Doctor Who Season 14 Episode 2 villain explained: Who is Maestro?

Jessica Cullen
Jinkx Monsoon as Maestro in Doctor Who: The Devil's Chord

Here’s everything you need to know about Maestro, the musical menace tearing up 1960s London in Doctor Who Season 14 Episode 2, ‘The Devil’s Chord’.

No, the villains of ‘The Devil’s Chord’ are not The Beatles. (That would have been cool, though.) Instead, it’s a time-travelling being known as Maestro, who elicits fear through stealing the one thing that all humankind relies upon: music.

The Doctor and Ruby face up against this retro thief in Doctor Who Season 14, during the episode ‘The Devil’s Chord’. The showmanship of Maestro definitely makes this the stronger episode from the new season by far, but why is Maestro so menacing?

Here’s everything you need to know about this episode’s antagonist, including Maestro’s ultimate fate. Warning: Major spoilers ahead!

Who is Maestro in Doctor Who?

Maestro is the villain in Doctor Who Season 14 Episode 2, ‘The Devil’s Chord’, and is a being who has the ability to steal music, and ultimately has the goal of erasing it from the galaxy entirely.

We first meet Maestro in the episode’s opening scene in 1925, where a piano teacher is in the middle of a lesson with a bored student. The teacher, Mr Timothy Drake, makes an effort to liven things up when he teaches the boy, Henry Arbinger, about the “Devil’s Chord“. (This is a musical chord that in olden times was thought to summon the devil.)

When he plays the chord, a knocking suddenly comes from inside the piano. When he opens it, Maestro jumps out. The chord essentially brought Maestro to life, with the help of Henry Arbinger (secretly Harbinger — some Tom Riddle-esque moves going on here). Maestro, recognizing Drake to be a talented composer, steals the music out of him.

By the time the Doctor and Ruby rock up to London in 1965, music has already been stolen from the world, erasing the talents of The Beatles, Cilla Black, and everyone else on the planet.

Jinkx Monsoon as Maestro in Doctor Who: The Devil's Chord

Maestro is recognizable by a rotation of brightly-colored outfits, bright orange hair, and opulent style. This scene-stealing villain exudes theatricality and loudness, with a talent for singing and playing musical instruments. The Doctor describes Maestro as “the essence of music itself.”

Maestro steals music from victims by controlling a sentient musical score which sucks out the melodies from humans. From this, Maestro can absorb the music from a conductor’s baton. Maestro carries an array of musical tools, including the baton and a tuning fork, which can be used against the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. But what is Maestro’s grand plan? To erase all music from the universe, leaving behind nothing but aeolian tones — “the purest sound of all.”

Maestro’s Giggle and the Toymaker connection explained

It’s revealed in ‘The Devil’s Chord’ that Maestro is actually the child of the Toymaker, who was played by Neil Patrick Harris in the third 60th anniversary special, ‘The Giggle’.

This is revealed when the Doctor and Ruby first see Maestro, and the sound of Maestro’s laugh is the infamous giggle that drove the population of London to violence in ‘The Giggle‘. The Doctor is clearly shaken from the encounter, still traumatized from his battle with the Toymaker that caused his bigeneration.

Later, after Maestro chases them through time to a futuristic and war-torn London, it’s explained that Maestro is the Toymaker’s child.

The Toymaker was banished from existence after losing a game of catch in ‘The Giggle’, but lives on through his offspring. Maestro actually ends up singing a little song about the Toymaker, describing him as being “mean and tough”.

How does the Doctor defeat Maestro?

The Doctor defeats Maestro using the power of music, finding the reverse version of the Devil’s Chord that sends Maestro back into the piano and re-releases music back into the world.

It all goes down in the final battle during ‘The Devil’s Chord’ ending. The Doctor and Maestro hash it out using musical instruments as the Doctor attempts to find the magic chord that’ll undo everything. However, Maestro gets the upper hand, and traps the Doctor and Ruby inside a drum and a cello, respectively.

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who Devil's Chord

Thankfully, it’s the Beatles that save the day. John Lennon and Paul McCartney stumble across the famous Abbey Road piano, and can see the musical notes that the Doctor was attempting to play. Together, they play the chord and send Maestro away from their world.

As Maestro gets pulled back into the piano, all music is restored into the world. The Doctor and Ruby run onto the roof, where they can hear London singing and playing songs once again.

Who plays Maestro?

Maestro is played by Jinkx Monsoon, the first ever two-time winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

A drag icon, Monsoon first became known after winning RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 in 2013, and followed with another win during All Stars 7 in 2022. In 2023, Monsoon starred in the Broadway production of Chicago as Matron “Mama” Morton.

Monsoon has continued to perform over the years in various original cabaret shows, and has released three original albums. Elsewhere on screen, she’s appeared in Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake, Steven Universe, Blue Bloods, and AJ and the Queen.

Talking about the role back when the casting was announced in October 2023, Monsoon described playing Maestro as “a dream come true.”

“It’s insane,” she told Pride. “It’s like all of my actor fantasies have been rolled into one character, and now I get to do it all on a show that I love, written by a prolific writer, a voice of our generation who has written so many astounding things.”

For more Who, check out our guide of the best Doctor Who Christmas specials. Don’t forget to check in on when the new episode of Doctor Who is out, and find out how to watch Doctor Who Season 14.