If you're looking for a show that will bring weekly chills, thrills, emotional heft, some laughs and plenty of surprises, most fans know that you can't go wrong with Doctor Who. The long-running sci-fi action adventure series has been known to offer up many shocks per season, and the currently-airing Season 12 is no different. The two-part premiere, which debuted in early January, gave viewers a major surprise when it was revealed that The Master (formerly Missy), The Doctor's long time nemesis, is alive and had managed to regenerate. Now we're hearing from former series showrunner Steven Moffat that the show doesn't need to explain how this was possible.
Steven Moffat, who was the showrunner for Doctor Who from 2010-2017, created Missy and wrote her eventual exit at the end of Season 10, has come out to say that he doesn't think the show needs to explain how Missy was able to regenerate into another version of The Master. As Moffat told Radio Times, one reason for that is that he believes the show, and its stories and characters, are more "exciting" without having all the details spelled out. Here's what he said:
I think it is absolutely fine with the Master not to know. I like that. Even with the Doctor there’s whole sections you don’t know about. I don’t necessarily want to know every detail. I thought the same with River Song. You don’t have to join everything up, you get glimpses. That’s so much more exciting.
Hmmm. OK, I think I see at least some of Steven Moffat's point here, even though, in the context of most shows, it would be pure madness to suggest not explaining how a character came back from the dead.
When we last saw Missy (as played by Michelle Gomez), she was beginning to (very slowly) change her evil, Doctor-hating ways, so much so that The Doctor was convinced to test out her new, less destructive, tendencies in a real life and death situation. Unfortunately, this crisis led to Missy meeting her former incarnation as The Master (John Simm) due to timey wimey shenanigans, and the two ganged up on The Doctor and his companions.
But, Missy really had changed (a bit), and stabbed The Master in the back (literally) to help The Doctor at the last minute. Knowing that he was going to die and regenerate into Missy, though, The Master shot her in the back (again, literally) with a full blast from his screwdriver which he said would stop her from regenerating. With both consecutive versions of the character dying and unable to regenerate, it was thought that Missy / The Master was gone for good.
Just a couple of seasons later, though, The Master (as played by Sacha Dhawan) has regenerated and become totally evil again, without any explanation as to how that was possible. Steven Moffat made a good point when he says that we don't know the full history of The Doctor or any of the Time Lords on the series, and that's one of the things that make it possible for the show to surprise us with characters like The War Doctor and the first Black version of The Doctor played by Jo Martin. If they can pop up seemingly from nowhere, then Missy can regenerate.
Doctor Who has a massive following, and it turns out that this is another reason that Steven Moffat believes it's A-OK for the show not to twist itself into any knots trying to explain how Missy came back from the dead.
I don’t necessarily want all the gaps to be plugged. Kids out there are making up their own stories about how Missy escaped that place and regenerated into Sacha. They’re doing their own version of it. And that’s much more exciting to me than actually filling all those gaps.
Again, this sounds like madness, but when you have a show like Doctor Who, there's no way the reasoning behind Missy's regeneration would have satisfied all fans anyway. If you leave it up to individuals to come up with explanations, viewers who want to look into it can pick from a wide variety of answers and settle on one that makes the most sense to them. Problem solved!
Part 2 of Doctor Who's Season 12 finale airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on BBC America. For more on what to watch right now, check out our 2020 midseason guide!