Showtime’s romantic drama series Fellow Travelers had already shown strong potential in its very first episode last week, with a very strong set of characters, good writing, and an intelligent use of switching between time periods. Episode 2 holds on to these attributes and presents an equally enjoyable episode, as events and situations add more depth to the characters already seen. More light is thrown on some other individuals as well, along with the historically tumultuous time for queer people in the 1950s.
Does Tim finally meet Hawk in 1986?
Fellow Travelers episode 2 begins in 1986, which could be considered as the present timeline in the series, and the episode once again goes back and forth in time to add drama to its narrative. Episode 1 had shown Hawk traveling to San Francisco only to meet his old lover, Tim, after learning from Marcus that Tim is terminally ill. The man had used a telephone booth at a diner to first call the understandably bitter ex-lover, and as Hawk had expected, Tim had refused to meet him after all this time. At the end of the episode, the phone had rung once again, suggesting that Tim might be finally calling to arrange a meeting. However, the first scene of episode 2 makes it clear that it was not Tim who had called, but his sister Maggie.
The woman soon comes down to the diner to meet Hawk, but this meeting is not very pleasant. Although Hawk presumes that Maggie will help him meet with Tim, the woman very quickly establishes that she does not want Hawk to contact Tim ever again. It is very evident that Tim and everyone close to him had been extremely hurt after Hawk had left him, and Maggie even mentions that Hawk’s behavior had left Tim so devastated that he could never find any other lover. Hawk seems to be realizing his mistakes, although it is still very soon in the series for any moment of epiphany. The man extends his stay in San Francisco one more day and now decides to give his beloved a visit.
On the way, though, Hawk stops by a gay bar to use the telephone, and he looks on at the many gay couples and the openly homosexual interactions that the present times allow. With the AIDS epidemic rapidly claiming lives, there are pamphlets about AIDS awareness at the bar, and as Hawk looks at one of them, two young men approach him. Hawk asks them whether they are scared of the AIDS virus, and the young men are proudly not too concerned about it. Hawk now asks them to be a bit more considerate and careful for the sake of others, as in his mind, he believes that some careless men like these must have gotten Tim sick. He still feels that Tim is sick from AIDS, and there is no confirmation about it yet.
Finally, Hawk reaches Tim’s address and makes his way into his apartment. Tim is definitely surprised to see the man, but his reaction is not as harsh or dramatic as it could have been. There is a sense of despair in how Tim welcomes Hawk to his apartment, and soon, Maggie also comes in. The sister regularly visits the place to help Tim, and she now starts setting up the dinner table. Hawk is indirectly invited to the dinner, with Tim giving him the choice of whether to stay back for the meal, and the man agrees.
What does Tim find out about Mary?
After starting work at the office of Senator McCarthy, Tim had grown close to his colleague Mary, who always agreed to be his date at various parties and social events. Episode 2 of Fellow Travelers further covers the extensive hunt by the government to single out anyone committing deviant acts according to them, which essentially meant either communists or queer people. It was thus very natural for anyone non-heterosexual to hide their sexual identity, and so Tim having Mary as his date at parties helped maintain his cover. He now learns that Mary was homosexual as well, and so she too needed a cover for herself in social gatherings, and the two characters obviously fitted in well with each other.
Later in the episode, Mary invites Tim to a house party at her place with some of her friends, and he eventually agrees to it and reaches the place. It is here that she finds out about Mary not only being a lesbian but that she also stays with her girlfriend Caroline in the same apartment. Posing to be roommates who want to save on paying rent, the two women stay together as lovers inside their secret safe space. Tim is baffled at this discovery, for the notion that queer people could hide their identities in such a manner and yet still have their own loving space is something he had not imagined possible. It does not take long for Tim to fit in with the crowd at the house party, all of them queer, and he becomes friends with all of Mary’s guests.
Eventually, though, this safe space for the women is shattered when Mary suddenly receives a frantic phone call at her office and secretly goes to meet Caroline. The girlfriend had just received a notorious blue envelope from the State Department, which meant that she had been reported for deviant activity. As Caroline tells Mary, a male colleague at her office had been asking her out for a date for quite some time now, and her repeated rejections had hurt his frail ego. In a misogynistic act that must have been quite commonplace at such a time, the colleague had reported Caroline to the State Department, making the authorities come to her house to investigate. Mary also fears getting blacklisted and losing her job, and Tim now asks Hawk for help.
Hawk is extremely alarmed at this new development, and he is frustrated that Tim attended such a queer party without informing him. Hawk, of course, does not prioritize anything over the stability of his job and the secrecy about his personal life that this job requires. The man immediately thinks up a solution, making Tim write a letter to Mary in which he states that he was in a relationship with her but was now intending to break up. Such a letter would obviously save Mary’s situation, but as Hawk clearly states, it would put all the blame on Caroline. Tim believes that Mary would never agree to such a settlement, but he is very wrong. Mary presented this letter to the authorities and indeed put the blame on Caroline, who, by now, had left and returned to her hometown. Although this decision hurts Mary extremely, she still has to use this opportunity to save herself.
Tim also learns about the ugly truth of their circumstance through this experience. Although his and Hawk’s on-and-off relationship still continues for the most part, the situation takes a different turn at the end of the episode. Hawk was known to be the future husband of his boss, Senator Smith’s daughter, and at the end of Fellow Travelers episode 2, Smith suggests that Hawk and Lucy now get married. Since his entire political career is dependent on the support of the senator, Hawk agrees to this, and Tim also gets to know about it. Tim is now seen returning to church for a confession, and he now states that he is indeed guilty of having had relations with a man. This statement makes clear his extreme frustration, anger, and disbelief at Hawk abandoning their relationship so easily.
Does Hawk apologize to his father?
Fellow Travelers episode 2 presents a facet of Hawk Fuller’s personal life, too, as we see his mother now visit him. The mother has a very clear intention, though, as she wants Hawk to apologize to his father, who was on his deathbed at the time. It is gradually revealed that Hawk comes from a rich, traditional American family, most members of which keep conservative thoughts. Therefore, Hawk hides his homosexuality from most of his relatives, too, but his father found out about it some years ago. During one of Hawk’s intimate moments with his first lover, Kenny, his father had walked in on them and had hated his son for what he saw. The father still expresses his disgust and anger at the fact that his son is a homosexual, and the dying man expects Hawk to apologize to him. The father had also made it very clear that Hawk would receive no money as an inheritance if this apology did not come.
Unlike the father, Hawk’s mother seems more supportive, and her effort in making her son apologize to his father is only to ensure that he would receive the sizable inheritance money. The woman makes it clear that this apology does not necessarily have to be very genuine, and so Hawk returns home. However, the father’s still hateful words and his insensitive attitude towards homosexuals irk the son tremendously. Hawk might have made an ingenious and fake apology, but he now decides not to do so. Instead, he says some more disrespectful words towards the father and then leaves. Although Hawk is a character who would twist and hide reality to help his situation, he is not completely without any moral backbone. He hides his identity to avoid the harassment and persecution that his employers and the government would carry out against him, but that does not mean that he would do the same for money or wealth.
How does Marcus take his revenge?
Marcus Hooks is perhaps the most exciting character in Fellow Travelers so far, and his calm but cunning attitude towards dealing with problems is quite impressive. In episode 2, we see the journalist attend a trial of famous activist poet Langston Hughes, in which the latter is persecuted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and his lawyer, Roy Cohn. The two were intent on proving Hughes a communist supporter, and Marcus was understandably frustrated by this. At the end of the session, the journalist approaches McCarthy and Cohn and publicly asks their associate, David Schine, why he was not serving his beloved country in Korea. In response, Schine insults Marcus with a racist remark, calling his newspaper, which voiced Black opinions, not worthy of being called a real journal.
This public confrontation also gets Marcus banned from attending any more trials as a direct personal vendetta against the journalist. Marcus now starts looking into David Schine’s medical records, since the man has claimed that he has a limp and is therefore unfit to serve in the army. As Tony works at McCarthy’s office, where Schine frequently visits, Marcus asks him for details about the man. Tony reports no unnaturalness in Schine’s physical movements, and this has the journalist digging even deeper. Soon, Marcus personally approaches Cohn’s rival lawyer Bobby Kennedy with a file on David Schine, which mentions that the man was actually faking injuries and claiming to be unfit for military duty while he was just avoiding the war. Marcus leaves Kennedy with all these details, with the hope that this will be perfect revenge against Schine for barring him from the trials and also for the racist remark that he had made about his newspaper.