The last time we saw Wilson Cruz’s Dr. Hugh Culber in Star Trek: Discovery, he was having his neck viciously snapped by Voq and subsequently was very definitely and totally dead. So, it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser that the character’s set to return in season 2.
Understandably, Cruz is playing his cards pretty close to his chest on how Culber will return from the dead (my money’s on a wormhole of some kind, as per usual), but he is willing to talk about how his character’s untimely end impacted on him as an actor and how his return will affect his relationship with Stamets.
In an interview with Trek Movie, he discussed his overall impressions of season 2, saying:
We are not in wartime, so I feel the stories are not as dark. I feel there is more humor this season, there is more room for that. There is more exploration of the universe. So, in that way, it is a more forward-looking season.
He then went on to explain how this shift in tone impacted upon Stamets’ reaction to his partner’s death:
We were at war last season and although it was heartbreaking for him to know that his partner was killed in such a violent and unneccessary way, we had a moment in the mycelial network where we were kind of able to kind of say goodbye in a way. And he had to finish the war. They had to finish the war, so it didn’t give him enough time to mourn. I think it is fair to say, he will have an opportunity to do that, come season two.
In what must be a promising twist, he also indicated that he felt guilty about the emotional fan reaction to Culber’s death, and goes on to say that his return was planned all along rather than being retconned in after the show’s writers realized the popularity of the character and decided to resurrect him:
I heard a lot about it. I felt terrible, except for the fact that it was really good storytelling and I knew where the story was going and I knew that was a necessary part of where we were about to go. So, it was immediate pain for a really great payoff later, I promise. I have to say – I get emotional thinking about it – I was very moved by the way fans have reacted to me and that character and the way they reacted to his murder. It broke my heart in many ways.
But I knew things they did not, which is why it was so important to me to go out and reassure fans, as soon as it happened, to let them know it was the end of a chapter and not the end of a story. We’re promising them an epic love story and part of an epic love story is heartbreak. There has to be some of that. Peaks and valleys, all relationships are made up of it.
I have to admit, when I initially read that they were bringing Culber back to life, I was instantly skeptical. His death in season 1 was an indicator that this was a Trek series that wasn’t going to pull its punches and be willing to introduce a deadliness that extends far beyond the show’s traditional redshirt sacrificial victims.
After all, an unexpected resurrection on TV often comes across as a bit soap-operatic, especially when the death is as final and dramatic as Culber’s was. Conversely, despite a few rough patches, I really enjoyed the writing of Discovery and if this really was planned all along, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt.
I guess we’ll find out whether that faith is misplaced in early 2019, when Star Trek: Discovery season 2 airs. Judging by its kickass first trailer though, I suspect I’ll be vindicated.