No surprise. Missy is in the vault. From Moffat’s interview with DWM, it sounds like we were all supposed to guess she was in there. And, again unsurprisingly, the vault serves as a device to thrust us into the Doctor’s and Bill’s next series of adventures.
I so rarely guess correctly, that I am happy to say, even though I didn’t go so far as to say Missy was the vaulted one, I did think it had to be someone for whom the Doctor felt a familial responsibility. As far as we know. Missy is the closest thing the Doctor has to family since River died. Unless Susan is still alive… Unless Bill is really Susan Regenerated!! (Whoa, Berberet. Step back from the ledge…)
This is Steven Moffat’s final series of Doctor Who and I wonder how that is affecting his writing. I assume he is incorporating ideas and themes he hasn’t worked into the show yet. In the past, he has often talked about the DW cast and crew in terms of being a family. This may be my wistful, fanish conceit, but I want to believe that this season’s theme of family is an ode to the show itself. In a Watsonian way of looking at the show*, the Doctor and the Companions almost always create a family of choice as they face adventure and peril together. From a Doylist perspective, the production team becomes a family as they work to create the show. Finally, in a meta way, the fan base can resemble a family as we find affinity with each other via Doctor Who and develop relationships. In fact, I know of many actual families initially sparked by a love for the show.
Whether you share my fannish family fantasy or not, this episode once again focuses upon a familial relationship, this time between the Doctor and Missy. The drama with the Veritas manuscript and the Vatican serve only as a set-up for the crisis to come and how The Doctor, Bill and Missy will face it together. (Well, it’s also pretty fun to watch!)
I am wishing that Bill had a little more agency in this episode. Other than her interactions with Moira and Penny, (more to come on this in a moment), Bill did little more than follow the Doctor and Nardole around. Thank goodness it was just simulated Bill and not real Bill. I hope for more Bill action in the future and I have great anticipation for the first Bill/Missy meet-up.
About representation on Doctor Who. As a queer woman, I watch Doctor Who with the same eye as every fan…most of the time. I love almost all of it to bits, and I’m occasionally disapppointed. However, when these authentic, accurate Bill the queer woman moments appear I realize, while I don’t really feel outside, I also don’t really feel inside. Until Bill does the “managing parents who just can’t cope with who I am, so I just let them get along the best they can and hope they come around at some point in the future” thing. In these moments, I feel a part of the show in a way I don’t at any other time. (Well, when a character was named Heather, that was cool.) The interactions between Bill, Moira and Penny are are so my life. (At least my life a couple of decades ago, when I was Bill’s age.)
Thanks Steven Moffat, Pearl Mackie and the BBC. I’ve never loved DW more.
*I first encountered this method of using the subjective vs objective perspectives on a story on Verity Podcast. Originally introduced by Sherlock fandoms, the rubric spread to others fan bases over the last 20 years or so. The Doylist perspective looks upon the story objectively, from the outside, taking into account real world forces upon the narrative. The Watsonian perspective is subjective, analyzing the story from within its own narrative confines.