going on before everyone vanishes into the house itself.
Seeing more of Bill’s normal daily life, introducing friends and other normal people around her and anchoring her with these things throughout the series so far is definitely working; it gives her something more to do than just be there endlessly in the TARDIS from adventure to adventure with little else going on. I also think the haunted house elements for the most part were really good in this one and the explanation for what was causing it was almost good as well. We’ll get to that. But we get a lot of things that pleasantly tick off the Gothic checklist: big creepy house, things moving within the walls, people disappearing, a mystery not to be visited tower, someone possibly dwelling in that tower….All we needed was a white-clad figure roaming the grounds on a rainswept night, but alas.
We also get to the see the Doctor trying yet again to be hip to the kids and nice to people, which for many viewers who complained the Twelfth Doctor was initially too gruff is likely a welcome change. His chemistry with Bill this season has been nothing but lovely and refreshing, and I loved the bit where he briefly explains Time Lords to her and she jokes about funny cloaks and hats. Bill would probably maintain a very excellent Tumblr account, methinks.
While there’s a lot great with this episode written by Who newcomer Mike Bartlett, it’s not without faults. I ultimately found the reveal of what was going on a bit unsatisfying and the flimsy plot element of (SPOILERS) “he’s your father! He’s your son!” wanting me to bust out this GIF:
It felt like such a weird and not entirely well thought out direction to go in that reminds me a lot of what I overall haven’t loved in the tenure of Moffat!Who, these weird reveals about characters that if you actually look at it make little sense. It was more a clumsy solution to the problem of how would the landlord still be alive if he was who he claimed to be and meant to be likely be a weird but unnecessary misdirect. But I digress.
Had this episode had a stronger reveal, I would have definitely given it an A, but ultimately a good buildup fell a bit flat here and it’s a real shame because the set up for this episode was really great otherwise.
- I like that Bartlett gave each of Bill’s roommates some character traits with such a short amount of time we see them so that you do actually care more or less what happens to them
- Reminder: Bill Potts doesn’t do boys, sorry Paul.
- She has another friend who isn’t her foster mom/ex-roommate! Hopefully Shireen isn’t a one and done character because I really like when Bill interacts with other people too.
- Cool house but that wood panelling was a bit hideous, sorry not sorry
- Whoever is in that vault likes the piano and the Doctor obviously likes them enough to want to have Mexican food together. It makes me wonder if that’s the case is it not the Master like everyone thinks? Why would he seem to want to have a dinner date with the Master like that? It almost seems like whoever is in that vault is someone he likes. Granted, it’s not like he hates the Master either and I get the impression the Doctor is NOT who put whoever is in there in there, but was tasked to watch said person. Hmmm.
- I like the theory the Podcastica guys have that Missy is actually the Rani and this whole time was a big misdirect for Simm Master.