The couple were thought to be over after Dr. Hugh Culber was killed off during Season 1.
Back when it first aired, Star Trek: Discovery boldly went where it had never been before, by introducing a gay couple. And the series even went on to delight fans, when the pair locked lips.
However, all good things must come to an end, and Dr. Culber was killed off in the first season. Fan reception to the twist was negative, but the show’s creator, Aaron Harberts defended it.
“We knew that this was going to be shocking for an audience and for a community that has unfortunately been assaulted by this ‘bury your gays’ trope, but I’m an openly gay showrunner and my writing partner is nothing if not the most supportive person when it comes to LGBT portrayals on TV,” he said at the time.
But in another surprising twist, Dr. Culber is now back. In the show’s Valentine’s Day episode, Saints of Imperfection, Paul Stamets, Culber’s partner and Starfleet mutineer Michael Burnham undertake a mission to rescue crewmember Sylvia Tilly.
During the mission, they discover that Dr. Culber had been trapped in the mycelial plane since his death. Stamets was able to convince Culber to return to the Discovery with them, and the character was subsequently resurrected. Look, it’s sci-fi, weirder things have happened.
Cruz confirmed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he was told it was always the intention to bring the character back, but to explore grief with Stamets.
Commenting on their relationship within the Star Trek universe, Anthony Rapp, who plays Stamets, said: “I absolutely embrace the fact that our relationship is the first-ever truly explored same-sex relationship in Star Trek history.
“I honour and love that this is the case for us. At the same time, the particulars of our relationships, the ups and downs that we go through, are specific to our relationship. I don’t want them to be seen as speaking as gospel for all relationships.
“I do think one of the things that is really meaningful is that it shows LGBTQ relationships as complex, rich, and explored with a lot of integrity and depth. Because it’s science fiction, we’re able to take experiences like coming back to life, and really question what it means to be alive and human. What does it mean to be in a relationship and have memories?
“I hope any fan can find humanity, depth and something compelling about what our characters are going through together.”
Cruz said: “I feel like what’s important about the very existence of this relationship is that it allows LGBTQ people to imagine and understand that not only have we always been here, but that we will always be here.
“Part of what’s powerful and what has always been powerful about Star Trek is that it helps us imagine the world that we want, as we would like it to be. It’s important to include LGBTQ people in that vision.
“We want to be responsible to the story and to the community. I think about how a young LGBTQ person of colour who watches this show can now imagine and know that they’re valued and part of the future.”
Commenting on what to expect from his character now that he’s returned, Cruz said: “We will find out not just about who are they are to each other, but who they are individually.
“Last season, it was fair to say that Culber was very much in service of Stamets’ ambition. But this season, we really get to see who Hugh Culber is, why he does what he does.
“I want people to imagine what it’s like to have gone through all of that [in the network] and to now be back where it all started.
“That experience has affected how he feels about his life, career, relationship, and who he is. We will learn there are consequences for him, as there should be. We don’t pull any punches, and I think we deliver a love story that is worthy of this relationship.”