Watch: Wilson Cruz On How Dying Made Culber A Better Doctor In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 3

We are still waiting on word for when the third season of Star Trek: Discovery will arrive on CBS All Access. Today one of the actors talked about his character’s arc in the upcoming season.

Wilson Cruz excited about Culber’s season 3 growth

Wilson Cruz’ Doctor Hugh Culber was brutally murdered close to the end of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, but he came back in a very Star Trek way, resurrected from the mycelial network early in season two. Cruz was a guest on The Talk on Monday and he spoke about Culber’s season two return:

I really wanted to make sure that the return [of Culber] was epic and it spoke to this relationship [with Stamets], but also that there was a cost to his being murdered. So many times with these LGBT, especially gay characters, are killed off on these series and there is no cost as if it never happened. I wanted there to be growth with this. He needed to have learned something from this. We all did. So, I was excited about the epic way he was brought back.

Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber with Anthony Rapp as Stamets in season two episode “If Memory Serves”

Cruz also spoke about where the good doctor is headed in season three:

I am more excited about how he has grown in season three. How he has used this experience to kind of inform the way he works on the ship. We will see more of how he works as a doctor but also how he is taking into consideration mental health.

It appears that season three of Discovery will feature Doctor Culber leaning into the medical side of his character. In April Cruz stated “I actually get to do a lot more doctoring” in season three.

In March CBS teased the third season as “coming soon.” Production was completed in February before the coronavirus lockdown, with post-production work being done remotely. Last month Cruz asked fans for patience as this remote work takes more time.

Wilson Cruz as Doctor Hugh Culber

Cruz on The Talk

You can watch the segment from The Talk where Cruz talks Discovery as well as another segment where he talks about Pride Month and recent protest movements for racial justice.


Keep up on all the Star Trek: Discovery news, reviews, and analysis at TrekMovie.com.

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Regardless of how the actor feels about it (obviously he’s like to keep the job rather than be killed off) resurrecting him I still consider a mistake. First of all, the manner in which they did it was monumentally ridiculous. Yes, Spock’s was too but that situation there was a semi-reasonable path to follow and it might have made some sort of sense if you squint and don’t think too hard about it. But Culber’s return made zero sense. Further, it makes no sense that NO ONE questioned his return. They just accepted it like this sort of thing happens every day. I’ve heard the argument that in Star Trek it pretty much does but no, it doesn’t. His is only the 2nd resurrection in Trek. But given the circumstances and all that was going on he should have been immediately put in the brig until it could be 100% confirmed he was who he was. It was a bad creative choice that was handled in a ridiculous way. And I feel I must say that as much as I really liked TUC I still think it was a mistake to bring Spock back as well. But at least his “death” is something that couldn’t be repeated. Culber’s return could easily be done for anyone who perishes so long as they have access to the mycelial network.

But this is just one of many many many mistakes Discovery has made. It’s unfortunate that the Culber character seemed like one of two characters that I found to be semi interesting in that cast. (It would be 3 if I counted Lorca but since they decided to undermine him completely that pretty much leaves him out)

Lorca could return in a similar fashion. Anything is possible in Star Trek. Let’s see what happens

“I’ve heard the argument that in Star Trek it pretty much does but no, it doesn’t.”

I say it does. That a “soul” is transfered into an other body is a thing that happened at least once in every Star Trek series. But for most of the series multible times. It seldom stays that way so you would not call it a resurrection, but the principle is the same.

I’m talking about resurrecting the dead, Odradek Not transferring a conscienceness into something else. Which HAS happened. But that’s a different thing.

“I’m talking about resurrecting the dead, Odradek Not transferring a conscienceness into something else. Which HAS happened. But that’s a different thing.“

Is it though? Spock’s consciousness was transferred into a host keeping it safe until it was transferred into a rejuvenated body and Stamet’s connection to the mycellial network served as a bridge for Culber to pass over onto that plane of existence where his consciousness could be grown a new body. Both of these cases involved transferring consciousness into something else to cheat death, neither were resurrected in the biblical sense.

Ok. So your point is that Spock’s resurrection was less a return from the dead and more a transfer of consciousness. That is a valid take I suppose. In Stammet’s case if that is what happened (it was never clearly explained) then I can see your point again. But what I saw in the episode was Stammet’s was dead. His brain functions had ceased. His body stopped all functions. He was quite clearly gone yet some “ghost” of him appeared in the network. Well, the obvious conclusion would be that was the Network messing with the crew just like it did with Tilly. They were able to remove the ghost/copy of Stammets. But it doesn’t seem likely it is really him. The biggest issue would be where did the body come from and how did they duplicate the brain functions? Just being hooked up to the network doesn’t really explain that away. At least not for this viewer. It seemed they needed to either leave him dead (the better option) or come up with something that the audience could more easily buy. Like I said, there needs to be some sort of logic (even it it is on the absurd side) for the audience to follow.

It’s a while since Ive seen the episode but I think it had something to do with May’s people. I recall there being something mentioned about Culber’s new body being made up of matter from the mycellial network and there being some drama about him not being able to return before they concocted a technobabble solution.

‘Confusing’ is a reasonable description but to be fair to Discovery it’s not the first time a Trek show has used technobabble to dig itself out of a hole. Obviously when Culber was ‘killed’ by Tyler/Voq it caused a bit of a backlash and the writers came out immediately to confirm that Hugh was still alive. I think the fact that he did show up later in the season and was integral in helping Stamet’s find his way out of the network does back up the notion that the transfer of his consciousness was always planned as part of the narrative. I’m not sure though if it was always the plan to bring him back into the physical world. It’s possible that they viewed Culber and Stamet’s saying goodbye when they returned to normal space/time as resolution to their arc. On the other hand they did deliberately show the spore land on Tilly in season one so maybe they had it planned out all along.

When you post about this and other ‘resurrection’ scenarios a recurring theme that you bring up is that they’re basically curing death. It’s a valid argument, however in the case of Stamet’s and Culber I think that there are too many random variable’s in play that make it unlikely they could repeat it. In fact you could argue that it is far more likely that you could repeat Spock’s resurrection in Star Trek 3 as every Vulcan has a Katra and it seems that most of them know how to mind meld. Would you really need a genesis weapon to get a new body to transfer that consciousness to? Surely it could just be put in a cloned body? That’s a technology that’s existed for a longtime in Trek and we’ve seen fully developed bodies grown. I think what might have made Culber’s return grate so much is that on Discovery at that point nobody ever seemed to stay dead. I mean Georgiou had actually died but then the actress was brought back to play her MU counterpart and then we had the fake Tyler death just a couple of episodes before Culber came back. This is a reasonable concern, without consequence there is no drama so Discovery does need to be careful about how many times they go back to this particular well.

ML31, I think we understand that the acceptance of Culber after his return from / resurrection in the mycellial network really gets right up your nose.

It would be helpful to understand why though you find this so different than accepting Picard after his assimilation as Locutus or any number of “possessed by aliens” experiences across every series. Even ‘Inner Light’ was an enormous risk – perhaps more – as Picard had a complete life of another person imprinted over his own.

The compassionate reaction of Star Trek is not to toss someone in the Brig but to assess their physical and psychological health and well-being being and treat them. In fact, it would have been a significant part of Troi’s job as counselor and explains why she should not have been subordinate to a medical physician.

I’m not sure why your reaction is to put someone in the Brig. Or, that not putting Culber in the Brig is such a major “mistake” compared to how analogous situations in other series.

The only precedent is when Mirror Universe Kirk came off the transporter: and that case involved an aggressive MU Kirk giving orders who needed to be relieved and restrained. In fact it’s such an anomaly that it supports the idea that Spock had knowledge of the existence of the MU prior to that episode, however deeply classified and need-to-know only.

What we might have expected in Discovery would have been for Culber to be transferred to a psychological assessment and treatment centre. There were a few valid reasons not to do that: 1) after trauma, return to the previous home environment can be stabilizing; 2) at least one psychological treatment facility was compromised based on Spock’s experience.

Of note, in one of the Titan Relaunch novels, Riker is sent to a special treatment centre for captains who have been under the control of aliens. Picard explains that he spent some time there after his assimilation. I thought it was a good concept.

OK TG. The difference is that Picard was assimilated. You could remove the elements that made him Borg. There could be some suspicion left behind., sure. And it seems that according to First Contact Star Fleet Command didn’t want Picard anywhere near the Borg encounter for exactly that reason. So at least they acknowledged the doubt among people who didn’t really know JLP. But since the Borg implants were something that could be removed, like a tumor, it is reasonable to think that Picard was back to his own self. Contrast that with Culber’s return. We already saw the network messing with Tilly. Why couldn’t the network be messing with them some more with bringing a dead guy back? That fact to me is enough to get people to doubt this. If the network hadn’t already been messing with them then MAYBE I could see them accepting this “miracle”. But I still suspect there would be doubt. So, yes. Removing Borg implants is a long way removed from coming back from the DEAD.

They toss prisoners and spied in the brig. If they suspected Culber (which any reasoned thinking person should) they would at LEAST shadow him everywhere for quite some time to be sure. And that does not explain why Troi should be subordinate to the CMO. It is a reason to have a specialist on board. But it does not explain why that medical specialist should be outside the purview of the CHIEF Medical Officer.

Psychologists aren’t considered a subordinate specialty to physicians. It’s not the same chain of command.

Troi was the Chief Psychologist under the title ship’s Counselor. That why she’s a senior officer.

It kinda is under the purview of overall health. And in a situation where there is not space for a complete set of health care professionals, like on a starship, it is completely reasonable that the ship’s shrink (and she seemed to be the only one) report to the CMO, who oversees all medical related issues and departments. The chief dentist would report to Crusher, too I suspect. As would the ship’s optometrist.

I was disappointed when he was killed off but I’m happy to see him again. I enjoy Hugh Culber and his relationship with Stamets. The doctor returns from the dead… for his physical.

Culber has only one purpose on the show — to be the gay husband of a more important character. There’s been no development of the Culber character outside of that. Do we know anything about him other than he’s a doctor whom we’ve never actually seen do any interesting doctoring? Childhood? Family? Starfleet career? Favorite planet? Favorite color? Anything? Has he done anything except die and come back and cry when Stamets gets ill? Sure, Discovery is not huge on character development, but after two seasons we know a lot about Burnham, Saru and Tilly. We don’t know that much about Stamets but in his extensive screen time we can feel like we’ve come to know him, and he’s got a likeable boyish charm. We don’t know very much about the current incarnation of Philippa Georgiou but we don’t like her and want her to stop being on the show because she’s evil and cartoonish. But Culber? Even Keiko O’Brian had more personality.

Binyamin, I’m not sure what your point is here other than to be negative about Culber.

If you listen back to interviews with Wilson Cruz after the end of season 2, you will find that he pretty much agreed with your analysis up to the point of Culber’s return from mycellial network.

In season 1, Wilson Cruz has said that Culber was a character to support Stamets. He was basically Stamets spouse who was murdered. We know they are a committed couple and that Culber is a physician with research expertise who can hold up toe to toe with Stamets’ research obsessions. That’s about it. But within the limits of a serialized show, it’s not much less than we know about any character other than Burnham. I would also argue that we didn’t know too much more about most of the TNG ensemble at the end of season 1.

Wilson Cruz has said that if they were bringing back Culber, it needed to be meaningful and authentic. It had to show how the trauma affected his relationships, as was shown in the second half of season 2. We’ve heard already that we’ll see more of Culber’s work life as a physician in season 3 : presumably, he still has psychological work to do in order to be able to work effectively no matter the “all hands on deck” emergency of the transit to the future.

So, it makes me wonder what’s really tripping you up here…

He’s a cardboard character. From your defensive tone and transparent last paragraph I guess I stepped over some invisible PC line by insinuating that a one-dimensional ‘gay character’ played by the least talented actor in the ensemble needs more definition. I’m sorry if you feel threatened or whatever.

Say what?!

I’m not threatened, just trying to figure out why you’re reaction is so strong when one could have said the same about at least a third of Trek characters after the first season or two.

Frankly, from your initial post, I could have equally thought that you were someone concerned about LGBTQ+ issues, and felt it was cheapening to have a gay character resurrected without really making him 3D,

Clearly not though. It sounds more as though you are set off by the the focus on a gay character’s storyline.

My perspective is that all of our rights are respected and strengthened by Trek’s continued efforts to show a more diverse society. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the particular identity of myself or my family. Equity is a value that I uphold and if anything has been highlighted in the past month, staying silent and acting like a bystander to inequitable attitudes is a problem.

In 2020, a gay couple overcoming tragedy is pretty much in the middle of societal experience. In fact, when I think back at how devastated the gay community was by HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, it’s really unfortunate that the 90s Trek series weren’t able to be more inclusive of their stories.

BTW I would like to know more about Culber’s background. Perhaps if he had a Short Trek like Saru or Tilly he’d be more rounded. But I feel that way for just about every character on Discovery, including the bridge crew. Discovery is so rich in its diverse cast, but what we’ve seen to date hasn’t dove as deeply into that as they could have.

“staying silent and acting like a bystander to inequitable attitudes is a problem”

I find this comment ignorant. You have no idea why anyone might stay silent on the matter. There very well could be excellent reasons for them to say nothing about any inequities either real or perceived. I would suggest not judging others in that way. Sadly a lot of people are doing so these days. With horrid results.

“I find this comment ignorant”
And the same time.
“I would suggest not judging others in that way”

Are you aware that you write some of the most dismissive posts on this board while TG47 writes always supportive?

I don’t always live up to my own ideals, but I appreciate your dropping a line of support odradek.

Exaggerate much? I don’t deny I will at times unintentionally write a dismissive post. We all do. But to say that mine are the “most” dismissive it quite a reach.

And I do not fine what TG wrote to be supportive. Hence why I pointed out the error. This puts a pin in your conclusion.

ML31, I didn’t say it was the only problem, but it contributes to and enables systemic issues to persist.

Speaking up for others is often a risk, and not every person can bear that risk. I understand that, but we all have a duty to do what we can to build better societies in our communities and nations. Some serve the community as journalists, in public or armed services that require neutrality.

What I don’t accept is that when I stick up for gay rights, the automatic assumption is that “it must be personal.”

I’ve been doing so since the 80s when friends were stigmatized while fearful of losing their lives to HIV/AIDS.

When I learned the “I didn’t speak up when they came for…” poem in high school, I had a very hard time understanding how people let things happen as they did in Germany in the 1940s. Now I see how it happens.

OK… It’s not the only problem.

I fully understand the risk. There are things I would love to say and point out that I feel people are being blind to but I don’t. Completely out of fear of attack by those who are are not open to hearing anything contrary to their agenda. That sort of tactic DOES work. Its worked for ages. And it is happening right now. Maybe I’d speak up when I was younger but at this point in my life I have a lot more to lose. So I’m not.

I honestly do not understand why someone would claim sticking up for gay rights must be personal. I just don’t see the connection.

Looks like I had my reply moderated out. Which I find ironic considering what was said in it regarding reasons for not wanting to speak out on certain topics. So I’ll just drop it.

Sorry, seems it just took a little more time to moderate.

Much of that, Binyanmin, could very well be due to the limited nature of the series. There are not many episodes in a season. And the story arc must take president over individual characters. There were bridge crew few even remembered the names of. So I suspect it’s a combination of the short season combined with the low quality of the writing staff. Their inability to involve more crew members in the arc.

It’s certainly true he hasn’t had much to do. But it dates back to the poor original set up by the original developer. Hopefully Culber ends up as the CMO and is given more work.

It would be good to see Cruz get a chance to be a doctor in S3. It might also be good to see them delve into aspects of mental illness. One thing that I personally have been challenged to understand is the fact that some of humanity is plagued by depression caused by a physiological disease or disorder of the brain. Growing up, we were always told to “buck up”, act like “a man” or to “suck it up and get a grip”. That gets ingrained into your psyche and I have to admit, it helped me deal with certain things as I grew up – but I didn’t suffer from depression so as a young adult, so I could not understand why anyone simply could not do the same. Even today, although I know mental illness is a very real disease just like cancer or diabetes, I am embarrassed to admit there is still a small nagging part of my brain that has a hard time accepting that sufferers just can’t “suck it up” and deal with it. Now that the Supreme Court has finally got around to protecting the employment rights of everyone regardless of sexual orientation (something that for 20 yrs I assumed was an inevitable human rights legal decision that was always going to happen in the US), maybe the show and Dr. Culber will occasionally help viewers understand the complexities of mental illness a little better.

Thanks DeanH.

Trauma seems to be something that is difficult to appreciate unless you or someone close to you has experienced it, or have had to get specialized expertise in this area for work.

Science is beginning to figure out why some individuals are affected more than others from similar traumatic experiences, but the impact on the brain and mental health has nothing to with being a tough guy or not. Resilience may have more to do with how well fed someone was, or other physical and psychological factors.

Clearly, from some of the “Picard should have been over it” comments on an earlier thread, many folks on this board don’t have a reference point for how trauma is a mental injury that shapes the function of the brain and keeps on injuring despite WWI shellshock or Vietnam, Gulf War or more recently acknowledged PTSD in veterans.

Kudos to Cruz for pushing for an authentic post traumatic storyline.

Yeah I have come to learn from those around me that depression can often be the result of anything – from severe workplace stress to serious head trauma. As you said if S3 even partially deals with a post-traumatic story line, then kudos to Cruz.

In complete agreement DeanH!

You’re so right how mental illness is overlooked so much and we rarely see it displayed in a lot of stories as well. Depression affects a huge portion of the population and as you said most people just think the way to cure it is to simply think more positive or something. I use to live in Japan and has one the highest suicide rate in the world, because mental illness is practically ignored there. Culturally people don’t take it seriously enough although it’s a huge major issue.

It would be nice to see Culber being a doctor again (although I admit, it didn’t hit me until just now we didn’t see him being a doctor last season although it makes sense why). So that is great news to see him back as a doctor and tackling this issue.

And yes I am VERY happy to see people of sexual orientation to finally get the same basic rights as the rest of us. This was a major moment by the Supreme court As a black man in America, recent events shows we still have to fight racism in many ways but not be given a job based on race has been illegal before I was born (although we certainly knows it still happens and there are other issues). So its appareling gay, lesbian and

In complete agreement DeanH!

You’re so right how mental illness is overlooked so much and we rarely see it displayed in a lot of stories as well. Depression affects a huge portion of the population and as you said most people just think the way to cure it is to simply think more positive or something. I use to live in Japan and that country has one the highest suicide rate in the world, because mental illness is practically ignored there. Culturally people don’t take it seriously enough although it’s a huge major social issue.

It would be nice to see Culber being a doctor again (although I admit, it didn’t hit me until just now we didn’t see him being a doctor last season although it makes sense why). So that is great news to see him back as a doctor and tackling this issue.

And yes I am VERY happy to see people of sexual orientation to finally get the same basic rights as the rest of us. This was a major moment by the Supreme court As a black man in America, recent events shows we still have to fight racism in many ways but not be given a job based on race has been illegal before I was born (although we certainly knows it still happens and there are other issues). So its appalling gay, lesbian and trans people don’t get that basic right in a lot of the country until now.

It’s another step forward to the true ideals of Star Trek!

Yup I am of Asian descent, so you know the mental discipline that is drummed into youngsters over there (and here). Sadly, there are plenty who sadly cannot deal with it and that leads to bad consequences.

I have to admit the dying and coming back was pretty lame. But I like the actor

It’s about time Culber actually becomes a character, and not just a walking billboard for gay couples in Star Trek.

Yeah Steve he’s a really weak character. He doesn’t have to be a walking billboard for LGBTQ couples in Star Trek or anywhere else.

He needs more character development this season. Not a walking billboard for gay couples and LGBTQ characters in Star Trek.

Would like to see more character development for his character. Not a walking billboard for gay couples and other LGBTQ characters in Star Trek.

And this points to a not insignificant fact: however appallingly cringe-inducing Kurtzman’s Star Trek is, it does still provide employment to many actors and crewpersons. Always direct your rightful ire to the incompetent stewardship of ViacomCBS as to the historical and abused Star Trek franchise. Use ‘Kurtzman Trek’ to identify the shoddy product, and not to heap undue scorn on Kurtzman himself- after all, he didn’t hire himself; and mindless ViacomCBS offerings are surely not limited to the Trek nook…

This guy. He goes on like he’s one of the original cast, steeped in Treklore, rather than a bit player in an average web based series which has more haters than likers.

He’s obsequious, plays a meh part which he’s turned into a LGBTQ cause and he pops up regularly with a narrative only he sees.

The LGBTQ narrative is absolutely fine but it’s the story we’re watching, not his emancipation.