(Please don‘t read this if you haven’t seen the eighth season of Doctor Who and you’re the sort of person who gets upset about knowing plot points ahead of time. Thanks.)
Michelle Gomez is returning to Doctor Who as Missy, the latest incarnation of the Doctor’s Time Lord nemesis, the Master. Although she appeared to be vaporized in the show’s eighth season finale, Doctor Who has a proud tradition of bringing back its long-running villains from near-death situations. So while Gomez’s return was largely expected, the timing is a bit of a surprise. She’ll appear alongside stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in the show’s two-part season premiere this fall, which means the Christmas special is the only thing separating the character’s death and reappearance.
Gomez popped up throughout season eight, but was only revealed to be the Master in the two-part season finale. It was the first time the character has been played by a woman and the first time a Time Lord switched genders onscreen—potentially setting a precedent for the Doctor to one day do the same—and fan response was almost uniformly positive. Playing up that fan favorite angle, the show released the news of Missy’s return via a delightfully deadpan announcement from the character herself.
Showrunner Steven Moffat will pen the two-part premiere and, as he explains, “Everybody hide–Michelle Gomez as Missy was an instant hit last year, so she’s straight back to plague the Doctor and Clara in the series opener. But what brings her back into their lives is the last thing they’d expect.” While that cryptic description could mean just about anything, there’s a slight chance it hints at the return of Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) or Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), two popular characters who were also killed off in the season finale. (Death is largely meaningless on Doctor Who.) Or, given that the premiere episodes are called “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar,” Moffat’s statement could imply magic is somehow involved in Missy’s resurrection, because the laws of science are also pretty meaningless on Doctor Who.