The War Master returns later this year in the fifth volume of his own Doctor Who spin-off series – and he’s going to face his archenemy once more!
Out of Big Finish’s many spin-off series based on Doctor Who, The War Master has to be not just one of the darkest, but also, one of the best. Focusing on the Doctor’s greatest enemy during the Time War, the series has shown us exactly what the Master gets up to when the Doctor isn’t around to stop him.
Its biggest selling point has to be Derek Jacobi in the titular role. While he only briefly played the villain on television in Utopia, his own series has more than proved him to be one of the Master’s very best incarnations.
When Big Finish released Anti-Genesis at the end of last year, we have to admit – we were initially worried that the fourth series of The War Master would be its last. Especially when we finished listening to it.
Thankfully, Big Finish has proved us wrong with their latest announcement! At least two more box sets will be released in the spin-off series, the first of which will be released in October this year. More than that: the Master will once again face his greatest enemy: the Doctor!
Hearts of Darkness
“Find the Doctor… stop the Doctor… and, if necessary, kill the Doctor!”
Recruited by the Celestial Intervention Agency to track down his oldest enemy, the Master finds himself thrown into a mission that will take him into deepest Dalek territory.
Abandoned on the planet Redemption, he assembles a crew and acquires a ship – the journey that follows is certain to test them all… and not everyone will survive.
But space pirates and living corpses are the least of their worries. Their biggest threat remains at large: a Time Lord who likes to call himself ‘the Doctor’.
So it sounds like we’ve got a lot to look forward to with this one. Once again, like The Master of Callous and The Devil You Know, we’re getting another story of the Master working for the Time Lords. Naturally, Narvin – not just a key member of the CIA, but also one of the best characters of the Doctor Who universe – features in this box set.
However, one element that I’m remaining cautious about is the box set’s selling point: the reunion between Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and Derek Jacobi’s War Master. This isn’t their first time meeting – the Eighth Doctor was a key character in The War Master: Rage of the Time Lords, while the War Master crossed over into Eight’s own series, Ravenous 4.
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A problematic reunion
Now, you may have noticed a slight problem with this. When the Tenth Doctor met “Professor Yana” in Utopia, he didn’t recognize him. How come, if the Eighth Doctor had met this particular Master already?
In the case of Ravenous 4, the two were able to avoid each other. This was mainly because Jacobi’s Master was not the only one to feature in two-part finale Day of the Master – not only did Missy feature, but so did Eric Roberts’s incarnation. It was the latter that Eight mainly faced, leaving his companions to deal with the War Master and Missy.
However, Rage of the Time Lords was very different. The final episode of that box set was heavily focused on the Eighth Doctor and the Master, and was an interesting exploration of their complex relationship. So how did that box set end? By the Master erasing the Doctor’s memory, naturally.
I don’t necessarily mind the idea of stories featuring both the Eighth Doctor and the War Master. Especially as I’m a big fan of both Paul McGann and Derek Jacobi. But at the same time, if a reset button is going to be continually be pressed for McGann’s Doctor so that he simply forgets Jacobi’s Master, would it really be worth it?
Keeping that in mind, I’m still hugely excited about this box set. More of Derek Jacobi’s Master can only be a good thing, and I’m excited to discover what he gets up to next. Not just in October with Hearts of Darkness, but also in his sixth box set Killing Time – out in Aug 2021.
Are you a fan of the War Master? Have you enjoyed his own series? Are you excited about his upcoming reunion with the Eighth Doctor? Let us know in the comments below.