Why Khan Noonien Singh Is My Favourite TV/Movie Villain

After re-watching my favourite original Star Trek episode “Space Seed” and its sequel, considered by most to be the best ST film, “The Wrath of Khan” I have given some thought to why Khan Noonien Singh, as played by Ricardo Montalbán is my favourite movie villain.
I googled top movie villains, and was sad to see Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter and Tommy DeVito right up top and Khan sometimes not even in the top 50.

Darth Vader is Darth Sidius’ lieutenant, a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, who turns away from villainy before dying a depleted old man.
Hannibal Lecter is a better choice, but he’s a sole operator, and not an inspirer/leader of men.

Mobsters are alway fun but are only loyal to blood, and sometimes not even that. They are also indoctrinated from a young age, and surrounded by a culture which encourages any kind of crime if it’s for the family/Don.

Ricardo Montalbán has a very captivating gaze. As a kid I watched Fantasy Island and always considered his character, Mr Rourke, to have a special kind of wisdom where he knew what was to become of those visiting the island at the beginning of each episode.

That role asked little of him as an actor, and as we know, when a certain kind of energy, in this case emotional, is left unexpressed for too long, it will demand to be exercised.

I just love his Latin American accent and eloquence.
Khan’s first appearance in Space Seed has him beginning from a position of vulnerability,

been rescued from 200 year stasis, but it isn’t long before he sets about empowering himself and seducing his accomplice, lieutenant McGyvers. There are probably a lot of female fans who don’t like her much, finding her too submissive, but remember that she does show the courage to go against Khan, and he seems to respect this. She chooses to be exiled with him, and he refers to her, upon hearing this, as “a superior woman.”

In TWOK we discover that Ceti Alpha V turned into a living hell in which Khan’s then wife, McGyvers dies, which he blames on Kirk, and he wants to avenge her. This is a quality that not all tyrants have. Later, when his long time follower dies, the last thing Khan says to him is “I will avenge you.” And I purport that he is successful in avenging this man’s death with the death of Spock. Also, he indirectly avenges his wife’s death when Kirk’s son is killed by a Klingon on the Genesis planet that Khan created.

I can’t help but love how he has a big ego and is unashamed of constantly reminding others of is genetically engineered intelligence/strength.

His philosophy seems the same as the ancient Greco-Roman, which is interesting when you consider that as a man of high intellect, who has studied contemporary philosophy and has pondered the advantages and disadvantages of each, would opt for the path of conquest, honour and glory. We know that he’s read Moby Dick, and is aware of what happens to Captain Ahab, but believes he can rewrite the story by outsmarting Kirk. Bold, considering that he’s taken a 200 year leap ahead in time, and has spent 15? years on a barren planet without any technology other than what they were left when exiled.

The success of getting off that planet and capturing the Reliant alone would be enough for most of us, and when his crewman counsels him that this in itself is victory enough and to be happy with his lot, he simply says “He [Kirk} asks me, he tasks me, and I shall have him.”

A truly passionate Poet-Warrior.

To him, peace and contentment are a bore; better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, as he indicates at the end of Space Seed. A worthy adversary is truly what he wants.

“To the last, I grapple with thee.”

“From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For Hate’s sake, i spit my last breath at thee.”

His final act is to activate the Genesis Device, and in doing so, create a new world, albeit a disastrous one. The Enterprise achieves warp and escapes, so yes, he misses the physical target, but wounds Kirk with the death of Spock, and takes his place as one of the best things to ever happen to the Star Trek franchise.

Remember too, that he’s an old man by this stage who has led an extraordinary life, one which he would rather not have peter out.



I have been writing some poems recently which loosely make reference to the movie Dark Water.

I wanted to take this term and broaden its definition a bit to allow for some poetic license. The American version was adapted from the original Japanese,

which was itself loosely based on an actual spooky real life story.

The writers of the American version have taken some artistic license themselves, and I can’t help but see the whole movie as a metaphor for the kind of psychological healing journey that people recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, undertake. I can also see in it a kind of spiritual alchemy in which dark water is a code name for some kind of mercurial catalyst. In the movie, it is a kind of medium through which a dead child makes its presence known, and seems to bring about hallucinations both aural and visual.

The psychiatrist Charles Whitfield promotes the theory that PTSD is the cause of most disease, and that finding the true self is the key to healing, and when asked what the true self is, he states that it’s the inner-child, which has been lost, or you might say “drowned” by some kind of physical/emotional trauma.

The initial part of the artistic/creative process often invokes the carefree playful spirit which can just go at it without judging. The judge enters the process later on.
As we know, many an artist has relied on one expedient or more to help them see things differently, and kick-start this process.

Dark Water could be the artistic medium: the ink, or paint, the printed word, or music score.
It could be the intoxicant/expedient/catalyst: tea, coffee, liquor, or opiate.
It could be the Jungian shadow, the Freudian sub-conscious, or the Yin to the Yang.
It could be that beautiful reflection that Narcissus drowned in.

It could be that medium through which the deadened soul can speak.

The following poem is meant as a tribute to the French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.
I read an article recently about the photos he took of himself while in Africa, which he apparently developed in “filthy water,” the evidence of which is in the little specks you can see on the prints.
The fact that they were developed this way means that they will inevitably fade completely.
At this point I would like to call attention to his Lettre du Voyant, in which he outlines his poetic manifesto and makes mention of “the Comprachicos” which is a term Victor Hugo used to reference various groups in folklore who would intentionally restrain and muzzle growing children in order to make them look freakish so that they could then be sold to lords and ladies to used as court fools. Rimbaud states that the Voyant, or seer, must make the soul (inner-child) monstrous (a kind of intentional trauma,) which is the common trait of the Enfant Terrible, or Rebel. His idea of a “reasoned deranging of the senses” to attain the unknown, along with his alchemy of the word, help to broaden the concept of Dark Water a little further.

The process is really just a different take on the myth of Prometheus (or Frankenstein,) and there is definitely that sense of the creator as a criminal/rascal/trickster who steals the fire/light. We could also think of the Dark Water as the substance which, at the same time, fuels and controls the fire.
In the movie there’s also an interesting paradox of the below being up above.


Dark Water
in which
to develop
the vision

Dark Water
with which
to become as

Dark Water
with which
to derange all
the senses

Dark Water
with which
to detail
the descent

Dark Water
through which
the drowned soul

Dark Water
with which
to conduct
lifted light

Then delib’rately fade