Series 8 (Season 34) of Doctor Who is drawing to a close and with it we are presumably edging closer to the revelation regarding the identity of Missy, presumably the season's final boss battle. She's appeared here and there mysteriously, always related to welcoming deceased characters into a new area, or as part of something called The Promised Land.
While I cringe at how badly Doctor Who handles the concept of Big Badding usually, I'll admit to being as intrigued as anyone. So today I've gathered the best theories regarding Missy from around the internet.
Missy is The Master The odds point to Missy being an old enemy or at least connected to an old enemy. Every season except Series 6 has featured a return of an old foe, with only Madame Kovarian and the Silence being original to the revived series as main antagonists. There's not much evidence for this theory besides Missy possibly being short for Mistress. A new Master regeneration is problematic as his ability to do so is in question after his vampiric rebirth in Series 4, not to mention it would involve him escaping the pocket universe where Gallifrey is hidden. Still, if anyone can do it, it's Koschei.
Missy is The Rani The female renegade Time Lord called The Rani has always been high on the list of foes to return despite only appearing in two episodes. The appearance of a Tyrannosaur in "Deep Breath" might even be a clue as she was experimenting on T-rexes before her initial defeat. The Rani seems unlikely, though. She's not a terribly well established villain, and Big Finish Audio has announced the character's return in that format with a new incarnation following the death of actress Kate O'Mara. It seems like a big headache, but not as big as...
Missy is a New Incarnation of The Valeyard (And Therefore The Doctor) New information regarding Missy came at the tail of "Flatline" where she referred to Clara as "My Clara", a term only used by the Eleventh Doctor. With a whole new slew of regeneration cycles to steal, it's possible that the dark possible future incarnation of The Doctor might be back in a new body to sap the life from his younger body once again.
The Valeyard is a troublesome (And really sort of boring) bad guy. It never made sense to have an older incarnation execute the younger, though I will admit that the sort of backstage machinations Missy seems to be pulling do feel like an awful lot like the stuff that happened on the edges of "Trial of a Time Lord". There's no possible explanation besides wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, but then again that's Steven Moffat's signature. A mention of The Valeyard in "Name of the Doctor" is proof Moff hasn't forgotten about the character.
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Missy Rules the Land of the Dead Nearly every mention of Missy or the Promised Land has eventually come back to people killed while interacting with The Doctor. Whether it be defeated enemies, collateral damage, or willing self-sacrifices, the Doctor's body count is mustering in one spot. From one person's reaction, we can assume that the number is legion, and it calls to mind a quote from The Great Intelligence last season...
Great Intelligence: It was a minor skirmish by the Doctor's blood-soaked standards. Not exactly the Time War, but enough to finish him. In the end, it was too much for the old man.
Vastra: The Doctor has been many things, but never blood-soaked!
Great Intelligence: Tell that to the leader of the Sycorax, or Solomon the trader, or the Cybermen, or the Daleks. The Doctor lives his life in darker hues, day upon day, and he will have other names before the end: the Storm, the Beast, The Valeyard.
The doubts by the Twelfth Doctor over his own goodness might be coming home to roost as the dead themselves who would otherwise be alive if he hadn't interfered. I have to say, as an American still living in the shadow of some of our "liberations" over the last decade plus, this feels very much the answer.
Missy is "The Woman in the Shop" Since the beginning of Season 7 there's been a single, unseen throwaway character referred to as "The Woman in the Shop". She was responsible for giving Clara The Doctor's phone number, and thereby setting in motion her own deaths and rebirths. She was also responsible for the ad placed in Victorian England which led them to the café run by the Clockwork Men. Fan theories about who the woman in the shop might be range from Rose Tyler to Sally Sparrow to even the mysterious Time Lady who voted against Rassilon and warned Wilfred Mott. Granted, Missy being revealed as the woman doesn't answer any deeper questions, but it would sew up one thread.
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Missy is an Agent (Or Creation) of Gallifrey I found this rather intriguing theory on Reddit. It goes like this. For the 900ish years The Doctor was on Trenzalore he guarded the crack in the universe that led to Gallifrey, unwilling to free them and restart a war with the Daleks or leave them unattended. In that time, the Time Lords clearly figure out how to open and close the cracks at will, indicated by their movement in the finale of "Time of The Doctor". It's possible that the people being taken after death are actually being swallowed by cracks opened by Gallifrey so as to not upset the web of time. How exactly these people are to be used to free Gallifrey would still be unknown.
Missy is a Cyber-Planner It's already been confirmed that the Cybermen are due to return in the season finale, which implies that Missy may be working for or with them. Most of the hints we have here come from the appearance of the Foretold in "Mummy on the Orient Express", which was essentially a new type of cyborg soldier created from the dead. The experiments on the Foretold were done by an unknown electronic voice called Gus, further implying possible cybernetic connections.
As with last season when we struggled to understand the mystery of Clara, some of this is probably a little right, most of it is probably wrong, but we'll find out soon enough!