Laura Roslin is a woman who had power thrust upon her at a time in her life when she was the most powerless. Within hours of getting the news that she had inoperable/terminal breast cancer she was the highest ranking government official to survive the devastating attacks on the twelve colonies. Her breast cancer diagnosis was segued into by the death of her father and sisters in a car accident and an ongoing affair with the then President, Richard Adar, and nearly going to bed with a former student.
Laura is a self-assured woman of convictions and principles. She took her newfound duties as President very seriously and even when she was no longer the President she worked tirelessly to help ensure the survival of the human race.
Despite her passion and deep commitment to her job and her cause, she has trouble letting people get close to her emotionally. This was, undoubtedly, a knee-jerk reaction to the sudden loss of her family.
Tom Zarek is a classic anti-hero. Tom spent most of his adult life in prison for bombing a government building as part of a protest of government oppression of the poorer colony of Saggitaron. The public’s opinion of Tom was and remains split between “terrorist” and “freedom fighter.” Tom fancies himself an everyman and rails against the governmental establishment already in place though he has his own political ambitions.
Tom is charismatic and well-spoken and inspires fierce loyalty in his supporters. Tom is very much an “ends justify the means” sort of person -- which is actually something Tom and Laura have in common but loathe about the other.
Despite Tom’s tough persona and his penchant for occasionally using people as pawns in his plans, Tom cared deeply for his friend and always stands by his convictions.
First Impressions: Bastille Day. To say that their first encounter couldn’t have been worse is not an exaggeration.
Laura becomes aware of the fact that the infamous Tom Zarek survived the attacks when she sends in crew from the Galactica to get the prisoners to perform menial labor and an opportunity to earn their freedom. The notion of “earning one’s freedom,” of course, rubs Tom the wrong way immediately and he and the other prisoners aboard the Astral Queen take hostages.
Neither Laura nor Tom were willing to concede even a milimetre of ground to the other and the only thing that keeps Tom from being killed is Apollo’s quick thinking. In the end, the prisoners are given the Astral Queen.
Political Nemeses: Colonial Day. The episode starts out with Tom Zarek pledging his commitment to the fleet and releasing the people from the tyranny of the Elite, of which Laura is the champion.
There is much rumbling and buzzing about the first meeting of Laura and Tom at the upcoming Quorum of Twelve and the reporters wait with baited breath as he moves down the line.
At the first meeting of the Quorum of Twelve, Tom proposes the need for a Vice President and is then, himself, nominated for the position. Laura begs her friend Wallace Gray to accept her endorsement for the position. Tom’s charisma garners him more and more support.
There are also a lot of smoldering looks exchanged at the meeting.
The discovery of a man with designs on assassinating Laura sends Laura into full blown self-preservation mode. If Tom wins the vote she is convinced that he will have her assassinated and then ascend to the office of presidency.
She then propositions Gaius Baltar to be her candidate who wins the vote easily as he manages to out charm Tom.
“The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend:” Resistance, The Farm, Home parts 1 & 2. Laura goes up against Commander Adama by sending Starbuck away on an unauthorized mission. Lee goes up against his father by siding with Laura which gets them both thrown into the brig. Lee is permitted out of the brig for his shifts but Laura is confined to her cell. The Quorum of Twelve demand access to Laura, Tigh ignores their requests repeatedly until Ellen tells him that Laura’s gone around the bend. Laura had gone through withdrawal from the drug she was taking for her cancer. By the time Tigh escorts the Quorum to Laura to show them how nuts she’d gone, a sympathetic guard had given her access to her drug and she was clear headed and focused.
Whether Tom agrees with her policies or not he is angered that the civilian government is being silenced.
Laura, once again in control of her faculties, orchestrates an elaborate escape with Lee. To Laura’s chagrin she discovers that Lee enlisted the help of Tom.