Introducing Missy the “Gatekeeper”: Who is She?
Guest contributor Sam Rahaman looks at some of the speculation so far and offers a theory.
Full Deep Breath spoilers from this point on again, naturally!
It’s almost hard to believe that after eight months away, Doctor Who is well and truly back on our screens once more. Deep Breath was in my humble opinion not only a brilliant reintroduction to the show but also a fantastic introduction to Capaldi and his era. But as always with a new series a brand spanking new arc is formed – and in this episodes case the closing moments gave us an intriguing introduction to a strange, enigmatic, character by the name of Missy (Michelle Gomez), who we know, from a previous BBC announcement, is the mysterious Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere.
Having been reported to appear in the finale, it came as a genuine surprise to see her in the first episode of the series – and a brilliant one at that. It may have only been under five minutes long, but just from that one scene I was immediately intrigued and a little bit in love with the character (though I don’t know about anyone else – I gather she’ll be a bit divisive amongst the general fandom). Obviously with the introduction of her character, the question of who she is now a prominent one and one that will most likely be teased upon as the series progresses over the coming weeks (I definitely think we can expect more appearances from her in other episodes). It didn’t take long for the fandom to start guessing though! As soon as the episode had finished airing the theories were coming out in full force: some of them were very interesting, others genuinely bizarre; but I’m not going to judge them! I’m here to present them to you.
Let’s just take a step back and remind ourselves what we learned from this scene: The Half-Face man, who jumped or was pushed off the escape air-balloon-made-of-skin-thing, arrives in a strange, but rather beautiful garden, and comes across a woman who identifies herself as Missy. Here she proclaims that the man has found himself in “paradise” later going on to describe it as “heaven”. It’s clear that this is the “Promised land” that the Half-Face man mentioned earlier in the episode, the place he was trying to get to; and we can already surmise that those who die are now finding themselves in this “promised land” – but for exactly what purpose still remains to be seen – though I’ll hazard a guess in saying it’s nothing good!
Missy herself seems to be a bit of a psycho ‘Mary Poppins’ with her umbrella twirling and prancing round the garden; but what’s even more intriguing is the fact that she already appears to know the Doctor even referring to him as her “boyfriend” – although we have don’t even know if this new version of the Doctor even has any idea as to who she is. How she knows the Doctor is a very interesting question, and one that I am sure Moffat will answer soon enough. But as I mentioned earlier there have been so many theories from the fans already, trying to piece together who she is, and what her purpose is. Let’s take a look:
The Woman in the shop?
The most popular fan theory I’ve seen on the comments so far is that she is in fact the “woman in the shop” from The Bells of Saint John, and the person who placed the ad in the paper in this opener to ensure that the Doctor and Clara met in the restaurant. I definitely think that this is the case, and it opens up a lot of possibilities for the future of Series 8. It seems then, if this is indeed true, she’s been playing the Doctor and Clara for a while now, always trying to bring them together: but why?
Many have speculated that she is in fact the Master in disguise – I’m not really a fan of this theory, it seems a bit…well, odd. People are basing this theory on the fact that “Missy” can be seen as a shortening of “Mistress” which in turn is the gender opposite of a “Master”, as well as the fact that Moffat has recently teased that a “major foe” is returning soon. To me though, this seems like a far too obvious choice, and it seems to be like a deliberate thing by Moffat to throw people off the scent. People have been speculating that the Master is returning for a while now, so what better way to get people riled up then to give a character a strikingly similar name! Of course I could very well be proven wrong – it does make an effective disguise for the Master to become a woman, it’s very duplicitous and opens up a whole new dynamic that can be explored – but as I said, it just seems too obvious to me (But after all, this is just my opinion, you may disagree; and please feel free to!)
Others have instead speculated that she is in fact the Rani. I definitely like this idea a lot more, as I feel she is a villain that has so much more potential than what’s been realised so far. It would certainly be a lovely tribute to the recently late Kate O’Mara – and I do think having the Rani back on screen would be amazing to see. But Big Finish recently cast another actress for the part (pictured), and Moffat has already expressed in the past that he finds this character too obscure for the modern day TV audience. Although after making the Great Intelligence the central enemy for Series 7B, it seems he’s going back on those words, so it’s entirely possible.
An old flame?
Another theory I’ve read has suggested that she’s another form of River, or even Tasha Lem (who was introduced in last year’s Christmas special). I personally do not think that either of these is very likely at all. For one thing we’ve seen all of River’s incarnations already, and we know she gave away all of her regeneration energy to the Doctor – and she died in the Library, in the form that gave that regeneration energy to the Doctor. I’m also of the opinion that River’s story is well and truly done now, a sentiment that Moffat has echoed fairly recently. As for Tasha Lem, whilst they may appear to be a bit similar in personality, I don’t see how this could be possible. For one thing it was never expressed that Tasha has the ability to regenerate like the Time Lords, it was never expressed that she even belongs to that race. So it just seems a bit ridiculous to me – I do think we will see Tasha Lem back again, but not as Missy.
What’s my own theory? Well I have a couple, one of them is completely crazy and probably not even correct, but I’ll let you have a read and see what you make of it (you’ve probably already read it on my comment on the Rate page). Throughout Deep Breath there was a little running “gag”, how Clara views the Doctor as her boyfriend. As we know already at the end of the episode Missy even refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend and someone who can be a bit “mean”. Where am I going with this you ask? Well, what if Missy is in fact a Clara echo, but one that turned insane? She has all these recollections and thoughts of this man she’s never met – she has an urge to find and save him, and it’s driven her mad. She needs and wants to meet him desperately. So she devises a plan that could get her face to face with the man himself. It explains why (if she is the woman in the shop) she’d give Clara the number to the Doctor’s TARDIS, to make sure she calls him enabling her to travel with him and go through the time-stream so she was created. As I said this theory is probably ridiculous, nonsensical, and won’t come to fruition. But there’s no harm in theorising, it’s part of the fun of watching the show!
In all seriousness though, I do think that whoever Missy is, she won’t be someone we’ve come across before. Throughout Moffat’s era so far any new villain that has been teased by him have been theorised to be the Master, the Rani, Omega etc. etc. and they’ve never come true. Every time they’ve been a brand new character, with their own motivations, with their own identity. That’s what I believe is happening here again, that Missy is someone who knows of the Doctor (possibly a bit obsessive over him as we saw in the scene), but someone who we have never met before, and possibly someone the Doctor hasn’t either. But whoever or whatever she is, I cannot wait to find out in Series 8. Michelle Gomez is a fantastic actress, and I just know that she will make Missy one of the most unforgettable characters we’ve had in a very long time – I’m sure she’ll be amazing.
Though that doesn’t mean we can stop speculating! As I said before it’s all part of the fun of being a fan, so I want you to be as wacky and as creative as you can. Put aside all your pessimism and doubts (if you have them) and embrace the creativity, and tell me who you think she is. Do you agree with any of the theories I’ve outlined here? Do you disagree and have your own theory? Let me know in the comments below, I cannot wait to read them!
No spoilers from leaked episodes or filming please.