For the latest in our occasional Master Monday series, what better than his latest appearance in the two-part climax to Series Eight. Dark Water/Death In Heaven was only the second story from the 2014 run that I felt compelled to edit straight away, Deep Breath being the other. With the return of the Cybermen, the revelation that Missy was really the Master and the death of Danny Pink, and that’s just for starters, there was more than enough to stimulate my Inner Fan Editor into action.
Before we get to the edit itself, let’s deal with the gender-bender Missy Master first. For me, this wasn’t the most contentious element of the story, that was CyberBrig which I thought was misjudged and just a little bit tasteless. The fact that the Master was now a woman wasn’t really that big a deal. As the Time War was ending in The End of Time, which, mostly, takes place contemporaneously with the events of The Day of The Doctor, the Simm Master zaps Rassilon and uploads his mind from his dying body into a Data Slice and then downloads it into the first poor female Time Lady who gets too close, presumably one with plenty of regenerations left!
Writers often use stories either to make personal political points [as with the Lizbian Snog in Deep Breath] or as a means of advancing cultural influence, something the Left in particular have long understood. Which is why so many Universities are political instead of academic. So it’s interesting that the Moff should choose to make the Master a woman, thus helping to advance the whole issue of gender politics through the standard tactic of normalisation via the medium of drama.
If you have control, or influence, over the levers of a culture such as academia or the media, you can then use them to both advance your agenda and test resistance to it. Missy is just the latest iteration of the idea that society’s idea of men and women is outmoded. Your physical appearance is distinct from you as a person, in other words you’re not a woman just because you were born in a woman’s body. The idea is that we are neither male or female, we are a “person”. This is the thinking behind issues of transgenderism and gender-identification.
If you study the way society has changed since 1965 to 2015 you can see that we are no longer a dismissive society of men, women and children in a “traditional” family but we are now a permissive society of Alternative Lifestyles such as homosexual marriage and transgenderism. Whether you think that change has been good or bad is not what’s under discussion here, but all those issues have a lot to do with Doctor Who.
It’s appropriate that Missy Master should use the Cybermen as her weapon of choice, as they highlight the issue at the heart of the story – identity. The message is that just because you were born in a woman’s body, that doesn’t make you a woman. Identity isn’t gender-dependent. As Seb says to Danny in the Nethersphere, your mind or soul or whatever it is you want to call it, is nothing more than software installed on a hard drive, your brain, housed inside hardware, your body. That’s a very Cybernetic view of life, one Eric Kleig would most likely find very logical indeed, though I doubt Kit Pedler would be so keen on it.
So a female Master isn’t really a big deal as society is now being warmed up to the idea of dividing identity from gender. And once they’ve accepted that, the next stop is genetic manipulation of the hardware in order to optimise its performance and potential. And, if Doctor Who has shown us anything, it’s that there’s nothing to be scared of there…
And the notion of a female Master also helps open up the can of worms that is a female Doctor one day. Personally I still think that would be a mistake and I do think I would switch off were it ever to happen but with an actress of the calibre of Michelle “Green Wing” Gomez playing Missy Master, what’s not to enjoy. And not only that, Missy complies with Rule 63 of the Internet – For every given male character, there is a female version of that character – as well as breathing new life into Rule 34: There is porn of it, no exceptions. and Rule 35: If no porn is found at the moment, it will be made.
So, moving swiftly on to the actual edit, the first thing to do was to join the two eps together into a straight movie edit, with the first task being trying to make the transition from one to the other as seamless as possible, and the second being to replace the Dark Water caption with the Death In Heaven one. Having done that, the next question was how much of Danny Pink was going to be in the edit – personally I felt that whole part of the storyline was overplayed and I didn’t really care if he was dead or not.
Besides, this is all about Missy so Danny’s scenes were always going to get cut back to the absolute minimum, with the result that the first we see him in the Nethersphere is stepping out onto the balcony with Seb. We also lose the mortuary scene so we can get to the graveyard just that little bit quicker, and we don’t need to see him holding his morgue sheet either, we know it’s him long before he takes his faceplate off.
It’s interesting to note how continuity references are more commonplace now than they have ever been, which is only to be expected I suppose given that we are fast approaching the New Series’ Tenth Anniversary, hot on the heels of the show’s overall Fiftieth. Personally I think it’s all a bit overdone and Moff should get his inner JNT under control. Matt’s second cameo in his successor’s first season isn’t needed at all, so that gets cut.
Something else I only managed to get rid of in the 72 edit, was the CyberBrig. Quite aside from the odds against the Cyb that is the Brig being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to catch his daughter falling out of a plane, and the sheer tastelessness of all the Doctor’s other deceased former companions being Cybs, to my mind Moff should have had the courage of his convictions and killed off both Kate and Osgood but he bottled it for the sake of a moment of fanwankery that we could well have done without. Bleh. So in this version, Kate dies – apparently – along with Osgood.
When it came to the goodbye scene between Twelvy and Clara [and is it just me or are there some deliberate parallels with Four’s goodbye to Sarah?] I did toy with the idea of inserting the scene where Danny dumps the kid on Clara [thanks for that, Danny!] but I decided it was best if we just left that part of it alone, on the assumption that Clara would be back in Series Nine and there would be a scene where they both tell each other the truth. Then there was the first trailer for the Xmas Special and, since Clara was in it, we would get all that cleared up then instead. We still see Clara wearing the bracelet but we can tell that she’s lying so we don’t need to see why just yet.
We end on the hug, mainly to avoid the two teleporting passers-by but also because Clara isn’t leaving, she’s back at Xmas so we can stop on the emotional high point of Twelvy filling up. And as for Twelvy, well for someone who has spent most of his life on the run from Gallifrey I struggle to wonder why he’s so upset at not finding it. So his thump the console moment gets cut too. If it were me I’d be quite happy to let the old place stay lost, along with those treacherous Time Lords, but then I’m not Moffat, I’m just a Fan Editor, passing though, helping out, trying to make a difference where I can.