Kai Winn would have been the best villain in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine history if not for Gul Dukat.
In sad news, Louise Fletcher, the woman who played Kai Winn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has passed away at the age of 88 years old. Fletcher, who was born to two deaf parents, grew up in a religious household, one where her father helped open churches for the hearing impaired.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, she would go on to become a star in television and film, eventually landing her breakout role as Nurse Mildred Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a role that earned her an Academy Award victory for her portrayal. Yet, despite her success in a multitude of projects, most fans reading this would know her as the devious and selfish Kai Winn Adami
The Kai was among the greatest villains in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s run time, as she often used the zealot-like nature of her followers to not only complicate matters on the station and in the Bajoran government but would outright use her beliefs as the backbones for her devious deceptive antics.
Many of these involved her getting her way through duplicitous means, all while doing so with a smile on her face and a sociopathic sincerity that made you think at times that she was sincere in her beliefs. She and Gul Dukat were very similar in that regard and had it not been for Dukat, Kai Winn would have been Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s most iconic villain.
Kai Winn was held back by the success of Gul Dukat
Had it not been for the mesmerizing portrayal of Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat, Kai Winn would more than likely be seen as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s most iconic villain and may even rival that of Khan Noonien Singh, just as Dukat has done.
Winn and Dukat were very similar in their portrayals; both were overly charismatic, could convince the best among us to follow their charge, and were both evil little snakes who couldn’t be trusted. What separates the two, and what pushed Dukat above Winn, is that Winn realized she was wrong and attempted to do the right thing, which in turn saw her get gunned down by Dukat.
Killing the only other top villain on your show thereby makes you the baddest bad guy by default. Winn’s attempt at a redemption arc stunted her villianous reputation. Though, it’s not like she was stunted that badly. Many outlets, including Slate, have her among the 10 Greatest Villains in Star Trek’s history.
Fletcher may be gone but the moments and memories she gave us will live on for as long as Star Trek is around.