elisi: (Girl Doctor)
[personal profile] elisi
*throws open the doors to the Meta Café*

Welcome, welcome. It's been a while, but I'm finally here, and I bring you LOTS of meta. Seriously. It's 6500+ words long. Have a cuppa and a bun. Also a great deal of it overlaps - all the layers interconnect so a lot of time I end up in the same place.

As always, at least half (not sure which) belongs to [livejournal.com profile] promethia_tenk, and some of it probably also to [livejournal.com profile] owlsie.

And I've even left out huge amounts, just to focus on the main players: Clara, Missy, the Doctor and Danny.

(Note: Some of my images seem to have vanished. Hope this is only temporary.)

Death in Heaven

Threeway mirror

In my Dark Water meta I mentioned the three-way mirror of Clara, the Doctor and Missy. I am so very pleased that I was right, even though I didn’t foresee just how. Whereas Missy (/the Master) has always been a dark mirror for the Doctor, this time she mirrors Clara. We even have Missy as evil!Mary Poppins, after Clara's stint in the Mary Poppins role in The Snowmen...

(Just for a moment imagine Martha and Simm!Master mirroring each other and you’ll see how mad - and wonderful! - this really is.)

So, let's get started. I'm going to go the long way round:


Kate Stewart refers to Clara as the Doctor’s ‘assistant’ and he immediately corrects her - Clara is his friend. He has - very shortly before - declared how much he loves Clara in no uncertain terms. (‘Do you think I care for you so little...’)

But just because we love someone doesn’t mean that we don’t hurt them, or manipulate them… Or turn them into a mirror of ourselves, deliberately or by accident.



Which brings me to this:

Missy-wearethesameText copy


As we can see, this goes back to the very heart of the season - the way the Doctor and Clara lose sight of each other, and try to reconnect… He has changed so much that Clara has great difficulty recognising her best friend. But they still mirror each other, even if it’s in many ways a dark mirror:

CLARA: Mmm hmm. Okay, so what sort of person would put a cryptic note in, in a newspaper advert?
DOCTOR: Well, I wouldn't like to say.
CLARA: Oh, go on, do say.
DOCTOR: Well, I would say that that person would be an egomaniac, needy, game-player sort of person.
CLARA: Ah, thank you. Well, at least that hasn't changed.
DOCTOR: And I don't suppose it ever will.
CLARA: No, I don't suppose it will, either.
DOCTOR: Clara, honestly, I don't want you to change. It was no bother, really. I saw your advert, I figured it out. I'm happy to play your game.
CLARA: No. No, no. I didn't place the ad. You placed the ad.
DOCTOR: No, I didn't.
CLARA: Yes, you placed the ad, I figured it out. Impossible Girl, see? Lunch.
DOCTOR: No, look, the Impossible. That is a message from the Impossible Girl.
CLARA: For the Impossible Girl.
DOCTOR: Well, if neither of us placed that ad, who placed that ad?

We now know the answer: Missy. Yet another ‘egomaniac, needy, game-player sort of person’... Someone who ‘chose’ Clara as she knew exactly what kind of qualities were needed to keep the Doctor in line. Except she had no idea what she was in for…

So we have the three of them, all reflecting aspects of each other. But before I delve further into this, let me bring up a few other mirrors.

Fighting the Psychopath Inside/Staying Human

Because the season is awash in mirrors. I shall start with Danny and Clara. Or rather, Danny and Oswin:



Both, in their own way, stay human:

Oswin clings to her humanity (music, family, little routines, baking)

Danny abides by his promise.
Oswin kills all the Daleks. Oswin hacks the Daleks' pathweb, making them forget the Doctor. (And she can because she is one.)

Danny kills all the cybermen. Danny commands them all, making them forget their original purpose. (And he can because he is one.)
- Daleks of course want to kill everything that isn’t Dalek, or turn them into tools:

           OSWIN: Do you know how you make someone into a Dalek? Subtract love, add anger.

           THE DOCTOR: You're a genius. And the Daleks need genius. They didn't just make you a puppet, they did a full conversion.

- Cybermen convert people, turning everyone into themselves:

           SEB: These emotions, they're terribly difficult. But, you know, we've got a thing for that. We can help with all these difficult feelings. Just press this.

           CLARA: It's in his chest. He says it's an inhibitor. It can delete emotion or something.

And they both overcome: The Daleks can't destroy Oswin's humanity. The Cybermen can't make Danny forget his promise.

Iam OswinFinal


But there was another who was trapped in a suit not of her own choosing, and who overrode it to save the one she loved… Because if Clara is a Doctor mirror, then Danny is her River. And the River/Danny parallels run deep.

- Both grew up in orphanages

- Both were influenced (subconsciously) at a young age to become soldiers, and both because of the Doctor

- Both were turned into weapons (Danny in his Cyber armour, River in her astronaut suit)

- Both defied their programming, because of love

- Both in some way turned their back on killing and chose academic careers

- Both sacrificed themselves so that their loved one could live (Danny burning all the Cybermen, River sacrificing herself in the Library)

- Both died, but then found themselves uploaded to a computer hard drive.

- And a killing is what defines them forever more. River sacrifices all her lives to bring the Doctor back from the dead (and in the Library takes the Doctor's place), and Danny sacrifices a life with Clara to bring back the boy he killed. Because those are the rules - a life for a life. And they both had promises to keep.

Whilst talking about monstering, I just want to say something about Clara. I have previously touched on this (see my Kill the Moon meta), and it has just evolved from thereon. I won't delve too deep at this point, just point out how this seems to work - and (as always with Clara) there are two sides to it. The best metaphor I have found is that she is like a hidden 3D picture...

- On the whole, Clara is your standard companion. We know when her parents met, we have seen her as a child, have seen her grow and develop, have seen how she has evolved ever since her introduction, changing step by step. She is a young human woman, and a remarkable one at that. She was named 'The Impossible Girl', but we have seen where that name came from, and why. There need be nothing more. 'Just Clara' is an incredible person.

- But then, there keeps being glimpses. I outlined a lot of them in my Kill the Moon meta, and it has only grown. She has (twice) claimed to be the Doctor, and has done so convincingly. As you'll see in the section below, this time round the Master is her mirror, not the Doctor's. It's as if when looked at in the right way, the nice 2D image falls away and there's a whole landscape of 3D stuff. Stuff that says she is something far more than a normal young human woman. She doesn't need to be more (and it'd be very nice if all her specialness was just 'hers') - but if she is, then I wouldn't be surprised.

Mind you, considering how this whole season has been Clara's, and how the whole finale turns around her, she doesn't need anything else. She makes a mighty fine Doctor...

(If you want to delve deeper, go read [livejournal.com profile] purplefringe's most excellent new meta on this subject: Fearful Symmetry: More on Eyes in Doctor Who S8. Very highly recommended.)

Missy as Clara’s Mirror

So, let's look at Clara's journey to become the Doctor, going so far as to claim his identity as her own - and this is not just Watsonian, it’s Doylist too:



Throughout she calls the shots, and if she doesn't have the actual power (Time-headed-ness) she has the narrative power to bend the story to her needs. To help illustrate this, we have have - Missy!

The finale starts off with Clara betraying the Doctor - manipulating him to achieve her own ends.

And it ends (well, the big showdown) with Missy trying to manipulate the Doctor into doing what she wants.

(The Doctor helps Clara, but refuses Missy.)

Now the fascinating thing about this, is that both women are acting out of love, hoping to retrieve someone lost. (And notice how Missy’s ambitions mirror Clara’s almost exactly.)

- Clara wants Danny back, the man she loves

- Missy wants the Doctor back, her best friend

Both of them state their feelings up front:



There are several things going on here…

Now, the mirror is there to highlight the differences - as I stated above, the Doctor identifies Clara as ‘his friend’ above all else. And Missy defines him as her friend. And this is where one of the main conflicts arises. Missy and Clara - in the end - are mutually exclusive. He cannot claim both as his friend. I’ll get back to why this is not possible, but first of all let’s look at Missy’s ‘new’ motivation:

I said they both act out of love, but this is in many ways a completely new path for Missy. Not that the Doctor isn’t always the centre of her world, but the Master’s MO has usually been to ‘take over the world’ and for the Doctor to stop him. That is their a game. But this time Missy tries a different approach - she wants them to play the game together, as fellow players rather than opponents. (Where she got that idea I'll show later on.)

(At this point - if you haven’t read my TWoRS meta (The Doctor’s Final Lesson, courtesy of River Song), please go read the very beginning, the part titled The King and Queen of all the Worlds.)

Now of course River was very Missy-like - she was raised to be a psychopath and killing machine - but when it came to love, she understood perfectly that love is a promise:


Of course, this is tied in with her marriage - and remember, when people get married they make a promise:

"I take you to be my [husband/wife]. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."

This episode got it so, so right - love isn’t [just] an emotion. To quote C.S.Lewis:

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained”

“The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise to never have a headache or always to feel hungry.”

And this is where Missy falters. It's not that she doesn’t love, but that her love is destructive. (I’ll get to why in a moment.)

Now it’s important that she’s a woman - if she were a man, it would just be yet another story about the Doctor and the Master, [almost] unbroken since Pertwee. (I’ll get to how the Time War redefined them further on.) But by being a woman she taps into all of Moffat Who’s symbolism, everything we have spent the past four years exploring & setting up. It started with our Ponds, and River, who brought re-birth and acceptance, and Clara carried that on. (Clara who lives and dies and saves the Doctor.)

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Death heralds change and rebirth. But Missy enters the narrative in an episode named ‘Dark Water’ - water which conceals as it reveals. Deadly water that lies...

Rain will fall, but it doesn’t bring life (doesn't melt the snow like Clara did in The Snowmen), but more death. Worse even - it brings the dead back to unnatural life. The graves will ‘give birth’. It’s not that Missy doesn’t appreciate life, but the fact that she can only create death:

OSGOOD: Why would you bother killing me? I'm not even important.
MISSY: Oh, silly. Why does one pop a balloon? Because you're pretty.

Now it's not just that Missy takes all the symbols and makes them evil symbols, it's the timing of the thing. Because we've been on a cycle of symbolism. We started out with the water and world trees, and we moved through all the death symbolism, and that progressed into eggs and flowers and birds, and it's like just at the moment when everything should have burst into blossom . . . it all turned to rot.

And why? Because Danny died. Danny was Clara’s future, her ‘blossoming’ - they were going to marry, have children, carry on life. But he dies - and therefore the symbolism follows, which leads to death across the whole Earth. As Phil Sandifer explained:

“As above, so below,” the injunction goes - a declaration that manipulating symbols and manipulating objects is, in some sense, the same thing. That a symbol and a thing are in some sense interchangeable.
The Alchemists of the Middle Ages Made Transmutation Their Main Aim in Life (The Beast Below)

When River thought she had to kill the man she loved, she stopped time, refusing to budge until a solution was found. And she was lucky, because time and continuity were on her side, and Lake Silencio was a fake/created fixed point.

Clara is not so fortunate.

She tries to manipulate the Doctor into saving Danny, but the dead cannot be brought back. And - in a very real sense - Missy is brought in to illustrate this, to carry out Clara’s wishes. This is what I mean by Missy being a dark Clara mirror: She is someone with the power to ‘bring back the dead’ by manipulation, but the only way this can be done is through destruction. And when Clara sees her wishes brought to life (the dead Danny in the cybersuit), she recoils in horror, and chooses to instead help him die as he should. The whole finale - Missy, cybermen, the whole lot - is there to help Clara come to terms with losing Danny. This is why she can take centre stage in the credits, why she can claim to be the Doctor - the show, the story, is hers. And it's through letting Danny go that she rights the balance.

That doesn't mean that the Doctor’s role in all this isn't very important - it's crucial. Because his Ponds taught him well. Clara is distraught and grieving and lashing out, but he doesn’t gallop off to fix things, doesn’t move heaven and Earth. As always, look at A Good Man Goes To War - when the Doctor waged a war, did what ‘heroes’ always do when their women are in trouble. And AGMGTW went on to specifically reject that approach, showing how he did more harm than good. All the needed to do was to find Melody, and look after her.

([livejournal.com profile] owlsie has an interesting post that taps into all this: Death in Heaven as a rape culture analogy. You'll see I've borrowed certain sections.)

So here (at the start of Dark Water) he says: ‘Let me help’. Because he is not a warrior, but a Doctor. (Just passing through, helping out, learning.) He will be Clara’s friend, and help. And that is all he needs to do. (Plus he is paying back a debt - remember how Victorian!Clara helped the Doctor out of his grief/depression after he lost his Ponds.)

Also notice how rejecting the warrior role is what helps solve the problem and saves the day. He passes that role to Danny (with whom it sits far more comfortably), and the dead soldier gets the big hero theme and the big speech.

Going back to the symbolism, the graveyards matter, also. The symbolism is important, and something we have touched on repeatedly.

- The Angels Take Manhattan ends in a graveyard, bringing the Ponds back ‘where they belong’ as they are about to die.

- The Name of the Doctor takes place mostly on Trenzalore, which has become a huge graveyard, with the Doctor’s TARDIS presiding over the rest. It is underlined, repeatedly, how they shouldn’t be there as it is not yet the Doctor’s time.

- Death in Heaven (all the Clara/Danny scenes) take place in a graveyard. Because this is where Danny belongs.

Graveyards remind us that death is an inevitability - everything must die. Even the Ponds, even the Doctor. Death in Heaven overturns this, dragging the dead back to un-life. Of course, half the story takes place in the Nethersphere, which people presume to be heaven - again a way Missy has destroyed the proper order of things. Just like how cybermen rise out of the graves.

Now once Danny is ‘free’ to go and Clara has made peace with his death, he takes all the dark pollution (all the other dead cybermen) with him, burning up the clouds that would destroy the world. Which leaves only Missy (as walking, talking mirrors don’t just vanish) - except her role is done, and she has no narrative purpose any longer. Clara - now disgusted at her mirror and what it implies - has no qualms about dispatching her.

So this is what Moffat did - he brought back the Master, but not for the Doctor’s sake. The Doctor does not need a dark mirror, he has long since moved past the need for it. No, Missy was brought back for Clara. Not surprisingly, this was confusing for Missy. The story changed without her knowledge, and although she was, plot-wise, constantly one step ahead (as always), she didn't realise that she was on a different track to the rest of them. And she was going to go off a cliff...

I shall now delve into this in detail, because I love Doctor/Master (and Doctor/Missy) and how they’ve evolved is fascinating.


Having spoken at length about Missy has been turned into a Clara mirror and had her role re-defined, let’s look back and trace the evolution. Why does this fit now. Why could Missy only be brought back this way?

To do this, I shall start by examining how the Doctor's love manifests - that is, through forgiveness.

This is introduced at the very beginning of Dark Water, and it’s something of a red thread New Who, and especially when it comes to the Master - although there is a difference and I’ll explain it. The Doctor isn’t good at vocalising his feelings, but - as Moffat says in this interview - this time he gets it spot-on:

On the scene between the Doctor and Clara immediately after the volcano in Dark Water:
"I loved the scene. The acting is extraordinary and that is what I think has powered this series. I’m also proud of a line – I’m very rarely proud of anything I write – but I’m proud of the line ‘Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?’ because I got obsessed when I started to write this that Cybermen have no emotion, so it starts with Clara unable to find a way to say I love you and ends with Danny unable to find a way to say I love you, there are two phone calls that book-end it, and in the middle, the cracked old Caledonian gets it exactly right, he says I love you perfectly. [...]"

(Doctor Who: Steven Moffat on series 8, Missy, lies and leaks)

But this isn’t the first time:






Missy thinks she knows how the story goes… Except she doesn’t. Not now.

Now this is where it gets complicated.

First, the fact that all Doctor/Master interactions have - by the nature of things - changed completely since the Time War. By which I mean - before the war, the Master was ultimately Gallifrey’s problem. The Doctor defeated him time and again, but the Master wasn’t his responsibility. The Master was the Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock, and they could play their games, knowing that there was a higher authority that could step in:

BRIGADIER: Think [the Master] will turn up again, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Yes, bound to.
JO: You don't seem very worried about it.
DOCTOR: I'm not. As a matter of fact, Jo, I'm rather looking forward to it.

Terror of the Autons

But post-Time War, there isn’t (as far as Ten can see) anyone else who could, or should, take responsibility for a wayward Time Lord.

But Ten’s problem was that he was still far too scarred from the war to look at anything rationally. Gallifrey left a power vacuum, and he saw himself as having to step into the breach - something that eventually led to Waters of Mars. Except with the Master we see something that’s possibly even more arrogant. Let me re-do that first image into what it ought to be:


I said at the time that those three words were the most breathtakingly arrogant thing I had ever heard, leaving the Master trailing. Let me put it into context, so you see what I mean. From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.
A Liar, a Lunatic, or the Son of God

Of course Ten suffered under the Master, but it’s pretty obvious that he forgives him for everything he did. The slaughter of Earth, the plans to take over the universe. His desperate need to keep the Master overrides everyone and everything else (I’ll get back to humanity’s wishes) - tied up in that need is (quite obviously) all his own guilt and pain over destroying his own home. The Master punishes humanity for the Doctor’s crimes, so he feels responsible. (Oh Ten, you tangle of unresolved issues. *pets*) The Master is his to deal with.

Not that Ten is unchallenged:

martha mumFinal2

The situation is eventually ‘resolved’ by Lucy killing the Master, but she is acting against the Doctor’s specific wishes. So we end up with Ten holding the Master’s dead body, raging in grief. (Humanity was slaughtered, yet Ten cries over the death of the monster...)

But since then, the Doctor has lived for a very long time.

Eleven’s whole run was about healing the wounds from the Time War, and helping the Doctor find himself again.

It began in The Beast Below, where he automatically presumed that HE had to be the one to step up and make the decision re. the starwhale. Except Amy took it out of his hands… And thanks to the Silence (Lake Silencio, Demons Run and Trenzalore) he learns that there are people out there who look after the universe, and who can step in if there is a threat.

So that is one side that Missy isn’t aware of - Twelve is a far, far different man than Ten, and the pain that made him cling to Saxon!Master with such despair has now been mostly healed.

But there is another side to it, and one that Missy isn’t familiar with either…





Amy’s line here is interesting, because it is in part a straw man. Eleven isn’t arguing about anyone or anything else, he is arguing about this time, this man. And notice how the conversation ends - here is the full transcript:

DOCTOR: Jex has to answer for his crimes.
AMY: And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?
DOCTOR: But they coming back, don't you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well, not today. No. Today, I honour the victims first. His, the Master's, the Dalek's, all the people who died because of my mercy!
AMY: You see, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor. We can't be like him. We have to be better than him.
DOCTOR: Amelia Pond. Fine, fine. We think of something else. But frankly, I'm betting on the Gunslinger.

This is a complete reversal of the Franscine/Doctor conversation above. The Doctor concedes to Amy, and lets Jex live - but he doesn’t agree. And notice that Jex’s crimes are very similiar to Missy’s - he created a monstrous army that ended a horrific war very swiftly. It’s almost exactly what Missy’s offering too: An opportunity to ends wrongs… Except the ends do not justify the means. And people who think Eleven was silly and fluffy, forget that the youthful face was only ever a mask. Beneath that he was very dark, and very dangerous. If ever in doubt - remember Jex.


Sidebar: This is, I think, the only time the Master is mentioned during Eleven’s run, apart from Time of the Doctor. And it is specifically in terms of not letting people go, but instead let them answer for their crimes.

Fast forward to Death in Heaven:

Missy diesFinal3

Clara speaks on humankind’s behalf, and if the Doctor agrees to do the killing to save Clara’s soul, there are two sides to it - one) according to his actions in A Town Called Mercy, he agrees that it is the correct choice, and two) he also implicitly agrees that Clara has the authority to make that call, overriding whatever his personal feelings might be.

He - deliberately - pushed her to be the one to make decisions for her planet, and he can’t go back on that now. They are equals. (Also see Forest of the Night.) She is his mirror, and he cannot escape that.


Backtracking to Amy’s argument (which was the Doctor’s in LotT), it is helpful to remember that Amy isn’t innocent:


The big switch now isn’t Clara’s anger, or her actions, but that she (unlike Amy) isn’t hiding it from the Doctor - and that she expects him to respect her choice. Remember Last of the Time Lords, when Franscine took a very similar action? Let me re-use the former picture, but adding the notes from the transcript re. what happened next:

martha mumFinal1

‘Hands her off’... What a very apt turn of phrase. Here, let me also re-use Clara’s imagine, but with an added line from Kill the Moon:

Missy diesFinal1

Clara has already called the Doctor out on his privilege… Has been through all the arguments and can’t be ‘handed off’ in any way shape or form. She has narrative power on the same level as the Doctor and Missy, and she has, in her own way, controlled the story throughout. The only one she concedes to is Danny (much like the only person the Doctor concedes to in TWoRS is River). On the whole, Missy succeeded out of all proportion - a little like Kovarian got more than she bargained for with River. These women will not stay in the narrative role they have been assigned, instead stepping out and ensuring the story goes how they wish.

Of course there are limits - they cannot defy death (although we see Missy try, again with the dark mirroring), but apart from that they are essentially in control nearly every step of the way. And Clara is the one at the heart of all this, not him. The whole narrative turns around her loss, no one else's. She truly is 'the Doctor' of this story, because the story is hers.

And the Doctor is hers too. Without her, he would be dead, entombed on Trenzalore. She - with Gallifrey's help - broke that time line, and she is right: She is owed. She gave life, created the Doctor in her image, and then learned the hard way, over the past season, exactly who he has become because of this. And who she (the Doctor's mirror) has become as a consequence.

DOCTOR: Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones. But you still have to choose.
CLARA: I know it's scary and difficult, but do you love being the man making the impossible choice?

Mummy on the Orient Express

Because this is my final point about how different Twelve is from Ten, which ties back to Deep Breath and the season arc (I've sort-of covered it already, but dammit, I just love this juxtaposition):

HALF-FACE MAN: You are stronger than you look.
DOCTOR: And I'm hoping you are too. This is over. Are you capable of admitting that?
HALF-FACE MAN: Do you have it in you to murder me?
DOCTOR: Those people down there. They're never small to me. Don't make assumptions about how far I will go to protect them, because I've already come a very long way. And unlike you, I don't expect to reach the promised land.
(The Half-Face Man turns off his flame thrower. They release each other.)
DOCTOR: You realise, of course, one of us is lying about our basic programming.
DOCTOR: And I think we both know who that is.

So this is the point at which Missy finds herself. And in some ways we can almost feel sorry for her, because she is working on outdated information. She took what Ten told her, and worked from that (in her own twisted way), and she really did try…







Missy's plan follows Ten's words in Sound of Drums pretty much exactly - fighting across the constellations, but not on Earth. And her plea of 'We are not so different' ties in beautifully with their conversation in End of Time.

But the Doctor, as shown, has moved far beyond the point he was 1200 years ago… He has grown and learned how to be ‘The Last of the Time Lords’ without letting the burden crush him, has learned how far his authority extends, and when to listen to others. Has found a family, been married, has loved and lost and found an Impossible Girl and even stopped running (Trenzalore). Has learned that he isn’t always right, and that if he is presented with two impossible choices, he should do his best to find a third option.

This is something I mentioned this in my Dark Water meta, because I thought it’d be important - and of course it was. This is classic Moffat - reject the story you have been forced into (often a binary that binds) and quite simply tell a different one. Now Missy probably thought she was ahead of the curve, changing her own game plan (fight with me, not against me!), but she reckoned without the Doctor doing the same...

We see the end of a season-long binary tackled in the finale, explicitly framed in terms of warfare and soldiers/war leaders. And the Doctor - like in Day of the Doctor - rejects the roles that he has to choose between and finds his own answer:




Thank youText

(Lovely post on Tumbler here about how ‘becoming the Doctor’ has been a season long arc, rather than some triumphant moment at the end of the first episode.)

What I love especially is that when the Doctor has his epiphany, it's a variation of 'I Am The Doctor' that plays, not the 'Twelfth Doctor theme' that keeps cropping up throughout Season eight. No, that is saved for Danny's big hero moment. Anyway, back to the point I am making:

Of course 'A Good Man Goes To War' sits at the heart of this, that choice between Warrior or Doctor. But then the Doctor had gathered an army and was fighting a war of his own choice - this time it is being handed to him, throwing into sharp contrast the issues he has been battling with since he regenerated. I don't think Eleven ever considered himself 'good' no matter that River declared him 'the best man she had ever known'. The guilt & burdens still sat too heavily on him. But Twelve, having come further, and no longer carrying the fate of Gallifrey in the same manner, can ask the question. Can begin to look inside to try to work out who he is from the inside, rather than as how he is perceived.

(Incidentally I love the message this sends out: Don’t let others define you. Choose your own path.)

Of course, no sooner has the Doctor broken out of one binary before he is presented with another one:

Let Clara kill Missy, or kill her himself.

And it’s interesting that he doesn’t even try to plead with Clara - there is no appeal (like with Martha’s mother) that they have to be ‘better’ than Missy, or to look for some third option. Nor is there even a whisper of the condemnation and fury that he throws at Harriet Jones in The Christmas Invasion, for doing essentially the same. All he does, is to offer to do it himself. (I know we’ve covered this before, this is what I mean about everything ending up in the same place…) All roads lead to Rome. Or to this graveyard, rather. (I am now trying to imagine Ten having that conversation with Harriet Jones, and offering to blow up the Sycorax ship instead of her. I think my mind short-circuited.)

But in finally stepping up and taking responsibility, the Doctor is faced with another issue that we have seen before:



Notice how Wilf uses almost exactly the same argument Clara does - ‘Don’t you dare put the Master above humanity’ - yet Ten flat-out refuses. Of course he also sees how killing the Master would be self-serving (as he thinks the Master will kill him), but (being Ten) he fails to understand how everything isn’t about him. And this is where the Ponds and Clara have been so important, forcing him to understand that it wasn't all about him.

So - he will kill Missy. And in doing so, snaps out of a holding template [as regards the Master] he has been stuck in since the Master first appeared. It’s Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac. The fact that God sends a sheep at the last moment - or in this case, that the Brig steps in and kills Missy - is unimportant. It’s the willingness to do the deed that matters. By being willing to kill her, the Doctor has redefined their relationship completely, and Missy steps out of the comic book villain stereotype she was cast in for so long. By letting her actions have consequences (as well as letting her MO change, and having her mirror Clara, not the Doctor), and for the Doctor to act in response to those, we have a genuine paradigm shift ('A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions'). You could call it a reboot. That moment is now the [new] defining moment in the whole of their history. And Missy knows it:




Not entirely by design (although please note that Delgado!Master is named as one of the prime examples of this trope), Missy ended up with a Xanatos Gambit:

‘A Xanatos Gambit is a plan whose multiple foreseen outcomes all benefit its creator. It's a win-win situation for whoever plots it.’

I think it is only fitting that in the moment Missy is being reconstructed and her whole life-long power-play with the Doctor is being redefined into something different, she is utterly, gloriously, herself.

Now go watch Blank Space - Doctor/Master in all their glory.
(You can leave feedback here!)

So it's gonna be forever
Or And it's gonna go down in flames
'Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

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Date: 29 November 2014 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purplefringe.livejournal.com

And ALSO I had to tell you two things:

(1) I posted my 2nd lot of Eye meta last week! I don't know if you saw it? You are probably the only person who would care, so I'm just flagging it up :-)

(2) That vid I mentioned that such_heights and I were making that you will love? We JUST posted it! :-D Head over to her journal and enjoy :-)

Ok, will come back and read this in a bit when I have all the time to properly enjoy it. <3333 (well done for getting your brain to co-operate!)

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Date: 29 November 2014 03:40 pm (UTC)
enevarim: (Default)
From: [personal profile] enevarim
Ohhh. Permission to squee?

I will come back and do my usual thing of quoting great gobbets of this and commenting and reverberating and who knows what else, but for now I just want to say thank you. Superb, as always.

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Date: 29 November 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
owlboy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlboy
Mm not sure if it's a Xanatos Gambit because she didn't actually plan the moment in the graveyard. It just happened to serve her purposes

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Date: 29 November 2014 04:04 pm (UTC)
ext_6615: (noicondoctor)
From: [identity profile] janne-d.livejournal.com
Oooh. As just about always happens with your DW meta, this has gone straight into my memories because you always catch so much more than I do in the episodes - see Missy mirroring Clara and how that puts Missy into a different place in the narrative that she wasn't expecting.

I loved the CS Lewis quotes as well - incredibly interesting and deeply appropriate. Are they all from Mere Christianity?

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Date: 29 November 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-phoenixdragon.livejournal.com
Your metas...your metas are always perfection. I have one quibble - the 'fake fixed point' at Lake Silencio. I don't think it was fake. The Doctor HAD to be there and he was...just not as expected. But he definitely lived up to the fixed point and made sure it wouldn't break time again.

Eleven was rescued from himself a lot. Clara was the epitome of that and I find it funny, that just like Missy-Master, she showed up LONG before we could find the relevance. The reveals ripple back over two seasons and that is MARVELOUS.

I always wanted the Master to show during the Doctor's timeline. Funny. She/he DID. We just didn't see how until Twelve.

Twelve...ye gods. The man who LEARNS.

It is amazing, really. We always see the Doctor through the Companion's eyes. This time we LIVE through Clara's eyes and see through his own.

This is just...thank you for this meta. I shall be thinking on it for a long, long time.


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Date: 29 November 2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyricwrites.livejournal.com
Twelve...ye gods. The man who LEARNS.

I have to admit, I am still chewing over that speech. Because it seems to speak to a lot of the Doctor's inherent conflicts with privilege. On the one hand, he actively throws in with the primitive people he spends his time among—on the other hand, he's always got his "sahib-ness" hovering in the back of his mind, whether he really wants it or not. (And quite a lot of the time, he does want it; he wants the ability to command people in an emergency, no questions asked. Ten's first major moral judgment call was, "I have the right to tell you where to point your guns;" he might get to kill an attacker with a satsuma, but you don't get to kill a possible future attacker with a death ray.)

So, when you think about it, Missy really did come up with the perfect twisted birthday gift. But what intrigues me right now is that, in turning away from it, the Doctor made a speech that I sort of parsed as, "I am . . . a TOURIST!"

Because, on the one hand, tourists can be a very destructive force. But on the other hand, if the emphasis is on learning, where the Doctor put it, it can be a good thing. Travel really does broaden the mind. People who travel and interact start to see other people, rather than the "natives" or "exotics" that more insular thinkers want to believe in. And I think we'd all agree that countries with a good understanding of other people make much better choices than countries which, as a group, believe in natives and exotics. Tourism, at its best, improves the tourist, and perhaps even the tourist's society . . .

So I suppose what I'm saying is, is this possibly setting the Doctor up to be some sort of force for social change on Gallifrey?

Not sure. I'm sort of thinking as I type, here. Obviously the Doctor can't return full-time, or the show is over, but in the Classic era, there were some pretty fascinating serials dealing with Gallifreyan screw-ups politics . . . and, of course, there is precedent for having a young, brilliant, and arrogant Gallifreyan companion out learning about the universe with the Doctor . . .

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Date: 30 November 2014 03:18 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (twelve)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
Twelve...ye gods. The man who LEARNS.
I love this and am adopting it.

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Date: 29 November 2014 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amy8benson.livejournal.com
Oh, this is brilliant! Thank you for laying out all the parallels!

One of my favourite things about the finale is how it puts so many previous stories into perspective. AGMGTW became even darker now, and the ending of KTM sort of gained one more meaning, cause we see that the Doctor's learnt that lesson.

I love, how it is highlighted, how much the Doctor has evolved since the finale of series 3, The End of Time, AGMGTW, and throughout series 8. I think, it was Andrew Ellard, who pointed out, that the moment when Missy offers the Doctor an army lacks dramatic value in a way, cause we don't see him hesitate before he rejects her gift. I see where he comes from with it, but I think it can also be the point of the scene. The Doctor doesn't really know himself yet, but we suddenly realise, that we know him, that whatever darkness there's to him, we don't doubt him at this moment, and that's such a relief, and that's where series 8 has brought us.

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Date: 30 November 2014 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ragnarok-08.livejournal.com
This meta is so impressive :D

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Date: 30 November 2014 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-neutral.livejournal.com
I wish I weren't suffering from a cold and could comment coherently on this. Suffice it to say A;VIE;FJSLDKJF;SD!!! And of course, the universe would not be complete without Blank Space being used for the OTP. God bless us all.

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Date: 30 November 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
*wild clapping* *pets and soothes* How's your head doing?

It's magnificent. I'm sorry I've been so absent. But I suppose better late than never.

Mind you, considering how this whole season has been Clara's, and how the whole finale turns around her, she doesn't need anything else. She makes a mighty fine Doctor...
From the beginning of her arc it's felt like Clara was going to somehow be 'the return of the Time Lords,' and the question was, how would she be that. Obviously she saved Gallifrey, but that didn't seem sufficient as just popping Gallifrey back would undermine a whole lot of development in the modern show and throw out this question of what it means to be a Time Lord with Gallifrey gone. I generally frame it to myself that the Doctor is not the last of the Time Lords, but the first of the post-Time Lords. The question is, what is a post-Time Lord? Can we say that Clara is not a Gallifreyan, but a Time Lord? I remember some comment discussion from earlier in the season about who is Clara that she gets to make decisions that have traditionally been the Doctor's because, supposedly, he was the only one with the time head to understand them properly. And I thought, ok, this can be going one of two ways: either we find out that Clara is a time head, in which case the return of the Time Lords is about the rise of a Time Lord/human hybrid line. Or we find out that we've entered a universe where the Laws of Time are everyone's: the Wild West of the universe. The great frontier. This second possibility seemed much more radical . . . but that also makes it more exciting. Part of the story of Kill the Moon was about Clara's actions inspiring humanity to spread out to the stars. There's an implication in Listen that Clara's life as a time traveller inspired Orson Pink. Listen also highlighted for us the difference between a Gallifreyan and a Time Lord ('he'll never make Time Lord now' <---- which also suggests that we might look outside of those we see as 'suitable' to find Time Lords). I'm even reminded of our surprise when Tasha Lem brought the TARDIS to pick up Clara (because driving the TARDIS was one of those things meant to indicate to us that River was more than just human). But what Tasha says is that driving the TARDIS was always easy, it's driving the Doctor that's hard. Well, apparently Clara has mastered the greater skill.

Now the fascinating thing about this, is that both women are acting out of love, hoping to retrieve someone lost. (And notice how Missy’s ambitions mirror Clara’s almost exactly.)
Interesting bit of this parallel that you didn't quite get to is the threat of being killed by the one they want back. The Doctor is so concerned that if Clara turns on the inhibitor that Danny will kill her instantly. And yet it's the Doctor who ends up killing Missy (or as good as kills her, anyway). An interesting connection between Danny's programming as a Cyberman and the Doctor's speech about his 'basic programming,' Also throws an interesting light on the Doctor's speech to Danny about the importance of pain. While personally I am cheering all the way for Twelve shooting Missy, I like the shadows this throws on it, together with the paralleling of Twelve and the half-faced man (who is a cyborg, like the Cybermen: you've been repaired an put back together so many times, there's none of you left. You probably don't even remember where you got that face!), and the question of whether the Doctor came back 'wrong.'

(no subject)

Date: 30 November 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
When River thought she had to kill the man she loved, she stopped time, refusing to budge until a solution was found. And she was lucky, because time and continuity were on her side, and Lake Silencio was a fake/created fixed point.
Stray thought: how much can we attribute this difference to the fact that the Doctor is a Time Lord and Danny is (emphatically) human? Long time ago I was thinking about TWoRS as a story about the Doctor, in his greco-roman setting, trying to play out the story of Hades and Persephone and River, in her egyptian setting, trying to play out the story of Isis and Osiris. And one of the reasons I think River would have for going with this myth over the other is that in the egyptian myth, resurrection is inherent to the story, as a property of Osiris (of course the Doctor would live, resurrection is inherent to who he is).

She is someone with the power to ‘bring back the dead’ by manipulation, but the only way this can be done is through destruction. And when Clara sees her wishes brought to life (the dead Danny in the cybersuit), she recoils in horror, and chooses to instead help him die as he should. The whole finale - Missy, cybermen, the whole lot - is there to help Clara come to terms with losing Danny. This is why she can take centre stage in the credits, why she can claim to be the Doctor - the show, the story, is hers. And it's through letting Danny go that she rights the balance.
I read your comment earlier and was a little puzzled about what you were so excited about, but I see it now. Yes, obviously. Perfectly, utterly obvious. Which kinda begs the question why it took weeks for one of us to see it. Are we that dense? Or are we that tied up in our own analysis? Or is it just possible that this script was in need or another draft or two to refine its focus? Not that I have any desire to be bludgeoned over the head with the point, as would happen on so many shows, but I have a feeling Moffat might have been just a bit too subtle for his own good on this one. Or possibly hadn't quite realized yet where the emphasis should be falling.

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Date: 30 November 2014 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flowsoffire.livejournal.com
All the meta! All the parallels! All the Master feels! ♥♥♥

OMFG, so many mirrors. RIVER/DANNY MIRROR, YES! I had that feeling when we saw Danny really take shape that they would get along ever so well because they really had things in common, but the end of the season really takes that above and beyond.

3D Clara, I couldn't help picturing the paintings from Gallifrey… given your theories, that is ever so fitting.

And the Clara/Missy mirror, yes! All the good points—the Doctor's two friends, mutually exclusive. Claiming and being claimed, push and pull. I love that.

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained”

“The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise to never have a headache or always to feel hungry.”

Beautiful, beautiful quotes, and so true.

But Missy's just turns it all around, being the opposite side of the coin, the death to the life. I love the fact that she embodies Clara's refusal to let Danny go, but through that, shows her what is, in a way, deeply wrong about such a refusal, human though it is. And that this is where she gets it wrong—that the temptation she embodies cannot touch the Doctor, but touches Clara, who was supposed to be only a means to an end in her game… Oh, this is clever.

Re: the Doctor taking responsibility for the Master after the Time War, when there were no Time Lords around to do that (loved the contrast with Three's lines, hee :D): oh ABSOLUTELY, he wanted to keep him in the TARDIS for god's sake! There are times when people need more of a reality check, surely, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Ten. And the Jesus parallel has never been more SPOT-ON. We have an elaborate reasoning behind the dramatic posture!

Parallels to Town Called Mercy: I'll be flailing in the corner at the cleverness of everything.

And Clara gets to make the choice…

Not that the Doctor isn’t always the centre of her world, but the Master’s MO has usually been to ‘take over the world’ and for the Doctor to stop him. That is their a game. But this time Missy tries a different approach - she wants them to play the game together, as fellow players rather than opponents.
Ohhhh, I was wondering/thinking about that a lot and it was just perfect seeing your take on it. The End of Time parallel, of course! And they've both been changing their game, but not in the same direction—oh star-crossed lovers XD

And omfg, that new change of the game is making me even more excited for future Missy appearances now… ♥♥♥

Thank you for this! Spot-on, clever and very well argued, as always. You just see. It's a delight. :)

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Date: 1 December 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endeni
Ooooh, interesting! Danny as River! *_*

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Date: 1 December 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eaweek.livejournal.com
Amazing meta. I never saw the Danny-River parallel until you pointed it out, but it's so freaking obvious.

I really need to rewatch this entire season. Way too many thinky thoughts for my poor brain to hold at the moment! : )

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Date: 3 December 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dweomeroflight.livejournal.com
Sitting in a maccas in Vegas on holiday (will post to lj updating when I get to my hotel) but love your meta and I was hanging out for this!!! I really do love Moffat Who and a big part of that is his way of turning things into new things in ways that just work. He is the master of disguising the obvious. I love all of his layers and your meta helps me dig into those layers.

I struggled to watch series 8 in Australia as it aired - I had a lot on, my mum is really sick and it took me a bit to get a handle on Capaldi's doctor but I am re-watching on USB on my holiday plus having reflected on the finale, it was a darkly strong, character driven series which I love more and more as I think about it. The reframing of The Masters character was needed and smart - there is scope to explore so much, especially in creating the three way mirror of doctor/missy/Clara. That line of the doctor to Clara in Flatline 'goodness had nothing to do with it' becomes sheer genius in light of the finale.

I didn't feel Danny/Clara originally but I re-watched Listen the other day and it was utterly beautiful the way that Clara's treatise on fear ran over the scene of her and Danny affirming their love. Both Listen and Dark Water might be two of my favourite new who episodes ever. Series 8 had strong coherent themes. Listen tells us it's OK to be afraid, that fear doesn't make you cruel and cowardly as it has Missy. Fear makes us human.

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Date: 3 December 2014 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dweomeroflight.livejournal.com
I found it fascinating too that Missy can never understand people like Clara and Danny because she sees humans as pawns in her game, never equals as the doctor does. Things like love and honour and decency define humanity as much as the horrible stuff that Missy understands. Until she understands that she will always be lesser 'on the outside as big as a house... but on the inside your just so small.' There is more than one kind of power and the doctors companions have taught him this under Moffat who.

I'm gonna stop rambling now but good job ;)

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Date: 3 December 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
sea_thoughts: (DWRiver of Mercy - signed_aislynn)
From: [personal profile] sea_thoughts
YES! River/Danny! I saw it as soon as we knew that Danny grew up in an orphanage under a different name. And it goes all the way back to what River says to the centurion in The Pandorica Opens:

"A fool would say the work of the Gods, but you've been a soldier too long to believe there are Gods watching over us."

River was a soldier for far too long to believe there was any God watching over her and it ended up the same for Danny. Danny would never trust the Doctor to watch over and protect everyone. He'd rather take care of things himself. Just like River.

*goes back to reading*

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Date: 3 December 2014 11:11 pm (UTC)
sea_thoughts: (DWThe Bell Tolls - immobulus_icons)
From: [personal profile] sea_thoughts
Imagining Ten offering to kill the Sycorax himself makes my brain go pop as well. But of course, the problem was that even though he refused to do it, he still thought of it as his right. He was so outraged when Harriet took that decision away from him that he lashed out and brought her down. And the loss of Harriet Jones led to a power vacuum that brought John Saxon to power... and if anyone sees meting out death and controlling everything as his right, it's the Master, isn't it? Ten's actions foreshadowed the Master and his momentary selfishness directly led to the Master getting what he always wanted and being ten times worse. I wish that had been pointed out properly in the series (I know it was in a cut line) because I was always so angry with what happened to Harriet but I could never put it into words until now.

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Date: 4 December 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dweomeroflight.livejournal.com
It always really annoyed me that the show never called out Ten explicitly for making a power vacuum with Harriet Jones. Besides, she was making a pretty tough call which in my opinion, given her knowledge of the situation was pretty justifiable.

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Date: 30 September 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry, this is not a meta question, it's an in-universe, logical one, but hear me out.

Missy offers the Doctor control over the Cybermen, oh the irony, he doesn't want it, and she's like "well, you have no choice. Tough."
Because "There's only one way you can stop these clouds from opening up and killing all your little pets down here. Conquer the universe, Mister President. Show a bad girl how it's done."

Basically, it's "Do what I tell you, become like me, POWAH (you know you want to), and hey, you can save humanity!" And that's a strong bargaining chip for sure when it comes to persuading the Doctor to do something he doesn't want.

Question: I don't see the immediate correlation; how would the Doctor accepting the Cybermen army save humankind from the second rain? He can go conquer the universe; great. What about the clouds?
Is it a blackmail? Does Missy have control over the cyberpollen-clouds and can destroy/make them harmless if the Doctor agrees to do it? I'm not calling it implaussible, in fact it's a very logical explanation since she has all this versatile super-duper Time Lord technology -she freezes time in series 9, for God's sake- and since she created those clouds in the first place. I just think the phrasing's a bit vague, and they don't elaborate on it, they don't make her meaning clear, since the Doctor takes a third option and saves the Earth anyway. But I was wondering, what did she mean exactly; and that's the most logical conclusion I can get to.

Thoughts, do you agree?


elisi: (Default)elisi
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