When Star Trek: Discovery‘s third episode debuts this Sunday, the hour will make history for the 51-year-old franchise: Revealing Trek‘s first openly gay TV series character — Lt. Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp (Rent). Above is an exclusive preview of his debut scene.
The setup: Disgraced Starfleet officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), en route to prison after having been convicted of mutiny, is picked up by the U.S.S. Discovery and tasked by its captain (Jason Isaacs) to assist with a secretive project.
While there’s no indication of Stamets’ sexuality in Sunday’s episode, titled “Context Is King,” his relationship with another member of Starfleet becomes a story point in the show beginning next week. “I’m really excited and happy when a gay character is a part of a story — especially when a gay character is created in a complex and human and non-stereotypical, interesting way, and that has certainly been the case with Stamets,” Rapp told EW. “And you get to see his relationship. There was a little glimpse [of a relationship with] Sulu in Beyond, and it was a nice nod. But in this case, we actually get to see me with my partner in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated.”
Stamets’ research involves fungus spores and it will be key to Starfleet’s war with the Klingons, though he isn’t exactly the easiest character to get along with. “He’s a really, really smart guy and as smart guys go, he sometimes can be a little difficult to deal with because not everybody’s as smart as he is,” Rapp says. “So he’s got a little bit of an edge sometimes, which is fun to play.”
According to EW’s critic Darren Franich, Sunday’s hour ranks as the best of the first three episodes that were screened for reporters and is probably the closest to showing what the series will be like week to week now that Burnham has reached the U.S.S. Discovery of the show’s title.
Here’s a preview of the next episode and beyond:
Discovery airs Sunday nights on the CBS All Access streaming service.