It’s been a while since we saw the Doctor’s old frenemy-turned-enemy the Master in Doctor Who. One year and nine months (and four days) to be precise, but who’s counting?
Last time he cropped up (played by Sacha Dhawan) in series 12 he blew up a plane, allied with the Kasaavin, got imprisoned, escaped, destroyed Gallifrey, betrayed some Cybermen, created Cyber-Time Lords and then got blown up again (not necessarily in that order) – though eagle-eared viewers believed that they heard him escape into a spare TARDIS during the explosion.
Now, it seems those fans may have heard correctly – because a major hint to the character’s return was dropped in the Doctor Who: Flux finale, The Vanquishers, when the Doctor faced off with the personification of Time itself.
Having stopped the Flux, destroyed the Sontarans and outmanoeuvred the Ravagers, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) was feeling high on life – but Time was quick to burst her bubble, suggesting that her next regeneration was coming soon and that she was about to face some serious danger.
"Beware of the forces that mass against you…and their Master," Time (also played by Jodie Whittaker) tells the Doctor, who was sharp enough to pick up on the double meaning of the last word (she learned from the whole "Spy Master" rug-pull, clearly). Sadly, before she can get answers she’s zapped back into her normal body and left pondering the ominous words.
So is Sacha Dhawan really returning? Well, almost certainly. Given how often they clashed in series 12 it’d be bizarre for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor not to see her old nemesis before she regenerates next year, so fans have been expecting him to return at some point. Plus, there have been a few concrete clues that the Master is back in town.
During filming of the specials, fans noted a labelled box suggesting it contained props for the Master, while Sacha Dhawan was spotted hanging around Doctor Who’s home city of Cardiff (and meeting fans) around the same time. Not quite a smoking gun, but perhaps a smouldering Tissue Compression Eliminator.
Whether he’ll be back soon is a different story. Based on the trailer, it seems like the main foe for the upcoming New Year’s Day special will be the Daleks (they love a 1st January invasion these days), and it seems more likely that the Master’s return will be saved for one (or both) of the other two 2022 specials Jodie Whittaker has before she bows out.
Maybe, like the "knock four times" hints of David Tennant’s final years, we’ll keep getting suggestions of Dhawan’s comeback over the specials, only for the Doctor to face off with him in her grand final battle (specifically, during the centenary special next year).
Either way, it looks like we’re in for a Time Lord clash of the ages. Fingers crossed it’ll be masterful. Or at least Master-full.
Read more about Doctor Who:
- Doctor Who finale hints at Jodie Whittaker regeneration
- Jacob Anderson wants Vinder to return after Doctor Who: Flux
- Doctor Who: The Vanquishers’ 16 biggest questions
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