Doctor Who: Bill’s Journey In “Knock Knock”
"...life for the Doctor’s companion never finds a slow, easy pace after jumping into the TARDIS for the first time."
At the onset, “Knock Knock” attempts to build space between Bill and the Doctor, leaving Bill to develop a steadying level of normalcy in her own life. However, life for the Doctor’s companion never finds a slow, easy pace after jumping into the TARDIS for the first time. Companions find out that their earthly dwellings are not immune to alien intrusion. For Bill, setting out on her own way comes with strings attached.
Bill wants her own identifiable life beyond the Doctor and the first step is finding her own place. Collaborating with a group of friends, Bill is set to move into her new home. However, the Doctor finds reason enough to hang around, piquing his curiosity about the peculiar nature of Bill’s new, wood ensconced abode. When the Doctor enters your life, he is always an active player. Bill tries to usher the Doctor out during the move in an effort to separate herself from her new life for one night. Those efforts are squashed by the entrance of the enigmatic landlord and his odd obsession with knocking on the wood paneling.
The perils of entering the Doctor’s orbit are on display in this episode. It is evident to Bill that she will always need to be on her toes after aligning herself with the Doctor. For all of her internal pleas against alien threats, Bill sees that what lies beneath the creaking floors is another otherworldly threat that not only threatens her safety, but that of her friends. In the moment when she witnesses Pavel’s absorption into the woodwork by alien forces, Bill accepts her new reality and takes action as the Doctor would: head on into the fire. Instead of shielding herself from danger, Bill embraces it as she enters the forbidden tower.
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Meanwhile, the Doctor is separated from Bill for the majority of the action, leaving him to figure out the mystery of the decrepit building without her aid. Beyond conjuring the “space lice” from within the walls, the Doctor does not miss a beat in his deductive reasoning. As a result, this week’s alien threat feels boiled down to basics without much intrigue. For as much of this episode felt like old hat, “Knock Knock” fills the annual series need for showing how the Doctor is more than a madman with a box, showcasing the extraordinary intuition that two thousand years of experience provides. Before entering the house, the Doctor’s sixth sense for strange is alerted. By the end, he diagnoses the landlord’s problem with letting his dying mother pass without a problem. With the same ease, everyone who had been attacked by the lice was eventually restored.
For an episode where the audience feels assured that all’s well that ends well, “Knock Knock” ends with one more piece of the ongoing mysterious vault subplot. The Doctor relieves Nardole of his nightly watch over whom or what resides in the vault. Through his one-sided conversation with its occupant, the Doctor reveals that whoever resides there enjoys stories where “people get eaten.” The Doctor also has supplied this being with a piano as can be heard in great volume through the chamber walls. These kernels suggest a familiarity between the Doctor and the resident of the vault, leaving fewer questions without spoiling the big reveal for a future episode.
For the sake of showrunner Steven Moffat’s final season, the vault must be more than a way to reintroduce John Simm’s Master, who recently confirmed return to the series. The Master and the Doctor are frenemies, to put it loosely, but this roundabout way of bringing back the previous incarnation of Simm’s Time Lord would cheapen Peter Capaldi’s final go-round. The Doctor would not be entrusted with guarding someone who, in one of his previous incarnations, felt that he could save. Time will tell if the vault will reveal such an obvious yet meaningless result as containing the Master himself.