Carter Vs Roslin

The Battlestar: Galactica episode Home, Pt I showed me how easy it is to portray women as competent leaders in crappy circumstances – as easy as it is to do the same men. I need go to further in comparison then Sam Carter in Gemini.

In Gemini, Carter comes across her Replicator (evil robotic replicating devices) clone, dubbed by fans as RepliCarter. RepliCarter promises all sorts of pretty vague things, so long as the they help her. Against better judgement, Carter helps her. Except, oops, turns out RepliCarter was playing her all along – and, apparently, playing her willingness to trust in alien technology which says its sorry for past transgressions and wants to make up. Thanks to Carter’s bad jusgement, RepliCarter makes off with all kinds of intel that sets back the SGC’s war on the Replicators.

In HPI, Laura Roslin, the ousted President, is faced with a situation which involves several people pointing guns at one another and their resident Cylon (evil robots bent on eliminating humanity). She calmly, diplomatically talks the stand-off down, then calmly, diplomatically orders the Cylon to be killed. It is only the Cylon’s (Sharon) promise to deliver an advantage that will benefit Roslin politically and humanity as a whole that makes her spare Sharon’s life.

Then, Roslin works out that Sharon is genuinely in love with the father of her baby, Helo. Weather this is a result of software damage, or being a bad make, Roslin doesn’t care. The point is, she can use it. She (falsely) threatens to have Helo killed if Sharon fails to give them the intel they need. Showed quite crafty manipulation of the situation, IMHO.

From then on, Sharon is held on an extremely tight leash. She has to give huge concessions to the renegade fleet in order to get so much as an inch of leeway. Nobody, Roslin least of all, trusts her as far as they can throw her. But while she continues to give them good intel, then may as well keep her around.

Roslin’s distrust in a Cylons – the mob that destroyed her twelve-planet civilisation down to a population of fifty thousand – is understandable. Carter’s trust in a machine that did pretty much the same thing is not.


  1. says

    I LOVE how at times Roslin is depicted as the “voice of reason” of everyone, not just “the woman who can be rational.” She is on occasion ruthless, because she has to be. I want to be Laura Roslin (or Claudette on The Shield) when I grow up. They could very easily have taken it in the direction of “she’s the nurturing mother of everyone in humanity!” But they didn’t.

    It’s why I’m pretty ambivalent on the whole “dying leader” subplot. On one hand, it’s cool. On the other hand, it kind of undermines what they’ve done with the character-as-woman-leader.

  2. scarlett says

    Yeah I was less impressed as they continued with the cancer storyline. But I loved how she took control of the situiation and then manipulated situations as they came up for both her benefit and the fleet’s in general.

  3. Purtek says

    Roslin is amazing. I’m often terrified of her, and got more so as S3 went on, which I think works with the fact that she’s making a lot of harsh decisions in the midst of constant crisis. I don’t always agree with her, but I’d rather she be complicated than clichéd any day.

    I also love that she started out in a classic “woman” position (job-wise) as education minister and had to adjust in order to be an effective, tough president. It says a lot about limiting women to those kinds of roles because “that’s what they’re good at” when there’s never been anything to suggest that even the ones who are good at the nurturing stuff can’t adapt to be equally good (or better) at the authoritarian stuff.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ve only seen BSG through half of S2, but I did love how Roslin rises to occasions over and over. Right or wrong, she doesn’t wuss out.

    The Carter episode was just sad. It put across not only that her competency is questionable, but that she’s self-deluded. Not only does she maybe suck as a military officer, but she’s also weak compared to the rest of her team – unable to face her own demons.

  5. scarlett says

    I knew Gemini was coming, but seeing it still infuriated me. In both cases – Home and Gemini – they had to deal with robots intent in killing humanity, but Carter just handed the info over with diasterous consequences, whereas Roslin made Sharon earn every liberty she got. And I thought threatening to throw Helo out of the airlock was brilliant, just what a man would do – of course she had no intention of going through with it, but Sharon didn’t know that :p

    Roslin has always impressed me with her choices. I liked that she coldly assessed that Baltar was her best choice for Vice President, then accepted responsibility when he turned on her. I wasn’t impressed when they went the whole part-Cylon route, though, but that still beats the pants off handing over intel to Replicarter.

  6. scarlett says

    Oh, and focusing on Gemini, another thing that bothered me was that if it was Daniel, Jack or Teal’c that had been responsible to giving vital intel away to their mortal enemy, heads would have rolled. With Carter, it was just ‘you couldn’t have known’.

  7. Gategrrl says

    Gemini on Stargate simply confirmed to me that my initial theory about Carter is that she’s a complete Narcisstic personality (okay, BetaCandy would probably disagree with me, since she’s had actual exposure to a person like that) – but it’s a classic illustration of the Narcissic Myth/story. Carter sees an exact physical copy of herself, sees why all those men have gone nuts over her, and loses all of her judgement. It’s a wonder the writers of that episode didn’t have her gazing into a mirror in a brief scene. But that would have been redundant: Carter only had to look across the table to see “herself”.

    Roslin, on the other hand, I get the feeling would never be taken in by a double, especially one she’d suspect was a Cylon (even if she WAS a Cylon herself). She is who she is, and she is not overly involved with herself. She *knows* herself, and you get the feeling that does look into her self and knows a lot about her self, but then, she has to if she wants to be a good leader.

    These two characters couldn’t be more different. Were Carter shipped magically onto the Galactica setting, she’d be dead within a week; or shoved into a brig. No one would take or tolerate her behavior because unlike Starbuck, they couldn’t TRUST her, like they can’t trust Baltar.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I would agree Carter shows tendencies toward narcissism. It’s inconsistent, but so it everything else about her, as several different men try to create their Fantasy Gal in her.

    And really, ultimately, she’s a mirror to the guys writing her.

  9. scarlett says

    Well I think BsG shows pretty realistic consequences for Starbuck’s unreliability; she may be brilliant at what she does, she she’s the one the turn to when they need someone crazy to carry off a crazy plan, but no-one trusts her in a situation which requires reliability and level-headedness. She’s a loose cannon tolerated because she’s the best they’ve got in one particular arena.

    But I can’t imagine even Starbuck doing something as stupid as handing over intel without getting some huge concessions in return. And I guess that’s why Home made me think of Gemini, because in both cases leaders had to negotiate with civilisation-destroying robots but Carter handed over the intel while getting nothing in return whereas Roslin made Sharon work for her freedom (and by freedom, I mean the right to continue living. In a cell.)

  10. Eva says

    The Carter episode was just sad. It put across not only that her competency is questionable, but that she’s self-deluded. Not only does she maybe suck as a military officer, but she’s also weak compared to the rest of her team – unable to face her own demons.

    Which is interesting because, judging from a lot of the negativity towards the “new” SG1, I didn’t think Carter had ever misjudged anything before.

    Aw…but let’s not beat up on Carter. Roslin is on the much better show 😉

    That being said, what scares me about Roslin is that she’ll give that motherly smile, tilt her head and bit and say “space ’em” in the blink of an eye. She’s the only good thing still standing by the end of season 3, which I thought was WTF? overall.

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    Which is interesting because, judging from a lot of the negativity towards the “new” SG1, I didn’t think Carter had ever misjudged anything before.

    Well, that was another issue with Gemini. She tried to take responsibility for her mistakes, but the entire rest of the cast contradicted this. There was never an unprotested acknowledgment that yes, she screwed up.

    There’s no shame in making mistakes. But when you let your male character’s mistakes be acknowledged but treat your females like they can do no wrong even when they obviously did, it feels VERY condescending.


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