First things first: as I posted earlier, I am thrilled.
Watching this character unfold over the course of the season has been interesting. I had seen the character photos prior to the premiere; she fit in neatly with Moffat’s stable of mysterious ladies in black, and so expectations were low. Her first appearance in ‘Deep Breath,’ however, was deeply creepy and intriguing. Who would refer to the Doctor as her boyfriend? Who would be so obsessed? What is this Promised Land business anyway?
However, we know the nature of our showrunner. We recall Tasha Lem and Madame Kevorian with a shudder. In spite of being genuinely interested by the character on her own, in context with Moffat’s prior work I couldn’t help but be cynical. Of course she would be another original character, somehow with mysterious ties to the Doctor’s past. Of course Moffat would ignore forty plus years of history, playing instead with toys of his own creation, or occasionally his predecessor’s. After all that’s come before, there was no way he would bring back Susan, or Romana, or the Rani. Or even the Master.
I saw the clues right away. Roger Delgado’s impeccable charm and dress sense. John Simm’s seething lunacy. The cackling obsession. Everything pointed to the Master’s return.
I just didn’t believe he would do it.
All season I’ve tried to keep my expectations in check. Missy’s second appearance terrified me: I actually jumped out of my seat. I began to wonder if she would appear in every episode, slowly building to something that could not possibly (Moffat) pay off. Then ‘Robot of Sherwood’ passed Missy-free – except for a brief mention of the Promised Land. Thereafter we had Missy episodes and non-Missy episodes. My husband swore loudly at every appearance. Outwardly I had to agree – this is Moffat after all, it will never turn out to be anything good. But inwardly I couldn’t help but hope. Though her lunacy had begun to wear on me, her reaction to things not going quite her way intrigued me all over again.
I just finished a rewatch of S5, and am moving on to S6 with trepidation. So many of Moffat’s choices do not sit well with me. Yet I constantly forget how many do. The 50th anniversary episode is nearly perfect. His work for RTD is without exception stellar. Even among his own series there are gems. So while it may be wise to keep one’s expectations low, it is not guaranteed that they will be met there.
In ‘Dark Water,’ Missy only got more and more Master-ish. She fulfilled her prior incarnations’ wildest dreams with that kiss. She kept the Doctor constantly off balance. Everything she did was coldly calculated and at the same time completely off the rails. She had Time Lord technology and two hearts. There was only one way to resolve this with any kind of satisfaction.
The Master has returned.
Michelle Gomez’ portrayal is high art. Of course the Master would revel in his new form, playing his feminine role to the hilt. Maybe he even wanted it this way; it’s been suggested that Time Lords can influence their forms. In ‘Utopia,’ Derek Jacobi’s Master expressed envy at the Doctor’s apparent youth, and his next incarnation matched that quality. Perhaps this time, the Master wanted to face the Doctor in a female form. Gomez exhibits every aspect of the Master’s madness, and she does it with epic flair.
Capaldi and Gomez may be television’s newest power couple. May we see much of them in seasons to come.