Steven Moffat might have tarnished the reputation of the Daleks since he became Doctor Who’s showrunner, but in the last six years he’s created two iconic takes on legendary villains. Missy and Moriarty are both brilliant versions of the Doctor’s and Sherlock’s arch rivals and Moffat deserves a lot of credit for reinventing the two.
When Michelle Gomez first appeared in Doctor Who in series eight’s opener, there was a lot of discussion and excitement about who she could be. Many suggestions were thrown about in the build up to the climax of the series. Could she be the Rani? Another Time Lady? Is she a completely new person for the Doctor to face? Some people had put two and two together. Missy, Mistress, Master. Even so, even the most convinced of theorists must have been slightly surprised when she was revealed to be the Doctor’s Time Lord/Lady counterpart. It was a brave move from Moffat to change the Master’s gender. It was a huge step forward in what we knew about regeneration and opened up the prospect of a female Doctor, but that’s something I’ve already written about. Moffat got the timing of Missy’s introduction absolutely spot on. I don’t think she would have worked quite as well with Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor as she does with Peter Capaldi’s twelfth. Michelle Gomez is closer to the age of Peter Capaldi and I’m not saying that’s essential, but it certainly helps the chemistry between the two. If she was performing next to Matt Smith, her flirtatious nature and tendency to be bonkers would have been a bit weird I think. And with the eleventh Doctor’s constant arm movements and quirks alongside Missy’s shenanigans, there would’ve been too much going on and everybody’s head would have hurt watching. As it is, Missy next to the twelfth Doctor is a perfect match. David Tennant and John Simm and Jon Pertwee with Roger Delgado were both the perfect matches and I would rank Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez right up there with those pairings. She is different from most other incarnations. Yes, the Master has always been mad, but Missy really isn’t afraid to show it. She’s closer to John Simm’s version than any other. Simm too was unpredictable and erratic, but he kept his cards slightly closer to his chest. Gomez on the other hand, perfectly portrays a mental but genius psychopath. She has the confidence that the Master needs to really stretch the Doctor to his limits. To be honest, I wasn’t totally convinced with her after series eight. She did show some very evil streaks where she murdered Osgood, along with a few others. But I didn’t like her motive, wanting to give the Doctor a birthday present felt a bit weak and nowhere near menacing enough for the Master. Her Mary Poppins style entrance also annoyed me a bit and I thought she might turn out to be an overly theatrical incarnation who lacked any real threat. But her appearance in series nine was faultless. She displayed the power at her disposal by stopping all of the planes (although that turned out to be a bit pointless), and locking Clara in the Dalek and egging the Doctor on to exterminate her was really dark and exactly what the Master should be. It took him a little bit of time, but Moffat really has nailed down another brilliant and warped Master. She might not be for everyone but Missy will be remembered long after she’s gone for giving us one of the best incarnations of the Doctor’s arch enemy.
Moriarty is another character that Moffat bravely created a different take on. He again came up with a brilliant chracter, here to oppose Sherlock. I think the way Sherlock’s character has been created added to Moriarty’s personality. What I mean by that is if Sherlock was just a normal guy who was very clever and solved crimes, then Moriarty’s extrovert persona wouldn’t blend well with the detective. However as Sherlock is arrogant, a sociopath and struggles to fit in and make friends, Moriarty’s obsession with him alongside his erratic behaviour, similar to Missy, make the two a brilliant watch when they’re together. So again Moffat deserves credit for puting this insane character in an environment where he can flourish. Andrew Scott’s performance is faultless and you’re convinced that even he doesn’t know what he’s going to do or say next. The exchange between Moriarty and Sherlock on the roof at the end of series two is my favourite scene in the show. Both Cumberbatch and Scott alike are at their peak and the intensity that the two create is immense. I think it’s telling that series three was probably the weakest in the show’s history, the only series that didn’t fully feature Moriarty. Magnussen was creepy, and even got the better of Sherlock, but he lacked the chemistry with Sherlock that Moriarty had. I think it’d be a step too far for Moffat to fully bring Moriarty back from the dead for series four. Anything that meant he didn’t actually shoot himself would feel a little bit silly. But to see some ripples from the criminal’s web and perhaps one of his people trying to take his crown would be good for series four. Since the dramatic ending to series three, we have been teased with Moriarty’s return and it would be brillaint, but I wouldn’t like to ruin how well and dramatically series two ended.
The similarities between these Moffat characters are evident for everyone. Both are mad, make knee jerk decisions on a regular basis and are highly unpredictable. Both really add brilliance to the shows they’re in. Moffat does get a lot of stick but he deserves an endless amount of credit for the genius that led to both Missy and Moriarty.