Wednesday, 19 October 2016


In Part 3 of our little dissertation, we look at the Master's exploits after the Classic Series ends...


As Survival concludes, the Master is in some pretty sorry shape. Like the Doctor, he seems to have fled the planet of the Cheetah People before its imminent destruction.   Where he went, for sure, we can't say. More than likely, he found his way back to his TARDIS. But even if he did, he's not doing well.  
Not only is he inhabiting a Trakenite body, but said body is now infected with the virus of the Cheetah People. He is a Time Lord consciousness trapped in a multi-species form, with the savagery of the Cheetah People constantly striving to absorb his will. None of this would be making someone like the Master too pleased with his current state of affairs. 
Once more, the Master looks upon the physical condition of his greatest rival with some degree of envy. Still only in his seventh incarnation, the Doctor has many more lives the Master could burn through if he could just steal away his body. He's tried it once, already, why not make another attempt?  
But before he can look that far down the road, he has to take care of an immediate problem. His current incarnation is a Trakenite/Time Lord/Cheetah People battlefield. The problem needs to be rectified.   
Setting himself to work in an advanced laboratory, (possibly in his own TARDIS, possibly somewhere else) the Master creates a unique form of protoplasm (sometimes known as a "morphant") that he can store his consciousness in. Once he has sealed all his memory, intelligence and personality into the strange slimy material, he is capable of seeking out and invading the bodies of other sentient beings with it. Upon entering a body, he can completely decimate whatever soul was previously inhabiting it and take full possession of it within a matter of seconds. The body he has taken over can even use the protoplasm for various forms of attack. An opponent can be paralyzed and killed when a large amount of the slime is sprayed on them. A small quantity can create a mind control bond. This new way of inhabiting bodies works excellently - but there is one drawback: the body that the protoplasm invades burns itself out fairly quickly and a new carrier must be found within a matter of days.  
Still, this allows the Master to be free of the Anthony Ainley incarnation until he can seek out a more permanent solution. He abducts a suitable humanoid body (possibly, a character being played by Gordon Tipple whom we see being atomized by the Daleks at the beginning of the 96 Telemovie - or, maybe, he goes through a few other people before he reaches him).  He, then, transfers himself from Trakenite/Cheetah Person body into the goo and invades the humanoid he kidnapped.   
Now he can move on to bigger plans. His morphant form can invade and take over the bodies of lesser species - but the will of the Time Lord can fight this process. If he just jumps into the Doctor and tries to control him, this will not work. The Doctor will reject him. Remembering how directly tapping the Eye Of Harmony helped him out in Deadly Assassin, the Master devises a method to partially access the collapsed Black Hole's energy through the connection all TARDISes have with it. Under the proper conditions, he can use that link to the Eye of Harmony to scoop out the Doctor's soul from his body and put his own in. From there, of course, he can use his rival's remaining incarnations and extend his lifespan significantly.   
His final key to the plan is to lure the Doctor into the trap. Taking advantage of the mounting hostilities between the Daleks and the Time Lords, he arranges to be put on  trial on Skaro for the many crimes he has committed. One gets the impression this was a plot made between the Daleks and the Master to bring the Doctor to an end once and for all.That the trial, itself, is bogus and was created strictly as part of a bigger plan. Whether this is true or not, the current body that the Master is inhabiting is sentenced to execution at the end of the court case.  One of the many assets of this special protoplasm that the Master has created for himself is that it is near-indestructible. So a bit of it remains even after the body is atomized. It will slowly regenerate itself and eventually become a decent-sized mass that can be shaped by the Master's will to resemble scary snakes.  The Master requests, at his execution, that the Doctor bring his remains back to Gallifrey.  Even as the Doctor seals those remains into a special container aboard his TARDIS, the morphant is growing in size and breaks its way back out a short while later.  From there, the events of the 96 Telemovie ensue....  


As the the 96 Telemovie concludes, we get another cliffhanger, of sorts. The Master appears to get sucked into the link that the Doctor's TARDIS has with the Eye Of Harmony (In the story, itself, it's always just referred to as the Eye of Harmony.  In truth, of course, it's a physical manifestation of the connection a TARDIS has with the Eye Of Harmony - but that is far too big of a mouthful!). Bruce the Ambulance Driver, the body the Master was currently inhabiting, seems to blow up into pieces as he is absorbed into the Eye.  But we've already seen evidence that traces of the protoplasm will survive atomization.   Only, in this case, they are probably floating around in some sort of nul-space that exists between the Doctor's TARDIS and its Power Source at the heart of Gallifrey (causing some indigestion, of course).   
The Master seems to be really done for, this time.   Yes, his essence has survived, but it has no hope of escaping back into our reality. 
Perhaps the Master does find some way out of this and clashes with the Eighth Doctor a few more times.  Somehow, there is a final fateful confrontation in which the Master's protoplasm is well and truly destroyed.  But as the Time Wars ensue and the Doctor refuses to fight in them, the Time Lords are in need of a skillful and resourceful General to run their campaigns.  So they find some way to resurrect the Master and give him a whole new regeneration cycle (the promise was made one time before in The Five Doctors and we've seen the Doctor get the same reward in Time of the Doctor).  This may be the resurrection that is described in the phone call between the two Time Lord enemies that we bear witness to in Sound of Drums
It's just as possible, too, that the Master never escaped from the Eye Of Harmony.   That, throughout the Eighth Doctor era, he's just stuck there.    But when the Time Wars begin and the Doctor won't fight in them, the protoplasmic Master is extracted from the link the Doctor's TARDIS has with the Eye of Harmony and the Master is put into a specially-created body for him that has a whole new regeneration cycle.  This could also be viewed as a resurrection, of sorts, and would also suit the description the Master gives in the Sound of Drums phone conversation.  
Either way, the Master is back in action and he's got another thirteen bodies to play with.    But he has to fulfill a bargain with the people who have granted him this new lease on life and fight in the Time Wars.  
Of course, the Master only honors the deal for as long as it suits him.   
As the events of the Time Wars seem to grow out of control and it really looks like the Daleks might just win, the Master decides to flee for his life.    After watching an Emperor Dalek take over something known as a Cruciform, he hatches a scheme to escape from the battle.   Travelling to the end of the Universe in his TARDIS, he uses a Chamelon Arch to disguise himself as a human. As he is doing that, he also induces a regeneration. This may be his first regeneration in his new cycle - it may be that he has used several, already.    We can't say for sure.   But the Master does seem to have some control over what he will become.   He purposely turns himself into a young child who is found by humanity on the coast of The Silver Devastation (whatever that is!).   The only thing he had on him was the fob watch containing his Time Lord essence.   For many years, he lives out the life of Professor Yana - a brilliant but under-appreciated human who is trying to find the mythical land of Utopia.   A place that will, apparently, be safe for humanity as the Universe implodes once and for all.   Because of the perception filter placed on the fob watch, he never feels an inclination to actually open it and restore his memory.
All of this seems to occur while the Doctor is in his Eighth Incarnation and is refusing to fight in the Time Wars.   He seems totally ignorant of the fact that the Master had been resurrected to fight for the Time Lords.   So, before that fateful crash on Karn where the Doctor takes on the form of the War Doctor, all these events with the Master took place.   As the Doctor finally joins the fight in his "secret incarnation", the Master has already disappeared from the Face of the Universe.  So the Time Lords keep the knowledge of the Master's involvement in the Time Wars a secret.   No doubt, even as the War Doctor, he would be infuriated to discover how his arch-nemesis had been brought back to life and used in such a dubious manner.          
But in his Tenth Incarnation, now a lonely survivor of the Great Time Wars, the Doctor's attitude is very different.   Along with Martha Jones and Captain Jack Harkness, they run into Professor Yana on the planet Malcassairo and foster an instinct in him to finally open that fob watch of his.   As he does, the Master is released, once more.    However, the Derek Jacobi incarnation of the Master is short-lived and another regeneration is induced shortly after his memories and Time Lord biology are restored.  
Again, we have no idea what incarnation that this puts the Master at in his new cycle.    The Simm Master is, at the very least, his third body.   But if his track record in his first regeneration cycle is anything to go by, he probably regenerated a few times while fighting in the Time Wars.   It's difficult to say as we do see times in the Master's life where he seems to take care of an incarnation for a while.   Both the Delgado and the Ainley Masters stuck around for quite some time.   Perhaps he has similar success with the first body the Time Lords gave him after his resurrection.   Then again, perhaps he doesn't and the Simm Master might be a fourth, fifth or even later incarnation.  Who can say, for sure?  


I must admit, as Last of the Time Lords concluded, I was most intrigued. We seemed to be getting a sort of hybrid version of how stories in the Delgado and Ainley Eras ended. The Master was being left in a fairly horrible and inescapable situation - but we were also being given a teaser that would indicate that he would be back again to fight the Doctor. As we get to Part One of The End of Time, the cliffhanger is resolved satisfactorily. All these new powers that the Master has from his botched resurrection seem a bit weird, but the way RTD carries him from one story to the next was done well. I'm even a bit relieved by it all. I really love my 80s Who, but one of the few things that genuinely irked me about this period of the show was the way we were never given satisfactory answers regarding how the Master escaped his end-of-story cliffhangers. 

Imagine my chagrin, then, as we finish up Series Eight and no explanation is given about how the Master escaped Gallifrey in the Time Wars and came back to our Universe to start building a Cyber-army. So it looks like we have to go back to our Part 2 Format:

The End of Time - Part 2 

THE CLIFFHANGER: There we are, at the big exciting climax. The Doctor must choose between killing The Master or killing Rassilon. Then he sees his Mommy's face (or, at least, that's what RTD claims she is) and makes a better choice. He destroys the whitepoint star and sends the High Council and all of Gallifrey back into Hell. Rassilon, however, has just enough time to take the Doctor out before he goes. But then, the Master steps in and goes toe-to-toe with the single greatest Time Lord in all of history. The two combatants fade away back into the Time Lock. The Master - who already seemed to be dying - definitely seems lost, now. Trapped, forevermore, in the Time Wars with the Lord President of Gallifrey determined to kill him. This one might be just as brutal as the Planet of Fire ending! 

THE SOLUTION:  The Master is in trouble, here, in three different ways (beating the double-whammy he was stuck in at the end of Castrovalva). First off, his screwed up resurrection is causing him to die. Next, Rassilon is trying to kill him with a Torchwood glove. And, finally, he's trapped in the Time Lock that has been placed on the Time Wars. So we have to find solutions for all three of these problems. Problems One and Two can be resolved quite easily. The Master keeps shooting his lifeforce into Rassilon and Rassilon keeps gloving the Master until the two of them take so much damage that they both induce a regeneration (the fact that the next time we see them they're both in a new incarnation helps to support this). Both are now too weak and vulnerable from the regeneration to keep fighting. Other Time Lords step in and break up the fight. Realizing he's going to be stranded forevermore in The Time Wars, the Master (or Missy, as she is now going to start referring to herself, as) needs to find a quick way out. She manages to find it by breaking through the Gallifrey Falls No More painting (perhaps he learnt about it during his brief period as the Minister of Defense or the Prime Minister). That weird hand that a bunch of fans point out as Clara emerges from the painting is, in fact, Missy escaping back into our Universe. 


For a while, it does seem like the transition between Death In Heaven and The Magician's Apprentice is going to be another Anthony Ainley Cliffhanger. But then, as we reach the beginning of Witch's Familiar, two cliffhangers get explained away in one fell swoop (even the Moff-bashers have to admit - that was a pretty solid piece of writing!). Everything seems to line up pretty good, after this. There is no need for any other things to be nitpicked or given a more lengthy explanation. 

We get a beautiful tease at the end of Witch's Familiar, of course. Missy is in another cliffhanger, of sorts. She's surrounded by multiple Daleks - their gun-sticks trained on her. 

"You know what? I've just had a very clever idea..." she proclaims. 

Who knows what sinister plans she might be concocting with the Universe's greatest menace? Whatever it is, she seems to have formed yet another alliance with the Daleks. 

We'll have to wait and see how things pan out....

All righty, then. All those nasty continuity issues sorted out with the Doctor's greatest enemy.

Missed the first installment?

Here's Part Two:

Like watching me unravel the histories of various major players in the Doctor Who Universe? Here's the first episode of my epic and long-winded History of the Daleks:


Tuesday, 11 October 2016


And so, we continue down the Dark Path of the Doctor's greatest foe. This time, we delve into the 80s Masters....


For the rest of the 70s, the Master disappears from the show.    We know at the end of Deadly Assassin that he's capable of plaguing the Doctor again.   We see his badly super-imposed face on the grandfather clock as it dematerializes on Gallifrey.   And yet, there are no televised signs of the Master until several seasons later in Keeper of Traken.  
A major change has occurred between Assassin and Traken.   One that can't be ignored and must, therefore, be explained.  
Peter Pratt does not play the Master in Keeper of Traken - Geoffrey Beevers does.   And it's not Beevers behind the same fright mask.   If that were the case, we might be able to overlook the different voice.   But Beevers is done up in make-up.    So the Master really does have a different appearance from the last time we've seen him.  Similar costume, of course - but definitely a different face.  
The Doctor mentions at the end of Deadly Assassin that the Master had succeeded in leeching off some considerable energy from the Eye Of Harmony.   That the energy may have been used to, somehow, save him when he fell into the fissure that had been formed in the floor behind him as he was attempting to destroy Gallifrey.  Spandrell and Engin seeing the Master steal off in his TARDIS moments later seems to confirm this theory.
I propose that the stolen energy did more than save the Master from a vicious plummet.   That, even after the fall, he still had some energy left over from the Power Source of the Time Lords.   He took that energy and tried to induce another regeneration with it and had partial success.  His body is still not in the best of shape, but it's marginally healthier.    More stable than the one he had before the regeneration attempt, but still only a shadow of the man he once was.   
Essentially, this is the 14th incarnation of the Master.   Or, perhaps, a half-incarnation might be more accurate.   He still retains the general appearance of the last Master but is different enough to say that he isn't quite the same body.  
Sometime after this partial regeneration, the Beevers Master constructs a whole new TARDIS (some more of that energy he stole from the Eye Of Harmony?  Perhaps he intentionally rationed it because he knew he didn't have enough for a complete regneration: so he used some of it to get a new body and some of it to build a new TARDIS).  Either that, or the Master steals another TARDIS from Gallifrey in an unseen adventure.    Never one to waste a resource, he still held on to the grandfather clock TARDIS that he had been using before.   Parking it in the corner of the console room of his new TARDIS.
Tom Baker's Doctor makes no remark about the Master's new appearance when they finally confront each other in Episode Four of Keeper of Traken.   It could be that he just didn't really have the time to make the remark.   Or, perhaps, he's met this version of the Master in an untelevised adventure.    We don't really know.   But we have to acknowledge that this isn't quite the same version of the Master that we saw in Deadly Assassin.   Even the personality is a bit different.   He seems a more mellow and patient character, this time round.   The Pratt Master seemed to be boiling over with rage and full of rash actions.   Whereas this version of the villain is content to sit for years in a calcified Melkur, waiting for his moment to arrange the proper political circumstances to gain Keepership.  I can't see the Pratt Master having the temperment to execute such a plot.   His lack of patience would've gotten the best of him and he would've hatched a scheme that would've taken place much sooner.  
The Pratt Master also seemed very ill and close to death.  One more reason why he wouldn't have waited around for so long to execute his plans in Keeper of Traken - he just didn't have the lifespan in him to hang in there!   Whereas the Beevers Master is a stabilised version of the Pratt Master - the deathly illness seems to have passed.   He's still not very physically strong but he's not on the verge of passing away, either.   So he can sit around for long years waiting for the proper moment to become the Keeper of the Traken Union.              
So the Beevers Master is a different incarnation of some sort.   But because of the similarities to the Pratt Master, I'd say it was some sort of strange partial regeneration.  



From Keeper of Traken onwards, the Master becomes a frequent thorn in the Doctor's side, again.   With as many appearances as the Delgado Master, Anthony Ainley's version of the evil Renegade Time Lord plagues the Fifth Doctor heavily and keeps appearing quite regularly during the reigns of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, too.  The Ainley Master also takes the character arc of a crumbling sanity and a lust for vengeance to an even higher level.    More times than others, his plans for universal domination are put to the side in order to execute vicious plots that will annihilate his greatest foe (Castrovalva, Mark of the Rani, Ultimate Foe).   And when he's not trying to lure the Doctor into some horrible trap, he's unraveling some predicament he's put himself into because his imbalanced psyche is making more and more bad choices (Time Flight, Planet of Fire and Survival).   Only once in a while does the Doctor catch him actually trying to gain power that will help him rule over the cosmos. An undertaking he was almost always up to back in the Perwee Era but never seems to have time for, anymore.  With the stealing of Tremas' body, the Master may have stabilised his physical health - but his mental health seems to be another issue entirely.   
During this era, a new mystery develops during the gaps between the televised battles of these two Time Lord rivals.   Back when Barry Letts was producing the show, every story involving the Master ended with a, sort of, "live to fight another day" teaser.    The Master might call the Doctor after escaping the explosion of the Thunderbolt missile or wave menacingly from a Navy hovercraft to let him know he was alive and well and would return to fight him again.    But stories involving the Master during the JNT-era always ended with the Master in a seemingly inescapable dastardly fate.   The walls of Castrovalva were closing in on him or a time-accelerated T-Rex was getting ready to devour him.    A very novel way to resolve the story, yes.   But there was one problem with this new formula: We never learned how the Master escaped from the cliffhanger. 
He would just simply arrive in his next story and the only explanations we would get were things like: "So you managed to escape Castrovalva, after all" or "I'm indestructible.   The whole universe knows that!".   We would never actually find out the precise details of how he had survived the last peril the Doctor had left him in.   This wasn't too bad when he was stranded on Xeriphas or his Tissue Compressor was used to play havoc with the inner dimensions of his TARDIS.    But when more serious stuff happens to him, it's a bit annoying to not get some satisfying answers.   I can't foresee a special episode in the New Series in which the Master finally sits down and tells the Doctor how he got away from all those nasty scrapes back when he was possessing Tremas' body so all we can do, as fans, is speculate.   Here, in my opinion, are the most likely explanations to the various cliffhangers that happened during the Ainley Master Era: 


THE CLIFFHANGER:  There he is, hoisted by his own petards in the most succinct of fashions.   The newly-regenerated Fifth Doctor and his companions manage to escape the recursive occlusion that's been engineered around them, but the Master doesn't quite make it out as the outer doors of Castrovalva close for the final time.  Even worse, the citizens of the fictitious town he has created seem to be tearing him to pieces, too.   This one really looks completely inescapable.  

THE SOLUTION:    We see just a few minutes earlier that the Master does have a device of some sort that enables him to wink Castrovalvans out of existence with the mere pressing of a button.    No doubt, he gets that device out in his struggles with the mob and puts it to good work.   Once he's cleared away the riot, he legs it back to his TARDIS and turns it on full blast.   Using the time machine to burst out of the trap - he manages to break free, this time.   Perhaps, on the first try, he was attempting to escape without damaging his TARDIS.   But, this time, he's thrown caution to the wind.   Better to live with a damaged TARDIS than to die with one fully intact.     And he does wreck his ship in the worst of ways.   The heart of his TARDIS is almost completely extinguished.    Which sets us up, quite neatly, for the problem he's trying to solve in Time Flight.   He used a last remaining bit of TARDIS energy to get him to the Xeraphin temple on pre-historic Earth and then set himself to work on re-vitalizing his TARDIS.  

Time Flight:

THE CLIFFHANGER:  It's just a little unclear what actually does happen at the end of Time Flight.   The Doctor, somehow, materializes his TARDIS just seconds before the Master is meant to land there.   It somehow sends the Master's TARDIS back to Xeriphas where he'll most likely be stranded because the Xeriphans will, somehow, set themselves' free from being the power source of his time vessel.   It's a bit confusing but, basically, the Master is stranded on Xeriphas.   We think.   Sort of....

THE SOLUTION:  We almost get a complete explanation in King's Demons.  No doubt, when the Master does end up on Xeriphas, the beings in the sarcophagus thingy at the heart of his TARDIS manage to free themselves and the renegade Time Lord is trapped there with no means of powering his ship.   But then, he comes across Kamelion.   Apparently, he was left lying around by an unknown alien race that had used the shape-shifter as a tool in a failed invasion of the planet.  We're not exactly sure how a shape-shifter would be useful for such a thing (Kamelion took on the form of various Xeriphan leaders who instructed the people to surrender to the invaders but the commonfolk refused to listen and fought them off?), but the Maser avails himself of the android and uses it as a means to re-fuel his TARDIS.   My guess is, Kamelion takes on the forms of various influential Xeraphin statesmen and convinces the populace that they should give the Master the freedom of mobility again.   If nothing else, it gets him off their world!   Perhaps it was something even more elaborate than that.   Kamelion's impersonations actually, somehow, trick the Xeraphin to go back into the sarcophagus and they become, once more, the power source for the Master's TARDIS.   But, this time, they don't escape.   For all we know, every time we saw the Master's TARDIS after that, the entire race of the Xeraphin was trapped inside of it - acting as petrol!    

The King's Demons:

THE CLIFFHANGER: Like Time Flight, this one is pretty low-level, too.   And, also, a bit unclear.   We're given the impression that the Master's TARDIS isn't going to work very well, anymore, because the Doctor turned on his tissue compressor and left it running in the console room.   This, apparently, was going to do some nasty damage to the infrastructure and make it unsteerable so that the Master would no longer be able to properly execute his masterplan of systematically changing the histories of various important planets and re-molding the political structure of the Universe to suit his purposes.  

THE SOLUTION:  The tissue compressor does do a lot of damage to the Master's TARDIS but he manages to fix the damage and make his TARDIS steerable again (it seems to go exactly where he wants it to go during The Five Doctors  and Planet of Fire and various other subsequent adventures).   However, it would seem that the Doctor's trick with the tissue compressor inspires the Master to experiment with the effectiveness of the weapon.   Which results in the horrible accident that causes him to shrink to the size of a doll and re-enlist Kamelion to aid him in restoring himself to a normal stature.   

Planet of Fire:

THE CLIFFHANGER:   This is the biggie.   Easily, the most intense Master Cliffhanger during the entire Ainley Era.    The Master employs the numismaton gas on Planet Sarn to bring himself back to proper size.   However, he's mistimed things a bit.   The gas reverts to a normal flame before the evil renegade can climb out of the miniaturized room he grew out of.    He is burnt to a total crisp.  

THE SOLUTION:   The most likely solution is provided in the novelization of Mark of the Rani (not sure why Eric Saward didn't include this dialogue in the script!).   Quite simply, the flame reverts back to numismaton gas a few moments after the Doctor departs.   The restorative power of the gas is so potent that it can even bring the Master's charred remains back to life.   My guess is, it was an extremely strong surge of numismaton gas!    

Mark of the Rani:  

THE CLIFFHANGER:   Having tampered with the console of the Rani's TARDIS, the Doctor causes the ship to spiral out of control when his two enemies attempt to dematerialize from the collapsing mineshaft they've landed in.   The act of sabotage also seems to create some random time spillage.   Which accelerates the growth rate of an embriyonic T-Rex that the Rani has been experimenting on.   When last we see the Rani and the Master, they look like they are about to become the lunch of the greatest pre-historic carnivore.   

THE SOLUTION:   This one, I felt, didn't require much thought.   The Master just whips out his tissue-compression-eliminator and puts paid to the beast.   They get the Rani's TARDIS back under control and she eventually brings him back to 19th-century Killingworth where he can pick his TARDIS back up and go out into the Universe, again, to cause a bunch of mischief.   Michief that will eventually lead to an ongoing partnership with Sabalom Glitz and yet another infiltration of the Matrix on Gallifrey.   

The Ultimate Foe:

THE CLIFFHANGER:  After two really vicious end-of-story fates, things became a bit mellow, once more.   Believing to have retrieved a data storage unit containing the earliest archives of Gallifreyan knowledge, the Master uploads it into his TARDIS console.   That nasty Valeyard tricked him, though.   The data unit is actually a limbo-atrophier.   A vicious device that seems to have caused the Master and Glitz to be frozen in time.  

THE SOLUTION:    Again, not a hard one to work out (which frustrates me all the more that lazy script editors couldn't have taken the time to deal with this!).    The Doctor is already providing part of the answer at the end of Trial of a Time Lord.   He requests that the Inquisitor will exercise leniency in the retrieval of Glitz as they clean up the Matrix.    No doubt, the Time Lords do fix up the Matrix and pull the Master's TARDIS out of the mess.   The limbo-atrophier is shut down and an attempt is made by the Time Lords to keep the Master prisoner on Gallifrey.   But, let's be honest, the Master can run circles around the Time Lords.   He was breaking out of his jail cell minutes after they threw him in it.   He retrieved his TARDIS and escaped back into Time and Space.   Eventually, of course, his journeys will lead him to the planet of the Cheetah People.   More than likely, he was brought there by a kitling that was hunting on another planet that the Master was visiting.  This would explain why the Master has no TARDIS to "take him home" when the Doctor arrives there.   

SPECIAL NOTE:            
You will note, of course, that I offered no explanation for what happened to the Master between the The Five Doctors and Planet of Fire.   That's because no explanation is really needed.   This is the one occasion during the Ainley Era when there is no real cliffhanger to be resolved.    Rassilon simply sends the Master back to his TARDIS where he is allowed to resume his travels.    But during those travels, of course, he starts those fateful experiments with his tissue compressor that lead to the events of Planet of Fire.    

Well, that sorts that out. Stay with us as we explore the 96 Telemovie and the various incarnations we've been seeing in the New Series...

Missed Part One? Here's a link:

Saturday, 1 October 2016


It's been quite a while since I've done a "Chronologies And Timelines" essay so I felt it was time to tackle another major villain and sort out their past. This way, I can do several installments before we get all the way through their history. Like all fans, I enjoy a good multi-part saga...

As I point out right in the opening paragraph - he doesn't actually need to have the order of his stories worked out. If you want to get technical, this is almost a "Fixing Continuity Glitches" piece. However, since we're taking the time to go through all the glitches in the order in which they arise, I feel I can apply the label I'm using.


To do a history of this particular long-term baddie is silly, of course.   Unlike the Cybermen and Daleks and other such recurring nasties, the Master and the Doctor seem to have always encountered each other in a linear fashion.    We learn in End of Time that they are required to "remain parallel to each other in the Causal Nexus" (or words to that effect).   Which was, ultimately, a vocalization of the "Gallifreyan Mean Time" theory that fans have held to be true for quite a while, now.  The confirmation of its existence, of course, makes "A Probable History of the Master" a completely useless venture.        
But, there are some other aspects of the Master's past that require serious examination.    While we know that the Master and the Doctor are meeting each other chronologically, there's a lot of things going on between their meetings that need a serious shedding of light upon them.   Certain mysteries exist within those gaps of time between their altercations that require some solving.   Or, at least, some conjecture that might help to solve them.


The very beginning of the Doctor/Master relationship seems to go all the way back to their childhood on Gallifrey.   That's the huge implication that is made during certain bits of dialogue in the New Series, at least.   According to New Who, we are led to believe that the Master and the Doctor were pretty good chums as they grew up.   The biggest indicator of this is that sequence in The End of Time as they lay on the ground together in the wasteland in London.    The Master starts speaking of how they used to run through fields together on his father's estates and stare longingly at the sky.   It's almost a bit romantic, really.
But there is a sequence from the Classic Series that seems to refute this.   It's that moment in Rassilon's Tomb during The Five Doctors where they stand before the pi-inspired chessboard and the First Doctor doesn't seem to recognize the Master as he enters the room.  
            "Have we met, somewhere?" the Doctor inquires.
            "Believe it or not, we studied together at the Academy." the Master replies.  
This bit really seems to indicate that they barely knew each other back in their days of growing up on Gallifrey.   That the Doctor was, perhaps, in a different grade at school and the Master and the Doctor knew each other more by name than association.  It definitely doesn't seem to imply that they ran together like close friends on his father's estate - that's for sure!  
This scene seems to support more the idea that the Doctor and Master first met properly when both were already out in the Universe travelling.   As I will explain in the next section, Terror of the Autons was definitely not their first encounter.   The two rivals clashed a few times before that.   Probably sometime during the end of the Doctor's second incarnation.   The First Doctor being almost totally unaware of the Master when they meet in the Death Zone certainly seems to lend credence to that notion.    So then, how do we reconcile this with the way their past is portrayed in the New Series? 
We can go two routes with this: the more mundane one being that, perhaps, the Master's Dad liked letting Gallifreyan kids run around on his estates.   That his property was some sort of field trip that all students at the Academy took.   So, even though the two didn't know each other properly during their childhood, the Master just assumed that the Doctor must have spent some time running around in his Dad's back yard.   And he guessed that, like him, the Doctor probably stared longingly towards the heavens when he did take the field trip.   
The more likely explanation, however, is that the Doctor and the Master were good friends during their childhood but that the First Doctor is just having trouble recognizing him due to certain external influences going on at the time.   The two are breaking the Laws of Gallifreyan Mean Time since the Master from the future is encountering the Doctor from the past.   On top of that, the Master is in the body he stole from Tremas on the planet Traken.   Such factors might make it very difficult for them to achieve the telepathic recognition that all Time Lords seem to have the moment they meet.    Let's remember, the Third Doctor also had a bit of trouble placing the Master during The Five Doctors, too.   So I suggest that this is, more likely, the case.   The Master even knows that some major Time Laws are being broken, here, so he treads lightly.   He gives a vague answer to establish his acquaintance with the First Doctor and then moves on with the discussion.   Knowing it's not a good idea to get too elaborate with things.  
"Yes, we were practically best friends.   Remember when we used to run around at my Dad's place?  You just don't recognize me cause I'm in a stolen body and we're meeting each other out-of-sequence..."  would not have been the appropriate thing to say during such a context.   Better to remain discreet and ensure that the Time Lines aren't damaged.  
In this way, we can get the contradiction between New and Classic Series to reconcile.   And we can believe that these two Time Lords have known each other since their earliest days.  

With their backstory on Gallifrey now cleared up, let's look at what happened just before their first meeting on the actual show.   Basically, before that fateful moment in Terror of the Autons where the horsebox materializes and Roger Delgado starts stirring up trouble.    Classic Who doesn't talk much about the history of these two rivals before this story.   But there does seem to be some insinuation that the two of them have fought a few times before.   And we're not talking about some Prydonian Debate Club during their time at the Academy.    But after both had fled Time Lord society and became renegades.   That seems to be the implication, at least, from what the Third Doctor says to the Time Lord who confronts him on the gantry of the radio telescope during Episode One of Terror.  The way the Doctor describes his history with the Master, we get the impression that the two Time Lords' TARDISes have landed in the same location in Time and Space on, at least, a few occasions.   

More than likely, this took place in the "Season 6b" era of the Second Doctor (go read The Discontinuity Guide for an explanation of what this is - I really haven't the time to explain it, here!).  It's difficult to imagine that some unseen clashes took place before Season 6b.   One would think that Jamie would've, at least, made mention of the Master at some point in a televised adventure if these encounters had occurred.   Or that the Master might even make an appearance on the screen during the "rogues' gallery" presentation the Doctor makes during his trial in The War Games.   So I think the fights between the Second Doctor and the Master happen during those secret missions that he undertakes for the Time Lords after his trial but before his exile is truly implemented.   That hidden era that gets The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors to make canonical sense.    
It's entirely possible that the C.I.A. sent the Doctor to specific places where they knew the Master was causing problems and used their reluctant agent to foil the sinister renegade's plans.  Alternatively, one suspects there were times during Season 6b where the Doctor was allowed to travel without dual control from the Time Lords and, coincidentally, showed up in the middle of one of the Master's evil plots and put paid to it. More than likely, it was a combination of these two influences that caused the first few clashes between these two Renegade Time Lords before we bore witness to a televised battle of wills. 
A bit more can be gleaned from the very brief discussion on the radio telescope between Doctor and the Time Lord that comes to warn him.   It would seem that the Master was an inferior rival in those earlier unseen altercations.   This isn't just the Doctor talking trash, either.   The Time Lord seems to agree that the Master was a pretty weak villain.   This would insinuate to me that, perhaps, the Master left Gallifrey at a much later time than the Doctor did.   And the Doctor's sheer level of experience travelling through the Universe made him a superior enemy who could easily crush the Master's plots without having to put too much effort into it.   The Master, being less experienced because he left Gallifrey at a later date, was just not able to put up much of a fight.   Chances are, he was just too busy trying to figure out how to live outside of Time Lord society to represent much of a challenge.  We almost get the impression he was a bit of a bumbler in those early days. 
Which leads some fans to believe that the Monk that was seen during the First Doctor's era was, in fact, an earlier incarnation of the Master.   Dialogue from the radio telescope scene helps support this idea.   The Doctor claims in that particular conversation to have little trouble in dealing with the Master before the events of Terror of the Autons and we see him almost running circles around the Monk during The Time Meddler and The Dalek Masterplan.   So I can see why some fans might believe in such a notion.   But the Monk being the Master is just a bit too big of a stretch for me.   The Monk bumbles just a bit too much for me to believe these two are one and the same man.   In my book, he's an entirely different Renegade Time Lord. Although, I do wish we'd seen more of the Monk in later years.   Not only to quash this particular fan theory, but because the Monk was a genuinely fun villain.   
Of course, one more important fact comes out in this all-important-but-very-brief discussion with the Doctor and the Time Lord on the gantry: The Master may have been a rubbish foe at one point - but he's not anymore.   We learn in later stories like Colony In Space and The Sea Devils that the Master has stolen some important files from the Time Lords (which would insinuate the first of several instances where he's managed to tap into the Matrix).   That, somehow, this knowledge that he's gathered has made him a greater threat to the Universe.   This is the whole reason why the Time Lord comes to warn the Doctor.   Had there not been this visit from him, the Doctor might have underestimated the strength of his old enemy and the Master could've completely succeeded in assisting the Autons in their conquest of Earth.  In fact, the Master does almost win in that story.  Had the Doctor not persuaded him to shut down the bridgehead he'd established in the last few minutes of the episode, the Nestene Consciousness would've gained a legitimate foothold on Earth through the machinations of this evil renegade.  
So, the Master's first theft from the Matrix seems to be a pivotal point in his lives and an important moment in his backstory before we see him for the first time in the series.   Before this discovery, both the Doctor and the Time Lords back on Gallifrey seemed to consider him a low-level threat.   But after he steals some secrets from the Matrix, his status becomes upgraded.   He truly becomes worthy of being the Moriarity to the Doctor's Sherlock.  It's a significant thing to note in his pre-show history.    


And so begins the Endless Enmity.   Delgado Master battles Pertwee Doctor on several occasions and Fandom, in general, revels in the whole thing.   Even claims that there was no greater time for the Master than this one (having grown up in the 80s, I find myself disputing that - I loved my Ainley Master!).     But then, of course, tragedy strikes.   Roger Delgado has a horrible accident and the Master's reign is cut short.    Although, arguably, had Delgado lived - an even worse fate was awaiting the Master.   But that's another story entirely....
The Master seemingly disappears from the Doctor's life until we see him several seasons later in The Deadly Assassin.   He's a very different man, now.    Decrepit and skeletal, he has lost all his charm and become unabashedly evil.   Apparently, he's reached the end of his regeneration cycle and has become a sort of burnt-out husk of who he once was.    The Master, in this incarnation, is actually quite awesome.   Even in the cheap fright mask!   It's nice to see the veneer stripped away and the truly wretched creature that was hiding beneath rise to the surface.   

But how exactly did the Master get this way? 
We know that Chancellor Goth somehow found him on the planet Tersurus like this.   He was on the verge of death and it seems that Goth nursed him back to life.  Or a close approximation, thereof.    We don't know if the Chancellor stumbled upon him, somehow, by accident or specifically went out into the Universe to save him.  The latter idea is entirely possible.  Perhaps knowing that he would not become Lord President compelled the Gallifreyan statesman to find an accomplice that would be willing to do some dirty work for him to help change future events.
But still, what led the Master to being that burnt-out husk that gets found on Tersurus?   We can only theorize, of course.  
Some like to believe that this was the next incarnation after the Delgado Master.   That Delgado Master was the twefth incarnation and Pratt Master was thirteenth.   Some even like to believe that Delgado Master was the thirteenth and Pratt was some weird mutation caused by an attempt to regenerate when there were no incarnations left.    I have trouble believing either of these ideas.  
I'm more inclined to believe that Delgado might've actually been the first incarnation.  Or, at the very least, a very early incarnation of the Master.   That, shortly after Frontier In Space, he gets really reckless and starts going through incarnations at a very rapid pace.   Plans keep going bad for him and he's getting brutally injured over and over and having to induce regenerations very quickly.   Some bodies, perhaps, only last a matter of days before he has to seek a new one.   Perhaps he even needs to assume a disguise once or twice and doesn't happen to have the proper materials or equipment on him to do so.  So, instead, he just regenerates.   Delgado Master was, perhaps, his second or third incarnation but he rips through fourth to twelfth in a very short time.      
Such rapid regenerations are not healthy for a Time Lord, of course.  It's a bit like us eating poorly and smoking too much.   We suddenly find ourselves very ill and close to death because of the punishment we've put our body through.    The Master that was played by Peter Pratt is the equivalent of that.   As the Master finds himself inducing his twelfth regeneration, it's too much for him.    He doesn't quite get the body he wanted or expected.   Instead, he's an emaciated skeletal figure who is deathly ill.    Perhaps he tries to take his TARDIS to somewhere where he can get medical help and ends up on the planet Tersurus.    From the sounds of things, this wasn't his intended destination.   But who knows what he'd been up to when the twelfth regeneration occurs?   Was he in the middle of some sinister plot on Tersurus that went bad?   Or was he trying to get somewhere else and, in his weakened state, wasn't able to program his TARDIS properly and ended up on Tersurus?   We can't say for sure.   But this is where Goth finds him.     
Believing that the Roger Delgado Master was the incarnation just before this one doesn't make sense for me, though.   We know the Delgado Incarnation existed for, at least, a few years.   We believe this because we see him fighting the Third Doctor in the same body for a handful of seasons on the show.    Whereas the Peter Pratt Master seems to be the result of regeneration burn-out.    I find it hard to believe that a body that stayed stable for several years could then turn into something so horrific-looking.   I'm more inclined to think that Delgado was the final long-lasting  body that the Master had.  That a sort of "regeneration sprint" occurred sometime after the last time we saw Roger Delgado as the Master.    After that, he went through a series of bodies very quickly and the result was a thirteenth incarnation that was in a terrible state.  
I also have a hard time agreeing that the Pratt Master was the result of an attempt to regenerate for a thirteenth time.   We see in Twin Dilemna what the result of such an effort is - a Time Lord just dies.   Yes, the Master was probably more single-minded than Azmael and might've clung so hard to life that he created some terrible fourteenth half-life.   Perhaps he was on Tersurus trying to use some sort of artificial means of extending his life that went wrong.   We saw him do something similar in Deadly Assassin, Keeper Of Traken and the 96 Telemovie, after all. But it all seems like too much of a stretch, really.  
Peter Pratt is the Thirteenth Master.   Roger Delgado was probably either the First, Second or Third Master.    A bunch of Masters existed between the two of them that we never got to see and lived only for a very short time.   This seems to make the most sense to me. 

Okay, Early Days Master (or, alternatively, the Master of the 70s) is out of the way. When we embark upon Part 2, we'll explore such urgent questions as: "Why does the Master look different in Keeper of Traken?" and "How the hell did the Ainley Master get out of so many of his inescapable cliffhangers at the end of his stories?"

Stay tuned....

Wondering what I meant about Season 6b? Here's another entry I did a while back that explains the idea a bit and also discusses a wild speculation of my own...