I can't lie - I was predisposed to love this episode. David Suchet is one of my all time favourite actors (and, let's be honest, the definitive Poirot), with an ability to break free from the obvious stereotype which is to his credit. Creepy old house and David Suchet in Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi. It's difficult to imagine how this could fail to deliver.
And of course, it didn't. Suchet was absolutely wonderful, crafting a fascinatingly creepy character who appeared and disappeared in the house like a ghost. For a while I thought that that was what he was, until we got the revelation there were secret passages and elevators. Bill's line about him not Suchet's character not being wood was a wonderful "it's been staring you in hte face" moment. In short, the episode could have relied on Suchet's performance and it would have been outstanding.
But we have the continuing relationship with the Doctor and Bill which is developing very nicely. I like the fact Bill wants a part of her life separate to the Doctor, but equally I like the fact that's becoming impossible. And of course there's Nardole and the Vault...
What is in that Vault? Knowing that the Simm Master is going to return, it's tempting to think that it's him in the Vault (I mean, who else would play the piano and enjoy Mexican food?), though it could be the Gomez Master as well. Or a Cyberman...At this point, I'm not entirely sure to be honest. I thought I had an idea, but last night changed that, so the mystery has returned. We don't have long until we find out the truth, but Moffat has crafted an excellent arc this season, and one that is really driving the show along nicely.
Now of course, there were other cast members in the show, and for a little bit it felt like a new episode of Class - in fact, part of me thinks they should have taken the opportunity to have Bill be a friend of Ram's or April's, though given how Class ended, I suppose that would have created more questions that may never be answered. The characters were nice enough, but obviously we didn't know enough about them to be seriously invested in their survival, and neither did Bill, which presented a little bit of an issue. Given everything that's happened, and the whole Heather thing, I'm surprised she wasn't a little more concerned about the missing Pavel, but on the other hand, she was trying to keep this part of her life free from TARDIS complications...
Bill Anderson, I think, was perhaps the genuine star of this episode. His direction was very good, creating a suitably sinister atmosphere which permeated throughout the episode. The appearance of Eliza was handled particularly well (I must admit I'm curious to know whether she was a CGI or prosthetic creation).
So, obviously, I loved it. Four episodes in, and I'm being swept along by this season. It feels like it's naturally developed from the previous two seasons, giving us a Doctor that has genuinely made a character journey. When the Doctor spoke of regeneration, there was something in Capaldi's performance that clearly hinted of things to come, and whilst people may have not taken to Capaldi's Doctor initially, I do feel that Moffat and Capaldi have given us a Doctor that is genuinely different to anything we've seen before - be it classic or new Who - and when he's gone, we're gonna miss what we had in a big way.