An old creaking house, unexplained noises, a creepy old man, screaming teenagers. Last Saturday’s episode had every single trope of your typical horror movie… but in a good way.
A Brief Overview of What Happened
It looks like Bill has officially become a student now. After meeting 5 other students they all search for a house together. Budgets are low, and that reflects in the kind of houses they are being shown; bedrooms that are the size of match boxes and don’t have doors. So, when a mysterious old man approaches them and offers his mansion like house, with dirt cheap rent prices, it’s too hard for the poor students to turn it down. But is it too good to be true?
Well, as it happens, yes, it is. And Bill finds that out when both her and the Doctor, who helped her move in, discover there are alien termites living within the walls and that they’re eating up every tenant in the house, one at a time. Like this.
So, does the landlord know about this? Yes. How come he’s safe? Good question.
Almost 70 years ago, his mother, Eliza (who he originally claims to be his daughter) was terminally ill. Somehow, these alien parasites managed to save her, keeping her alive and well… aside from the fact that she’s now made of wood. By bringing tenants into the house every 20 years for the bugs to eat, they continue to keep his mother alive.
But as they always say, mother knows best. After forgetting that fact and being led to believe for so long that her was her father instead, Eliza finally realises the truth. Realising that while she’s surviving, she isn’t truly living, she tries to encourage her son to let her go and try and do something with the rest of his life. But like most children, they find it hard to let go, and he refuses. In a truly heart breaking moment, Eliza takes control of the lice and forces them to absorb her and her son together, but also brings all of Bill’s friends back from the dead at the same time. The house, which by this point is mostly made up of these aliens rather than wood, disintegrates, leaving 6 homeless students to find somewhere else to live.
What Happened to John Smith?
If anything, this whole ordeal as taught Bill a lesson that most companions eventually end up learning; No matter how hard you try, you can never keep your life with the Doctor separate from your normal life. Best case scenario that happens whenever a companion tries to do that both lives end up overlapping and they get found out. Worst case scenario, is people end up getting hurt. At the beginning, Bill seemed very keen on distancing the rest of her life away from the Doctor as much as possible, even though he had other ideas and that in the end if he hadn’t kept interfering, things could have been a lot worse. This time things her normal life and her life with the Doctor certainly overlapped, and I’m in no doubt Bill’s new friends will have questions. But I don’t think they’ve entirely copped on to the whole space and time travelling situation just yet. But we are only 4 episodes in, so let’s not hold our breath on that one.
Actually, I’d say this episode taught her several lessons. Second lesson; trust your instincts. Bill knew something was dodgy with the house the moment she stepped foot on it, but as the episode went on, she continued to undermine those instincts. Maybe that was her continuing to try and keep the boundaries between her two different lives clear. Doctor life is about aliens, normal life isn’t. But one things for certain, if she had listened to those instincts, they could have just gone and put a deposit on one of the previous houses they looked at. Sure, one of the bedrooms didn’t have a door, but it’s better than being sucked up into the wall of another bedroom, isn’t it?
Lesson number three; Listen to the Doctor a little bit more. This lesson needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it doesn’t apply to every situation. There’s been plenty of times he’s been wrong, so it’s not always the best idea to listen to him and trust him. But if his theories are making sense, and deep down you’ve got a funny feeling too, then often, he’s worth listening to.
To give credit where credit is due, Bill did have some brilliant lightbulb moments in this one. She found the secret door to the tower that Eliza was being kept in. Watching Indiana Jones helped her with that one, apparently. See guys, watching films and TV shows can and does pay off! She was also able to spot what the Doctor couldn’t. Twelve is a lot more alien than some of our previous doctors have been, we’ve seen some of this in his terms of etiquette many times, but it also seems that he’s forgotten that humans have a much shorter lifespan than he does. When Bill’s landlord says, Eliza is his daughter, who he’s been keeping safe for 70 years, he doesn’t seem to question the fact on how he’s still alive at this point, or at least not looking a lot older than he does. Of course, Bill sees right through it, though. It just proves that the Doctor does need someone. Where it’s for company, or just pointing out the blatantly obvious because he can never see it.
My only question with the whole thing is what ever happened to the Doctor’s alias of John Smith? Actually, I’ve been thinking of this since the latest episode. Looking back, I don’t think the Doctor’s uses his human alias since he was his tenth self. Since then he’s continuously referred to himself as the Doctor, no matter what kind of questions that always happens to bring up. Maybe he’s heard the questions so much he just simply doesn’t care anymore. Or maybe he’s just enjoying confusing the hell out of humans. Given the nature of Twelve sometimes, I’d say both have an even chance of being the real reason.
His nature has changed a bit, though. And by that, I mean he’s become a little soft. Whatever/whoever he’s got locked in that vault, he’s definitely sympathetic with them. He’s brought Mexican food for them, is telling them how they feel, and gave them a piano. Hell, he’s even going into the vault to have dinner with them and tell them stories about his latest escapade. Now there’s all sorts of speculation going around as to who is in the vault, and this is all this is, speculation. But there’s only ever been one person, other than his companions, that he’s been such a soft touch for. And that’s the Master. We know that Simm!Master is coming back in this season, and that there’s something Missy was originally a little bit peeved at him for. Was locking him up in a vault it?
To be honest, I’m wrong and Moffat isn’t this obvious. Only time will tell.
Johanna an avid writer and lifelong Doctor Who fan living in the UK. By day she is a student, studying Media and Film Production, and by night she fangirls about all things TV/Film related on Twitter and writes posts for a variety of blogs as well as her own lifestyle blog.