You can accuse Steven Moffat of a lot of things, but one thing you can’t accuse him of is going out with a whimper. The kitchen sink is the only thing the departing showrunner is yet to throw at his swansong year, with today’s official announcement confirming the rumours that we are on the verge of the show’s first ever multi-Master story. John Simm is set to return alongside Michelle Gomez to reprise the role he played last in 2010, so what will he bring to the table?
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of John Simm’s Master, it’s hard not to be excited at his return. A multi-Master story is one of the few things the show has so far, failed to attempt in its fifty four year history. So to see two of the most eccentric incarnations on screen together will be a real treat. As soon as the announcement was made, I heard fans clamouring in hope of a regeneration scene, most likely from Simm to Gomez. For me, as much as a regeneration scene would be nice, it’s not the most important thing. Michelle Gomez has been sensational since her introduction in season eight. She’s taken on the role with all the madness and unpredictability the Master needs. However, her appearances have lacked the menace and the evil ruthlessness they should have had. This is through no fault of her own though, I think Moffat has been tentative in writing her perform such despicable acts that we’re used to seeing from her predecessors. Aside from killing Osgood, we’re yet to see Missy reach the insane levels of evil that we should see from the Master. John Simm could be the catalyst that Missy needs to reach her dastardly peak. Whether that’s by inviting her to join his own plan, or by encouraging her to up the ante with a few disparaging remarks, surely Simm’s Master will help Missy fulfil her potential, in what could be her last appearance.
Focussing on what it means for John Simm’s Master to return, we could be in for some intriguing background information about the Doctor’s oldest friend and foe. The last time we saw him, he was cast back into the Time War, seemingly to die with Rassilon. We’ve seen John Simm regenerate from Professor YANA, and his reincarnation in The End of Time, so his return can surely only mean it’ll be post The End of Time from his point of view. Season nine brought the return of Rassilon, who was exiled from Gallifrey by the Doctor, so perhaps he could be using Simm’s Master to try and seek revenge on the Doctor. Perhaps we’ll see the immediate aftermath of the Master and Rassilon’s demise in The End of Time and see more of the Time War. Or maybe Simm’s Master will help the twelfth Doctor save Gallifrey – a story arc from The Day of the Doctor that is yet to be explained. All of these possibilities are mouthwatering, and with the imagination of Steven Moffat shaping the plot, there are a countless number of options that I haven’t mentioned.
The most likely route that Moffat will take in season ten is surely to continue with the aftermath of the Time War, which we briefly got a glimpse of in season ten. With two incarnations of the Master, it’ll be fascinating and possibly crucial where their allegiances lie. He now knows that the Time Lords’ ways are what drove him to insanity, so he has every reason to want to fight them, potentially alongside the Doctor. However, he/she is a complete lunatic, so don’t be surprised to see both Masters plotting the twelfth Doctors downfall alongside Rassilon and co. The prospect of Capaldi going out in true style, taking on Simm and Gomez’s respective Masters, Mondasian Cyberman and maybe a few Time Lords just for good measure, is truly tantalising.
With anyone returning to a show they’ve not been involved in for years, it’s natural for some to have their doubts. The only worry I have is that Simm will merely be there to draw in viewers and only make a cameo appearance. I hope beyond hope, that he plays a crucial role in whatever story he pops up in. He’s more than proven that he’s a talented enough actor to portray the Master, so give him a script that gets the best out of him and the character. Give him plenty of screen time alongside Michelle Gomez and Peter Capaldi and give us a story that will live long in the memory. It’s not every day you can recall one of the country’s finest actors to play a star role, so don’t waste the opportunity.
Season ten has all the ingredients to be the most explosive season in the show’s distinguished history. John Simm adds to what is already a tasty line up. I can’t recall when any television show, never mind Doctor Who, played all of its aces in such a short period of time. Despite some dodgy moments, Steven Moffat has done so much good for the show. I hope for his sake, and for everyone else involved, that jam-packing the season with Doctor Who legends pays off.