I have feelings about this season…
One, I am loving it. The writing is superb, and Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie make the best team since Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred (Or, Paul McGann and India Fisher for my Big Finish Audio fans). I’m thoroughly enjoying that.
Beyond that, it remains somewhat derivative. There is this weird need to try to recapture the last season of the classic series, not to mention some of the more Moffat-esque bits of the revived series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make the watching just a bit annoying.
Mackie as Bill is just a treasure. She is the single greatest anchor on the show in I don’t even know how long. “Knock Knock” revolves around her moving out into a great big house with five new roommates, and honestly trying to avoid bringing The Doctor in. Of course, there is something sinister in the house; very shades of “Ghost Lights” going on.
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One of the things I don’t like about the last few seasons is the necessity of the companions to distance themselves from The Doctor. Amy, Clara, and now Bill have this desire to create space between them and the Tardis. Look, I’m not saying the old formula of emotionally vulnerable young women dancing off into a spaceship with a strange old man is without flaw, but the new paradigm does sort of make the companion relationship a bit stickier.
“Knock Knock” is a great little haunted-house episode, all the more so because it ends on a super-happy note not seen since “The Doctor Dances.” It manages creep, but never sacrifices humanity. The end reveal is a little wooden, but the cast manages to pull it off. Fans of “Blink” will certainly enjoy this one.
My main complaint is still the marginalization of Matt Lucas as Nardole, who is ostensibly a companion but has largely been absent these last few adventures. Instead, he’s been regulated to guarding the mysterious vault in the basement of the university where the exiled Doctor is teaching. The ending of an otherwise brilliant episode ends on a rather needless cliffhanger. It sometimes feels like this season is aping the worst of Capaldi’s first.
Regardless, there is a dark majesty in “Knock Knock.” It’s one of those rare episodes where the Tardis is inconsequential but The Doctor is essential. The villain is another misunderstood monster, but it does work in this case. Overall, this season of Doctor Who has been one of self-discovery. I look very much forward to what the future brings.