Doctor Who – Knock Knock
By: Sharon Kurack
Knock, knock? We were last left wondering who indeed “was there” behind the vault door, literally knocking. This week, in Episode Four, we find our time traveling duo in the present. Like Nardole (Matt Lucas) said, “There are plenty of adventures and things that’ll want to kill them right there on Earth.” And boy, was he right. But before we get ahead of ourselves, our quirky but intelligent companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) is on the hunt for a house with five other housemates. (They grow up so fast, our companions.) Anyone who has gone house or apartment hunting knows what an extremely trying experience that can be, especially when you’re searching for not only inexpensive, but also enough to house six people. (LOL NOPE!) The first house, although cheap, is entirely too small and sandwiched between two larger ones. The second, still cheap, is located by some kind of power plant. Oh, the joys of house-hunting! (They’re adulting so hard right now.) However, just as Bill and company are leaving the realtor’s they are approached by an older gentleman that would have been seen most likely in a Hitchcock film. Luckily for our “youngsters” he has the house just for them and proceeds to lead them to it. Did the writers work on this during Halloween or what? Our “perfect” house looks like one that the Addams Family would have certainly adored, equipped with a creepy tower and drafty winds. It’s huge; it’s cheap and it’s a shoe-in for the gang (although, to Bill’s credit, she does seem hesitant at first). Seriously though, did no one think to ask about a washing machine or local laundromat or anything? Maybe notice the reception was shoddy? No? Clearly these kids need to brush up on their Horror movie “do’s and don’ts.”
During the stormy night, our horror novices start exploring and claiming rooms in the creaky home. And in true horror story fashion, the house claims its first victim of DJ/musician Pavel (Bart Suavek) as soon as he starts playing a record. (Yes, I did say record.) Immediately the mood of the entire episode is set. Buckle up Whovians, this new adventure promises more frustration with those roomies at their lack of horror-smarts as well as humorous banter between “Grandfather” Twelve (Peter Capaldi) and Bill.
Speaking of the Doctor and Bill, how is it Bill just automatically thinks to use the TARDIS to move her stuff from house to house? (Also, note that the TARDIS is allowing all of this.) That’s genius! (Pond, that would have been something you’d do!) More banter and questions ensue with the Doctor mentioning the Time Lords and regeneration (*dramatic gasp in Gallifreyan*). Before they can really get into any detail, the Doctor gets distracted by his curiosity of the house. Wanting to keep that balance between TARDIS life and non TARDIS life (psssh, who’d want that?!), Bill ushers Twelve away after getting the boxes inside. While she’s moving boxes, Bill meets flirty Paul (Ben Presley) who informs her of the normalcy of the music coming from Pavel’s room (oh dramatic irony). As she’s hell bent on this part of her life being normal and not extraterrestrial at all, Bill finishes, unpacks a now framed photo of her birthmother and hangs it on a creaky wall.
It’s not until the dark and stormy night falls that the roomies start realizing maybe there is a reason why the rent is so cheap. There’s no cell reception or landline (what in Gallifrey is THAT?! Google it, kids!) and a new shuffling noise to accompany the creaks. They follow the noise to reveal the Doctor, checking the house like the meddling grandfather he’s not old enough to be! He does indeed find that there is also no central heating nor washing machine and suggests they get a new house. Before any more discussion can happen, the landlord (David Suchet) shows up and takes everyone’s concerns. Being the clever companion, Bill starts asking about a cat being there while another roomie asks about the creepy tower, which prompts the landlord to defensively answer. Always a step ahead, our Time Lord then asks if the landlord knows who the current Prime Minister is. Unable to answer, the landlord avoids the question, takes out what looks like a tuning fork and taps it on the wood. (That’s a rather odd quirk.) The shuffling noise continues, but the roommates decide that going to bed is the best option. (Feel free to yell at the TV, kids. I certainly was the whole time.)
The Doctor; however, definitely knows something is up and refuses to leave, despite Bill’s teen-angst-like pushing away. Everyone splits off to go to bed (even though Twelve mentioned how odd it was that we hadn’t seen Pavel) and the real fun begins. Flirty boy Paul walks with Bill and Shireen (Mandeep Dhillon), teasing them by making light of the creaky house, but ends up being the house’s next victim (Guess the house was….board.) The girls knock on his door to check on him and…it knocks back! In fact, there are knocks all around, with the doors starting to close on them as they run. At the same time, the Doctor, Felicity (Alice Hewkin), and Harry (Colin Ryan) find themselves just as trapped as all of the shutters start closing and sealing. Being claustrophobic, Felicity starts freaking out and running until she gets outside. (#facepalm She seriously hasn’t seen any horror movie?) Whatever is taking the housemates is like “LOL NOPE,” and traps Felicity in a tree, leaving Twelve and Harry inside the house.
Bill and Shireen, however, are still mobile and stumble upon Pavel’s room, where a record player is stuck on a loop. To their horror, Pavel is half absorbed into the wall, looking towards the music. Before Bill can do anything, our favorite landlord appears and turns the music off, causing the walls to completely swallow Pavel. (Rude.) Saying something about everyone must pay their dues, he takes out the tuning fork again and hits it on the wood, like last time, but Bill and Shireen definitely don’t wait around to find out why.
Despite having lost Felicity, the Doctor continues doing his “clever thing” to figure out the what and the why. All Harry wants to do is leave, especially after Twelve is able to reveal the small scarab-like creatures (Alien lice? Driads?) that start swarming. They run to the cupboard which turns out to be a lift (horror house complete with secret elevators!), which takes them a floor lower. It is here they find the pattern of six housemates disappearing every twenty years (1997 being the last) from an “infestation.” The “space lice” aren’t just in the wood; they’ve become the wood as have their captives of the past. With impeccable timing, the landlord shows up and the Doctor questions. As it turns out, the landlord had a daughter who was dying and the “space lice” had saved her. As payment, he has to protect and feed them. Harry freaks and the lice take him on the stairs. Before they can take the Doctor, he convinces the landlord that he might be able to help and goes with him to see his daughter…whom Bill and Shireen end up meeting in the tower. Eliza (Mariah Gale) is made completely of what looks like wood, with the insects all over her. Shireen steps on one as a reaction and it turns into a swarm taking her. Before they can take Bill, Twelve and the landlord appear, with the Doctor explaining how he’s trying to help the “father” cure his “daughter.” Originally, Eliza’s father brought her the insects to amuse her and left them by her bedside. Once he turned on the music box, they “activated” and created the state she currently is in. A high-pitched sound is what activated the insects, Twelve deduces.
Bill takes it a step further as she questions the landlord. Why would a father pick up insects? He’s aged since, so why wasn’t he preserved by the insects as well? (There are none on him, by the way.) Plot twist: Eliza is his mother and he is her son who didn’t want to lose his dying mother. (Ten points Bill!) The “space lice” are able to keep his mother alive if he protects and feeds them. Not wanting to lose his mother, the landlord summons the insects again to take Twelve and Bill, but Eliza stops them knowing that an isolated life is no life at all. As it is their time now, Eliza embraces her son and they disappear into a swarm of “space lice.” Unfortunately, the house collapses into the swarm as well. However, all five housemates are restored alive. (The previous ones could not be as they were already part of the house at that point.)
With the house situation “settled,” Twelve returns to his office and the vault. We find Nardole checking on the vault until the Doctor returns with bags of (probably Chinese) food. Nardole mentions that their “friend” in the vault has been restive lately, which leads to the Doctor “dismissing” him to “take care of it.” Fur Elise plays beyond the vault door until Twelve starts talking as though he were conversing with an old friend. There’s no response until he mentions the part of his adventure where “young people get eaten.” The result? A lively rendition of Pop! Goes the Weasel and the Doctor going inside.
So, who’s behind door number 12? I have my guesses (*cough* Missy *cough*), but something tells me it’s not that obvious. Until next time, try not to disturb any wooden buildings.