Written by Mike Bartlett, directed by Bill Anderson. Guest star: David Suchet
“Did you hear the trees creaking outside when we arrived?”
“Yeah. It was the wind.”
“There wasn’t any wind.”
Bill is moving in with some friends and they’ve found the perfect house! So what if it’s strangely cheap to rent, and the landlord is a little creepy? The wind blows, the floorboards creak and the Doctor thinks something is very wrong. What lurks in the strange tower at the heart of the building – and why can’t they find any way to enter it..?
Bill and some friends from school are on the search for a house to rent together. All of the places they find within their price range have major problems with them and they can’t see themselves living in any of them. As they leave the realty office, an old man asks them if they are looking for a place to live. He takes them to a large house. It is very old and there are a lot of rooms. Immediately, they decide to rent, while Bill is still a bit skeptical of the situation. That night, one of the students is in his room, playing classical music. He hears a noise. After following the noise and seeing nothing, he returns to his room. The door closes, and screaming is heard from the room.
The next day, Bill and the others begin to move in. The Doctor is with Bill and helping her bring her boxes into the house. The other students recognize him, immediately, as the popular lecturer. Bill tells them that he is her grandfather and tells him that this is the part of her life that he is not a part of and that there is nothing weird about the house. She convinces him to leave.
Later that night, the five remaining friends are discussing the house and the noises that are causing some of them to be a little afraid. They discuss that the first student has a tendency to hole up in his room for days, so none of them worry. When they hear a loud noise, they go to investigate. They find The Doctor snooping around outside the kitchen. He talks to them about the house being extremely out of date and is very suspicious about it. He begins asking all of the students about the house and if they had heard any strange noises. Bill is very annoyed by this and keeps trying to get him to leave. He says he won’t be leaving, because he is very concerned about the safety of the house. The Landlord shows up and they voice their concerns about the house. He says he will get to it when he can and leaves.
After he leaves, Bill goes upstairs with Shireen and Paul, who tries to hit on her so she tells him she’s into girls. This makes him happy because he knows that she’s not into him because he’s not worth being interested in, but because she’s just not into guys. He tries to scare Bill and Shireen by making noises from inside his room. When they hear what sounds like real screams from inside his room, they try to open the locked door. They hear two knocks from the other side, causing them to stop worrying as much until they hear more knocking from down the hall. They begin to investigate.
Downstairs, The Doctor, Harry, and Felicity notice that a wall, that used to be a door, had been sealed. As they investigate, the other doors and windows begin to get sealed up, trapping them. Apparently, Felicity is claustrophobic. She begins to freak out about being trapped, pushing her way out of a window before it can seal. Outside the house, she watches as every door and window in the house seals up. A tree on the grounds then absorbs her. The Doctor and Harry hear her screams from inside the house. The Doctor begins to check the walls and discover what is happening when a large bug-like creature crawls from the wall and scurries across the floor. The Doctor is fascinated by the creature and takes Harry with him to look around the house for more clues as to what has been going on.
Back upstairs, Bill and Shireen go into Pavel’s room to see if he is okay. They see him protruding from the wall, half-absorbed by it. They are trying to discover whether or not he can hear them when The Landlord appears in the room to explain that they signed the contract and it’s time to pay. He turns off the record player and Pavel gets fully absorbed into the wall. When the Landlord leaves, Bill and Shireen decide to try and get into the tower, which had been forbidden by the Landlord.
Back downstairs again, The Doctor and Harry have found a series of contracts signed by previous tenants. They are dated about 20 years apart, which tells The Doctor that the Landlord has been running this operation for nearly 70 years. The Landlord shows up, telling them that this is something that must be done. He mentions that he has to do it to save his daughter. Harry tries to run away, getting caught on the stairs. The Doctor pleads with the Landlord to let him go and he can help his daughter because he is a Doctor. The bugs absorb Harry into the house.
Bill and Shireen find their way into the Tower and find a room at the top. They hear a voice ask if her father is there. The source of the voice is revealed to be a woman, Eliza, who seems to be completely composed of wood. She tells them that her father told her they need to absorb people into the house if they want to survive. The bugs emerge from the floor and engulf Shireen, absorbing her into the house. The Doctor and The Landlord appear and Bill tells The Doctor that Shireen is gone, while he responds that Harry has been absorbed as well. The Doctor tries to figure out what happened, deducing finally that the Landlord was a small child when his mother, Eliza, had fallen ill. He found the bugs in the garden and showed them to her. The sound of her music box made the bugs begin to turn her into what she is now. To keep her alive, the Landlord began going through the process of “feeding” the bugs in regular intervals. Eliza, now remembering that the Landlord was actually her son, realizes that what they have been doing is wrong and begs him to stop. He refuses and calls the bugs after The Doctor and Bill. Eliza stops them, seeing that she is in control of them. She forces them to release Bill’s friends from the house, and holds her son, telling him that it is their time to go. After they disappear together, The Doctor, Bill, and the others run from the house, watching it get engulfed into the Earth. As they leave, they wonder how they’ll find a place to live now.
Nardole is back at the vault, making sure it is still locked tight and that whoever is inside cannot get out. The Doctor appears to relieve Nardole, who initially refuses to leave. The Doctor firmly demands that he leave, creating a very contentious scene. As Nardole leaves, he hears piano music coming from the vault. He chastises The Doctor for putting a piano in the vault, and The Doctor angrily tells him to leave. After Nardole is gone, The Doctor tells the prisoner about the house and the fact that is was eating kids, to which the prisoner showed excitement via piano music. The Doctor opens the vault and enters.