Of course the Master has had a penchant for playing dress-up before but his/her latest incarnation just might be the most radical yet- she actually wears a dress! While ' traditionalists' may dismiss the idea of the Mistress without a second thought, lets try & change at least a few minds. In this case, Rule One is clearly simple- rules are made to be broken, if you're brave enough to try tinkering with 39 years of history that is - the Master having first appeared in 1971's Terror Of The Autons and last seen on January 1st 2010.
On this evidence, Steven Moffat has balls of steel! Its a massive gamble, granted, but clearly one deemed worth taking, & not as big a deal as it might sound at first.............you hardly go doing this sort of thing willy-nilly. The right boxes were clearly ticked, & as the Moff said when announcing her casting:
"I've known Michelle for years, and I'm thrilled to welcome her to Doctor Who. She's everything we need– brilliant, Scottish, and a tiny bit satanic."The idea that Time Lords can change gender as part of the regenerative process is of course first introduced on screen in The Doctor's Wife...
Mention of a female Master also appeared in Alistair Reynolds's Third Doctor novel Harvest Of Time. So the implication that it could happen has been hanging in the air for a while now, the great elephant in the room- doesn't it feel wonderful to have it out in the open on such a scale? Gomez ( lady Master) now joins William Hughes ( Tiny Master, the child who reacted to a look into the Untempered Schism by going mad), Roger Delgado ( charming evil beardie Master), Peter Pratt ( burnt corpse Master), Anthony Ainley ( campy Master of disguise), Eric Roberts ( snake-thingy/bodysnatcher Master), Derek Jacobi ( Professor Yana/the Chameleon Arch Master) & John Simm ( Master drummer/nutjob manipulated by the Time Lords) in the pantheon. The reveal of his/her latest self has to be the highlight of Series Eight, surely!
As a great man once observed in the aftermath of his own first regeneration ' life depends on change, and renewal'. Therefore, the rules ( if Doctor Who can be said to have had any in the first place) are constantly in flux. Yes, the Master had always previously been male- but that was before. Out with the old, in with the new- as is only fair.
After all the Earth & its peoples have seen many a change since the man who's now a lady first walked it, & the time is right for her to make her entrance in light of that- not merely because it really shakes things up, but even in the midst of such a massive biological change, Gomez's performance brings out more than a few subtle hints of the men the Mistress once was......
She herself puts it rather bluntly when she tells the shocked Doctor ( though she might as well have addressed it to those watching at home too):
"Please try to keep up. Short for Mistress. Well, couldn't very well keep calling myself ' The Master', now, could I?"
Simple, but a valid point nonetheless. While she couldn't go by her old name any longer for obvious reasons, she clearly retains the personality behind it – which surely should be what counts above all! She kills poor old Dr Chang after he practically begs her for mercy, delighting in his fear before finally finishing him off with what looks like either a variant on the Tissue Compression Eliminator she used to favour or a radically redesigned laser screwdriver of the type she carried as ' Harold Saxon', Prime Minister. Its hardly the first time she's done anyone in without pity, either!
Clearly the scars of the Time War burn- she's still angry that she was ' the one you ( the Doctor) left for dead'. She's still sharp as a tack when it comes to mind games, too! First that kiss- regenerate into a woman & give your mortal enemy a peck on the cheek/nightmares that'll last to the end of his days. Classic. Then, there's the Nethersphere- abusing Gallifreyan technology for her own ends in an alliance with the Cybermen. Who says they'll stay on her side, though? After all it need not be said that the Mistress could last about as long as the old Professor did, though wed love to see Gomez given time to properly impose herself in the role. And they'd surely be prime candidates to bump her off......
She's got form when it comes to such arrangements going to pot, too, if you recall her first male self's golden age. Remember the Nestene Consciousness/Autons, Sea Devils, Axons, Kronos & Azal? Even her choice of costume is Masterly in a roundabout manner!
You'll recall she'd previously been fascinated by The Clangers & Teletubbies - in light of which it makes perfect sense that she'd turn to Mary Poppins for inspiration on how best to conduct herself as a lady, however malevolent her intentions.
In a sense, she's just as damaged as the similarly brilliant & Scottish Doctor she's now revealed herself to- the perfect nemesis, in much the same way as her predecessors were to the Doctor's past incarnations- the Moriarty to his Sherlock Holmes as Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks intended. In essence, they were foes, though there was a sort of begrudging respect for one another-as writer Malcolm Hulke, the man behind Colony In Space, The Sea Devils & Frontier In Space said:
"There was a peculiar relationship between The Master and The Doctor: one felt that the Master wouldn't really have liked to eliminate the Doctor...you see The Doctor was the only person like him at the time in the whole universe, a renegade Time Lord and in a funny sort of way they were partners in crime."And while 'he' may now be a ' she', we can at least hope that that aspect of things never changes!