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Doctor Who Just Debuted Its Most Powerful Villain - But That's Not The Scary Part

When "RuPaul's Drag Race" winner Jinkx Monsoon joined the cast of the soft-rebooted "Doctor Who" Season 1 – or Series 14, for fans who follow the classic terminology — the season's trailer made clear that she was going to portray a music-themed villain. What it didn't reveal is just how absurdly powerful the character is ... so powerful that they seem to be able to break the fourth wall.

The Maestro (Monsoon) debuts in "Doctor Who" Season 1, Episode 2, "The Devil's Chord." They're the child of the Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), a borderline all-powerful classic "Doctor Who" villain who himself returns in the show's third 60th anniversary special, "The Giggle." As a living, eternal embodiment of the concept of games, the Toymaker is a reality warper whose only weakness is that he needs to respect the rules of the game at hand ... but even then, he can (and does) cheat like there's no tomorrow. However, the Maestro proves far more powerful and dangerous than that. Armed with a similar invincible, omnipresent power set to the Toymaker's, the Maestro is a reality manipulator who embodies music — but unlike their father, they're not content to merely play.

Instead, the Maestro wants to own all music and strip the world of the ability to make pretty sounds, one person at a time. This is a far more terrifying process than it seems since the Maestro prefers to do this personally — generally by climbing out of musical instruments like a horror villain and forcefully tearing the music out of the person, sometimes killing them in the process. Those who survive — like the Beatles — are only able to play soulless jingles, and a world that loses its music is hopelessly heading toward joyless destruction.

The Maestro's powers are whimsical, yet terrifying

One of the truths of "Doctor Who" is that the show has no shortage of dangerous villains, but the Maestro takes things to the next level. They arrive on Earth in the 1960s, and by the 2020s, the planet is uninhabitable and destroyed by a nuclear war. This is the Maestro's true power. All the Toymaker-style goofy antics aside, this villain thrives on destruction, growing stronger on a dead world's unplayed potential music and the ambient sounds of the wrecked world itself. Their stated goal is to grow powerful enough to steal the music of the spheres, which would inflict this fate on the entire universe.

Because of such omnicidal ambitions, it's no surprise that the Maestro's theatrical nature masks a ruthless villain who's heavily coded as the fiddle-playing, musical contest-having version of the devil. What's more, they can only be banished by a specific, complicated melody that the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) is ultimately unable to guess by himself.

However, even this isn't the scariest part about the villain. The truly creepy thing about the Maestro is their aforementioned apparent ability to break the fourth wall. This is seen when they seize control of the TARDIS by playing a tune that includes the highly recognizable opening notes of the "Doctor Who" theme. At one point, they also reference the classic Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) term, "timey-wimey," which they should have no way of knowing. "Doctor Who" is no stranger to fourth-wall shenanigans, but the occasional glance at the camera and other such nods are nigh-exclusively reserved for the Doctor and the occasional companion. Seeing a reality-bending antagonist casually do so is chilling and makes the viewer wonder just how much unseen power the Maestro has in reserve.

The Maestro's fourth wall breaking could be a clue about the season's big bad

Ncuti Gatwa's "Doctor Who" debut season feels fresh thanks to villains like the Maestro, and it seems that even bigger monsters are on the way. As it happens, the Maestro's implied ability to break the fourth wall isn't the first time a character wholly unrelated to the Doctor has done so in the short time Gatwa has portrayed the Doctor. In the 2023 Christmas special, "The Church on Ruby Road," Ruby Sunday's (Millie Gibson) neighbor Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson) spends much of the episode as a comic relief-style onlooker, but ends the episode by looking directly at the camera and asking the viewer, "Never seen a TARDIS before?"

"Doctor Who" Season 1 may or may not fully solve the mystery of Mrs. Flood, but it's worth noting that both the Toymaker and the Maestro specifically refer to an entity they call The One Who Waits. Both of these powerful beings appear to consider The One Who Waits a bigger danger than they are, and it seems clear that the show will reveal the person behind the moniker before long.

Since Mrs. Flood knows what a TARDIS is, can break the fourth wall, and makes a point of spending the majority of "The Church on Ruby Road" hanging around the Doctor's police box TARDIS, waiting to see what happens, she may or may not turn out to be The One Who Waits. She certainly seems to fit the bill, at least. Could this seemingly harmless lady be powerful enough to send the Toymaker running? It remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: few things are as they seem on "Doctor Who."