In 2017 Star Trek: Discovery boldly went where no other Star Trek series had gone before by featuring an out gay couple as part of the ship’s crew. Last night the CBS All Access series returned with its first new episode of 2018, and the show accomplished another first for a Star Trek series: It killed off one of its gay characters.
The couple, Lt Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), quickly became fan favorites on the show when they were introduced at the start of the season, and the two actors were even recently featured on the cover of two different LGBT magazines, Attitude and The Advocate.
But on last night’s episode viewers were dealt a shocking blow when Culber was killed by Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) when Culber discovered that Tyler was a Klingon sleeper agent and Tyler then snapped his neck.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 8, 2018
“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,” showrunner Aaron Harberts told Entertainment Weekly.
“We though it was going to take a little while for the audience to bond with them, get to know the characters,” he explained to CBS News. “We didn’t realize how this couple was going to resonate with audience, and they bonded so so quickly,” he said. “Our intention was to really start their story with what happens tonight.”
(STAR TREK DISCO SPOILERS)
ok, fuck star trek discovery for killing off Culber, its first gay MoC. I don't care if it turns out it was all just a ruse and 'he's still alive guys, don't worry!' GAY CHARACTERS DO NOT NEED TO SUFFER ANY MORE THAN THEY ALREADY HAVE. DO BETTER.
— emma (@emmyzelf) January 8, 2018
Thanks guys, you’ve just killed off a gay character. Way to go. *Slow hand clap* You’ve just joined the ranks of so many shows on TV that have done the same. It’s not original. Its a trope. It’s violent to our community. I expect better of Star Trek. #disappointed #discovery
— Kirsten Opdebeck (@hipchic99) January 8, 2018
Cruz also spoke to CBS News about the plot twist of killing off Culber and how he is proud to be part of the Star Trek vision of the future:
“What I’m really proud of — we learned some big things about Hugh in this episode,” the out actor said. “We his some of his genius —bedside manner—and we see him stand up to his superiors. We see things we haven’t seen and give people a preview of what’s to come.”
I canceled my CBS All-Access that I had solely for Star Trek: Discovery. It's 2018, and killing off only women and men of color and killing of happy gay relationships is so common everywhere else and I don't need to pay for more of it
— Jeff Hodges (@jmhodges) January 8, 2018
Herberts is aware that Culber’s death will be painful for viewers, but teases that this might not be the last we have seen of Cruz’s character.
“When we shared the arc with the cast, Wilson called — and this is about a scene you will not have seen yet — and he said to us, ’This is the best thing I think I’ve ever done in my career,'” Herberts recalled.
“That right there is an incredible thing; we were hearing that from Wilson Cruz, who is a trailblazer who’s been an out actor his entire life. We all realized in that moment that we’ve done something pretty profound and incredible, and the proof is in the pudding.”
Do you think this is the last we have seen of Culber?