This week’s Doctor Who finally cleared up something that’s been confusing us over the last few weeks, with the sci-fi series making clear that the long imprisonment of villainous Time Lady Missy (Michelle Gomez) by the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) was an attempt at rehabilitating her after she offered to change her ways during flashbacks to her execution in sixth episode Extremis.
Accordingly, the episode shows Missy in the vault offering help to the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) in taking down the villainous Monks (albeit in a slightly more ruthless way than the Doctor would like) and then later showing remorse for the many people she’s murdered over the years, weeping under the Doctor’s watchful eye.
“I keep remembering all the people I’ve killed. Every day I think of more,” she tells him. “Being bad – being bad drowned that out.
“I didn’t know I even knew their names. You didn’t tell me about this bit.”
But is Missy really “engaging with the process” (in her own words) and trying to turn herself into a better person, or putting it on to make the Doctor release her?
So far, it’s hard to say – future episodes in the series are apparently set to continue the theme of Missy’s turn to good, with penultimate series 10 episode World Enough and Time seeing her join the Tardis team on a mission, suggesting she does have a genuine instinct to help out rather than just flee. Similarly, it is believable when she notes that if she genuinely wanted to escape the Vault she probably could have.
However, Gomez has also hinted in interviews that Missy will remember her evil side and pull off a truly dreadful act in the finale, suggesting that the Doctor’s trust might have been misplaced and she was still really bad to the bone all along. Maybe the return of her former self, John Simm’s incarnation of the Master, will remind her of her evil heritage when he returns later this series, perhaps even trying to “save” her from her new good instincts.
In other words, we’re betting Missy’s newfound altruism hasn’t got too long to last – and we might just end up with a repeat from this scene in 2015 episode The Magician’s Apprentice…
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 next Saturday