The big question of the moment right now in Doctor Who is "Who is Missy?" Even the trailer for the big two-part finale, which starts this Saturday, involves Missy asking if the Doctor knows who she is. This reminds me of the very enjoyable mystery of who River Song was. Some say that Moffat's payoffs aren't satisfying in the end. Personally, the only one I found remotely unsatisfying was "The Name of the Doctor," so I feel confident that he has something really creative up his sleeve for this one. But, of course, we have to remember Moffat's resistance to reusing classic series characters and species. That's not to say that he refuses to use them altogether (Silurians, Sontarans, Daleks, Zygons, The Great Intelligence), but that he usually prefers to make up his own villains. So there's the possibility, of course, that Missy is a completely new character that Moffat invented. But the way that her identity is couched in mystery leaves us with the suggestion that she's someone important from the Doctor's past, so perhaps, as Moffat has now used some of the classic series characters and villains a little bit more in the past year or so, Missy might be a character returning from the classic series. For a long time, we weren't sure if Missy was good or evil, as she seemed to primarily be concerned with looking over the dead. Earlier today, the BBC released a scene from the upcoming finale which confirmed that Missy was, quite clearly, evil. It showed that she was working with the Cybermen, and it pretty much revealed her entire plan:
So, here are a few possibilities about the identity of Missy, listed in, what I consider to be, the order of their likelihood:
Missy is The Rani: Since Doctor Who returned to air in 2005, most of the key villains from the classic series have been reintroduced very slowly, allowing new viewers to get to know them slowly, so as not to overwhelm anyone. First the Daleks, then the Cybermen, then the Master, then the Silurians, the Great Intelligence, the Ice Warriors, and the Zygons. At this point, almost all of the really central ones from the classic series have made a reappearance in the new series. However, there's still one villain that the fans continue to clamor for: The Rani. The fans' desires to see her return is way out of proportion to how important she actually was in the classic series, as the Rani only ever appeared in two classic series serials. Part of the clamor for the Rani's return is probably the fact that she clearly has a long history with the Doctor that we still don't know about, and I think people would really like to see that explored further. The Rani and the Doctor don't go into their history much on screen, but the expanded universe material says that the Rani, the Master, the Doctor, and an assortment of other Time Lords who have popped up in the classic series were part of a very exclusive clique of students at the Time Lord academy who were head and shoulders above the other students. The fact that the Rani and the Doctor are old friends supports the theory that she is Missy, as Missy, back in "Deep Breath," refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend. The Rani is a scientist, a bio-chemist to be exact, and her defining trait is her complete lack of scientific ethics, often using intelligent creatures as test subjects. The fact that Missy seems to be able to bring people back from the dead lends some credibility to the theory of Missy being the Rani as well, as her background in bio-chemistry might explain how she's discovered how to do this. However, while the Rani is a Time Lady (stop laughing, that's what they're called), and therefore can be played by anyone, the one downside to this theory is that Moffat might consider it a little insensitive to introduce a regeneration of the Rani only 7 months after Kate O'Mara, the actress who played the Rani in the classic series, passed away.
Missy is a female regeneration of the Valeyard: The Valeyard was the main villain of Colin Baker's last season, a season-long arc known as "Trial of a Timelord." He was said to be an evil version of the Doctor, made up of all the evil aspects of the Doctor's own personality, formed between his "twelfth and final incarnation." This always seemed strange back when we thought there would only be 13 Doctors (to quote my friend Patrick, "integers don't work that way"), but now that we know that there will be more than 13 Doctors, anytime between now and the end of the series (which may never come) could be between his twelfth and final incarnation. The season ended with a cliffhanger, as the Valeyard was revealed to still be alive and had infiltrated the Time Lord high council. The cliffhanger was never followed-up on because the "Trial of a Timelord" plotline was so convoluted and unpopular that a memo was actually released to the writing staff instructing them to, under no circumstances, revisit the Valeyard or even try to explain the million plot holes in that story. Still, much like Jason Todd in the Batman comics was far more popular after he was killed off than when he was actually in the comic, the Valeyard has found his largest fan base since his run on the show ended. I would estimate that about 50% of the fan fictions written about Doctor Who are about the Valeyard. People really do want to see the Valeyard again. In fact, back in "The Name of the Doctor," the Great Intelligence mentioned that someday the Doctor would be known as the Valeyard. As some of my co-hosts on my podcast mentioned, one of the main things that lends this theory credence is that, in "Deep Breath," Missy says of the Doctor " I do like his new accent, though. Think I might keep it." She seems to be talking about the Doctor as if she both is and isn't somehow a part of him. The fact that the Valeyard is, essentially, the darker side of the Doctor's own personality would make for an interesting explanation of why Missy called the Doctor her boyfriend, but this still remains a very outside possibility. I don't think Moffat really wants to muddle into the murky waters of "Trial of a Timelord."
Missy is Mercy Hartigan: I don't blame you if you're now asking "Who the hell is Mercy Hartigan?" Her obscurity is the main reason I put her so far down on this list. I actually had to look her up to remember her name myself. Mercy Hartigan was the woman who worked for the Cybermen back in "The Next Doctor." This theory came to me earlier today when I saw the scene that was released, and what I immediately thought of was the last woman who worked with the Cybermen. We last saw Mercy as she was piloting a giant, steampunk Cyberman and, having been set loose of their influence over her, caused the Cyberman to slowly self-destruct as it fell into a parallel dimension. She was presumed dead, but we never saw it actually happen, so who knows? Also, "Mercy" and "Missy" sound pretty similar, don't they? Still, the fact that she's pretty much the only person on this list that's not a Time Lord, making her change of appearance difficult to explain, and that she's a pretty obscure character makes her a pretty remote possibility.
Missy is Susan, the Doctor's Granddaughter: On the most recent episode of my podcast, my co-host and co-worker, Scott, brought up this theory that he had read online and that he said had immediately been batted down. Myself and my other co-hosts also batted this theory down pretty quickly, but now I don't know if it's the most absurd idea anymore. While I still think this is only a remote possibility because there are so many holes in it (Susan is the Doctor's granddaughter, so calling him her "boyfriend" is, to say the least...icky), I still stand by the fact that I really feel like the show has been hinting for years that the Doctor's role as a father is coming back around in a big way sometime soon (that damned cot!).
Missy is Jenny, the Doctor's Daughter: See above, re: Susan.
Missy is River Song: Literally the only thing that keeps this theory alive is Missy calling the Doctor her boyfriend. Now that we have confirmation that Missy is, indeed, evil, there's little hope left that she's going to turn out to be River, unless Moffat has decided he's tired of having fans anymore.
Other than that, I'm really intrigued to see what this who exactly Missy is. The other interesting thing is that, from the trailer, it seems that we're going to see Kate Stewart and her trusty sidekick, Osgood, once again. Judging from the scene in "Day of the Doctor" where Kate Stewart says that she's already given Clara security clearance because of her last visit to UNIT, I'm guessing that this episode is actually going to take place earlier in Kate and Osgood's timeline than "Day of the Doctor." I also think that my friend Dawn's theory that Osgood is actually Clara's long lost sister is going to eventually turn out to be true.
But what I'm possibly most intrigued about, other than Missy's identity of course, is why Clara is acting so odd in the trailer, taunting the Doctor, and telling him that Clara Osborne never existed. Clearly, Missy is the woman from the shop who brought the Doctor and Clara together, and the one who placed the ad in "Deep Breath" that brought them back together. Does she have some sort of hold over Clara that's causing her to turn on the Doctor? Or has she just become so infuriated with the Doctor's actions from this season that she's snapped and turned on him? Frankly, I wouldn't blame her if she did. And why does Missy so want Clara and the Doctor to be together? Seeing as how she seems to be evil, and Clara saved the Doctor's life, putting the two of them together seems to be counterproductive.
I've been told that, in the UK, Halloween is celebrated, but that it's not as big of a holiday as in the US, hence why there are no Halloween specials or Halloween themed episodes of Doctor Who. But, in a way, this feels like a nice Halloween-ish themed episode. The Cybermen are back, they have a mysterious new leader, and they're harvesting the graves of the Earth. Sounds like a big, fun, rollicking, scary Doctor Who adventure!