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|Battlestar Galactica character|
|Last appearance||"Daybreak (Part 3)"|
|Portrayed by||Mary McDonnell|
|Occupation||Secretary of Education of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol (Miniseries)|
President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol
Laura Roslin is a fictional character in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, portrayed by Mary McDonnell. She is the President of the Twelve Colonies and one of the primary characters in the show.
Roslin's mother is revealed to have also died from breast cancer, and Roslin speaks of her mother's life and death in Season 4's episode "Faith". In "Daybreak", Roslin is shown to have had two sisters, one of whom is pregnant, and a father prior to the Cylon attack on the Colonies. The morning after her sister's baby shower, two police officers inform Roslin that her family had been struck by a drunk driver and killed the previous night. Several months later, Roslin has become somewhat of a recluse and agrees to a blind date after turning down a position alongside her friend, Caprica City Mayor Richard Adar, who is running for president. Though her blind date turns out to be a younger man who is a former student of hers, Roslin has dinner with him and sleeps with him later that night. She later calls and accepts the position with Adar, saying she will stick with it "to the very end."
Cylon attack and escape
Just prior to the Cylon attack on the Colonies, Roslin is the Secretary of Education under President Adar. Roslin appears to have been in a romantic relationship with Adar, which fell apart when Roslin successfully defused a large-scale teachers strike. Adar (who assumed Roslin would fail at breaking the strike through peaceful means) demands Roslin's resignation, citing the fact that he wants to use force against the teachers in order to intimidate the other unions on Caprica from striking.
Roslin refuses to resign and vows to fight for her job, as she leaves for a doctor's appointment and the decommissioning ceremony for the Galactica. At her doctor's appointment, Roslin is told that she has breast cancer. Roslin attends the Galactica ceremony, and upon leaving, the Cylons attack the Twelve Colonies. During the attack, Roslin responds to "Case Orange", the official Colonial Government emergency automated signal, and is informed that she is the highest ranking surviving member of the Presidential line of succession. She was in fact the 43rd in line of succession, and is sworn in as President.
Her first actions include organizing all FTL-capable ships together and convincing Commander William Adama to abandon a retaliatory attack on the Cylons. President Roslin and Billy Keikeya, her aide/press secretary/chief of staff, establish a working office space aboard her transport, renamed Colonial One (which the series' production team intentionally designed to resemble Air Force One). She immediately clashes with Commander Adama, the ranking Colonial military officer. They make an uneasy truce — that Roslin will remain President of the Colonies but that any and all military decisions will rest with Adama.
For the first few weeks, she acts as the sole voice of government, attending meetings and issuing orders alone. Soon after the conflict depicted in the episode "Bastille Day", Roslin bows to popular pressure and agrees to establish a new Quorum of Twelve.
During the first meeting of the new Quorum, council member Tom Zarek moves to nominate a vice-president. The military and Roslin see this as a bid by Zarek (who is a convicted political terrorist) to gain the vice-presidency so that he can have Roslin assassinated and assume control over the government. In response, Roslin recruits an old political ally, Wallace Gray, to run for Vice-President, but he fares poorly against the well-connected Zarek. After he gives a stirring speech to the news media, it becomes clear that Dr. Gaius Baltar has become a popular individual in the fleet, and Roslin pressures Gray to drop out so that Baltar can enter the race. With Baltar in the race, the vote comes down to a 6-6 deadlock in the Quorum, and President Roslin breaks the tie in Baltar's favor.
By the close of the first season, the soft-spoken Roslin has become a formidable and often ruthless leader who not only authorizes the use of torture against Cylon agents, but also orders their deaths by way of "airlocking" (flushing them out of an airlock into space).
Prophecies and arrest
During the first season, Roslin treats her breast cancer through the use of an herbal drug called chamalla. After beginning the treatment, she begins to experience visions, which coincide with the Pythian prophecies contained in the ancient scriptures of Kobol. She comes to believe, based on the Pythian prophecies, that she is the spiritual leader of the Colonials and will lead the fleet to Earth.
These beliefs begin to heavily influence her decisions as President, including sending Kara Thrace back to Caprica against Adama's orders, in order to retrieve the mythical Arrow of Apollo in accordance with the Pythian prophecies. As a result of this action, Commander Adama has her removed from power and thrown in the brig for breaking their agreement and interfering in military matters.
During her imprisonment, Adama is shot, and Tigh takes charge of the fleet. With the aid of Lee Adama and Tom Zarek, Roslin escapes, and convinces a large part of the fleet to abandon Galactica and join her instead. As Roslin begins searching for the Tomb of Athena on Kobol, Adama attempts to find her and reunite the fleet. After being joined by Adama, and with the help of Sharon Agathon, the group manages to find the tomb. With the Arrow of Apollo, the tomb reveals clues to Earth's location. After reconciling with Commander Adama, she is reinstated as President.
After Roslin's reinstatement, her condition begins to worsen. She is told that she has, at most, about a month to live. Shortly thereafter, Admiral Helena Cain of Battlestar Pegasus and Commander Adama came to the brink of a shooting war with each other over Cain's disregard for civil liberties and the civilian fleet. Roslin realizes that Cain does not accept her as the true President, and with her health rapidly deteriorating, convinces Adama to have Cain assassinated pending a major operation against a Cylon fleet, with Cain secretly planning the same action against Adama. Though neither is ultimately willing to follow through, Cain is still killed by a Cylon she had imprisoned and tortured, and Roslin promotes Adama to Admiral.
Weeks after the Pegasus joins the fleet, Roslin is admitted to the Galactica's sickbay, on the verge of death. At the height of her illness, Roslin has a flashback of an encounter between Baltar and Number Six prior to the Cylon attack, but is not able to fully process her memories. As part of these flashbacks, it is revealed that President Adar had demanded Roslin's resignation due to a conflict between the two regarding her efforts in resolving a labor dispute, her position effectively secured by the Cylon attack and resulting governmental upheaval.
As Roslin nears death, her life is saved by the apparent curative properties discovered in the blood of the half-human/half-Cylon fetus carried by Sharon Agathon, whose pregnancy Roslin had previously believed should be terminated. Ostensibly cured of her cancer, she returns to her duties.
After recovering and processing her memories of Baltar and Six, Roslin asks Baltar to resign his post as Vice President. His pride already wounded by the letter Roslin left him in the event of her death regarding his ascension to the position of "President", Baltar refuses. Roslin says that she will never give him another chance to do so.
Following her return to duty Roslin discovered she had fallen behind in her work, and sought to again regularize internal trade within the Fleet. To these ends she sought to curtail rampant black market trading that had spread through the fleet which Lee Adama began investigating. However, he in the end reported to Roslin that their system would never be perfect, and there would always be some unavoidable black market trading in the Fleet. Lee killed the leader of the established black market network (an unscrupulous man that had the network dealing in drugs, killing with impunity, and engaged in the sexual exploitation of children, etc.), and let the survivors continue black market trading with the warning that if any of these unsavory actions were continued, he would destroy them all. Roslin was less than happy that Lee had made this decision and that trade could not be totally regulated, but begrudgingly accepted it.
Furthermore, Roslin suffers more problems when her longtime aide Billy is killed during a hostage crisis regarding a group of anti-Cylon activists who seek the death of Cylon traitor Sharon Agathon. Billy is replaced by a new aide, a woman named Tory Foster. Unlike Billy, Tory is shown to be a cold-blooded realist and supports Roslin in her most controversial action in the series, when she fakes the death of Sharon and Helo's baby and orders the child be secretly adopted by a female fleet member.
Run-up to election campaign
When a young Gemenese woman stowed away to the Galactica in order to have her pregnancy terminated, President Roslin insisted that the girl was within her rights to control her own body; abortion had been legal under colonial law before the Cylon attack, and Roslin considered this law to be still in effect. Roslin commented that she had been fighting during the course of her entire political career in support of pro-choice policies; however, Admiral Adama reminded her of the day following the attacks on the Twelve Colonies, when she told him that the human race, in order to survive, would have to retreat and focus more on reproduction. She then conferred with Dr. Baltar, who confirmed that if the Fleet population continued its constant rate of decline, the human race would become extinct within 18 years. Subsequently, she reluctantly put forth an Executive Order banning the interference in any further pregnancies. The Gemenese girl's pregnancy had been terminated before the order was announced so neither she nor Dr. Cottle could be held criminally liable.
This decision undoubtedly weighed heavily in the upcoming elections for the new Presidency, especially since Dr. Baltar, while admitting that he had to support her decision as a member of her administration, publicly announced his private objection to the ban and announced his candidacy for president. This allowed Baltar to present himself as the "scientific rationalist" versus Roslin being seen as a religious as well as political leader. While the Gemenese and Sagittaron colonies are more religiously fundamental, the rest of the Twelve Colonies are shown as more secular. However, this issue was not enough, and Baltar trailed Roslin heavily in all polls until a new, habitable planet was discovered. Baltar leapt on the issue, prompted by Zarek and Number Six, to push for colonization of the planet as a wedge issue to win the election. President Roslin continued to push for the search for Earth as a final settlement. As most of the people wished for land under their feet and a roof over their heads that wasn't the deck of a starship, Baltar gained considerably in the polls.
Vice-President Baltar and his political advisor Tom Zarek were able to successfully capitalize on the colonization issue, and public opinion swung in favor of settling the planet, christened New Caprica, and electing Baltar. During the night of the election, vote totals remained very close until approximately 5 hours after polls had closed, at which point Baltar was leading Roslin by roughly 5000 votes, with three ships yet to have their votes tallied. At that point, Roslin's campaign manager secretly called on Colonel Saul Tigh, who was among the military officers supervising vote-counting aboard Galactica. Tigh then signaled Petty-Officer Anastasia Dualla, who left the room and commandeered an incoming ballot box, replacing it with one apparently prepared ahead of time and containing forged votes which favored President Roslin. When these votes were tallied, President Roslin was announced as having won re-election. Tom Zarek was suspicious of the results, but Baltar personally assured him that Roslin would not engage in electoral fraud.
The small conspiracy quickly unraveled, however, when Lieutenant Felix Gaeta noticed that the forged ballots had Vice-President Baltar's first name spelled correctly (Gaeta knew that the ship in question had a set of misprinted ballots). He brought this to the attention of Tigh, who insisted that he would handle the situation, after which Gaeta grew suspicious and personally alerted Admiral Adama. Adama, in turn, privately informed Roslin, who then herself confessed to authorizing her campaign manager's subterfuge. Adama eventually convinced Roslin that, despite the likelihood that a Baltar presidency would be "disastrous," they should announce that there had been a "tabulation error" and allow Baltar to take office rather than betraying their principles.
On New Caprica
During this period, the relationship between Roslin and Adama evolves. During Adama's sole visit to the colony, Roslin shares her dream of building a cabin in the mountains of New Caprica with Adama, and the two are shown spending the night smoking a native herb, and talking about what is to become of the fleet.
But after a year on New Caprica, the Cylons discover the colony, which under Baltar's leadership immediately surrenders. While Roslin does not actively participate in the underground resistance movement, Colonel Tigh subordinates himself and his insurgent force to Roslin and Vice President Tom Zarek's de facto government-in-waiting. Roslin and her aide, Tory Foster, make a detailed list of the colonists who collaborate with the Cylons for later use, if and when the Cylons are ever driven off the planet.
When Tigh orders the use of suicide bombers, Roslin is arrested on suspicion of aiding in Tigh's decision. Roslin is freed by Baltar, who knowing that Roslin would never approve of such tactics, attempts, unsuccessfully, to get her to join him in jointly denouncing Tigh's actions. Days later, Roslin is re-arrested and nearly executed alongside a large group of suspected resistance members, but is saved by the resistance. One of the other suspected resistance members is Zarek, who used the opportunity to confirm that she tried to steal the presidential election. When she admitted she did, he told her he wished she had gone through with it.
During the final battle of New Caprica, Roslin evacuates aboard Colonial One, referring to it as "my ship" to Vice President Zarek who defers to her, tacitly acknowledging her inevitable return to office.
After New Caprica
Aboard Colonial One Tory Foster apologetically informs Roslin that Isis/Hera and her adoptive mother cannot be accounted for and are believed to have been either killed or recaptured during the exodus from New Caprica.
After the fleet is reunited after their escape from New Caprica, Vice President Tom Zarek ascends to the presidency in light of Baltar's abandonment of the office during the exodus. Zarek agrees that as soon as a new Quorum of Twelve is elected is found, he will name Roslin as his VP, then step down, making her again President, as he knows he could not continue as President without Adama's support. For his cooperation, Zarek asks for only a place in Roslin's new administration; but in appreciation of his refusing to cooperate with Baltar on New Caprica, Roslin says she will name him the new VP which clearly surprises Zarek. Before Roslin can take office, however, Zarek in conjunction with Saul Tigh forms a retribution tribunal known as "The Circle", empowering them to investigate allegations of collaboration, and to summarily try and execute the collaborators, all in secret and without normal due process protections. When Roslin and Adama find out, they halt the Circle proceedings. Zarek justifies his actions saying that the fleet needs quick justice to prevent chaos and that Roslin's new mandate needs to start with clean hands.. After she takes office, Roslin declares a general amnesty for all Cylon collaborators and establishes a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to bring the fleet together.
Upon meeting a delegation from the Cylons (Gaius Baltar, a Brother Cavil, a Number 3 and Boomer), after discovering the "Temple of the Five" on a newly discovered planet (nicknamed the "Algae planet", due to its large swathes of algae), Roslin's theft of the hybrid baby Hera is revealed. There is a stand-off between the humans and Cylons, complicated by the planetary system's star being on the brink of going supernova. Roslin's religious insights prove useful when it comes time to determining what parts of the Temple's inscriptions relate to Earth, and perhaps what parts relate to the Cylons. She starts to see that there may be more than a single purpose for the Temple, and that its role in Colonial religious doctrine might not be the only one — perhaps it had messages for both the Cylons and humanity.
During the escape from the Algae Planet, Baltar is captured by the Colonials. Following his capture, Baltar is subjected to sleep-deprivation, force-feeding, and a radical form of hallucinogen-based interrogation, and then offered the possibility of escaping execution in exchange for cooperation, as Adama, Tigh and Roslin seek to learn any clues to Earth's location. When all of these stratagems fail, Baltar asks for a fair trial. Roslin rejects Adama's suggestion that Baltar be made to "simply disappear", and orders him to be given a fair trial for his crimes, even after a warning from Tom Zarek that doing so will provoke dangerous unrest among the fleet's civilian and military populations alike.
Returning health troubles
During Baltar's trial, it is revealed that Roslin's cancer has reappeared and that she is once again taking chamalla. Lee Adama, acting as part of Baltar's defense, argues that this makes her an illegitimate witness in Baltar's trial because of chamalla's hallucinogenic effects. Baltar is acquitted, leaving Roslin with nothing but her secret illness exposed. She begins to experience shared visions (with Sharon Agathon and Number Six) which involve the human-cylon hybrid child, Hera.
Route of the gods is challenged
In the opening fourth season premiere He That Believeth In Me, the return of Kara Thrace, presumed dead by the fleet for two months, alarms and angers Roslin, as she is convinced that Thrace's resurrection verifies her as a Cylon. Thrace's own conviction that she has visited Earth leads to conflict when Kara insists that the route given to the fleet by the Eye of Jupiter is false, and that they are pulling away from Earth's correct route, causing her great pain. Panicking, she attempts to force Roslin to turn back by infiltrating her quarters and aiming a gun at her head. She is apprehended, but not before Kara gives Roslin the chance to shoot her. Roslin fires the gun, but misses at close range. Adama later chastises Roslin, accusing her of not trusting Kara because she fears she will lose the people to a new "visionary" and die alone, powerless.
Deterioration, resting demons, and redemption
As Roslin begins to deteriorate further, she discovers that the continued political intervention of Lee Adama (now a member of the Quorum) has placed a strain on her ability to maintain her normal routines of classified police sanctions concerning fleetwide security, as well as her relentless bias against Baltar. She briefly bonds with a cancer-ridden patient, Emily, who shares with Roslin views on death before succumbing to her illness. Roslin then resumes her duties.
When Kara Thrace returns to the fleet in a crippled Cylon Basestar, Laura, along with Baltar, is invited aboard by a rebel Cylon crew, who are on the run and intent on finding D'anna (Number Three), who knows the identities of the Final Five Cylons. Roslin is taken hostage along with Baltar and several Galactica pilots when Sharon "Athena" Agathon guns down Natalie, a more assertive copy of Number Six and the leader of the rebel Cylons, in a misguided attempt to thwart the vision she shares with Roslin from coming to pass.
As the Cylon Basestar jumps towards the location of the Cylon Resurrection Hub, Roslin begins to experience visions of her impending death, and gradually begins to learn she has taken much in her life for granted, including the love of William Adama and his family.
Roslin gives the go-ahead for a mission to destroy the Cylon hub and retrieve the resurrected D'anna, but also requests that she be given exclusive access to her, violating an agreement between the humans and Cylons to mutually question D'anna.
During the assault on the Hub by the human and Cylon alliance, Baltar is severely injured in an explosion, and in a delirious state of self-loathing and desperation, he confesses to Roslin that he is to blame for the attacks on the Colonies. Roslin, initially angry, attempts to murder Baltar by removing his dressings and allowing him to bleed to death, but her conscience tears at her until she relents, and she chooses to spare her enemy rather than die with blood on her hands.
The Basestar returns to the fleet, where Laura reunites with Adama and finally declares her love for him, to which he replies, "About time".
Upon returning to the fleet with Adama, Laura does not immediately take back her role as President, instead watching Lee Adama take full control of the role and handling a hostage crisis initiated by D'anna. After the location of Earth has been verified from the co-ordinates supplied by Kara Thrace's Viper, an emotional Laura orders the fleet to jump to Earth, where the crew discover to their horror that the planet is a nuclear wasteland and virtually uninhabitable. Laura then suffers a crisis of faith due to the guilt of leading her people on a pointless journey. She burns the book of Pythia, chooses to stop taking her cancer medication, and also develops a romantic relationship with Admiral Adama.
During Tom Zarek and Felix Gaeta's attempted coup d'état and mutiny, Laura evades capture initially because the plotters are unaware that she had secretly taken up residence in Adama's quarters. She is shepherded by loyalists to an abandoned auxiliary docking port after attempting to make a broadcast denouncing the mutiny. From the docking port, she is spirited away to the rebel Cylon baseship. The rebel Cylons remain loyal to Laura and form a de facto government in exile around her. They originally try to jump away, but after she makes a passionate speech in support of Adama, they decide to stay and a Two even helps her make a broadcast about the mutiny through Gaeta's jamming. Her heart is broken by Zarek's false report that Adama and Tigh had been killed, but her spirit is not; she vows to defeat the mutineers and commands her Cylon forces to attack Galactica. Gaeta tries to jump away instead, but Tyrol disables Galactica's FTL drive. Faced with having to fight Roslin and lose more lives, Gaeta stands down and Adama and his loyalists retake the ship moments later. Roslin is visibly relieved when Adama contacts her to let her know he's in command again and to stand down and Roslin (and even a Number Eight) breaks down crying and the two are joyfully reunited later.
In the wake of the failed coup, during which most members of the Quorum of the Twelve are assassinated, Roslin appoints Councilman Lee Adama as Vice President and agrees to his suggestion of a reorganized Quorum based not on the original Twelve Colonies, but on representatives from each ship in the fleet, including the rebel Cylon basestar whose councilman, Sonja Six, she warmly congratulates on her election to the new Quorum and welcomes into the government.
She also develops some form of mental link between herself, Caprica Six, Sharon "Athena" Agathon and the child Hera. This resulted in her collapse when during "Someone To Watch Over Me", when she somehow sensed that Hera was taken by Boomer to Cavil. This link may be connected to a comment made by Ellen Tigh about something manipulating the entire events happening in the Battlestar Universe.
Ever since her collapse, Roslin has been in sickbay and is clearly not doing well. She convinces Adama that he has to abandon Galactica which is now falling apart. After hearing Cottle and Ishay discussing Adama's planned rescue mission of Hera, Roslin, when alone, gets out of bed, gets dressed and makes her way to the hangar to volunteer for the rescue mission despite hardly being able to walk. She asks Adama jokingly if he was planning on going without her and he accepts her help on the mission. She is given injections to keep herself on her feet for two days, but is warned it will use up what little life she has left. With both she and Vice President Adama taking part in the mission, Roslin appoints attorney and political kingmaker Romo Lampkin as a reluctant acting president; she and/or Admiral Adama similarly brevets Lieutenant Louis Hoshi to the rank of Rear Admiral and commander of the fleet. During the battle, Roslin serves in sickbay and helps Hera avoid Cavil and other Centurions that have boarded Galactica as well as finally realizing the truth of her Opera House vision.
After Hera is rescued and the Cylon colony is left to fall into a black hole, Kara Thrace inputs a set of co-ordinates into the navigational computer and the Galactica jumps far away to a habitable blue planet with a moon. The recognizable continent of Africa is seen clearly from orbit. The planet is our own Earth. Joined later by the rest of the colonial fleet, the colonials decide to settle on the new world where primitive humans already live. Roslin, while sitting with Adama, asks him what the name of the planet should be, to which he replies "Earth", naming it after the devastated planet they found some time ago since this new world has ended up being the sanctuary they were always looking for. Now with Roslin close to death, Adama asks Roslin if she wants to see the wildlife of the planet closer and he then takes her on a flight across the African continent in a Raptor. During the flight she utters her last words, "So much... life," and dies peacefully. Heartbroken, Adama puts his wedding ring on Roslin's finger. This fulfils the Mosaic prophecy that the anointed leader will "guide the caravan of the heavens to their new homeland" but the leader will not live to enter the new land. Adama buries her on the hilltop where he intends to build their cabin and visits her grave often. Lampkin is last seen exercising leadership among the settlers.
Unlike most of the other central human characters at start of the series, Roslin has no direct analogue in the original 1978 program, though a character named Siress Tinia (played by Ina Balin) featured in the original series episode "Baltar's Escape". In that episode, Tinia is a member of the Quorum of Twelve, assigned to shadow Adama as an "advisor" and the Quorum's official representative. She sometimes comes into conflict with Adama and challenges his decisions, much like Laura Roslin does with Commander William Adama, though the two eventually grow to respect each other.
While it may be a coincidence, her name is an amalgam of the forenames of the U.S. First Ladies in 2003 and 1978: Laura Bush and Rosalynn Carter. According to McDonnell, influences for the character included Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.
Executive producer Ronald D. Moore called Roslin "vital to the life of this series, as opposed to the original series." The approach of the reimagined series required a substantial political apparatus so that the military led by Adama would not take primacy in civilian life. It would also allow the writers to put the military and civilian leadership into conflict.
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