The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Mirror Image

One of the interesting facets about Russell T. Davies's run on Doctor Who is the steady erosion of the Tenth Doctor's moral compass. He starts off in "The Runaway Bride," with the Doctor destroying the Rachnoss's children, flatly saying to her, "You did this." Tennant plays the Doctor as icy, unmoving, and sure of his rectitude. Even before the profound development that she undergoes in her travels, Donna is shocked by his attitude.

As the Doctor goes on, he grows in arrogance, until he views himself not as the one survivor of the Time War, but as its winner--entitled to do as he pleases, at his own whim, to decide the fates not just of "the little people," as he actually calls them, but of heroes:

The Time Lord Victorious is the Doctor manipulating events to suit his will, not unlike his own nemesis the Master. And sure enough, when we next encounter the Master, he and the Doctor draw nearer still, opposite sides of the coin. Just as the Doctor has taken on the Master's arrogance and recklessness, so too the Master dies saving the Doctor:

Davies ends Tennant's tenure, and his own, by returning to the projected, but never filmed theme of what was meant to be Jon Pertwee's last episode, The Final Game. He does not, in fact, go as far as that story was intended to:
It would have revealed that the Doctor and the Master were actually brothers or the latter Time Lord was the former Time Lord's darker personality. This story originally ends with the Master's Roger Delgado incarnation sacrificing himself, then the Third Doctor regenerates.
Davies expressly rejected the "brothers" theory in The Sound of Drums, but consider a moment: the Doctor has seen his own darkness, and, in revulsion at his own arrogance, is prepared to die to stop the corrupted Time Lords under Rassilon destroying, well, everything. The Master makes the same choice, first telling the Doctor to "get out of the way," mirroring the Doctor's own prior warning to him.

It is hard to imagine a story that brings back the Master without undermining that ending, and though I have always enjoyed the character, I would hate for that to happen. Unless the integrity of the character development can be respected, and a new kind of story told, I'd prefer Moffatt leave the Master in peace.


Vinnie Bartilucci said...

The assumption is that The Master got locked back in the time bubble after the events of that last story, which means he was almost certainly sent off to the external dimension along with Gallifrey. So if they return, he would likely be released as well.

The question is, since The Doctor assumes the Time Lords will have mended their ways during the time they were in space-stir, might also have The Master? What if we see a very different version of the character?

I'm just free-associating, really. In honesty I agree that we could do without The Master for a bit longer, certainly not till after the Time Lords return.

Anglocat said...

That he's in the time-lock makes sense, Vin, and I'd be ok with a return, if it was to tell a new kind of story--that is, I don't want a crazy, over-elaborate scheme by a diabolical schemer with a side helping of Foe!Yay.

A different kind of Master--maybe a Master who seeks to order the chaotic universe that the Doctor enjoys, not just to rule it, but with some degree of conviction behind him could be interesting. A sometimes ally sometimes foe?

But yeah, unless they change the Ainley-Roberts-Simm template, I'd let him rest in peace. Not because I didn't enjoy Ainley or Simm, but because that story has reached a culmination that feels right. Tell a new story, or respect the ending, I think.

(Jekyll's James Nesbitt as the Master as against Capaldi's Doctor could be fascinating, mind you.)