Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Four: Knock Knock

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Bill is taking the next step on her path adulthood and independence - she's getting her own place, if she can find one that's affordable.  Bill has six roommates to split the rent and still yet, they cannot find anything they can afford on their budget, until they run into a senior gentleman who just happens to have a place for let at a price too good to pass up. The kids are excited by just how much space they have and the fact that the house has a tower; however they keep waiting for the shoe to fall. There must be something wrong with the place if the landlord is willing to rent it so cheaply but having no other options, they sign the lease.  One kid is so excited that he moves his stuff in that night.

The Doctor shows up in his Tardis to help Bill move and comments that he's surprised that she doesn't have more stuff.  It's a lowkey reminder of Bill's financial state.  If you don't have a lot money, you don't have the ability to accumulate a lot of things. Bill is content to have the Doctor just drop her possessions on the sidewalk out front of the house but the Doctor is quick to notice that something is wrong and decides to follow Bill inside.  Bill immediately starts trying to drop less than casual hints that the Doctor should leave, saying that there's nothing wrong with the house.

Finally alone in her room, Bill hangs a picture of her mother and asks if her mother is proud of her because she has her own place.  The walls and floors creek and Bill reminds herself that she just in an old house and that none of the phenomena that she has been exposed to since meeting with the Doctor exist here. She does however acknowledge that it's scary to be sharing a home with essentially six strangers. When Bill returns downstairs, surprise surprise the Doctor is still there.  Bill introduces him to her roommates as her grandfather and he suggests that he doesn't look that old and says father.  Bill is finally forced to pull the Doctor aside and explain that this is where her boundary is. For Bill, there's her life in the Tardis with the Doctor, and then there's her home and her private life which is hers and hers alone.

In recent years, the companions have all had their own lives. Rory and Amy treated going away with the Doctor as a sort of extended vacation but they were also interested in an every day life where Rory went to work as a nurse and they did everyday activities. Clara kept her job as a teacher right down to the end. Even River managed to go to school and become an archaeologist in between travelling with the Doctor when Amy and Rory were sleeping and getting into all kinds of trouble. Each one of them kept a boundary between their life on the Tardis with the Doctor and their everyday existence.  Given that we know that life on the Tardis with the Doctor -- no matter how fantastic it is -- always comes to an end, it's probably a good idea.  What I love about Bill is that she actually articulated where her boundaries lay and pushed the Doctor to honour them, though in this case didn't work out.

Bill is forced to suggest that it's time to call it a night but at this point, there's no way the Doctor is leaving and he suggests hanging out with her new roommates - cue the shaming of Bill for her music choices. Since I'm unfamiliar with the band, I cannot say whether I agree or disagree. This is of course when the creepy ass landlord shows up once more to find out if the kids are settling in.  The kids report that the wiring is off and that they cannot charge their devices, nor get a signal and that the house is constantly creaking and making sounds. The landlord promises to look into all of this tomorrow but to anyone with eyes, he's dodgy as fuck. The Doctor tries to question the landlord about who the current Prime Minister is but he doesn't get a straight answer.

Bill heads upstairs with her flatmates and one of the guys is hitting on her super hard. Bill finally lets dude know that he doesn't have a chance because she's into women.  Can I just say again how much I love the idea of having an explicitly gay companion on Doctor Who.  It's been so long since we've had any LGBT representation to speak of and there's never been a gay companion.

The house shuts down trapping the flatmates and the Doctor inside.  If that were not enough, insect like creatures appear and start to consume the flatmates, leaving the Doctor to figure out what the hell is going on.  When they finally make it to the tower, they find a woman who's been turned to wood.  It seems that she was dying and that in order to preserve her life, The landlord has been systematically feeding people to the bug aliens in order to save her. This began when the Landlord was only a little boy and as it turns out, he's not in fact the wooden woman's father but her husband.  In some ways, it's a story of a son's devotion and desire to save his mother, as much as it is a classic horror story. It's also a warning about what can happen when someone refuses to move on. It's a small callback to last week when the Doctor was forced to explain to Bill why he had to keep moving after someone died.

In the end, The Doctor reminds the mother that she's the parent and that she's in charge and she brings an end to the entire ordeal.  Unfortunately of the five people who moved in with Bill, only one is restored to life. The Doctor, Bill and the flatmate mange to make it outside just before the house collapses. This of course means that poor Bill, once again has to struggle to find a place to live.

With Bill's living situation sorted, the Doctor returns to the ominous vault. Fur Elise can be heard being played on the piano.  The Doctor is quick to rush Nardole out of the room, leaving him alone with whoever is locked up in there. The Doctor opens the safe and decides to enter when he doesn't get an answer and of course, it's fade to black time. Personally, I think that The Doctor has Missy trapped in there and perhaps last week there were only three knocks instead of four because Missy, unlike John Simm's Master only requires three.

I really didn't find Knock Knock to be a remarkable episode, beyond Bill making an explicit declaration of her sexuality and of course her setting limits on her interactions with the Doctor. It was interesting to see the house from Blink in action again; however, this only served to reinforce a comparison between the two episodes. Knock Knock cannot hold a candle to Blink and I don't think it will be considered to be particularly memorable.

There have been a lot of callbacks to previous Doctor's and companions this season, primarily I suspect because this is Peter Capaldi's last season as the Doctor.  This week, he let slip that he's a Timelord but didn't exactly expand on what this means to Bill and he also mentioned regeneration.  This is enough to have me wondering if the Doctor knows that his time is up.  Twelve isn't the only Doctor to know that he's on borrowed time. In The Planet of the Ood, the Tenth Doctor is told that his song will end soon. The Eleventh Doctor didn't want to go to Trenzalore because he knew that this is where his grave was. The question of course is how much the Doctor knows and why or how does he know it?