Doctor Who Series 10, Episode 4
Posted by Kim
Looking for a new flat is a bitch, isn’t it?
Anyone who has ever looked for an apartment anywhere knows that when a listing looks a little too good to be true, it probably is. “Cozy” doesn’t mean “cozy”; it means “barely fits your twin bed and your sink doubles as your toilet.” If it says “close to public transportation,” it means that the trains will PROBABLY rattle your bedroom walls every time they pass by. If a strange old man offers you and your friends a place to live after you’ve struck out at the estate agent’s office, the house WILL be haunted. That’s just how the world works.
“Knock Knock” works on a fundamental level because of a universal truth: old houses and things that go bump in the night will never NOT be scary. “Knock Knock” works within the context of Series 10 because after three episodes of jaunting through space and time, flouting whatever oath it is that he made, it keeps the Doctor earth-bound for once. (In your face, Nardole.) It also works because it continues to strengthen the
student/teacher father/daughter bond that’s developing between Bill and The Doctor while also making Bill’s personal life richer and more fulfilled. She has friends, you guys. I know it’s a lot to ask and it probably won’t happen but can we keep them?
Part of me is like “Of course she has friends, she has a LIFE, you know?” But then I sat down to think about the modern companions. We got to see Rose and Martha and Donna with their families (and Mickey the Tin Dog) but we didn’t know much about their lives outside of that. Amy and Rory being husband and wife was its own dynamic. Clara Oswald’s family was pretty absent in her life, outside of the brief appearances in “The Time of the Doctor” and “Death in Heaven.” (And we never saw her with any friends.) What makes Bill Potts special and an important companion is that she doesn’t have a family, so she’s MAKING one with her friends. It’s such an important life choice to recognize and it’s what *I* see in her that makes me go “Hey! She’s like me!” So TL;DR, keep the friends. Especially Harry. I mean he IS the grandson of The Fourth Doctor’s Harry after all.
So yes, Bill and her friends are looking to get a house together. A house for 6, all with decent sized bedrooms, is a tall order for a group of poor Uni students. After a long day with an estate agent where they realized there were exactly zero houses in London that they could afford, a mysterious man appears and offers them a legitimate HOUSE. It’s creepy, but in that cool kind of way, and the bedrooms are huge. A fair trade-off, no? So they sign the contract, no questions asked. (Even if Bill does have to be talked into it a little bit. And she’s the only one asking why this place is so cheap. BILL IS A SMART GIRL.) One of her new housemates, Pavel, moves into the house immediately, spending the first night in the house alone. Big mistake, Pavel. Big. Huge.
The best part of being buddies with a time traveling alien with a police box? You don’t have to call movers. Plus, it’s something your dad would do anyway. Just saying. The Doctor goes into full Dad-mode when they get to Bill’s new house, from instantly being suspicious (“That’s your house?”) to being all “Let me take your boxes up to your room for you” and Bill being like “DAD NO YOU’LL EMBARRASS ME!” The Doctor IS that Dad though. He gives no fucks and marches right into the house with Bill. Her friends are delighted by him…and why wouldn’t they be? Bill’s reaction to The Doctor invading her personal life is REALLY interesting to me. Is she afraid her friends are going to find out he’s an alien? That has to be it, right? (I mean, it’s a reasonable fear.) I understand the need to set boundaries with The Doctor; they’re important. (Also the whole “This is the part of my your life that you’re not in.” was more evidence for me that Bill and Clara would have been friends. Also the Doctor’s “I know what you mean.” HURT.) But I don’t know, something about her basically being like “Get ouuuuuuuuuuuuut of here” was a little jarring to me. Maybe it’s just one of those unexplainable kid/parent things. Now I know how my mom felt when she dropped ME off at college, so thanks Doctor Who.
Thus, our scene is set. A dark and stormy night. A creepy old house. A bunch of 20-somethings and a 2000-year-old Time Lord. Listen, I know how a haunted house movie works. And these kids should have too. I would have gotten the fuck out the moment my creepy landlord showed up AT NIGHT unannounced to be all “Anything I can help you with?” Yes, you can help me right out of this house. The majority of “Knock Knock” plays out like a classic teen slasher movie. A big group splintering into smaller ones. The discovery of poor Pavel half eaten by the wall, only being kept alive by the fact that is record is skipping. Our monsters are these alien woodlice that actually look like cockroaches that would strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned New Yorker. They live IN the wood of the house (hence all the creaking noises) and they consume Bill’s friends one by one. Creepy Landlord is the one who is controlling them and he’s all “You signed the contract” which should be a lesson to everyone in regards to always reading the fine print.
Things take a turn from slasher flick to gothic story when Bill and Shireen stumble upon a strange woman in the tower like we’re in a Bronte novel or something. This woman is Eliza and she’s supposedly Creepy Landlord’s daughter. The Dryads (“Well I can’t just call them lice, can I?”) consume Shireen and all of her life force goes into Eliza. In some sort of Eugene Tooms-esque business, we learn that every 20 years they feed on six people in order to keep Eliza alive. Creepy Landlord has been doing this for 70 years. But wait…how can he be her dad if this has been going on for 70 years and he looks to be…well not that MUCH older than 70.
Much like Series 7B’s underrated “Hide,” this haunted house story is actually just a story of love and loss. Creepy Landlord is not Eliza’s father but her SON and he discovered the Dryads out in their garden while he had been forced out of the house because of her illness. Can we take a moment to appreciate how BRILLIANT David Suchet is as The Landlord? The minute it’s revealed that he’s actually Eliza’s son, his performance completely shifts from your standard creepy villain to that of a scared yet petulant little boy who just wants to protect his mother. The entire exchange where Eliza is realizing JUST what has happened to her and her son and everything he’s done in the name of protecting her is so devastating.
Doctor: When you saw what the creatures had done, you understood, didn’t you? The lice could keep your mother alive if you protected them, tamed them, fed them.
Landlord: If you could save the one who brought you into this world, wouldn’t you? Your silence is a confirmation.
Eliza: I did what you told me because I thought you knew best. But I, I am your mother?
Eliza: And you, all these children you’ve taken. You told me it was necessary, that we had no choice.
Landlord: That’s right, it was. It meant we could stay together. Don’t you understand? We were happy! I kept our lives a secret, and a secret we must remain.
The tragedy of the whole thing is that the Landlord and Eliza’s lives are lives half-lived. Sure, they are together. But at what cost? The Landlord has given up his entire life in the name of keeping Eliza alive; he’s never gone out and created a life for himself. I may not be a parent, but I have to think I know that is surely one of the greatest joys of having children: raising them and then sending them out on their own. That hasn’t happened here and it’s clear that Eliza is devastated by that. “You’re the parent,” The Doctor urges. “You’re in charge!” (Parenting 101, y’all. Take note everyone.) After some more urging from The Doctor and some very convenient fireworks from the Freshers party in the park (illustrating the great big world that they’ve missed out on), Eliza calls out Creepy Landlord’s name (John) and ends it all with an embrace. She restores all of Bill’s roommates (YAY FRIENDS) and the house collapses.
Back to the Estate Agent’s it is.
The Doctor also drops some VERY personal advice when he’s urging Eliza to take charge and it doesn’t fully resonate until the end of the episode. “What’s the point in surviving if you never see anyone, if you hide yourself away from the world? When did you last open the shutters?” Also known as WHO IS IN THE VAULT? I mean we all KNOW who is in the vault. There’s only one answer really. The Doctor shows up at the vault with bags of Mexican take-out and summarily dismisses Nardole for the night. But before Nardole leaves, “Fur Elise” chimes out from the vault, courtesy of a piano The Doctor put in the vault himself. “You don’t learn, do you, sir?” Nardole asks sadly. NO HE DOESN’T. The Master is his best friend/soulmate/love of his life and he will give chances to that person over and over again, no matter how many times he’s been burned. (THIS IS A LOT.)
“Hey! Do you want dinner? I’ve got Mexican. Look, I know you miss it all, but I’m stuck here too, you know? We’re both prisoners. So what do you say, dinner? And I’ve got a new story for you, too. There’s a haunted house and woodlice from space. And lots of young people get eaten.”
“Pop Goes the Weasel” starts playing the moment The Doctor starts talking about kids being eaten. If that’s not Missy or John Simm or SOMEHOW BOTH (Insert Jack Harkness “You don’t want to know what I’m thinking right now” gif here.) in that vault then I know nothing.
Plus, they spoiled it in the promos.
- I need Bill’s overalls ASAP, thanks.
- “Unless we’ve regenerated or had a big lunch.” “Regenerated?” NO STOP DON’T DO THIS TO ME.
- I love The Doctor shading the Time Lords and their penchant for the big ridiculous collars.
- I get that they are trolling us with the whole “Grandfather” thing but COME ONNNNNN.
- The guy that played Paul was MASSIVE. Seriously. Peter Capaldi is not a small man (I know, I’ve snuggled him) and he looked very very smol next to Paul.
- Also Paul definitely was the Joey Tribbiani of the group being all “How you doin’?” with Bill. I love how she was just like “Yo, I like girls” and he was just “Oh, okay!”
- My heart burst when Bill proudly showed her mum’s picture her new bedroom. Your mum would have been so proud, bb.
- The Doctor saying “I love Chinese!” made me think of the end of “Time Heist” and then I got sad.
- Harriet Jones shout out!
- I’m going to miss all the Scotland jokes when Peter and Moffat leave.
- The Doctor’s dynamic with Harry made me long for a male companion. (SEE IT CAN WORK, BITCHES)
- BILL LOVES LITTLE MIX. Is she a Jesy girl or a Perrie girl? Does this mean she loves One Direction too? She totally does. I loved The Doctor instantly grooving to “Black Magic” BECAUSE IT IS A JAM. (ALL disrespect to her mates for judging Little Mix, clearly they’ve never really listened to them.)
- “Hope is it’s own form of cruelty.” ACCURATE.
- “Maybe I could help? I’m a doctor!”
- I love how excited The Doctor is about discovering the Dryads. IT’S BECAUSE HE MISSES HIS ADVENTURES IN SPACE.
What did you think of “Knock Knock”? Is that Missy in the vault? Let us know in the comments!
feautred image source: BBC