Saturday, November 8, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: A Master Class On Renegade Time Lords


A lot of ground being covered in today's post is assuming you've seen last week's episode, Dark Water. If you haven't, you may proceed... your own risk.

Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Oh, you don't feel sufficiently warned, do you?

There! NOW you've been sufficiently warned!



Hi there, Whovians! Welcome to Doctor Who Weekend and what a day this is going to be! 

Tonight we will witness the 12th and final episode of Doctor Who Series 8. This is an event tinged with a bit of sadness; we are losing the unfettered joy of new Doctor Who week after week. But if Series 8 is drawing to a close, there is every anticipation that this series is going out with a bang! 

There's a lot coming for tonight's episode, Death In Heaven.  

Cybermen pouring out into the streets of London by the hundreds, the thousands! Everyone on Earth is in danger!

The Nethersphere's darkly disturbing secrets have been revealed, giving new meaning to the phrase "a fate worse than death". What other terrifying mysteries still lurk within? 

(REMEMBER: I said there would be spoilers!) 

Danny Pink is dead. Deader than dead. Ain't getting any deader. But hold on! Danny's in the Nethersphere which means...what exactly? Is there hope that even beyond the grave Danny's life may be saved? But more than Danny's life is in question. As the dark, cold horrors of his fate press down on him, his true self, his soul if you will, may be forfeit? Can Danny actually get...even more dead?

Clara is on a mission to save Danny. An impossible mission it might seem, you know what with Danny being dead, but Clara knows a guy who has a time machine. And Clara is prepared to do anything to get the Doctor and the TARDIS to do what she wants: stop Danny from dying. She's prepared to betray the Doctor utterly to accomplish this goal.

But when Clara tries to out-Doctor the Doctor, we find out why only this Time Lord can be the Doctor. He totally has control of the situation and thwarts Clara's plan. And then agrees to help her anyway as we learn the true depths of how much he cares for Clara. 

The Doctor's quest to help Clara has brought him to a strange place, dark and sinister. It is the Nethersphere and it is here that the Doctor meets Missy. Ah, delightfully mad, homicidal Missy! She unleashes her Cyberman army against a planet Earth that the Doctor has no chance of saving. 

And then the final twist of the knife: who she really is. 

Thus the Doctor finds himself in conflict with another Time Lord, a particularly evil psychopath of  a Time Lord. 

The Doctor it would seem is in some serious trouble now.  


The Doctor meeting and going up against other renegade Time Lords is not a new development. Even before his race was named "Time Lords", the first Doctor encountered the Meddling Monk. 

As befits an adversary with the word "Meddling" in his name, the Monk liked changing events in time for his own amusement. The Monk appeared on the TV series twice during William Hartnell's time as the Doctor. Subsequent appearances have been in Doctor Who's other media expanded universe. 

The second Doctor encountered the War Chief in Patrick Troughton's last adventure, The War Games. It's in this episode that the Doctor's race is called "Time Lords" for the first time. 

In the 10th Anniversary episode The Three Doctors, we meet Omega, a revered figure on Gallifrey and a founder of Time Lord society. Stuck in an anti-matter dimension for a very, very, very, very long time has made Omega a bit bonkers. Omega would challenge the 5th Doctor in Arc of Infinity. 

The Rani was a Time Lord renegade whose intentions had less to do with power and more to do with her unfettered curiosity in the pursuit of science. More simply, she was a mad scientist who did not care what pain or suffering her experiments caused in others. The Rani met the 6th and 7th Doctors and has the "distinction" of being the central antagonist on the 30th Anniversary Special, Dimensions in Time.   

The 6th Doctor during his trial on Gallifrey encountered the Valeyard. Not only was the Valeyard an evil Time Lord, we are told he is actually one of the Doctor's future selves. 

But the renegade Time Lord villain that casts the longest shadow over Doctor Who is the Master. Introduced at the start of Jon Pertwee's 2nd season, the Master is malevolent and manipulative and those are his good qualities. 

Actually the Master as expertly played by Roger Delgado had a certain suave charm even as he went about doing evil things. 

Sadly, Delgado died in a car crash and it seemed the Master died with him. But in the 4th Doctor serial, The Deadly Assassin, the Master turns up again. But far from the suave super villainy of the Delgado years, the Master was a decrepit individual, out of regenerations and desperate not to die. The Master in this form would return in The Keeper of Trakken where he took possession of a scientist named Tremas and from then on the Master was portrayed by Anthony Ainley. Ainley's Master echoed Delgado's version with his black goatee and his penchant for black outfits; but this Master lacked the suave sophistication of the original, coming off more as a cartoon super villain. 

The Master was the central antagonist in the Doctor Who movie from 1996 where the Master was portrayed for the first time by an American actor, Eric Roberts. Boy, that was...a thing that happened.  

Doctor Who was revived in 2005 and it was during the concluding trilogy of episodes at the end of Series 3 that we meet the Master again. At first he is a doddering, fuss bucket scientist played by Derek Jacobi. When his memories of who is truly is are returned, Jacobi transforms from sweet science guy to really nasty evil person. One regeneration later and the Master now looks like actor John Simm.  

The Master is now a manic psychopath who ranged from goofy glee to murderous menace, sometimes in the same moment. He was a particularly nasty piece of work, so bad that his wife shoots him. Being extremely stubborn, he refuses to regenerate and so he dies. 

No, wait, he gets better. Some weird sciency-magicy hoodoo-voodoo brings the Master back to life except it goes wrong. The Master is even more crazy than before with energy bolts shooting out of his hands. And in the end, the Master hurls himself through a sealing dimensional barrier, becoming trapped with the exiled Time Lords. 

Sadly the 11th Doctor did not get to take on the Master although he did name check him in A Town Called Mercy

But now the 12 Doctor gets to meet his greatest single nemesis once more. The Master is back and he's crazier and more evil than ever before. 

Or should I say "she". 

For the first time ever, a Time Lord character previously portrayed by a man on the TV show is now portrayed by a woman.  And what a woman! Michelle Gomez is wicked and funny and sinister in so many ways. 

But we now have more questions: how is the Master (or should we still call her "Missy") even here? What did she mean when she said the Doctor had "left her to die"? 

Hopefully, we'll get some answers tonight. But the unfolding saga of the Doctor's arch enemy, his Moriarty, has entered a new and exciting direction. Let's see what kind of chaos the Master can stir up now! 


Sunday: After I've had the time to digest the (I'm sure!) mind-blowing events of Saturday's episode, I will post my review of Death In Heaven

Until then, be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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