After The Doctor Falls: Is This The End for John Simm’s Master?

We last saw the Master descending in a lift, in the hopes that he’ll make it back to his TARDIS on the lower levels of the Mondasian ship.

The inclusion of John Simm’s incarnation of the Time Lord in World Enough and Time/ The Doctor Falls leaves a lot of questions: what happened to him back on Gallifrey – if that’s where he ended up following The End of Time? What happened to his TARDIS, as we’ve not actually seen it since the Classic era, and how is it back now? Did he really kill off Missy (Michelle Gomez)?

But the one question I have above all else is: is that really the end for his Master?

The rumours abounded that Missy would be there as he regenerates, that we’d see it on screen, hence Missy’s ambiguity over when the Master turned female. I didn’t want this to happen. The second I realised what Missy was up to, dread set in. “Oh no. Tell me they’re not.” Turns out, they did. And didn’t.

A lot of fans want every loose end tied up. They want to see every regeneration, and every loophole tidied up. It’s a mentality I find baffling. Much as I loved The Night of the Doctor, without it, Paul McGann could’ve appeared in Doctor Who decades in the future, and an explanation about time-differential making incarnations age wouldn’t have been necessary. He could simply have been the Doctor for a very lengthy period, the Eighth Doctor ushering in so-called “old age” before regenerating and tackling the Time War. Just like the Eleventh Doctor, his could’ve lived for hundreds and hundreds (dare I say, thousands?) of years, leaving us fans to fill in the gaps.

I say that, but McGann is also one of my favourite actors, so 2013 was a true treat.

Let’s turn back to the Master, then. John Simm has proved time and time again what an exceptional actor, and Master, he really is. Free of the sound of drums, his future looked bright. Then he was forced to regenerate. Thanks, Missy.

Except we didn’t see it. Off we went, cackling, not going gentle into that good night.

After The Doctor Falls, fans began to speculate again: what if there’s another incarnation between Simm and Gomez? What if there are numerous? That means Missy could have died, but the Master, at least in his personal history, could’ve carried on into the future of the show. We know he’d get his redemption, but for now, he can be evil again. Lovely. It’s a nice theory.

But mine is that the Master didn’t regenerate after being stabbed by his future counterpart. I know, you’re thinking that’s unlikely, but let’s not forget how the Master has a history of surviving. Even Simm’s version.

In Last of the Time Lords, he died. Then in The End of Time, he was resurrected, courtesy of a ring, some suicidal Saxon followers, and a kiss from Lucy. Then Lucy tried killing him again. She blew up the prison, sacrificing herself so that Dear Old Harry might pass over into the great beyond. His resulting body was subsequently dying. All it could do was die. Yet here he is again, with a face that looks quite a bit like that bloke from Life on Mars. Maybe it was some Gene Genie magic or equally, the Immortality Gate.

This Master won’t die. And I hope he doesn’t.

Look at the excitement when the announcement was made about John Simm returning! He’s a popular actor, and a popular character. (The number of outlets who billed this as “THE MASTER IS BACK” perhaps says something about people being unable to see Missy as the exact same character, but that’s an argument for another time.)

Frankly, it would be brilliant if Simm’s association with the show stretches long in the future.

Of course, he could regenerate and still return. The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, The Two Doctors, Dimensions in Time (shush), and The Day of the Doctor all show how timelines can contort. Heck, World Enough and Time/ The Doctor Falls does too. But I’d still like to consider Simm as the “current” Master?

A regeneration will inevitably happen. The Master will inevitably return. It’s not inevitable that the next time we see the Master, he’ll look completely different, however…

  • Killer Bob

    I was hoping that chibnall had asked Moffat to bring back the simm master for the last two episodes as he wanted him to be the regular master from now on with missy going. Wouldn’t that be fab!!!!

    • Philip

      We can only hope, Bob!

  • Peter Rabytt

    After the Doctor Falls I like Simms Master a lot more. Didn’t like the previous over the top manic version. And he looked wrong. After the Doctor Falls, I do want him to come back and be the Master again. He was good.
    My over riding feeling tonight though is, Saturday night and no new episode of Doctor Who……..not til Christmas! 😢

    • Philip

      I know! Saturday is a huge void without Who!

  • Peter Rabytt

    Ah but we are a hardy bunch, we can literally wait years with no new shows and still find ways to enjoy Who. Let’s face it, we’ve had to!
    And we have DWC to help keep us going. And a back catalogue going back 50 years to plunder. Still…….roll on next series!

  • bar none but PC

    I’m sure you said a lot of intelligent things about Simm’s Master, but then you mentioned Night of the Doctor and everything else just went out of my mind. 🙂 🙂 🙂 The totally unexpected, unspoiled appearence of that fantastic 6 mins, one thursday afternoon in November, was the hightlight of the 50th year for me.

  • My sentiments exactly! I enjoyed Michelle Gomez as Missy, and was sad to see her go (assuming it is permanent – you can never really tell with Dr Who!) – even if Missy’s random posing, posturing and ‘dabbing’ (whatever that is; I really don’t get it, but lots of other people seemed to…is it some kind of dance move??) slightly irritated me at times, I just couldn’t dislike her! But I was always hoping that John Simm’s Master might come back. The fan -and casual viewer- reaction on twitter and across the media to the news that Simm’s Master was returning was amazing but not at all surprising, if that makes sense? He has been and is a boon to the Dr Who publicity machine, and undoubtedly brought more than a few viewers back to the show. Whether those returning viewers will stay is another matter, but I hope they do.

    The Master this time round was as bad as he’s ever been – made somehow worse by the fact that he couldn’t even blame the insanity brought on by ‘the drumming, the never-ending drums’. When he told the Doctor to ‘take a good, long look at this face – it’s the face of someone who didn’t listen to a word you said,’ I found myself hating the character, as we’re meant to do. But -and this is the scary part- he is also so charismatic; disarming and charming and handsome (even with his ’round’ face, LOL) that you find yourself drawn to him. As the Tenth Doctor once observed, ‘The Master was always hypnotic…’ It was, dare I say it, a masterful performance from John Simm. Michelle Gomez’s Missy was a more sympathetic character this time round – easy to see the internal struggle going on behind her eyes, and it will be a sad thing if the Twelfth Doctor never knows that she did, in the end, want to stand with him. As a friend and I concurred yesterday, a good Missy would not have worked for long, though – the good Doctor needs his nemesis, after all. I read an interview with Michelle Gomez in which she remarked that she tends to get offered the crazy, ‘witch lady’ kind of roles more than any other. The Doctor Falls proves that she is capable of much more, and I hope she will now be offered more diverse parts.

    Pause for a shallow moment: don’t the Master and Missy make a stunning couple? Their on-screen chemistry was a delight to watch, and very funny at times. I could see Simm and Gomez working really well together in anything, TBH, though it might be hard to escape the Master/Missy shadow – best leave it a while, perhaps!!! 🙂

    So, for all the reasons you’ve given, I think there is a very good chance that John Simm’s Master might be back at some point. And if the next showrunner *waves at Mr Chibnall* decides, for whatever creative reasons, not to use him again, well… there’s always fanfiction, isn’t there, and tie-in novels**… (**How I would love to write one… but that’s another conversation altogether.)

    • Philip

      Don’t forget Big Finish! It’d be such a coup for them to have Tennant vs. Simm.

  • Rick714

    Never been a fan of Simm’s Master. No class, no style, just a crazy loon. A mad dog that needs putting down. Missy at least made crazy somewhat fun but Simm was just a goofy loon. I would take absolutely any other incarnation over him. Even Eric Roberts. when I did the Overview, I rewatched the movie again and damn, if Roberts wasn’t more palatable than Simm. Back in the ’90’s, comparing Roberts against Delgado and even Ainley, Roberts seemed over the top and a bit nuts/lame. Comparing him to Simm and Gomez, he was actually restrained and respectable! that was surprising.

    • bar none but PC

      Ok, I see where you’re coming from, and like you I’ll never be a SimmMaster fan, but my complaint with Eric R’s Master isn’t the OTT or Liberace get-up; it’s the failure of whole team (not just the actor) to get what the Master and his relationship with the Doctor is all about. For all Missy’s controvercial gender, they got right that she just wants her best friend to notice her. 12’s ‘Stand with me, it’s all I ever wanted’ made sense, just as Missy and Master’s downfall being a result of their inability to be in one mind about it.

  • Rick714

    Bar none brings up an interesting point about Missy just want inf her friend back and the Doctor just wanting her/them to stand with him. At this point, I really hope that the Master never shows up again. Because a number of times now, the Doctor has put the Master above everything and everyone else, including the human race. In The End of Time, he’s up in the ship with Wilf and all he has to do is shoot the Master and save the human race to revert them back to normal and he doesn’t even entertain the notion. Not even with poor Wilf pleading with him through tears!

    Poor Bill ends up dead and then a Cyberman just because the Doctor wants to give Missy “another chance”. The Master has killed untold millions but gets a pass because the Doctor likes him and values him above all else. He can’t help it, he’s a Time Lord and this incredible weakness is a horrible horrible character trait that has popped up every time the Master has shown up in new Who especially. It does NOT do the Doctor any favors whatsoever. So yeah, I hope the master is gone for good,

  • Planet of the Deaf

    Chibs could ignore the Master, introduce a new one (following Missy after she somehow regenerates), introduce one between Simm’s Master and Missy (it was never 100% confirmed that she followed him), keep Simm’s Master (he survived) or even keep Missy (maybe the Heather puddle rescued Missy as well?)

    Moff loves filling in gaps in Doctor Who canon, but here seem to have left Chibs maximum wiggle room!