We got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of John Simm’s bleached-blond maniacal Master in the trailer that followed the opening episode of Doctor Who series 10 on Saturday night. And while the leaked news of his return almost two weeks earlier means it wasn’t quite the surprise it was originally intended to be, it will still have given fans a thrill – and left them asking exactly when they’ll get to see him lock horns with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.
It’s been a tradition in recent years for post-episode Doctor Who trailers to give a taster of next week’s adventure, but in this case it seems more likely this is teasing moments from across the season (which also appeared to include the Doctor in a pretty advanced stage of regeneration).
So when can we expect the Master to enter the fray?
Well, chances are it won’t be until at least episode 6 and could quite possibly be as late as the two-part series finale.
We know that Simm’s Master will be appearing alongside his successor, Michelle Gomez’s Missy, and we know that – officially at least – she doesn’t turn up until episode 6, Extremis, the tale of an ancient book called The Veritas which causes all those who read it to take their own lives.
While that sounds very much like something that would be up the Master’s street, there’s also quite a bit of evidence that we could instead be getting a double dose of the Master-Missy combo in the series finale.
Missy is also set to return for that ominous-sounding two-parter – World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls – so she could be teaming up with the Master to plan the Doctor’s eponymous fall.
Those final episodes are directed by Rachel Talalay, who tweeted following the announcement of John Simm’s casting “Oh yeah. Be very afraid”. Could that be an indication that she’s the one who will be overseeing his return?
It certainly sounds as if Simm was around the Doctor Who set long enough to have filmed more than one episode. Executive producer Brian Minchin told us “He was there for quite a few weeks, he was actually filming on the streets and nobody saw him, and he was in the studio.”
And what better way to mark Peter Capaldi’s final finale than the double-threat of two Masters?
Of course, if you really love John Simm, you’ll be crossing your fingers that the correct answer is all of the above and that he and Missy will be wreaking havoc in three episodes this series.
If that’s the case, the Doctor will be lucky to get out of this one alive…
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 next Saturday