Knock Knock, the fourth story of Series 10, takes us to a proper haunted house and (while it could be argued that the BBC tried a little too hard with the binaural thing) I enjoyed it.
There is no missing the definition this episode brings to the relationship between Bill and the Doctor. Bill is trying to establish a much needed social network after leaving her foster mother’s home and, apparently, officially entering University. Concurrently, she is also establishing herself as an adult. The Doctor helps her move into this first apartment. While she appreciates his assistance (LOVED using the TARDIS to move her stuff!), she’s embarrassed by his presence. She calls him Granddad, correction! Grandfather, so as not to reveal their real relationship to her roomates (thereby also making an unmistakable call back to the First Doctor and his relationship with Susan). Despite his best efforts, the Doctor is just in the way, much as my own parents were when they dropped me off at college.
I increasingly believe that this growing familial relationship between Bill and the Doctor is connected to the Vault storyline. Perhaps there is a hetertofore unmet member of the Doctor’s family trapped in the vault, whom the Doctor feels responsible to magage because they are family. Or perhaps only the bonds like those found within families will allow the Doctor and Bill to prevail and save the world/universe when the vault opens and whomever is lurking in there finally gets revealed.
We see the power and centrality of familial relationships also reflected in the main storyline. It is the mother’s profound love for her son and her outrage at his behavior that drives her to end their suffering and his killing. Even the most enlightened and feminists of mothers struggle with feeling responsible for their children do. It is also the son’s twisted perspective on family and his responsibility towards his mother that leads to his psyhopathic behavior. Could this serve as a specific foreshadowing of the series finale? Perhaps the Doctor must sacrifice his current incarnation to save the planet and Bill (looking at you 5th Doctor)?
We also see Bill struggling to form a more adult self in this episode. She has been written and portrayed as a less experienced and more naive companion than is typical in new Who, though that trope was pretty common in classic Who. She expressed fear over what her new friends will think less of her because of her choice in music. She is worried about the friendship she has formed with Shireen, wondering why she didn’t pick the room next to Bill’s. An essential part of being in a family is forming your own identify as separate from your parents. This seems to be Bill’s primary motivation here. And, like many good family members, the Doctor just won’t leave, being wiser than Bill and not abandoning her when he thinks there is danger, despite her protests.
And can I just say that I am loving this season? Bill is adorable with her optimism and her endless questions, (questions I believe were inspired by fans endlessly plaguing Mr. Moffat). I love this kinder, softer Doctor. More than perhaps any previous incarnation, Twelve has had a character arc of growth and change, becoming wiser and more loving with every series.
I am, however, over waiting for the vault to open. The intrigue is wearing thin. Open it already.
* Due to illness and family obligations (Just a little 11th Birthday in Harry Potter World at Universal Studios), I’ve been unable to get this post, as well as Oxygen post and Extremis, out in a timely manner. However, I did not alter my main ideas when editing, even though by now we all know exactly who is in the vault.