R.I.P. President Roslin


President Laura Roslin of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol

I have always had a penchant for strong women. I grew up in a family dominated by strong women, particularly both of my grandmothers — Nana Ruth and Gram (Esther). I have therefore witnessed the true inner strength of women, and I have always believed that in some circumstances women are far stronger than men. In so many ways they have to be, I think.

I fell in love with the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica the moment I saw the miniseries. It remains a triumph of television greatness. Of all the wonderful characters, however, my focus remained on Laura Roslin, played by the brilliant actor Mary McDonnell.

At the start, she served as the Secretary of Education. After the Cylon attack, with President Adar and the rest of the cabinet dead, she found herself suddenly elevated to the Presidency of the Twelve Colonies, a position she never sought. According to Mary McDonnell:

“Laura Roslin’s presidency was unique in that she became president during war and cataclysm without the energy of ambition fueling her decisions. This was a woman who hadn’t a clear political ambition. This made her very different from the women in power that we see on TV. Her story was one of a woman grappling with untapped, literally unrecognized, qualities classically male, in order to achieve one paramount goal-the survival of the human race.”

If you take the time (and I urge you to do so) to watch the series in its entirety, Roslin evolves as a character in a most interesting way, from unsure to decisive; from naive to cynical; from dynamic to exhausted. What made her great was her humanity. Who among the viewers actually blamed her for trying to steal the election from the devious Gaius Baltar? We all know that stealing elections is wrong, and yet… and yet … her intentions were pure, even if her actions were not. Who among all of us cannot understand that?

In the series finale, Roslin passed away after a long battle with cancer. While presented very simply, this proved a profoundly emotional moment for fans of the series, including myself. Roslin had guided the survivors of the Cylon attack from Caprica, to Earth, to the “new” Earth, but did not live to see the new settlements. She passed away quietly, with dignity, and one would imagine a heart full of hope for the future.

You may think me crazy for writing an elegy for a fictional character. And perhaps I am. But I am always amazed at the resonance fictional characters can have on our lives, and in particular one so well crafted and explored. R.I.P., President Roslin. R.I.P, Battlestar Galactica.

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