The Master

I found the following interesting because I am on panel at the upcoming Phoenix Comic Con ( dealing with The Master.

I have the Ainley Master and have written up a treatment for my part of the panel which I obviously can’t disclose ahead of time but it has some similarities to this article. Thus, like the Doctor, the Master shares some basic traits of his personality across his regenerations. Fascinating stuff.

Gustaff Behr begins a new series examining each incarnation of the Master, starting with Delgado.

This is the part where I’m supposed to do the whole ‘intro’ paragraph thing. The Master. Rival Time Lord. Arch enemy of the Doctor. But you know all that already. Instead, let’s get to the fun stuff. “Masterology” is the study of the Master, focusing in-depth on each of the various incarnations, chronology, aims and a psychological personality deconstruction of the multiple bodies, specifically concerning psychoanalytical, behavioral and social-cognitive perspectives. Sounds fun eh? Let’s start with when the Master was first introduced to us…

The Suit – Roger Delgado


By this time, the Master was already a fully realized character, in the sense that he was much further along his regenerative cycle than the Doctor. In this ‘first’ incarnation, the Master’s persona was that of a scrupulously polite gentleman who had no qualms about slaughtering people, but who occasionally showed genuine reluctance in harming the Third Doctor.

That last part is important as it involves more than just a simple ‘Why Not Just Shoot Him’ trope. It reveals a deep psychological trait that is inherent in all Masters, but often to varying degrees. It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of this particular Master’s schemes involved him eventually spending a lot of time with the Doctor, which suggests a subconscious desire to be near him. The capacity of which was never made clear during this incarnation, but it is fairly likely that at this point, since both Time Lords considered their battles to be that of wits and both showed amusement at whatever obstacles the other placed in their way, this is likely due to the Master simply enjoying the Doctor’s company as an intellectual equal, which also points to a competitive personality that constantly strives to best him.

delgado-master-The-Sea-DevilsAnother defining trait was the sardonic sense of humor displayed by this Master, as well as his prejudice towards any life form not from Gallifrey. He displayed a genuine resentment towards people and other life forms, regarding them as primitives. This elitism could be an early symptom of Narcissistic-Personality Disorder, but this Master was not above admitting that the Doctor was his equal (or near so), something that someone with NPD would not admit so casually or earnestly.

Something that would come and go with the incarnations was a growing sense of spitefulness. The Delgado Master rarely exhibited a penchant to spite people, but on at least one occasion, his goal was simply to destroy the Doctor’s favorite species. Since spitefulness is closely related to resentment and the Delgado Master was rarely resentful – if anything, he was pleasantly annoyed, but also willing to accept defeat like a gentleman and wait until next time. The motivation to spite the Doctor could very well stem from something the Master views as a gross betrayal of their friendship. The events of Master spring to mind, but this is theoretical speculation as neither the Master nor the Doctor would remember these events until much later in their respective lives. The story, as told by Death is that during their youth, both Time Lords were austerely terrorized by a boy called Torvic. To escape a deathly predicament instigated on one of them, the other was forced to kill Torvic to save his friend’s life. It is possible the events of Master and the respective actions of both the young Doctor and Master during this adventure is what the Master subconsciously views as betrayal which is understandable due to the particular circumstances involved.

William-Hughes-master-youngIt is also worth noting that the Master is a victim of Nurture as opposed to Nature. Staring into the Untempered Schism, having Rassilon retroactively implant him with a signal that would drive him mad and being chosen as Death’s Champion, all these events paint the Time Lord as someone who was destined to be evil since the moment he was born. In that regard, he is a Tragic Villain.

The Master’s aims however, reveal him to be a much more typical villain also, especially in this incarnation. His aims and goals can be divided into three categories, namely ‘Universal Conquest’, ’Quest For New Life’, and ‘Killing the Doctor’.

The Delgado’s Master mostly ticked the ‘Universal Conquest’ box, desiring to become ‘Master of all Matter’. Despite being warned that the Master would surely try to kill him in Terror of the Autons, the Delgado Master rarely resorted to killing the Doctor, only doing so if he viewed him as an unmovable obstacle in his plans. Later incarnations would reject this pension entirely and some would even adopt this goal as personal hobby.

Frontier-In-Space-dalekUnfortunately though, one of the more negative aspects surrounding this Master is his status as a ‘static character’. Delgado’s Master received very little development beyond his scheme of the week and almost all of his character was devoted to him simply wanting to take over or escape from Earth.

According to Terrance Dicks, the original creator of the Master, Delgado’s incarnation was meant to be the thirteenth and final Master. However, in-universe dialogue, accompanied by further psychological and behavioral evidence of the character suggests otherwise.

For instance, the Doctor mentioned that the Master had used up his lives in The Deadly Assassin and that the corpse Master was the end result. However, the Delgado Master never once (on-screen) showed any pension for extending his life. His plans always fell into one or both of the other categories. This suggests a subconscious lack of interest, which is common in young people who don’t worry about getting older until they spot the first signs of aging. Though the Delgado Master was greying by his first appearance in Terror of the Autons, given that he never seemed to worry about the longevity of his life, it’s more likely that this was either the penultimate incarnation or an even earlier version of the Master. In layman’s terms: The Master never sought to extend his life because he didn’t see any point yet.

The idea is further rejected by the fact that if this was indeed a younger version of the Peter Pratt/Geoffrey Beevers Master, then logic and reason would dictate that the Master make use of his youthful body to seek new life instead of waiting for death to creep up on him. It is possible that his quest for new life occurred off-screen, but that leads directly into pure speculation that isn’t supported by any medium except the imagination of whoever is speculating.

Frontier-in-Space-masterAs touched upon earlier, this Master wasn’t terribly complex. This extended to his schemes as well. He was easy to figure out once you identified his routine and predictably used the same strategies over and over again, merely tweaking things a little to look slightly different. In other words, it was always the same present, just different wrapping paper.

Counting in this Master’s favor was the simplistic creativity his schemes often employed. They were uncomplicated and to the point, unlike later incarnations who would think up overly problematical schemes that had a gaping hole at the center of each which would later be used to defeat them. Also regarding the predictability aspect, this Master wasn’t terribly imaginative. This is evidenced by the various aliases he used such as “Colonel Masters” or “Mr. Magister”. These Clark Kent disguises often required the other characters in the story to be plot dense since that was the only way a reasonable person would be unable to figure out it was really the Master in disguise. After all, an alias is exponentially less effective if it contains the person’s real name.


About mydoctor1962

Doctor Who fan like few others. Also a fan of Science Fiction, Cooking Shows and more.

Posted on April 18, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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