SPOILER ALERT: Battlestar Galactica spoilers below, if you can indeed spoil something that ended in 2009.
It’s a show about relationships. Make no mistake: At its core, Battlestar Galactica had a lot to say about people in desperate situations. And just like real-life, some of those relationships were very successful. Mostly though, it was a TV show, so MOST of the relationships were enormously complicated.
To help you prepare for this weekend’s Battlestar Galactica marathon on SYFY (or you can watch the episodes online here), we boiled down some helpful 'ship tips – think of them as helpful rules for surviving relationships, whether you’re in a space fleet on the run from robots, or just super bad at this.
Marriage isn’t for everyone
You will be hanging around with someone. Maybe during a national emergency or maybe you’ll be locked up in a room together. And you will absolutely think, “That person is crazy hot.” You should definitely have a relationship with that person. And make out like bandits. Keep in mind, though -- you don’t necessarily have to get married. This happens more than once on a ship where people aren’t notoriously great with choosing monogamy. It's (arguably) most problematic with Kara and Anders, who don't so much rush into it, as not think it all the way through. She was probably still in love with someone else, and he was... well, kind of an ancient being. The point is, by the time we got to "Collaborators," we watch Kara say to Anders:
Kara: I'm in a different place now. I... I... I don't know how else to explain it to you, but I got out of that cell and it's like someone painted the world in different colors. And I look at you and I want to tear your eyes out just for looking at me. I just want to hurt someone and it might as well be you. So you should probably go before that happens.
A fairly good example for that, actually, brings us to…
Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t work out
Spoiler: This one’s a tragic bummer. Dualla and Billy, Battlestar’s desperately tragic pairing. When Billy proposed to her and she said no, our hearts broke for him. Dualla is certainly free to make her own choices, and whatever her reasons for turning him down, she had them. The saddest part is that Billy ended up saving her life, and dying in the process.
Look, whether or not Billy was still in love with Dualla (he was) when he went after a terrorist, the saddest part is that she felt a sense of blame for his death. It wasn’t her fault. Not in any way. We have to believe he would have done it for anyone. So, while we were honestly thrilled for Dualla that she was able to move on and find love with Lee, we didn’t ever totally buy Lee and Dualla as a pairing (and also, come on, Fat-suit, pull yourself together). It would take a stronger person than any of us to go through Dualla’s amount of loss. And she ended her story blamelessly tragic, but still -- tragic.
Point is, let yourself off the hook if these things don’t work out. We’re all doing the best we can.
Know when to hold ‘em
This one’s a big deal. Athena and Helo. Athena and Helo... and Hera. When all of this has happened before and happens again, these two are and will be the parents of mitochondrial Eve. And it wasn’t always easy. They met as part of an experiment. They fell in love, and then both found out she was something else entirely. He came back for her. The love between the two of them was gigantic, confusing, and impossible. And they made it. No matter what happened to Athena and Helo, they had the good sense to stick it out. And wow, that last shot, the three of them in that field together – what else do you need to know?
Know when to fold em
Oh, Baltar and Caprica Six (and sometimes D'Anna), you might have just had too many people and versions of yourself to know how to navigate this. Look, we’ve all done it, completely romanticized a version of a person when they’re not around, and imagined our lives with them somehow. To some extent, these two absolutely saw a vision of the other that was downright Of-the-Gods. It's cool to build that fantasy. It's probably super necessary to falling in love. Just... keep it somewhat contained.
But then, these two went and added D’Anna to the mix. We’re going to once again go on record that if you want to live in a groovy three-way set up for a little while, it is your business as long as everyone’s on board. The point is, there comes a time when everyone needs to just stop, take a look around, and say, “What do we NOT need in this relationship?”
Know when to walk away
We have to give props to Lee and Kara. The third time they tried to make it work, they realized it was a lost cause and their last interaction on Earth summed this up. Theirs was a transcendent friendship -- deeper on some level than most of the show's pairings. Yes, they had sex every once in a while, and yes, sometimes they thought they should be more than they were. At the end of the day, though, Kara and Lee knew what they had -- a deep friendship that didn’t entitle them to each other. When he looks away from her in the finale, and looks back to find her gone, that’s exactly what their relationship was -- the ideal friendship that isn’t based on need or ownership. They were who they were, and they existed for each other exactly as long as they were supposed to.
Know when to run
Galen Tyrol remains, all these years later, a character we’re willing to say had bad luck with women, but who was also not great to them. Cally loved Chief. And he loved her back. He was a good and honest man until... he beat her up. And she left. We cheer for that narrative because it’s what we hope we’d all do. And then, a while later, he apologized, she forgave him, and she took him back. To be fair, Chief was reformed. Which we wanted to believe. And then, when he learned he was a Cylon and he didn’t tell her, we watched a fairly impressive act of cowardice. From that point on, we worried about Callie with good reason. Callie was driven nearly insane when she found out, and was killed during a botched suicide/infanticide. All in the service of loving a man who was at his most honorable to her AFTER her death. It remains one of the more desperately sad relationships the show had. Godspeed, Cally. You deserved better than Galen Tyrol.
But like, don’t murder anyone
But then again, there's Saul and Ellen Tigh. Don’t be like the Tighs. In any way. No matter how much you love each other, don’t murder the other one. No matter the treachery. Yes, it turns out to be a much bigger story than this, and by the end, death isn’t really like... a thing for them, because of all the resurrection? And now that we think about it, maybe they are a special case. Okay, if you know that you have endless lives to live together... and know that with absolute surety because it’s a system you helped design, then maybe?
No. Don’t. Just don’t murder anyone.
Finally, tell your person they’re important to you
The show’s most successful relationship, by far, was the one enjoyed between Commander Adama and President Laura Roslin. There are a lot of great moments to learn from, but none more than the two of them on Kobol:
Adama: I didn't come here for this. I didn't come here to lay blame or to catalog our mistakes. We made a decision to leave the Colonies after the attack. We made the decision. It was the right one then and it's the right one now. Because every moment of every day since then is a gift.
Roslin: From the gods.
Adama: No, from you, for convincing me that I should go. I would be dead. My son would be dead. Whatever else the costs, I won't second guess that outcome.
The key to their relationship centers on a mutual respect for the other’s principles. They disagree about tactics, but at the end of the day, they both want the same thing, survival of the people around them. It’s this generosity of heart that keeps them together, and it’s a model for us all.