In the world of Doctor Who, it’s even worse.
Bill and some of her friends find a place with an offer that’s too good to be true, even if the landlord is a bit strange.
That’s because he has a deadly secret.
It’s hard to decide what’s more shocking: the secret of the house or the fact that the landlord is played by David Suchet.
Yes, Poirot himself. He is really scary as a landlord who’s a bit too helpful and friendly, and appears at the strangest moments. He also uses a tuning fork that he hits against the wooden walls. His story, and what happens, would make a pretty creepy horror movie.
What keeps it from being that way is the Doctor.
Right off the bat, it’s clear there may be something wrong with the house. After Bill and a few of her friends sign the lease, one of them decides to move in early. He’s playing violin music when something grabs him
The next day, Bill uses the TARDIS to move her stuff to the new place. She senses there could be something wrong. Why are trees moving with no wind, and why does the Landlord insist no one visit the tower?
After finding a few other things wrong with the place, she asks the Landlord who the Prime Minister is, which is odd. It isn’t long before another guy is missing, and that the house is closing shutters by itself. A girl named Felicity (Alice Hewkin) does escape, but she is also attacked. Bill finds that one of her friends is literally trapped in a wall, but the Landlord hits his tuning fork…so the wall can finish digesting him. The Landlord just explains that they signed the contract, and they “have to pay”.
The Doctor and Harry (Colin Ryan), another of Bill’s mates, figure out that the house is infested with alien wood lice. They also learn every few years, new tenants move in, but they don’t move out. They wind up as sacrifices.
Why would the Landlord do this? He does mention he had a daughter, and she was sick. He reveals the lice actually cured her…but at what cost?
Bill and Shireen (Mandeep Dhillon) find out at the tower. The Landlord’s daughter, Eliza (Mariah Gale), meets them, and she is definitely wooden. The lice have kept her alive for 70 years. The Landlord arrive, and is about to unleash the lice on Bill and the Doctor. Then she asks how old the Landlord is.
That’s when it hits the Doctor: Eliza is the Landlord’s mother! She realizes what her son has done, and orders the lice to take them. How they hug in a loving embrace as they are devoured is one of the scariest, and also poignant, climaxes the show has done in years.
If only the episode ended right there…but it was decided there should be a happy ending. Bill’s friends are revived by the alien lice, even those who were devoured. Maybe the show didn’t want Bill to be exposed to a lot more death after last week in the Frost Fair, but it would have been better if the young people were just trapped in the walls instead of being eaten.
Well, they do survive, and now have to find a new place because their house collapses, thanks to the lice.
Later, the Doctor goes to that vault, and tells Nardole (Matt Lucas) he has the night off. However, whoever is in there is playing a piano. The Doctor promises Mexican food and details about what just happened to him. Suddenly, we hear “Pop Goes The Weasel”.
Anyone suspect Missy is in the vault…or a previous version of her?
Next week: the Doctor heads to deep space where they find out taking a breath can be costly.