So, this post could be well and truly Jossed on Saturday, but the more I have been watching it, the more I have come to think that Missy may be the Doctor's old friend and enemy the Master after all.
First, a helpful rundown from Phil Sandifer:
Eh. I mean, sure, let’s look at the major Missy guesses, and we can show why I’m 99% certain she’s the Master.Elsewhere, he answers a commenter who sarcastically asks "There was a point that the Master DIDN’T think of the Doctor as his boyfriend? When?!" by saying "Yes, I think that’s pretty much the joke here. I mean, this is Moffat, writer of the sublimely funny “rubbish beard” joke."
The Valeyard. First of all, it’s not clear to me that it’s possible to do a good Valeyard story. Nobody ever has, certainly. But second, Moffat has never done a Master story. And the Master is your base state for “evil Time Lord.” And one that Moffat has suggested he doesn’t think usually works that well. So to skip to an even thornier and less workable dark mirror of the Doctor seems unlikely.
The Rani. Everything said about the Valeyard applies here, with the added note that nobody even thinks she’s a good idea.
River. I think this is rejected in Deep Breath when Missy calls the Doctor her “boyfriend,” a label that sets up a marked contrast with River.
Clara. I suppose, but I’d be surprised if Moffat did another destiny loop so soon, which is what Clara being chosen by Missy and then becoming Missy amounts to. But the bigger problem is, why would you do evil Clara and cast someone other than Jenna Coleman to do it? After all the breadth and flexibility she’s shown, if Clara gets a villainous turn, giving it to another actress would frankly be insulting.
The Master. The one big villain Moffat’s yet to touch. He’s said he’d need a good idea for the Master. He’s gone further than any other writer in establishing genderswapping regenerations as things that happen. And, let’s face it, is there any idea more self-evidently Steven Moffat than revamping the Master by making the character a woman? Missy = Mistress. This is by far the most likely outcome.
And, indeed, the new series has already feinted in that direction:
So, yeah, it's on the cards. But here's what makes it even more probable is the fact that it's a story Moffat has already shown an interest in the basic story structure implied by such a gender-flip with a soupçon of FoeYay, in The Curse of Fatal Death, which ends with the Doctor (Joanna Lumley) walking off with the Master (Jonathan Pryce). Here, see for yourself:
So, yes, I could see it. Really. And, it would get us a step closer to a female Doctor, too--much more so than the never-seen Corsair did.
Of course, the question I earlier posed remains--how do you top the Master's sacrifice of himself in The End of Time, which brings the character to the original ending planned for him in The Final Game?
Well, we'll know more in just a few days...