Doctor Who series 12 kicked 2020 off with a bang thanks to new episode Spyfall - Part One, which saw Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord and her TARDIS team taking on mysterious new aliens as they targeted secret agents around the globe.
However, as the episode continued it became clear that there was some other party pulling the strings – and in the shocking final moments of the episode, it turns out that one of the Doctor’s oldest foes had been the real threat all along.
Look away now if you haven’t watched the episode yet, because we’re dealing with spoilers hereon out...
Yes, at the close of the episode it’s revealed that the Doctor’s old ally 'O', aka Horizon Watcher (played by Sacha Dhawan), is none other than evil Time Lord The Master – last seen apparently dying in the form of Michelle Gomez’s incarnation Missy.
Here, the Master was unmasked after a stray comment about his lack of sporting ability.
“Got me – well done,” he tells the Doctor. “I said look for the spymaster – or should I say, Spy Master...”
As it turns out, his 'O' spy codename was a joke at the Doctor’s expense, ready for her own exclamation of surprise, while the real Horizon Watcher – whose body The Master seems to have replaced – was murdered and shrunk via the use of the Tissue Compression Eliminator, a piece of tech used by incarnations of the Master in the classic series.
"I'm her best enemy - call me Master," Dhawan's villain tells the befuddled TARDIS team. "Me and her, we go go way, way way back."
First played by Roger Delgado, evil Time Lord the Master has long been a thorn in the side of the Doctor, with recent incarnations (like the Doctor, he/she can change his/her face) including Derek Jacobi, John Simm and Michelle Gomez.
And speaking at a recent screening of Spyfall - Part One, Jodie Whittaker revealed just how nervous the team were at revealing this closely-kept secret, with Dhawan’s casting in the series not revealed before the episode’s airing.
"We were sat waiting and obviously the sprinting [line comes] and then the reveal,” Whittaker told the crowd.
“And as the facade starts to disintegrate... and then the Master appears with his brilliant line and a brilliant use of a pause, I heard you go and that was just... that's why it's so ace to watch it for the first time with an audience
“But yeah, it's massive and I suppose the questions will keep coming!"
“Sacha Dhawan… amazing!” added showrunner Chris Chibnall.
“You wait ‘til you see him in episode two.”
For now, though, fans were left with the sight of Dhawan's Master teleporting away, leaving the TARDIS team to their doom in an exploding plane while the Doctor was transported to a strange alien landscape, the Master's evil plan still unexplained as he makes his next move.
But before that, he left the Doctor a little food for thought…
“One last thing, something you should know in the second before you die,” Dhawan’s Master says.
“Everything you think you know is a lie.”
So what’s the Master’s plan? How did he survive what happened to his Missy persona? Will Sacha Dhawan be the main villain of the new series? And what “lies” has the Doctor been believing?
Only time (and space) will tell – but at least we have less than a week to see what happens next...
Doctor Who continues on Sunday 5th January at 7pm