Masterology Part 3 – The Beard
Gustaff Behr continues the series examining each incarnation of the Master.
This is the part where I’m supposed to do the whole ‘intro’ paragraph thing. The Master. Rival Time Lord. Arch enemy of the Doctor. But you know all that already. Instead, let’s get to the fun stuff. “Masterology” is the study of the Master, focusing in-depth on each of the various incarnations, chronology, aims and a psychological personality deconstruction of the multiple bodies, specifically concerning psychoanalytical, behavioural and social-cognitive perspectives. Sounds fun eh? Let’s continue with…
The Beard – Anthony Ainley
The Ainley Master was a ridiculously larger-than-life character, full of allure, energy and joie de vivre who sporadically preferred lyrically dominant speeches accompanied by impromptu laughter at the slightest insecurity of his opponents. Compared to his predecessors, he was definitely more unhinged and aware that his current body had an expiration date. At the same time, his personality seemed to favor Delgado’s more than Beevers’ as he now viewed a cosmos without the Doctor “scarcely bears thinking about”, hinting that the intense hatred the Beevers Master had harbored before had lessened in his new persona.
It is also worth noting that of all the Masters, this incarnation had the highest recorded body count so far. In Logopolis, he accidentally managed to wipe out a quarter of the universe’s population. In stark contrast to his predecessor, the Ainley Master also showed a genuine disregard for life and seemed uninterested in how many people died at his hands, accidental or otherwise.
Contradicting himself, this Master showed an unusual level of moral standards when he apologized to Peri for involving her in a battle that was originally supposed to be between him and the Doctor alone. From the same story, some of the Rani’s actions during that particular adventure also genuinely horrified him. This hints to this Master having a particular viewpoint on killing, choosing methods that were quick and clean as opposed to long and painful. This also implies a certain degree of remorse as there is psychologically a very wide line between murder and torture.
While aware that his new body wasn’t permanent, this Master rarely focused on extending his life, as later appearances would show this was because the Keeper’s powers would allow the Master to extend his life without the need for regeneration. Instead, this Master focused on killing the Doctor, often luring him into traps he set up in advanced. The split between taking over the cosmos and killing the Doctor was about 50:50.
A side-effect of being a rather camp villain, the Ainley Master was also reduced to something of a cartoon supervillain, implementing grandiose campaigns that often seemed to be motivated by nothing more than “causing chaos for fun”. This is a severe deviation from his previous incarnations who were both always equipped with a reason for their actions.
A noticeable improvement in this incarnation saw the Master become cleverer in his schemes. Whereas Delgado only ever had one plan at a time with no back-ups and Beevers had just one plan but multiple contingencies lined up, this Master was so well acquainted with the Doctor that he was able to accurately predict the Doctor’s next (x) set of movements in advance, implementing multiple ways to kill him and manoeuvring him into them with relative ease.
Even more deadly was this Master’s talent for successfully playing Xanatos Speed Chess which is the art of rapidly and continuously adjusting plans and schemes on the fly. Of all the Masters, this one was the most successful when it came to improvising when things turned awry. His most famous example occurs in Logopolis when he ingeniously plays off destroying 1/4 of the universe as intent and proceeds to hold the other 3/4 to ransom without missing a beat.
This Master’s knowledge of the Doctor’s mind and its internal workings is likely due to the fact that this incarnation squared off with multiple versions including the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors all whilst in the same persona.
After being stranded on the Cheetah World for a yet-to-be-identified period of time, the Master eventually found a way to escape, and ended up tracking a Warp Core through time, intending to unleash it on the universe. Underestimating its power, the Master was defeated, his Keeper powers taken away and his Tremas body degenerated back into the Beever’s form.
However, the Master managed to keep hold of enough Keeper power to fend off death, encountering the Seventh Doctor on Duchamp 331 (Dust Breeding) where he was defeated. The audio story Master reveals that unbeknownst to the renegade Time Lord, a much older Seventh Doctor met and struck a deal with Death in a last ditch effort to save his soul which backfired horribly.
Sometime later, the Master in his degenerated form travelled to ancient Egypt where he was captured by the Daleks and put on trial for his various crimes. He was found guilty and executed, but still managed to find a way to survive as a Morphant Deathworm, a form he had acquired prior to his capture.
Whilst the Doctor was transporting the Master’s remains back to Gallifrey, the Master interfered and caused the TARDIS to stop off in San Fransisco in 1999 where he acquired his second possessed body, a paramedic named Bruce…