KAI WINN -- THE WOMAN I LOVE TO HATE
A STAR TREK CENTRAL ARTICLE
This article is reproduced with the gracious permission of the writer.
Winn, both as Vedek and as Kai, was a thorn in the side of Sisko and Kira since the very beginning. From the moment she objected to Keiko's teaching her Bajoran students about the scientific aspects of the wormhole, I knew this woman was trouble.
Louise Fletcher has made a career of playing woman we love to hate, but the role of Vedek, and later Kai, Winn was by far the meatiest role of her career, and she played it with obvious relish. From day one she made the most of what could have been, in the hands of a lesser actor, a very insignificant role. A wolf in sheepskin in every sense of the phrase, her self-serving ambition and nasty ways made her a most delicious villain. Of all the DS9 cast, I will miss her the most. As much as I hated her, she was fun!
Winn's honeyed words and smarmy smile did nothing to hide her hypocrisy or greed for power from DS9 fans, although they apparently fooled the Bajoran people, especially the Vedek Council. Her machinations in "In The Hands Of The Prophets" set the stage for her eventual appointment as Kai -- a position which, in a society where there is no separation of church and state, made her the most powerful person on Bajor.
Winn wasn't above attempts at assassination of rival vedeks to gain her goal, despite the fact that she was never really up to being the spiritual and secular head of Bajor. Her greed for power was all consuming. Nothing stopped her in gaining what she wanted, and it was a rare occurrence indeed when she had to admit she was wrong.
She was always jealous of Sisko's role as the Emissary and did everything she could to foil him at every turn. She was particularly jealous of the fact that he was granted visions from the Prophets. She was of Bajor, she was the Kai, therefore she should be the one having Prophet visions, not this...human! In "The Reckoning" she was so jealous of Sisko's faith in the Prophets that she sabotaged the battle between the Prophet and the Pah-wraith, releasing the evil ones to wreck havoc on Bajor in the future. Sisko was willing to sacrifice his own son for the Prophets. This was more than Winn could bear. Determined to keep her place in the heights of Bajoran society and thwart the Emissary in any way possible, she used the knowledge she had of the station, and the technobabble that Worf spouted, to flood the Promenade with the particles that forced the Prophet and the Pah-wraith off the station. A very clever and devious woman, indeed, with far more talents than we, the fans, were at first led to believe.
Again and again she put barriers in Sisko's way, using her position to try to force him to tow her line. In "The Reckoning" she was insistent that Sisko return the sacred tablet he took from Bajor, calling on her power as Kai to try to force his hand. In "From Til Death Do Us Part" she unctuously suggested (read: insisted) that she, not the station Vedek, perform the Emissary's wedding ceremony. Her only possible motivation was the need to uphold her position and control all that was of Bajor. Perhaps she even hoped to sabotage the ceremony in some way, but we will never know for sure. Sisko wisely chose Admiral Ross to perform the ceremony, taking it out of the hands of any Bajoran authority.
Only in "Rapture" did Winn get anything resembling a comeuppance -- at least until the very end of the series. Sisko's visions and his finding of B'hala forced Kai Winn to finally accept him fully as the Emissary. Her holier-than-thou attitude was brought to a halt by the revelation that the Prophets led this man to B'hala. Only her determination to follow the Will of the Prophets convinced her to help Sisko consult the Orb of Prophecy. This was the first and last time she helped him with no ulterior motives.
Even Winn's allies suffered at her hands. So pleased was she in "'Til Death Do Us Part" to actually receive what appeared to be her very first vision from the Prophets that she took the surgically altered Dukat to her heart and her bed. She soon found to her horror that the beings she thought were the Prophets were actually the Pah-wraiths and she had become their chosen one. A fitting role for this snake of a Kai. She told Kira that she would do anything to win the trust of the Prophets again and had let go of her ambition and desire for power, but she was only deceiving herself. Her thirst for power would never allow her to step down from the position of Kai. From that moment her fate was sealed, as was that of many others.
The first of her allies to suffer at her hands (not counting Bariel who was, after all, her rival) was Dukat. Blinded by the Pah-wraiths for sneaking a look at the Kosst Amojan, Dukat was at Winn's mercy -- a virtue she never possessed. She gleefully put him out on the street to beg for his food. I didn't feel a bit sorry for Dukat, a snake himself and a very dangerous man, nor was I surprised by Winn's actions. She was simply too nasty, and too full of herself, to do anything else.
The other and most innocent of her allies whom she destroyed was poor Solbor. This gentle, if rather snooty, man, serving her faithfully for years in the name of the Prophets, received a knife in his gut for his trouble. The murder not only revealed the words of the Kosst Amojan but showed Winn, in the most incontrovertible way, her own true nature. Before, others had done her dirty work for her. This time the blood was truly on her own hands.
In "What You Leave Behind," Winn's met her fate. She and Dukat both used each other for their own ends, each believing they had the upper hand. In the Fire Caves, Winn revealed that the reason she needed Dukat was that the release of the Pah-wraiths required a sacrifice. She killed Dukat, certain she had won, but the Pah-wraith had other ideas and possessed Dukat, resurrecting his dead body. Winn, in a sudden change of heart and finally aware of how wrong she had been, realized that the only way to stop the Pah-wraiths was to destroy the book. She tried to throw it into the fire, but it was far too late for her. The Pah-wraiths killed her. I almost felt sorry for her...almost. She was a wonderful character, but certainly deserved what she got.
Never before has Star Trek had a villain of the complexity of Winn, nor do I think they will ever have one again. Louise Fletcher's Emmy-worthy performances made the role of Winn, and in more ways than I can count, made DS9 the wonderful series it was. Goodbye, Winn. May the Prophets have finally smiled upon you.
Copyright Ariel 1999.