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9 big questions we have after Doctor Who: Spyfall - Part Two

Why didn’t the Doctor recognise the Master? Is this definitely the Master we think it is? And what is the Time Lords' big secret?

Doctor Who - Spyfall: Part 2
Published: Sunday, 5th January 2020 at 8:00 pm

Episode two of series 12 might've brought Spyfall to a close, but while it answered many of the questions posed by 1st January's opener, it left us with plenty more puzzlers to chew over.


This was an episode packed full of big reveals, not just regarding the nature of Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry) and the alien Kasaavin, but also the fate of Gallifrey and the very nature of the Time Lords themselves.

We've done our best to try and answer the biggest questions left hanging. Starting with…

Why didn’t the Doctor recognise the Master?

The climax to Spyfall - Part One saw the Master (Sacha Dhawan) reveal himself – but why didn't the Doctor recognise her old foe when he was posing as 'O'?

Pondering this very question, Yaz (Mandip Gill) recalls the Doctor talking about her own regeneration and suggests that the Master must've also changed his appearance. However, it's been established in Doctor Who lore that Time Lords are somehow able to recognise each other even post-regeneration – using some sort of in-built Gallifreyan 'radar', we presume – so this explanation doesn't wash.

It's worth remembering, though, that there has been a previous instance where the Doctor didn't recognise the Master, in 2007 episode Utopia, and possibly similar extenuating circumstances apply here...

There, the Master had changed his biology to human, somehow throwing off the Doctor's sensory powers. Here, he's assumed the form of the real 'O' (the Doctor once met the genuine article, so we can safely assume that's what's happened) so possibly this new Master isn't biologically Gallifreyan?

But then again, he makes reference in Spyfall - Part Two to having two hearts! We give up... Morgan Jeffery

Where did the Master get a TARDIS?

The last time we saw the Master he was a she, with Michelle Gomez’s Missy left dying on a Mondasian space station after her former self (John Simm) shot her with his laser screwdriver, suspending her ability to regenerate and mortally wounding her. Look, we’ve explained it all here if you’re confused.

In Spyfall part two it’s never explained how Missy regenerated after this attack and the Doctor never asks (to be fair, the Doctor never knew Missy was trying to come back and help, so why would she?) – but we do have to wonder how the new version of the Master came into possession of a TARDIS, considering Missy never had one on-screen and usually used a vortex manipulator to time travel instead.

Did he pick one up on Gallifrey before destroying it? Did Missy have one the whole time and never bother using it? Or is there another reason?

Come to think of it, what happened to the Master's TARDIS after he ended up stranded in the Kasaavin's realm? Huw Fullerton

Is this definitely the Master we think it is?

Doctor Who - Missy (Michelle Gomez)

Hear me out. Yes, the most obvious explanation for this new Master is that he’s the regeneration of the last one we saw onscreen – but what if he isn’t? What if he’s the one before instead?

After all, we never explicitly see John Simm’s Master become Missy – he just heads off in a lift to his TARDIS – and given that Missy was supposed to be permanently dead, isn’t it possible that this is an earlier incarnation between Simm and Gomez?

If so, this would explain where the Master got a TARDIS, how Missy’s death was undone and could set the stage for a face-off between Gomez and Whittaker’s Masters down the line. And if you think this is all a little outlandish, I’d direct your attention to John Hurt’s War Doctor, another inbetween Time Lord incarnation created to fill a gap within the Doctor’s lives. If it’s been done before, it can be done again… HF

Why didn’t the Doctor find another way to time travel?

Look, we’re not judging – it was a high-pressure situation, and the Doctor had a lot to deal with. But why did she immediately decide her best bet to return to the present day was to dive back into a Kasaavin, without any knowledge of when or where it might drop her, instead of just catching up with one or her time-travelling pals?

After all, Captain Jack Harkness was lurking around both time periods the Doctor visited with a fixable vortex manipulator – why not relax, take some time and go to borrow it? You wouldn’t be late, it’s time travel. Or what about River Song? Or even hitching a lift with her past self during one of her/his many trips to World War Two?

Look, all we’re saying is, it’s very hard to imagine the Doctor getting stuck in the 19th or 20th century considering just how many trips she and her allies have made there at this stage. If nothing else, she really needs to resurrect the two thousand-year diary… HF

What were the Doctor and the Master talking about on the Eiffel tower?

Doctor Who - Logopolis
Doctor Who - Logopolis BBC

Reminiscing about old times, the Doctor says that being at the top of the Eiffel tower is "worse than Jodrell Bank." "Did I ever apologise for that?" the Master asks, only to reply "Good" when the Doctor confirms that he did not.

This exchange would appear to be a nod to a serial from Doctor Who's classic series, Tom Baker's last in fact – 1981's Logopolis.

In the climax to that story, the fourth Doctor (Baker) falls from the top of a radio telescope after a battle with the Master (Anthony Ainley), triggering his regeneration into the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison).

Location filming for this sequence in Logopolis were originally planned to take place at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, but ultimately took place at Crowsley Park – a country estate owned by the BBC – instead. A scale model resembling Jodrell Bank's Lovell Telescope was used in place of the real deal.

The trouble is... the scenes in Logopolis were not supposed to take place at Jodrell Bank, even when the plan had been to film there. The tussle between the Doctor and the Master actually took place at the fictional 'Pharos Project' – planned to be represented by Jodrell Bank (and eventually represented by the aforementioned model).

So why does the Doctor refer to an encounter with the Master at Jodrell Bank? Is this a continuity goof? Or maybe, in the Whoniverse, Jodrell Bank and the Pharos Project are one-and-the-same? Perhaps the Pharos Project is part of Jodrell Bank (though that's never indicated on-screen)?

Alternatively, maybe the Doctor and the Master had a different, off-screen encounter at the real Jodrell Bank and their conversation in Spyfall - Part Two doesn't refer to the events of Logopolis at all? MJ

Why were the Kasaavin following historical computer scientists?

OK, so we’ve mostly got our heads around the alien plan to turn humanity into DNA hard drives, their reasoning for killing spies (they were close to discovery) and why they teamed up with Barton (Lenny Henry) and the Master – but why were they following people associated with historical computers, exactly?

Considering they had the Master on their side alongside a tech genius like Barton, they didn’t need to learn about computers, and they were already doing their plan in the present day…unless somehow this…helped them turn people into hard drives? Answers on a postcard please, this one has us a bit stumped. HF

When did the Doctor last visit Gallifrey and what happened when he did?

We last saw Gallifrey in 2015 – the twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) returned home in the episode Heaven Sent, having taken the "long way around" by breaking a wall of azbantium - veeeeeeery slowly - after he is teleported inside his confession dial.

In the following episode Hell Bent, Gallifrey is revealed to have returned from the pocked universe it was situated in, and is now situated "several billion years in the future, [when] the universe is pretty much over" for its own protection – remember, post-Time War, pretty much everybody hates the Time Lords.

The Doctor helped to depose and exile the corrupt Lord President, a revived and regenerated Rassilon (Donald Sumpter), and and used an extraction chamber to save the life of his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) before fleeing once more in a stolen TARDIS.

Interestingly, Hell Bent also shows us Gallifrey at a much later period in time, abandoned apart from the human immortal Ashildr (Maisie Williams) – could these scenes now be understood as taking place after the Master's attack devastated Gallifrey and wiped out the Time Lords (again)? MJ

What is the big secret of Gallifrey, and the lie of the Timeless Child?

Arc time! At the end of the episode, the Master reveals he’s destroyed Gallifrey for a reason – the Time Lords have been lying to everyone about who they really are and their origins, and it all has something to do with the “Timeless Child” mystery that the Doctor was told of once before.

“They lied to us. The founding fathers of Gallifrey…everything we were told was a lie. We’re not who we think, you or I,” the Master says to the Doctor.

“The whole existence of our species, built on the lie of the Timeless Child.”

So does this mean the Time Lords were once another species? Was the Timeless Child the true founder of Gallifrey? And what strange memories is the Doctor almost recalling?

We delve into a few of our own theories here – but we’re sure we’ve not heard the last of this intriguing new mystery. HF

Will the Master return?

Short answer: yes. It's sort of what he does. But when?

Spyfall - Part Two ends with the Kasaavin turning on the Master after his plan to betray them and seize the universe for himself is revealed. (You'd think he'd have learnt by now that deals with nefarious alien races - the Nestene Consciousness, the Daleks, et al - never turn out well.)

He's transported to the Kasaavin's spooky nether realm and is last seen raging against his fate – all that's missing is a shake of the fist and a cry of "I'll get you next time, Doctor!".

Will Sacha Dhawan's Master return this series? After such a spectacular debut, it seems unwise to bet against it – even if he doesn't recur Roger Delgado-style, surely he'll pop up again in series 12's finale? Maybe we'll find out then if he's a post-Missy incarnation or not... MJ


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