Mikhail first met the Doctor when he was a child, although for the Doctor this was their last encounter. Mikhail had lost his balloon, and the Doctor got him a new one. The Doctor asked Mikhail for forgiveness.
Mikhail was visited by the Doctor during his promotion ceremony to Chief Engineer. He showed the Doctor a picture of his wife Mariana and his infant daughter Pris.
Years later, Mikhail and his crew were caught in an asteroid storm. The Doctor managed to save the ship, but this accidentally resulted in the deaths of everyone aboard except Mikhail. After this, Mikhail grew to resent the Doctor.
Mikhail spent three years carving the names of the dead on the walls of the Recreation Dome. He saved Pris' name for last. When the Doctor arrived, Mikhail threatened to kill him.
The next time the Doctor visited him, Mikhail wanted to commit suicide but didn't have the guts. The Doctor convinced him that Pris would have wanted him to stay alive.
Mikhail started talking to Pris. He was blind and needed a cane to help him move around the ship. When the Doctor arrived, he wanted to know what he had done that made Mikhail so bitter.