If so, how’d she stay hidden?
*SPOILERS FOR SKYFALL BELOW*
It goes without saying that Judi Dench is an on screen legend and a tremendously talented actress. She made a great foil for Pierce Brosnan during his tenure as Bond, and although it was a little awkward to see her version of the role surviving the franchise reboot her chemistry with Craig’s Bond was the heart and soul of his first three films.
That all came to an end at the end of Skyfall, which showed her dying in Bond’s arms from blood loss. It was an appropriate end to her character, as Skyfall really was an examination of their relationship and Bond’s dependency on her. With her out of his life, what was he doing to do with himself? If the trailers for SPECTRE are any indication, that new direction includes some off the books assassinations.
… but what if she didn’t die? What if Bond did, in fact, learn to let go of her at the end of the film and she went into hiding? There’s a fan theory out there that theorizes that Judi Dench’s M is still alive and well, but like Bond in the beginning of Skyfall she’s “enjoying death.”
How would that even work?
Well, as far as an emotional narrative goes it actually makes some sense. At the beginning of Skyfall, Bond takes advantage of his “death” in the pre-credits sequence to take some time off. He means this to be for good, but of course he hears the call of duty and returns when MI6 is attacked by Silva.
M, meanwhile, is completely absorbed in her job at the start of the film. Despite the fact high ranking members of the British government want her out of her position, she’s holding on to her job tightly. She and Bond couldn’t be more opposed in their emotional states.
When Bond comes back, he tells her he’s been away “enjoying death.” In fact, he recommends the experience to her, “You should try it sometime. Get away from it all. It really lends perspective.”
You’re saying she took that advice?
Well, by the end of the film both Bond and M have gone through a lot of character development. Bond, for example, is easy to get back to work. What if M went through the opposite character arc and now wants to be away from the game? Of course, one way to do that is to die, but wouldn’t it be a little more poignant if Bond finally let her go off on her own?
How would she come back?
We don’t know. It wouldn’t even have to be in SPECTRE, but in the film after assuming Daniel Craig is onboard. We imagine just as a cameo scene to give Bond some information or an emotional beat. It’s much harder to do a scene like that and do the character justice after her exist in Skyfall.
How likely is this theory?
We’re going to go with not very likely. It’s actually not terribly thought out from a narrative perspective, but Judi Dench’s M was retired in Skyfall for a number of reasons. First and foremost, her price tag was getting higher and higher with each film. Secondly, at age 80 she’s getting a little old to be playing the role in a franchise that needs longevity.
Still, if she ever wanted to come back… we’re game if she is.