It was a jaw-dropping mid-season premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, which left many fans in an uproar over a beloved character's death. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
Prior to Sunday's episode, the storyline led many to believe that the life of the series's first gay character, Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp), was in peril. His body had been required to power the ships's spore drive, which had taken a serious toll on his physical and mental health.
However, it was Stamets's partner, Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), who appeared to be axed, following the discovery that Lt. Ash Tayler (Shazad Latif) was a spy for enemy Klingons.
The death of the Star Trek franchise's first gay couple, who made television history by kissing earlier in the season, sparked sorrow and outrage from fans. Many accused the CBS All Access show of being guilty of "bury your gays" — a trope in which gay characters are seen as expendable in film and television productions.
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
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
"Star Trek boldly goes where no man has gone before...except in the bedroom apparently, where they're still dragging on impulse power in the "kill-the-gays" mentality of the 20th century. Star Trek Discovery has warped out!!"
— JON B. (@Magnys5) January 8, 2018
However, the executives producers of Star Trek: Discovery, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg, assured fans that the "epic love story" of Stamets and Culber "has just begun."
"Inclusion and diversity have been a cornerstone of Star Trek for over 50 years, and Lt. Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber represent an important part of Star Trek: Discovery – both as individuals and as a couple," the producers told The Advocate in a statement. "These characters, played by the talented and trailblazing Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, have a relationship that is inspirational to many."
"We know it might seem like the end for Wilson Cruz and his character, but this is just one chapter in an epic love story that has just begun," they concluded.
In The Advocate's new cover story on Cruz and Rapp's characters, Harberts, who is gay, called their love story "transcendent" and "a vision of a homosexual relationship that is rarely given" in mainstream media. Alluding to the film Ghost, the showrunner hinted that there is far more to come from this history-making relationship.
Cruz himself gave a wink on social media to his possible return.
“I’m not going anywhere.” pic.twitter.com/gjIxIoR0zC
— Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) January 8, 2018