Get ready Doctor Who fans, we’re getting multiple Masters in Season 10! Yes, really. John Simm is coming back.
Doctor Who is kind of famous for its mindbending plot twists. It’s a show about time travel, so pretty much anything is possible. Even the return of characters we previously thought missing, dead, or who have subsequently gone on to be played by other people.
So it probably shouldn’t be that surprising that John Simm is returning to play the Master once more in Season 10. But it still feels that way – largely because of the manner of his exit. Well, that and the fact that a completely different person is playing the character now.
Simm last appeared on Doctor Who in 2010. His Master played a fairly significant role in David Tennant’s farewell two-parter “The End of Time.” He also ostensibly vanished in it, getting sucked into a time lock with Rassilon, the other Time Lords and Gallifrey itself. Or…maybe not so much, I guess?
The BBC officially announced Simm’s return on Thursday:
Given that the Time Lords and Gallifrey have both appeared again in Doctor Who since 2010, maybe Simm’s return was inevitable. Even if it seems confusing as heck right now.
Simm himself seems happy enough about this news. And his official statement on the subject seems to hint at how the Master might return.
"I can confirm that it’s true, thanks to the power of time travel I’m back. It’s always a pleasure to work with this great team of people and I can’t wait for you all to see what the Master gets up to in the next series."
How is this going to work, exactly? Doctor Who has already has a Master. Or, Mistress, to be more exact. Michelle Gomez’s mysterious Missy turned out to be a regeneration of the villainous Time Lord. Only as a Time Lady this time. Gomez made multiple appearances on Who, most recently in Season 9 two-parter “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar.” And we already know she’s coming back for Season 10, probably more than once. So, will there be two Masters? Will they hang out with one another, like several versions of the Doctor did back in the 50th anniversary special? Or will Simm’s Master appear in a flashback or in some kind of alternate timeline? Could we finally find out how the Master became Missy?
To the surprise of no one, showrunner Steven Moffat is not particularly forthcoming on this rather thorny issue, but does offer something of a hint.
"“Nothing stays secret for long on Doctor Who but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see exactly what the Master is up to and how he makes his return to face the Doctor. It’s been a huge pleasure to have fan favourites John Simm and Michelle Gomez face to face in the same role! It’s not often you get to see a solo personality clash.”"
That certainly does sound as though Missy and Simm’s Master will occupy the same space at the same time. Which isn’t actually as cataclysmic as it sounds. In recent seasons, Doctor Who has sort of abandoned the previously held idea that running into earlier versions of yourself was a time-rending activity that might destroy the universe with its wrongness. So maybe we will see Gomez and Simm sitting about and having tea together, snarking at Peter Capaldi’s Twelve. It certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous time-related thing that’s happened during Capaldi’s run.
Doctor Who Season 10 begins on April 15 on both BBC One and BBC America.