As we head into the final face-off between Gul Dukat and Khan for the Star Trek Villain Showdown, we’re celebrating a few honorable mentions in terms of fantastic Star Trek villains. One of these honorable mentions is Winn Adami from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Much like Gul Dukat, Winn Adami caused serious trouble for Captain Sisko, Kira Nerys, and the rest of the crew. 

In the first season finale of Deep Space Nine, Winn first appeared as an antagonist as she pushed against Keiko O’Brien’s school because it didn’t teach Bajoran religious beliefs about the wormhole and the aliens that lived inside. Keiko’s school was eventually destroyed in an explosion caused by the fervor that Winn stirred up against her. It was all a ploy to get Vedek Bareil to the station so a Bajoran officer could attempt to assassinate him; however, Kira couldn’t uncover a viable link between them.

Winn Adami seethes as her plan to assassinate Bareil fails.
"In the Hands of the Prophets"

In the opening episodes of the second season, Winn supported the Alliance for Global Unity and its attempts to overthrow the provisional Bajoran government, in the hopes that she would be named the next Kai of Bajor following the loss of Kai Opaka. However, when it was revealed that the leader of the Alliance was being indirectly supplied with weaponry by the Cardassians, she turned on him, changing sides to the winning team.

Representing the head of the Bajoran spiritual leadership, Winn coveted the role of the Kai. She was up against Vedek Bareil in the election for the position and, in order to ensure her victory, framed him as being a collaborator during the Cardassian occupation. Once she gained power, she began using that to manipulate those around her, even taking credit for a peace treaty with the Cardassians following Bareil’s death from injuries sustained on his way to peace talks. 

She hoped to be both the spiritual and political leader of Bajor, but her attempts at gaining power were thwarted by the Bajoran Shakaar, who led an open revolt against her attempts at displacing farmers in one area of the planet. This didn’t dissuade her from plotting her schemes, as evidenced by her goal to supplant Sisko with another emissary in the episode “Accession.

Newly elected Kai Winn greets Kira Nerys on Bajor.
"The Collaborator"

Humanized in the episode “Rapture,” Winn briefly accepted Sisko as the true emissary of the Bajoran prophets. She even revealed to Kira how she spent the occupation of Bajor in truly hellish conditions where she suffered greatly. However, her ambitions were too much for her, leading her down a far darker path and away from her temporary redemption. In the episode “The Reckoning,” a Pah-wraith possesses Jake Sisko. While Captain Sisko is willing to sacrifice himself and his son to destroy the evil, Kai Winn ultimately disrupts the battle between the Pah-wraith-possessed Jake and the Prophet-possessed Kira because she envied the strength of Sisko’s faith. The Pah-wraith was then able to escape and cause more harm, all because of Winn’s jealousy. 

In DS9’s final season, Kai Winn returned and claimed to have had visions that point to Sisko straying from his path as emissary, believing it was her duty to help him find his way again. It is around this time that she fell into a romantic pairing with Dukat, who was disguised as a Bajoran farmer. However, she realized that her visions were from the Pah-wraiths and that her partner was in service of them. After visiting the Orb of Prophecy and being left with nothing, Winn asked Kira for her advice on how to repent and find the Prophets’ favor again. But when Kira suggested giving up her political power, Winn turned away from that idea.

Winn’s crisis of faith continued as she confessed that the Prophets have never spoken to her; she felt nothing upon seeing the celestial temple (the Bajoran wormhole) for the first time. This led her to a terrible relegation — she would serve the Pah-wraiths, who have spoken to her, rather than the gods who have never shown her any favor. This worked out well for Dukat, who used her to further his evil schemes. When her long-time attendant discovered Dukat’s identity and his partnership with Winn, she killed him and used his blood to reveal the secrets of the Book of the Kosst Amojan. Despite now knowing his true identity and hating him, she agreed to continue to work with Dukat; though, not without trying to teach him a few lessons.

Kai Winn glares at Captain Sisko.
"In the Cards"

Ultimately, Winn tries to sacrifice Dukat to the Pah-wraiths in order to become their emissary. However, the wraiths decide that it is Dukat who’ll be their vessel, disillusioning Winn. As Sisko and Dukat battle in the Fire Caves, this moment leads to clarity for Winn. She tries to destroy the Book of the Kosst Amojan, which would help trap the Pah-wraiths forever. Dukat takes the book from her and kills her, but not before she pleads with Sisko to destroy Dukat and the book to save Bajor.

As the story goes, Sisko ultimately defeated Dukat, the book was destroyed, and Bajor and the Alpha Quadrant were saved. It all came down to Winn’s one moment of true humanity and goodness — where the needs of the many outweighed her own need for power. While Dukat might take center stage when it comes to discussing DS9 villains, it’s impossible to forget Winn’s cruelty and ambitions, as well as her final decent action to aid the emissary of the Prophets. 

What’s your favorite Kai Winn-centric episode? Let us know @StarTrek on social!

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine