An exclusive look inside Star Trek: Villains
Star Trek has some of the best villains in the galaxy, and we can’t possibly ever know enough about all of them. We’ve been introduced to those that are evil by choice, evil by desperation, and those who don’t know the difference between good and evil. There’s simply no way for us to know what makes them tick. Well, there wasn’t any way to know until now. Titan Books is providing fans with an inside look at the villains with its latest book release—Star Trek: Villains.
Releasing in September, Star Trek: Villains has “The Federation’s deadliest foes collected in one terrifying volume,” and we’ve got an exclusive look at one of the Klingons who went toe-to-toe with Captain Kirk in “Day of the Dove”—Kang, which you can check out below!
THE HISTORY OF KANG
Words: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Appearing in three different versions of Star Trek over a 30 year period, Kang epitomized many of the qualities of the Klingon race as the Federation encountered them across the centuries…
We met a bunch of Klingons in Star Trek over the course of its three years on the air and over six movies, before Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country made the Klingons into allies rather than enemies.
But during the time of James T. Kirk, the Klingons were straight-up bad guys, and none of them was a better bad guy than Kang, who first appeared in the third-season episode “Day of the Dove.” What made him stand out was that, unlike the other Klingons we saw on the TV series, he was a true counterpart to Kirk. He was a starship captain, with a dedicated and loyal crew. And he more than held his own, succeeding in capturing Kirk on the surface, and then later taking over engineering. In Michael Ansara’s powerful performance you saw a leader who inspired loyalty in his people. He was a strong strategist, but wasn’t an idiotic opponent – in the end, when Kirk confronts him with the creature that has caused the conflict, he sees reason. He is willing to laugh with the enemy if it means victory.
But that never changes the fact that Kang is a force to be reckoned with. As you watch “Day of the Dove,” you’re not really sure that in a fair fight, which this certainly isn’t, Kirk would be the victor. While it’s true that the plot of the episode required that Kirk face a foe that was his equal in every way, it also required that the character be written and portrayed in a way that convinces us that he is Kirk’s equal.
Indeed, any good villain needs the right actor in order to work. The wrong one can turn a well-written villain into an ineffectual self-parody – or worse, an antagonist who is unworthy of your protagonist. The latter is particularly dangerous from a dramatic perspective, as it weakens both your hero and your villain.
Ansara, though, occupied the role with more verve and gravitas than anyone. His fury when he confronted Kirk on the surface, his amusement at Kirk’s “go to the devil” comment, his quick adapting to the circumstances of being a prisoner, his calmness in the face of potentially having to sacrifice his wife, and his joviality – including the hilarious slap of Kirk’s back that sends him stumbling forward – in order to cast out the creature.
Ansara’s presence and particularly his voice are a lot of what made Kang work – and also why he kept being brought back. Ansara is one of only a handful of actors who have played the same role on three different Star Trek series (and, curiously, the only one who never appeared on The Next Generation). He was brought back for Deep Space Nine’s “Blood Oath,” along with John Colicos and William Campbell as Kor and Koloth, respectively, and he was very obviously the leader of the trio. When he arrives on DS9’s Promenade, he immediately becomes the center of attention, and Kor, Koloth, and Dax all defer to him. So powerful is his performance here that when it is discovered that he sold them out to the Albino, the betrayal cuts incredibly deep (exemplified by Kor’s cutting remark about making a deal with the very same devil that Kirk told him to go to years earlier).
Best of all, you can see in “Blood Oath” how Kang has aged, and not gracefully. His lamenting to Dax about how things have changed is tragic – all the more impressive given that he’s talking about people he killed in his youth – and the agreement he makes with the Albino is due to his being tired of the hunt, and wanting at last to die. But despite how much he has aged, he is still a warrior, and that comes across in the final battle against the Albino. Just as you think he might beat Kirk in “Day of the Dove,” you think he might well emerge victorious here – even though, in the end, he doesn’t, killing the Albino with his dying breath.
Kang’s appearance in Voyager’s “Flashback” was less impressive than his other two, as he was primarily there to provide a familiar face for Captain Sulu to encounter during the look into Tuvok’s memories of his early days on the Excelsior. In that instance, the producers of the episode were counting on the memories of Kang’s presence in “Day of the Dove” and “Blood Oath” to make the encounter more meaningful, to know that this was no ordinary Klingon that Sulu was facing. And it worked, as just hearing Kang’s voice sends chills down the spine.
It’s not a coincidence that Kang was brought back on two of the spinoffs. He’s just that cool.
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Here’s the full description of what you can expect inside the pages of this “lavishly illustrated” book releasing this fall!
"The Federation’s deadliest foes collected in one terrifying volume!From a genetically engineered tyrant forced into exile, to the cold-hearted leader of the unrelenting Borg Collective, the brave explorers of the Federation have faced some of the most despicable foes in their voyages, who are hellbent on destroying all who oppose them.Featuring interviews with the actors behind the baddies, such as Alice Krige (the Borg Queen), Christopher Plummer (General Chang), and Ricardo Montalban (Khan) and profiles of alien foes such as the Romulans, the Gorn, the Dominion and the Klingons, this the ultimate guide to the evil that lies beyond the final frontier.Lavishly illustrated with rare photographs, this is the safest way to get up close and personal with Star Trek’s most sinister evil-doers."