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A Few Thoughts on Missy

Posted by goldenplum on November 23, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

From Whovian Femanisium -

First of all, I just want to have my selfish fan moment and say that I totally called this months ago when “Deep Breath” aired. It was just so painfully obvious that Missy=Mistress=Master. In fairness to Moffat, it’s totally in-character that the Master would pick a painfully obvious name; if you did a complete survey of all of the Master’s aliases I’m pretty sure at least 99% of them would be a very obvious play on “The Master.” The Master is many things, but that Time Lord has never been particularly subtle.


Overall, I have mixed feelings about Missy being another regeneration of the Master. I’m excited by the concept but deeply disappointed by the execution.


I think it goes without saying that I’m excited to see a Time Lady on screen, and particularly excited to see a regeneration where a character that was previously portrayed by a man is now being portrayed by a woman. This makes it very, very clear that such a regeneration is a future possibility for the Doctor and eliminates one of the most pervasive arguments against such a regeneration.


And I really want to like Missy. Her regeneration is remarkable and groundbreaking, and it provides a fascinating new layer to a villain who has an extensive history with the Doctor. And you can really see that history in the way Capaldi has been playing his interactions with Missy. That look he gives her when she reveals her identity — filled with shock, grief, (maybe joy?!), and horror all at once — just about killed me.



But I can’t help but feeling like I’m in second place. I spent the entire summer before it was announced that Peter Capaldi would play the Doctor campaigning for a woman to portray the Doctor. I solicited dozens of names and compiled profiles on every single one. I spent months arguing with fans and combing through episodes to prove that this was a canon possibility. I wanted the Doctor to be portrayed by a woman, and given the timing, I can’t help feeling like Missy is a consolation prize.


And it doesn’t help that Moffat did just about everything I feared he would with Missy/The Master. I was particularly annoyed that Missy, in between threatening the Doctor and raising a Cyberman invasion, was falling all over herself to make out with the Doctor and describe how in love she was with him.


We had a few running jokes during the Doctor Who conference I attended in September, but my favorite was the “Beard of Evil” joke. It started with a presentation given earlier in the day about the use of alternate universes in science fiction TV shows. One of the visual signifiers of an alt universe is the “Beard of Evil;” a good character becomes a bad character in the alt universe, and that change is represented by the bad character having a beard. Later in the day we began discussing another type of beard: the slang expression for someone who is used to conceal someone else’s sexual orientation (ex. a woman a gay man dates to put on the appearance of being straight). In “Time Crash,” the tenth Doctor implies the Master’s wife was a “beard,” a reference to the homosexual subtext that has often been perceived between the Master and the Doctor. So, when conversation eventually turned to Series 8, I began discussing some of the theories I had about Missy’s identity, and I said that if Missy turned out to be the Master, that would make her the ultimate beard of evil.

Dear lord did I not understand how true that would be. There’s always been a flirtatious, even romantic, subtext to the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, but it’s very irritating that this only becomes explicit when the Master becomes a woman. Moffat has done this once before in the parody special “Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death,” but that was a parody of the show, and it seemed to me that it was mocking the dynamic that had previously existed in Classic Who between the Doctor and the Master. In “Dark Water” the Doctor-Master romance is played completely straight (pun intended) and without any of the satire.

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