The Series 8 Arc: A Match Made In Heaven?
Guest contributor Justus Schmidt provides a theory on this year’s arc.
After only two episodes of Peter Capaldi dashing about as our favourite Time Lord, many of us (myself included) have already accepted him as a more than worthy successor in the long line of Doctors. His initial two outings focused at length on painting him as a darker, more alien Doctor – arguably more cold and manipulative than we have seen since Sylvester McCoy was piloting the TARDIS. But while the Doctor always succeeded in saving the day, not everyone made it to the end. Some of those unlucky ones however were quietly given a second chance, waking up after their demise to be invited on a cup of tea by the mysterious Missy. But who is she, and how did these people end up in Heaven? This is the question I will try to answer today.
Let us start by considering the victims who we know ended up in Heaven: the Half-Face Man and Gretchen. Notably, although Ross also died in Into the Dalek, he did not end up in Heaven (I will ignore the possibility of him getting there off screen). So what trait do our two remaining victims share that he lacks? To find the answer to that, I had to review my opinion on a key event of Deep Breath.
After the Doctor and the Half-Face Man have their climactic battle in the restaurant turned hot air balloon, the Half-Face Man is defeated, and we are left with a question – how did he die? The commonly discussed options are that he jumped, or the Doctor pushed him, with most leaning towards the second option since it fits the darker characterisation we have been shown. I too was convinced that the Half-Face Man died that way… but after the last episode, I had to change my mind.
We know the Doctor can kill, so it isn’t against his ’basic programming’ as he claimed. But would simply pushing someone into the abyss be the way that someone as dark as 12 would defeat his opponent? I was reminded of Season 4 of Dexter, where a serial killer is established by showing him talk a woman into jumping off a building. This act is so much colder than simple murder, and one much more fitting for the manipulative 12th Doctor – following in the footsteps of the 7th Doctor, who talked a Dalek into self destruction in Remembrance of the Daleks.
I now believe the Doctor just stood there and calmly talked the Half-Face Man into going against his own programming and giving up his life. With this we get to Gretchen, and the connection becomes much more obvious now – she had the idea of providing a way up for Clara and Journey at the cost of her own life, but she also had severe doubts about it. In the end, it is the word of the Doctor that compelled her to paying that price for his purpose. She, as the Half-Face Man, was convinced by the Doctor to lay down her life for his purpose.
So there we have it – a common trait shared between the people ending up in Heaven. But who is Missy, and where is Heaven? To answer that, let us look back to the beginning of Into the Dalek, where Journey Blue is in her spaceship, about to be wiped from existence through an explosion. However, in her moment of death there is a sharp cut to her waking up in the TARDIS, where she is greeted by the Doctor.
You will have noticed that I specifically described the way that scene was shown to the audience. The reason for that is that later, when Gretchen dies, we see the exact same sequence play out before our eyes. Bare moments before her death, a sharp cut brings the transition from her death scream to her waking up in Heaven, just in time for a cup of tea. You may already see where I’m going with this – I think Missy is a rogue Time Lady snatching the Doctor’s ’victims’ moments before their death using her TARDIS Heaven (featuring the ’Garden deluxe’ desktop theme)!
But wait – how did she get off Gallifrey in the first place? I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that when the regeneration cycle was sent through the Crack in The Time of the Doctor, other things might have escaped through there as well… a rogue Time Lady perhaps, so obsessed with her idol that she even refers to him as her boyfriend?
Lastly, there is the issue of the Half-Face Man not being snatched away moments before his death – he is clearly visible impaled on a spike. But we know he can be repaired with both human and machine parts, and he could have been collected some time after his demise – every scene in Heaven is opened by a victim waking up, so there is no clue how much time has passed between ’death’ and awakening. Repairing an android using machine and human parts would also be well within the capabilities of a Time Lady.
So what do you think? Is Missy a Time Lady from Gallifrey turned stalker, saving those who gave up their life at the Doctor’s word for some as of yet unknown purpose? With only two episodes having been shared with us so far, there is a lot of information yet to be gained about the mysterious place that is sure to play a large part in the season finale, titled Death in Heaven… I am looking forward to refining this theory as the season goes on!