She’s the malign Mary Poppins played by Michelle Gomez that first popped up at the end of ‘Deep Breath’ for a spot of brolly-brandishing bonkersness. But who the hell is she?
Publicity for Season 8 has described Missy as ‘the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere’ – the Nethersphere presumably being the sought-after ‘Promised Land’ – but what exactly is her relationship with the Time Lord she claims is her boyfriend?
Levine’s Law states that the most likely identity of any new character in Doctor Who is that of an old character given a modern makeover. Let’s look at some of the possibilities…
One instantly popular internet theory about Missy is that she’s the Master, having experienced the cross-gender regeneration that the Doctor himself will presumably undergo at some point.
Although this idea seems based on little more than 1) ‘Missy’ could be a contraction of ‘Mistress’ and 2) her heavenly garden looks a bit like an alfresco TARDIS, it’s not entirely without merit. Steven Moffat seems to prefer writing for strong female characters – and to make him/her convincing again, the Master/Mistress would certainly need to be more dominant than the braying bully portrayed by John Simm.
Furthermore, the production team will have to look seriously at the notion of a female Doctor eventually – what better way to gauge the strength of public reaction than by having his arch-enemy become a woman first?
Kate O’Mara’s none-more-1980s time bitch is one of the few recurring villains from the classic Doctor Who series not to be updated for the contemporary version. It would make far more sense to simply bring her back rather than mess with the Master’s manhood. If she was called Queenie, there’d be no doubt in the matter. (‘Rani’ is Sanksrit for ‘Queen’, innit?)
As she isn’t, we have to look elsewhere.
The Woman from ‘The End of Time’?
It was implied in ‘Deep Breath’ that Missy might be the mystery woman who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number in ‘The Bells of St John’; previously, another anonymous female helper popped up in David Tennant’s swan song, also assisting a companion (Wilfred Mott on this occasion.)
But as it was heavily implied that Claire Bloom was playing the Doctor’s mum, it’s doubtful (not to mention pretty hideous) that she would refer to her son as ‘my boyfriend’. In any case, as we’ve seen, when it comes to Rexes, the Doctor prefers Tyrannosaurus to Oedipus.
The TARDIS took on the form of a human woman as recently as ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ – Missy could potentially be another personification. But Idris’s love for the Doctor was compassion incarnate – Missy’s ardour seems more ominous than an estate pub in Glasgow.
Could she be an evil River Song, corrupted by a software fault in the programming of the Library computer?
While it’s unlikely that Moffat would turn his most beloved character into a baddie, there’s more than a hint of Professor Song’s snark in Missy’s malevolent flirtation.
Ultimately, there’s no more evidence for this than for her being a character from one of the many Doctor Who spin-offs. She could just as well be Iris Wildthyme, Patience or even Bernice Summerfield for all we know.
But the question of Missy’s identity isn’t going away. She’s definitely in Season 8’s two-part finale – the second episode of which is teasingly titled ‘Death In Heaven’ – and if she keeps welcoming the people bumped off in this season to her photosynthetic paradise as she did Peter Ferdinando’s Half Face Man in ‘Deep Breath’ and Laura Dos Santos’s Gretchen in ‘Into the Dalek’, we’re probably going to see her regularly until then. Any ideas?
Who do you think Missy is? Let us know below…