Ah, Valentine's Day. That special holiday on which people the world over help keep Hallmark in business and celebrate romantic love ... and we here at Blastr are all in on that whole love thing and the way it has elevated some of our favorite fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural horror stories. In this edition of Blastr POV, our writers take a look at some of their favorite pairings. Did we miss your favorite couple? Celebrate them in the comments, and have a happy Valentine's Day!
What can be romantic about killer robots, time travel and the struggle for humanity's survival in Terminator? The relationship between the Terminator's target, Sarah, and her protector, Kyle, that's what. It seems that in the very bleak future, their son had given Kyle a picture of Sarah, and the soldier fell in love with her. When he told her about it, it was clear that Sarah's image was the only hope he had in his life: "I came across time for you, Sarah." What a beautiful -- and painfully brief -- romance. Note: There are no good clips of their romance scene. To compensate, I found a deleted scene from the movie. Strangely, Sarah comes across as much more competent and decisive, while Kyle appears stretched to the point of breaking -- a reversal of their roles in the finished film.
There are so many reasons why Aeryn and John from Farscape are my favorite sci-fi couple, but it can be mostly boiled down to: 1) They are both real hot; 2) They both wear a lot of leather pants, thus aiding in their hotness; 3) They swapped bodies once and immediately went to the masturbation place. So they're smart, too, is what I'm saying. OK, yes. It also helps that their love is forged in fire, that they consistently sacrifice everything for each other, and that Aeryn often takes on the typical male role of being the snarky, put-upon, reluctant hero to John's damsel in distress. But all these things only add to the hotness. So there you go. Boom. Done. John and Aeryn = the best.
Ripley and Hicks in Aliens. OK, many of you will scratch your heads with this one, but the obsessives who gobbled up the Aliens Extended Cut get me. Context time: When Ripley returns to LV-426 with the Colonial Marines, she's an orphan (outside of Jonesy the cat) with no surviving human attachments in the universe. Little Newt becomes her surrogate daughter in the wake of Ripley's daughter, Amanda, growing up and dying while Ripley was in extended hyper sleep. Cpl. Hicks (played with subtle charm by Michael Biehn) in his strong, silent way quickly sizes up that Ripley is a savvy ally far more competent than his commanding officer. As xenomorphs go down, Ripley and Hicks gets some great scenes in which we see their rapport and respect for one another grow, as well as some light flirting (locator bracelet engagements, anyone?). In the extended cut, when Ripley puts an acid-damaged Hicks into their drop ship for safety, the pair even reveal their first names to one another. It's intimate and certainly alludes to the future that James Cameron intended in which Ripley, Newt and Hicks would form their own family unit post credits (until David Fincher had to go and ruin everything!).
The single best sci-fi romance I've seen in years was 2013's Her, written and directed by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and the voice of Scarlett Johansson. The movie was simply beautiful and thought-provoking in so many ways, providing a compassionate glimpse into one terribly lonely soul (played by Phoenix) while also delivering an insightful commentary into the way we communicate and negotiate relationships now in a fully connected and digital society. The center of the film is the romance between Phoenix's Theodore and Johansson's AI, Samantha, which is portrayed as intimate and loving despite the fact that Samantha is a non-corporeal intelligence. Their ultimate journey ends up a heartbreaker, of course, and Theodore -- along with the rest of us -- is forced to re-examine how he lives his life and relates to other human beings. Her is a true work of science fiction cinema, using familiar genre concepts to tell a story about humanity right here and now ... but it's also a moving, melancholy and profound love story.
One of the many things I love about Stephen King's epic The Dark Tower is how clearly and meaningfully the characters themselves progress as people alongside the quest for the titular Tower, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the love that forms between Eddie and Susannah. They were both different people before they met Roland -- he a heroin addict, she a woman torn between two very disparate personalities -- but fate joined themed to the Gunslinger, and ultimately to each other, as their new selves became one new, very powerful pair. Their romance is complicated, rocky and marred by the violence of the world they end up inhabiting, but it's always there, and its ultimate resolution might be the most emotionally satisfying moment in the entire series.
For me, romance resonates more on television when we can see characters develop feelings through shared struggles and triumphs. There are few sci-fi relationships that were tested more than that of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) on Fringe. Because Olivia had a much colder and more masculine role, she wasn't initially seen as a real love interest for Peter. Over two seasons, feelings appeared to form organically. Alternate universes with faux versions of themselves complicated things and became additional barriers but strengthened the story in seasons three and four, as viewers got what they wanted, but not quite as originally hoped. Upon another separation (21 years) in one of the show's alternate timelines, Peter and Olivia are reunited by their daughter Henrietta, which only multiplied the feelings, especially when we found out their love child was a badass, too.
One of my all-time favorite sci-fi romances is Starbuck and Apollo on Battlestar Galactica. I was completely into these two from the first moment Lee finds Kara in the brig after decking Colonel Tigh. It takes a lot for any man to deal with a super alpha female like Kara Thrace, and Lee is the only person who's been able to be her equal both on the battlefield and off. The chemistry between them is so palpable that even though you know these two can't ever have a happy ending, you want them together. I mean, come on, the whole boxing scene in "Unfinished Business" is one of the sexiest, rawest moments maybe ever in genre television. There's so much intense passion between these two that they literally can't live with or without each other.
The Hobbit formerly known as Smeagol has an unhealthy relationship with the One Ring, but they are still my favorite genre valentine couple. Like the fires of Mount Doom, in which it was formed, the One Ring burns bright and causes an intense devotion unlike any other. And although a long-term relationship lasting centuries might cause some hair loss (and tooth loss and a shriveled body ... but, hey, we can't keep our good looks for eternity), Gollum always saw the Ring as his precious. In fact, their relationship pretty much kept him alive, and his love for it drove him insane. Ah, amore! Of course, there was some nasty business between this couple. Gollum was always way too protective, and ready to bash in the skull, or bite off the finger, of anyone looking to steal it away from him. And the Ring was more than ready to step out on the old chum when any younger Hobbitsesses came along. Still, theirs is a relationship that might make even the giant evil eye of Sauron misty. Suggested songs for the Gollum/One Ring playlist: "Tainted Love" and "Ring of Fire."
On this most romantic of days, I'd like to propose the Borg Queen and Data from Star Trek: First Contact as a perfect pair of star-crossed lovers. The Borg Queen, with her glistening wet skin, mesmerizing black eyes and detachable torso, has been searching for a suitable mate for eons. Despite a brief fling with Captain Picard's Locutus, her cybernetic brain requires more of a challenge to win her heart, and she finds it in the slim form of the android Data. Data's reluctance to be absorbed into the Borg's collective begins to break down after the Borg Queen flips on his emotion chip, grafts a patch of organic skin onto his endoskeletal structure, then seductively blows air across the micro-hairs of its surface, indoctrinating Data into physical forms of pleasure. This insidious action, paired with her hushed and husky voice whispering sweet enticements, nearly short-circuits the Enterprise's operations officer. The subtlety and calculation involved in Data's seduction is the stuff epic romances are made on, and though their paths would soon separate, their erotic moment aboard the Borg sphere will linger in Data's microchips far into eternity. Resistance isn't always futile.
I choose the potential coupling that launched a thousand memes: Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak on Arrow. Though a fair share of fans aren't in favor of "Olicity," I fall strongly in the camp who would love to see the duo end up happier ever after. Yes, it goes completely against the comic canon, but this relationship has blossomed out of sheer chemistry and character growth that splintered off the unique universe created for The CW series. It's okay to follow the characters, even if they don't lead where you'd originally planned to go. Felicity is one of the strongest, most nuanced female characters on television. She's insanely smart, funny, quirky — and still an absolute bombshell. She's also the only person who will actually call Oliver on his crap. Her potential relationship with Oliver has blossomed to the point that it's hard to imagine him ending up with anyone else — which is saying a lot, considering all the other leading ladies who have paraded through this series so far. Since virtually every other relationship has gone off the rails on this show, I have the sinking feeling it's all leading toward a tragedy, eventually. But for Valentine's Day, let's have a little hope that it'll all work out in the end.
There is the love that exists between two people who want to be intimate with each other. There is the love of a person for a glass of whiskey and a fine cigar. And then there is the love between a captain and his ship, which may be deeper than all of them. That's why my favorite sci-fi couple is Malcom Reynolds and his starship, Serenity, from Firefly. Sure, Captain Tight Pants had his flirtations with ladies like Inara and Saffron, but in the end, his one true companion was the rusty bucket of bolts that gave him the freedom to live the life he wanted with the family he built himself out from under the thumb of the Alliance ... and that dedication shone through in the way he fought like hell to preserve her, even if it meant he had to bleed out trying to get her back up and running, as he did in "Out of Gas." Of course, the final shot of that same episode is the one in which we see love bloom, as Mal, in a flashback, ignores a salesman's pitch in favor of gazing longingly at the broken-down Firefly-class transport at the edge of the lot. May we all live to see someone looking at us that way.