Funny, I personally didn't think anything in Blood and Fire was "controversial" given how commonplace gay characters are on TV these days. But the handling of the relationship is related to the topic of showing not telling. We're practically TOLD we should feel for Peter Kirk, but the story doesn't give us a reason to. We certainly aren't shown anything to make us like him. Telling us that a character that we've just met is "in love" isn't enough for us to identify with him when we haven't even gotten to know HIM yet.
"Blood and Fire" would've had more bite some 20 years ago when the script was originally conceived. However, the Phase II
iteration isn't any more daring than a melodramatic prime-time soap opera.
As you've astutely stated, we're TOLD Peter and Freeman are "in love" and what we are shown of the relationship is sophomoric, hardly sophisticated and, honestly, a bit one-dimensional. It's all surface and no depth.
Not only that but the characters themselves seemingly have no identity beyond their sexuality and border on two-dimensional stereotypes.
It's a shame because there was potential to truly show how complicated it is being in a relationship with a career-driven officer, one that also happens to be between two men.
However, the script gives us a maudlin relationship that hinges more on the fact that it's between two men rather than it being an actual, breathing relationship with all the strife that goes along with it.
For me, I would've looked for ways to not make the relationship so cookie-cutter. Say Peter Kirk was as career-driven as his uncle. That he really came to the Enterprise
to further his career and not really be with Alex, but that's not what he told his lover. That the relationship wasn't working out because Peter could only give so much and Alex was frustrated by that.
In the end, when Alex dies ... the real tragedy is that Peter is both saddened and relieved, because it makes the one choice he couldn't — breaking it off.
Or better yet, reverse that and make Alex the more career driven officer who choses to sacrifice himself because he can see no other way out of his relationship with Peter.
By doing so, I think Phase II
would've said something more interesting about relationships than it did. That no matter whether you are gay, straight, bi or transgendered ... we all still suffer from the same hang-ups, struggles and conflicts of being in a relationship with another person.