And exhale. After the excitement of Peter Capaldi’s first episode Deep Breath, it’s time to ponder some of the episode’s big mysteries, and what they might mean for the series. Warning: there’s some highly scientific total guesswork ahead.
Who is Missy?
Well, on a basic level she’s Scottish actress Michelle Gomez, who you might know from Green Wing and Bad Education. She’s awfully good at acting unhinged, and her umbrella-swinging appearance at the end of Deep Breath certainly ranks up there in terms of mania.
Previously, her character was named as "The Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere", an appropriately morbid title for someone who welcomes people to “Heaven”. From officially released set photos, we know she also appears in the two-part series finale so expect her to keep cropping up throughout the series, most likely after people die.
So she appears to be some kind of dainty Saint Peter at the gates to Paradise, but who is she? She certainly seems to know the Doctor, even calling him her “boyfriend” and claiming “he loves me so much.”
One theory is that this is a new regeneration of the Master. The thinking goes something like this: Missy -> Mistress -> Master. Some people even claim her lovely walled garden, with its circular fountain at the centre, looks like a disguised Tardis. (If you want to visit it, head down to Dyffryn Garden in the Vale of Glamorgan.)
There are a few issues with this. First of all: throughout the show’s history, fans have suspected every mysterious character of being the Master (see also: The Rani). Plus, this would be the first time we had seen a cross-gender regeneration, and while that’s certainly possible, the Doctor has never been a "boyfriend" to his greatest enemy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been some definite flirting, but this theory might be a case of conjugation with no consummation.
But what about River, the Doctor’s wife? Now, bear with me, but remember when we first met River in Silence of the Library? When she died? Well, the Doctor saved her consciousness, (and a bunch of other astro-archaeologists) by downloading it into a planet sized-database. This postmortem data version of River actually psychically visited the Doctor in The Name of the Doctor. Could she have regenerated? Could the library – a massive, circular underworld- be the Nethersphere?
No. This theory is stupid and wrong. Fun to consider though.
The Master/River/Rani theory also doesn’t fit with how Missy acts in the episode. It’s perhaps too basic to even mention, in which case I apologise, but Missy and the new Doctor are both Scottish. OK, they’re aliens, but you take the point. This seems to be a case of Missy directly reflecting the Doctor: “I do like his new accent “ she says “I think I might keep it.”
Also, did you catch the fact that Missy seems to have been the one to reunite Clara and the Doctor? Don't worry if you can't remember, but this version of Clara first met the Doctor back in The Bells of Saint John (the one with all the Wi-Fi, faceless robots and anti-gravity motorbikes) when she accidentally called his number, thinking it was an IT help desk. Clara was given the number by "The Woman in the Shop", strongly implied to be Missy. What sort of person has the Tardis on speed-dial? Except Winston Churchill, obviously.
One theory (from one of those anonymous ‘insiders’ who spend hours making vague noises on forums) is that ‘Missy’ is the sum total of the Doctor’s mistakes. This seems to be mostly based on the Doctor's “I’ve made mistakes” line in the trailers and the fact that nerds love wordplay. Still, she shows up at a moment when the Doctor might have committed murder, and it seems likely there is a close, somewhat abstract link between the Doctor and Missy. Something like the Dream Lord, who reflected the Doctor’s self-loathing, but with less Toby Jones.
Right, let’s get ridiculous. Look at Missy’s clothes. Natty, aren’t they? With the umbrella and brooch, they are practically perfect in every way. There’s a definite Mary Poppins, nannyish vibe to them, and they’re also vaguely reminiscent of Clara’s costume when she was a Victorian governess. So: children…Nethersphere…sphere…egg...?
Nope, I’ve got nothing. But come on, we’re only one one episode in. Let’s see what next week brings.