I can't help but notice that I'm running out of material for two of my five styles of essays. There aren't too many Continuity Glitches left for me to fix nor are there a lot of Chronologies and Timelines that I still need to work out.
It's time to come up with a few new styles.
I did start doing Unadulterated Boorish Opinions this year but I don't want to indulge too deeply in this one (as I've said many times before, fan blogs that are just opinion pieces are a dime a dozen) so I need to dream up another new type of essay. After some thought, I invented POINTS OF DEBATE.
This new category vaguely resembles FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES but works quite differently. When I'm repairing those continuity glitches, I'm trying to correct the mistakes made by various production teams over the years. POINTS OF DEBATE will look at issues that production teams have left intentionally ambiguous. We'll examine various arguments surrounding these issues and try to present a logical conclusion of some sort.
Will the conclusions I reach truly be the right ones? I'd like to think so! But, truthfully, if your opinion completely contradicts mine - it's just as valid.
Always hurts when I say that.
DID MISSY TRULY BECOME "GOOD" AT THE END OF SERIES 10?
While I do wish, sometimes, that New Who wouldn't concentrate so hard on season-long arcs, I did greatly enjoy what they did in Series 10. Building up the "what's inside the box?" mystery during the first half of the season was great fun. But then the mystery evolved into something far more complex and interesting during the latter half. For a brief time, it looked like the Doctor's greatest enemy was going to turn into something far more benevolent. She might even become a positive force in the Universe.
But did she? Was any of this desire that she expressed to be a better person sincere in the slightest? The entire process she goes through is presented in a way that leaves us wondering. There are several signs that seem to indicate she does "convert" briefly by the end of the season. But there are other ideas to consider that could lead us to believe that all of this was a bit of a facade. Something to get the Doctor to believe that his worst adversary was becoming his best friend again. When, in truth, she was still rotten to the core. Let's examine both sides of the argument and see which one holds stronger.
Probably the thing that most strongly supports the idea that Missy was putting on an act the whole time is the fact that she only makes this decision when she's about to be killed. She sees that her situation is inescapable. It's either get killed or take advantage of her rival's idealistic views. Missy knows the Doctor believes there is good in everyone. Her back's against the wall so she might as well try to exploit his romantic nature and see if that will get her out of the fix that she's in.
While the Doctor does save her from her execution, he doesn't set her free. She's still imprisoned in the Vault where she must work out her redemption. Missy does claim, at one point, that she could break out of her prison if she really wanted to - but it's entirely possible that this is all just a bluff. That the Vault really is escape-proof but saying she could get out if she really wanted will help to make it look like she really is trying to change. If this is truly the case, then it shows just how clever she is. Boasting of an ability to break out of something you can't really leave to convince your sentimental jailer that you are improving is a good strategy.
We see Missy fighting the process on several occasions. Most of these moments take place in Lie of the Land and are subject to varied interpretations. Since we are focusing on the negative side of things, let's look at them through those lenses first. Missy asking for rewards for her help is, quite simply, her revealing her true nature. She's still selfish and will only do things that will bring her gain. Her "I'm engaging in the process" claim is to be ignored. This is the real Missy we're seeing.
When she later berates the Doctor for his more arrogant form of morality in the same episode, she is attempting to divert him from the idea that she is still bad. She's trying to say that she'll find her own sense of good and that he should let her. But what's really going on is quite different. The Doctor's ideas on morality are the true sense of good. To try to wander outside of his values is to participate in various levels of corruption or even evil. But, if she can get him to believe that his truth is not absolute, then maybe he'll let her go when she's not exhibiting all the right traits that he wants to see. Essentially, she's trying to get the Doctor to doubt himself a bit and so that he might set her free even if she isn't behaving quite the way he wants her to.
There are a few occurrences that happen next that really work against Missy's facade. She starts actually crying over the people she's killed. The Doctor actually vocalizes that these could be just "crocodile tears" and Missy responds with a sort of "if only it were so..." statement. More than likely, the Doctor is entirely right and Missy is just trying to double-bluff him.
Missy helping Nardole get back to Mars is a harder one to dispute. My guess would be that Missy recognizes that there's more to Nardole than meets the eye. That he may appear goofy and harmless on the surface but he can be a force to be reckoned with when he needs to be. She could try to steal the TARDIS away at this point but Nardole might actually be able to put up a fight. Better to just play along for a bit longer til she gets a better opportunity.
For the next little while, Missy is allowed some freedom - but with heavy restrictions. Naturally enough, she's going to behave fairly nicely, here. There's going to be no attempts to display any of her true nature because she is so close to convincing the Doctor that she's made the changes he wants to see. The truth is, of course, that she's nowhere near to converting.
When, at last, she's joined by her previous incarnation - the real Missy comes out. The Doctor is heavily beaten and restrained. She does knock out her earlier self at one point - but this is because she needs to get some of the Doctor's trust back. He is, after all, an expert at beating Cybermen and an army of them is coming for her. Look how, moments later, she's urging Nardole to leave the Doctor behind now that they've found a means of escape.
Both incarnations "play nice" for a bit after that. Until they've figured out a way to escape. Once more, Missy doesn't seem to care about helping the Doctor to save the colonists on the solar farm. She and her last incarnation have the dematerialisation circuit for their TARDIS and can go.
But for a final twist, it really does seem like Missy was putting up a front the whole time and had no intention of changing. There's plenty of evidence to support this. However, that last choice she makes just before she's shot by himself would lead us to believe she really has converted. But I have a theory that backs up the idea that Missy never changed. I'll go into it after I present the case for Missy's Defense.
SEEING THINGS FROM A POSITIVE VIEWPOINT
Thank you, Pessimist Rob Tymec, for refusing to believe that people can change. Let's try to re-examine these points with a more optimistic spin.
Yes, Missy had to have a near-death experience before trying to change her heart(s) - but isn't that what gets really rotten people to adopt a new attitude?! Something traumatic or even life-threatening causes them to re-evaluate their existence. Isn't it possible that this happened to Missy as she knelt on the execution platform?
Maybe she was trying to just tell the Doctor what he wanted to hear when she was about to get killed, but it seemed there was some sincerity in her pleading too. This is best evidenced by the time she spent in the Vault. She wasn't bluffing when she said she could break out of her cell if she really wanted to (has there ever been a prison that can truly hold her?). She was staying in there because she was tired of living her lives the way she had been and she wanted to turn over a new leaf (one that she wouldn't use to make a gun!). She had been in that Vault for something like 50 years. Surely, after all that time, she could've found a means of egress. Unless she really did want to change. Keeping herself restrained in a place where she could do no harm would be a good way to work on herself. And, for someone as evil as her, such a process could take several decades.
As I said earlier, those moments in Lie of the Land are subject to a lot of interpretation. We've taken the negative slant, now let's try to color things differently.
Missy, quite simply, is being honest in both incidents. Yes, she's asking for rewards for her benevolence- but she is engaging in the process. She's trying to change. She's just not at the point of being good for the sheer sake of it so she still wants something back for her kindness.
Pointing out that there are various types of morality is, in fact, very realistic. Developing actual values can take on many different hues. She's very much right in her voice-over speech.. The Doctor shouldn't be so convinced that his brand of goodness is the only true one. She must find her own path, her own version of The Right Way. And that's what she's genuinely trying to do.
Rescuing the Doctor and Bill from Mars is some pretty strong evidence that she has changed. Nardole might put up a good fight, but an evil Missy would still try to betray them with such an opportunity placed in front of her. Unless, of course, she was trying to be nicer to everyone.
Yes, security precautions are being taken with her during such stories as Eaters of Light and World Enough and Time - but they were hardly necessary. Those tears Missy are shedding are real. Guilt truly is sinking in and she wants to stop being so destructive.
As with all people trying to make a better way for themselves, there are relapses. When her previous incarnation joins her, Missy starts feeling conflicted. Part of her still yearns to be good. Another part wants to join in the revelry of her past. She admits as much during the brief moment where she's knocked himself out (I do wish I'd quit switching around personal pronouns!).
If we need any final proof that Missy has turned good, we see it in her last moments. With an escape path clearly established before her - she chooses, instead, to initiate the regeneration that will create her and then return to the Doctor's side to aid him in his moment of need. Had it not been for the vengeful madness of the incarnation before her, she would have accomplished just that. She would have done the right thing.
Sadly, she is cut down just as she is about to become good. But the intention, at least, was there....
YET ONE MORE IMPORTANT POINT
To all intents and purposes, the solution to this debate seems quite straightforward. Some of you may even be wondering why I'm considering this ambiguous. It's pretty clear-cut. In the end, Missy decides to be good. Possibly at the expense of her own life.
But here is where my own personal goofy fan theory clouds the issue.
I've been discussing Missy's means of escape from her latest peril in The Doctor Falls in some other entries. Here's the one that deals with it the most directly (scroll to the last subsection entitled: One Last Bit of Speculation. Although, if you want to read the whole entry I won't stop you!): http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/07/chronlogies-and-timeline-history-of.html.
The basic gist of what I'm saying in that particular post is that Missy's claims to not remembering what happened when she met her previous incarnation because the timelines are too tangled was a lie. That she had to pretend that she didn't remember because the Master would have been more thorough in his dispatch if she didn't. Because she remembered everything, she knew she would be shot. So she put on some sort of protective gear that absorbed enough of the blast to not kill her but would still cause her to regenerate (yes, I recognize that summarizing what I said in that entry here might make you less motivated to read the link but I really can't continue with my point if you don't know this information).
So here's my real point: Missy knew her ultimate fate would be death by the hand of her last incarnation (by my reckoning, at least). Since she was aware of her final destiny, did she feign her redemption even to her own self? She had dipped into her future. She knew she would be shot by her previous incarnation. He did it and she remembered it all happening. As a Time Lord, she knows cycles such as these must be completed (she is, in fact, more responsible of a Time Lord than the Doctor. He managed to re-write his timeline on Trenzalore during Time of the Doctor even though he'd visited his own grave during Name of the Doctor). So she suffered the attack knowing that she had to. She'd seen it all happen before.
Death by your own hand is a horrible future to have waiting for you, yes. But Missy knew it would also free her from the Vault. That if she just faked her whole conversion process it would, ultimately, lead her to the Mondasian colony ship where the Doctor would become too busy with saving the solar farmers and allow her to slip away. Yes, she still had to go through the pain of being shot by her own laser screwdriver but knowledge of this fate meant she could take the necessary precautions and survive the attack. At the end of it all, she would have her freedom. So maybe she was faking her conversion the whole time. All so she could face this horrid fate but also escape the Vault and terrorize the Universe again.
Alternatively, she may still have chosen to become good. She knew that this decision would outrage her earlier self and precipitate the violent actions that he would take to stop her. Nonetheless, she would be ready for it and protect herself. After surviving the attack, she could go on to do good things in the Universe.
If you look at this way, you can see there are still quite a few grey areas.
THE FINAL SOLUTION:
Ultimately, we may only get our answer to this debate when we see the Master/Missy next. She will probably be in a new incarnation. Possibly, a man again. Time Lords might gender swap a bit but they tend to favor one sex over the other, for the most part. There are some rumors that Michelle Gomez might want to take on the role one more time but, more than likely, it will be a new incarnation (or we get Michelle for a few minutes in the episode and then she regenerates into someone new). If that new Master/Missy seems to be rotten to the core again, then there's a good chance that the whole arc of Series 10 was just one big sham. Missy never truly changed her stripes.
Or did she? Could it be that she was trying to improve for a bit but then went back to her old ways? It's always possible. Especially if it is a new incarnation. Regeneration does tend to trigger personality changes. So perhaps Missy was trying to be good at the end of her life. But then the regeneration changed her back into the monster she once was.
The World may never know the truth....
Hope you enjoyed this new topic. If you have opinions of your own on the matter, feel free to express them in the Comments. By no means is this Point of Debate over. Argue away if you so desire!!!