This article contains spoilers for the Doctor Who Centenary Special, The Power of the Doctor.Doctor Who has finally delivered on an unmade storyline from the Steven Moffat era of the show. Jodie Whittaker’s final episode is an epic battle against the Daleks, Cybermen and the Master (Sacha Dhawan) which stretches from Russia 1916 to the far future. The scenes in 1916 find the Master disguised as Rasputin, the Russian mystic healer who tended to the hemophiliac son of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. The idea of a renegade Time Lord masquerading as Rasputin isn’t a new Doctor Who idea, and was originally pitched for Peter Capaldi’s third year in the role.
The Russian scenes in « The Power of the Doctor » reach a crescendo when the Master enacts his plan against the Doctor to the strains of Boney-M’s disco classic « Rasputin. » The well-known song was another element of the plot of the unmade story entitled « How the Monk Got His Habit » by Peter Harness. Although the episode never made it to screens, Chris Chibnall’s final Doctor Who script does finally give audiences a sense of what it would have looked like.
Peter Capaldi’s Almost Faced Off Against Rasputin
During the 2020 Doctor Who Watch-Alongs on social media, season 9 episodes 8 and 9 « The Zygon Invasion/Inversion » by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat were selected to represent the Peter Capaldi era. As part of these online events, writers and stars would tweet along with the episodes, sharing new scenes and providing insights into the episodes themselves. It was here that Peter Harness revealed that he had pitched an idea entitled « How The Monk Got His Habit » for Doctor Who season 10. Harness’ idea was to draw from Doctor Who’s Time Lord history by pitting the Doctor against the Meddling Monk, a renegade who enjoyed messing around with the past.
The character hadn’t been seen since 1965’s The Dalek Masterplan, but Harness believed the time was right to bring him back, played by What We Do In The Shadows’ Matt Berry. The plot involved the Monk triggering a disastrous chain of events when he traveled back to Russia in the 1910s to play Rasputin the Boney-M classic. Sharing his outline on social media, Harness observed that the idea « seemed completely insane » but « might have been fun ». Now that audiences have seen a version of the story in « The Power of the Doctor » they probably all agree that it’s a bit of both.
Why The Master Is Better As Rasputin
The end of Harness’ story would find the Monk forced to stand in for Rasputin, and his regenerative powers would explain the myths around how the so-called « Mad Monk » had survived multiple assassination attempts before his death. While the idea of Matt Berry as the Meddling Monk/Rasputin is a great Doctor Who idea, the Master is probably a better fit for masquerading as the Russian mystic. Many contemporaries believed that Rasputin held some sort of hypnotic, magical power over the Russian emperor, which is perfectly explained by the Master’s gifts for hypnotism.
Not only that, but one thing that links many of the actors who’ve played the Master is the character’s well-documented love of popular culture from the Roger Delgado incarnation watching children’s TV show The Clangers in the 1970s to John Simm’s Master dancing to the Scissor Sisters’ « I Can’t Decide » in 2007. The Master gloating over finally defeating the Doctor by dancing to the Boney-M song in full Rasputin cosplay is in keeping with everything that Doctor Who fans know about the Doctor’s best enemy. Harness’ Rasputin idea may have been too insane for a full episode, but it provides « The Power of the Doctor » with one of its most memorable moments.