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Doctor Who Recap: Knock Knock. Who’s There? A Million Flesh-Eating Bugs

Xmas Special Airs December 25 9e 6p

Would you rather: a) Die; or b) Become a hideous wooden monster with alien bugs crawling unbidden out of your mouth/ears at the most inopportune moments? Take a minute or two to think it over. We’ve got time—or maybe we don’t.

This newest episode of the season, just four in, has already made mention of the R-word. That’s ‘regeneration’ to those of you still in denial over Peter Capaldi’s departure. (Hi!) It happens when Bill, still learning the Time Lord ropes, asks the Doctor where he sleeps and whether or not he needs it. Remember this moment as the beginning of the end for Twelve.

At least there’s a decent monster on hand to distract us. Bill’s just moved into a way-too-nice-for-student-life mansion that, despite not having cell service, at first appears to be a pretty incredible deal. Until her new flatmates begin to get swallowed up by the walls. And it’s not only what’s going into the walls, but what’s coming out of them, too: giant, cockroach-esque alien bugs that can take down a human being faster than a horde of termites can finish off a twig.

The bugs seem to be under the control of the home’s landlord. Lease documents that the Doctor uncovers there show that every 20 years a new batch of renters are sacrificed to the hungry little guys (or girls—it’s impossible to know with aliens. Also: inconsequential). Why the regularly scheduled feedings? So that by some hazy kind of Who logic, the landlord’s daughter can be kept alive. If you consider being a creaking hunk of wood in the rough shape of a person some sort of life.

And then there’s the twist: the landlord turns out not be some doting dad who’ll do anything to keep his daughter alive. In reality, he’s her septuagenarian son—and still prone to the occasional childish temper tantrum when things don’t go his way. With some convincing from the Doctor, his mother does the responsible thing and lets the bugs take them both down, along with the entire house.

The whole thing wraps up in time for the Doctor to make it back to the vault he’s nominally guarding (via Nardole) with some takeout to share with whoever he’d got in there. As for Bill, we’re not sure where she slept that night—but students don’t really need sleep, right?

5 Questions About This Week’s Episode

1. Obviously the Doctor is on some kind of terms (we won’t go as far as to say they’re good terms) with whatever/whoever is inside the vault—enough to give them a piano and bring them Mexican food. So when do we get to meet the vault’s inhabitant?

2. Why is the Doctor so keen on being alone with whoever is in the vault? (Or is just that he finds Nardole super irritating?)

3. That look that came over the Doctor’s face when he mentioned regeneration to Bill—does he (like us) know it’s coming? (Insert wrenching sobs here.)

4. Re: that whole “grandad” bit—can Time Lords really be that precious about their appearance when it changes so frequently (like, every three seasons)?

5. Did Bill ever treat the Doctor to pizza and beer post-move, or is that just a North American custom?

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