Doctor Who’s new season is here, and Twelve and Bill are off on new adventures. Here are three things we’re thinking about after “Knock Knock”.
The latest episode of Doctor Who Season 10 featured an iconic guest star in David Suchet, along with a super creepy premise. And though “Knock Knock” didn’t entirely stick the landing, there was a lot to like about this installment. The aforementioned presence of Suchet is a big one. The pseudo-haunted house setting was another. (Even if it did ultimately illustrate — again — that this series has a problem committing to the ending of horror stories. You can’t just resurrect everyone every time, show!)
At any rate, “Knock Knock” didn’t do too much in the way of building on the overall season 10 narrative. For the first time, the Doctor and Bill spent an adventure largely apart. And we got only a few crumbs of information about the ongoing vault mystery. So, yeah, we still have a lot of questions.
Here are the three big things we’re thinking about after this seeing this episode. (And as we look forward to next Saturday’s installment, entitled “Oxygen”.)
That’s 100% Missy in the Vault, Right?
Another week, another miniscule hint at what’s going on with the whole vault mystery. The Doctor and Nardole spent all of Season 10 to date keeping watch over whatever they’ve got locked up in the university basement. But after “Knock Knock”, I think we all have a pretty good idea of what — or rather who — is in there. It’s got to be Missy, right?
At this point, the only viable answer for the identity of our vault resident seems to be the Master. The only real question is whether it’s the Michelle Gomez or John Simm version. Currently, I lean toward Missy. If only because Twelve’s interactions with the room’s current occupant just feel more like the biting, weird almost-friendship the two shared, rather than the more combative relationship we saw between Ten and his incarnation of the Master. (Plus, the “Pop Goes the Weasel” piano riff screams Missy to me.)
Whoever is in the room is clearly someone the Doctor doesn’t mind hanging out with — since the evidence suggests he does it rather frequently. He brings this person take out. He tells them stories from his day. This prisoner is someone he doesn’t completely hate, even if he acknowledges that he can’t let them out. Because whoever it is, is also obviously not the nicest person. (See also: The obvious glee over young people getting eaten.)
Even the dialogue points toward someone else who likes to wander, most likely through time and space. “I know you miss it all,” the Doctor says to whoever is on the other side of the door. “But I’m stuck here too. We’re both prisoners.” Sure, it’s possible that our mysterious vault person is a random we’ve never met before. But it seems super unlikely.
Harry and Connections to the Past
Every episode of Doctor Who in Season 10 so far featured a callback of some sort to the classic series. From Susan’s picture on Twelve’s desk in “The Pilot” to an “Ark in Space” shoutout in “Smile”, there’s a whole lot of nostalgia going on. “Knock Knock” is no different. Even if the biggest classic Who connection ended up cut from the episode itself.
Upon moving into their new digs, Bill’s new housemate Harry mentions his grandfather backpacking around China with his boyfriend. But what he doesn’t mention is his other granddad. Who, as it turns out, is none other than former companion Harry Sullivan. That Harry (played by Ian Marter) traveled around with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith in the 1970s. He ultimately left the TARDIS because he wanted a quieter kind of life. (See, folks, it is possible!)
Mike Bartlett, who wrote this episode, told Doctor Who Magazine about his Harry connection. But he admits that it didn’t make it into the final version of the episode. (For reasons that are, quite frankly, pretty dumb.)
"It was a reference I enjoyed hugely, because I love Harry Sullivan. And housemate Harry has, I think, a similar sort of attitude, of energetic sort of pluck. It was decided that, in 2017, people might not remember one companion from 40-odd years ago. So it got cut."
Bartlett’s comments seem to indicate that there may not be something larger going on in Season 10, historically speaking. Maybe Doctor Who just finally decided to really embrace its 50-year history. Perhaps the folks in charge figured out that it would be fun to leave historical breadcrumbs for hardcore fans to find. But, on the other hand, there have been an awful lot of those breadcrumbs this season. Maybe too many of them to handwave off as a coincidence. But what could they all mean?
Regeneration Came Up Already
“Knock Knock” is only the fourth episode of Doctor Who Season 10. So isn’t it kind of weird that the subject of regeneration has come up already? Sure, it was only sort of an off-hand mention on the part of the Doctor that definitely felt like a mistake. And he totally dodged explaining what it meant when Bill asked.
But, with everyone knowing that Peter Capaldi is leaving the show at the end of this season — and rumors flying that he might not even make it to the Christmas special — we’re all a little on edge. “Regeneration” is such a fraught word. It’s difficult not to see this sudden appearance of it as obviously meaningful. Even though it might not be.
Bill is still fairly new at this whole companion business. She only just learned what “Time Lords” were during the same conversation that regeneration came up. It’s understandable that the Doctor might not want to dump the whole, “I am kind of immortal, but not really; I just change my face and personality in a ball of glowy light instead of dying” thing on her?
Maybe it’s just foreshadowing. Or maybe it’s standard Steven Moffat-style trolling, meant to freak out hardcore Who fans on edge for any indication of what Capaldi’s exit might be like. Perhaps it’s the Doctor attempting to be kind by not overwhelming Bill with Time Lord information. Maybe it’s nothing at all. But, in light of Twelve’s impending departure it’s pretty hard not to think about.
Doctor Who Season 10 continues Saturday, May 13 on BBC One and BBC America.