In addition to facing off against at least three different varieties of Cybermen, the latest Doctor Who finale will also find its time-traveling hero encountering two versions of his oldest foe: the Master. And this time, John Simm’s Master is rocking his deadly Laser Screwdriver, last seen in an alternate reality in which he ruled the entire Earth.
On Tuesday, the BBC released even more promotional photos for “World Enough and Time,” the first part of the two-part Doctor Who season 10 finale. And though John Simm’s return as the Master has been known for some time now, the news of him wielding his laser screwdriver again is new. It also begs the question: from which point in the Master’s life are we meeting him, again? After his apparent “death” in “Last of the Time Lords,” he was resurrected in “The End of Time,” only to seemingly die again battling Rassilon, and, surprisingly, in defense of the Doctor. But, that version of the Master didn’t even need a laser screwdriver because at that point he was straight-up shooting lighting out of his hands!
So what gives? Is this a tamer version of the Master who survived the Time War, and the Doctor’s subsequent rescuing of Gallifrey? After all, though Missy didn’t have a Laser Screwdriver “Death in Heaven,” she did wield a kind of disintegrator ray that resembled a remote control.
Did she adapt this out of her laser screwdriver or was this new? Hardcore fans will remember that the laser screwdriver wasn’t just a pew-pew gun though. It also had a crazy rapid-aging function which allowed the Master to turn the Doctor into a tiny old man. (Who bizarrely looked exactly like Dobby in Harry Potter.)
Still, how does this all shake-out chronologically? Was the Master on Gallifrey when the Doctor and Clara visited the planet in last season’s finale, “Hell Bent?” If so, did he escape at that point? And if so, when did he regenerate into Missy?
Some fans have speculated that Missy might not in fact be the Master who comes after John Simm’s version, but instead, might predate him. If true, this would retroactively make Missy a pre-Time War Master.
Either way, John Simm’s latest turn as the Master is very back-to-basics. His beard and all-black outfit is reminiscent of classic Masters (like Roger Delgado). And of course, the laser screwdriver is a reminder of the height of his evil: when he tortured the 10th Doctor and kept the family of Martha Jones his enteral prisoners.
Hopefully, how the Master escaped Gallifrey, and where he fits into the current chronology will all be revealed.
Doctor Who, “World Enough and Time” airs on BBC America at 9pm EST on Saturday, June 24.