A Masterful Villain

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It makes perfect literary sense. How do you create a villain who is legitimately threatening, an engaging and interesting match for the protagonist’s strengths, but is not over-powerful? Simple solution: You take the hero, and make them evil. If someone is so near to your intellectual and capable equal in nearly all counts, the “chess match” is all the more balanced, and victory that much harder to attain. So it makes sense that Doctor Who showrunners would nurture such a perfect foil, and bring them out every now and again to incite a war of wits. Now, if only there were a way to disguise them, to change their face to keep surprising the hero…

From the moment Roger Delgado stepped into frame and began manipulating the human race in Terror of the Autons, it was apparent that we had a villain cut from the same cloth as our hero. As situations quickly arose that saw the Doctor appearing one step behind, confounded by intellect, technology and physical capabilities matching his own, viewers became invested in a counterpart who was a clear danger throughout time. This week, we look at the Master’s first appearance and compare it to the modernizations of the character recently portrayed by John Simm and Michelle Gomez.

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