In this week’s episode 4 of the romantic drama series Fellow Travelers, the political situation grows even more tense as earlier associates now turn against each other. Hawk and Tim’s relationship gets deeper, which is all the more saddening when compared with the 1986 timeline, where the two still struggle to discuss their muddied past. Fellow Travelers Episode 4 also has Hawk face a seriously troubling situation as he is summoned by the authorities for interrogation.
Can Hawk survive the interrogation?
The 1950s section of Fellow Travelers episode 4 begins with Hawk arriving at his office and getting the shock of his life, for he finds a notorious blue envelope inside his drawer. The color of the envelope makes it clear that this is a notice summoning Hawk to the authorities for a questioning session. Mary, one of Hawk’s secretaries, who is also secretly homosexual, had earlier shown a similar envelope when her roommate had received it on suspicion of being gay. Hawk opens the letter and reads it, confirming the suspicion, for he has been called to an interrogation session for being doubted to be a deviant—in this case, a homosexual.
Mary, who had first spotted the letter, had cleverly hidden it away from anybody else in the office because anyone getting the blue envelope would immediately be doubted and judged by people around. Hawk certainly cannot have his boss and soon-to-be father-in-law see him getting interrogated on suspicion of being gay, and therefore, he thanks Mary for her quick-wittedness. But the question of who might have reported Hawk, for it is almost impossible for someone as careful as him to be caught, still remains.
This question is answered very soon in the episode, though, in the middle of a Christmas party organized at Senator Smith’s office. Hawk and Mary privately talk about the interrogation summons when the other secretary at Hawk’s office, Ms. Addison, walks into the scene. She states that she knows what her colleagues are talking about, for the woman had gone through the book that Tim had sent to Hawk’s office. She mentions having read the special note inside the book, which Tim had written for his beloved Hawk, and this had confirmed her suspicion about her boss. It was indeed Addison who had reported Hawk to the authorities, and the woman seems rather proud of her action. Such were the times that colleagues and family members were encouraged to snoop through the private belongings of individuals, only to keep them in check and report to the authorities if they showed any tendencies toward being communist or homosexual.
The time for Hawk’s interrogation arrives, and he presents himself at the office of Fred Traband, a special agent investigating any suspected deviants. Traband was notorious for his interrogations, as numerous men and women had resigned in the recent past after having been questioned by him, and some had even taken their own lives. In fact, the very first scene of Fellow Travelers episode 4 shows a man leaving Traband’s office after a questioning session and then walking straight into oncoming traffic, getting hit by a car, and dying immediately on the spot. Hawk, too, is questioned about his choices and preferences, both directly and indirectly, and is even asked to walk to demonstrate whether his posture and movements were manly enough. Hawk had earlier introduced Lucy to Scott McLeod, the head of security, only to establish the fact that he would soon be marrying a woman, but this plan does not seem to get him any extra privilege during the examination. Nonetheless, Hawk aces the interrogation and is relieved to have proven himself heterosexual enough.
However, he is also informed about the next stage of the interrogation, which is a polygraph test to be conducted a few days later. The polygraph test was still given enormous importance at the time, despite the fact that methods to lie during the test were also quite known. Hawk starts reading up on these techniques and prepares for the polygraph test. Finally, time for this examination arrives as well, and despite all the memory flashes reminding him otherwise, Hawk claims himself to be as heterosexual as possible. Interestingly, the polygraph test is unable to catch his lies, and the man is assured that nothing against him can be found.
Later in the episode, when Hawk and Marcus discuss this interrogation and polygraph test, Hawk states that the reason he could avoid the lie-detector test is because he has no guilt for his actions. According to him, one would only get caught when they would feel guilty, and therefore agitated, because of their acts, and since he had none, he could remain calm throughout the test. Hawk also states that he did think of Tim for a moment when he was asked whether he had been in love with a man. This further saddens the situation when events from 1986 are shown when Hawk and Tim are just bitter ex-lovers.
What was Marcus up to?
In the earlier episode 3, Marcus Hooks faced horrific racism when he was disallowed from entering a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Abused and physically heckled for both his skin color and his homosexuality, the man was literally pushed away from the place, despite the performer, Frankie, having invited him there. Frustrated and angered after this incident, Marcus had written a heartfelt news article in his newspaper about the racism that still existed in society despite the Supreme Court having called out segregation as offensive. This article gained popularity among readers, and this, in turn, gives Marcus a chance to work as a writer for the Washington Post. The established newspaper wants to report on the experiences of a Black man, which in itself is a generalized idea, as pointed out by Marcus, and is offering the journalist a temporary job. Despite knowing that he will be facing racism at the office, as he is directly told to avoid certain departments and even the common washroom, Marcus Hooks agrees to the job.
What happens to McCarthy and Cohn?
The situation with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his trusted lawyer, Roy Cohn, now starts to change when their opinions start to differ. McCarthy, Cohn, and their fellow associate David Schine were the closest characters to villains in Fellow Travelers, so to speak, but their own secrets had been revealed in the earlier episode when it was found out that McCarthy had allegations of homosexuality brought against him by an ex-army corporal. On the other side, Roy Cohn also seemed romantically interested in Schine, who used this bond on a transactional basis in order to avoid serving compulsory military service. This whole circumstance changed when Schine was called for action in the army, and the man now still tries his best to avoid being sent overseas.
David Schine makes use of his special relationship with Roy Cohn to get a number of extra privileges and free passes in the army. He is seen wearing special boots, which are made fun of by the other soldiers, and this is possible only because of the lawyer. Similarly, Schine now wants to get weekends off so that he can leave the army facility and live two days of normal life. Cohn initially talks about the difficulties in getting so many of his friend’s desires fulfilled, but Schine knows how to divert Cohn’s mind. Schine says that he would spend time with the lawyer when out of the army, and Cohn is once again convinced to help the man out.
But this very same situation was being perceived rather differently by the lawyers representing the US Army and also by Joseph McCarthy himself. McCarthy was meeting with these lawyers and other representatives of the army, who now started revealing their suspicions about Cohn. According to them, the lawyer was going to extensive measures to help out Schine, which was probably because there was some secret relationship between them. McCarthy, too, grows wary of Cohn’s actions, for there is always the fear that Cohn and Schine being investigated for being homosexuals will also inevitably get McCarthy involved and stain his name as well. The Senator promises that Schine will no longer act recklessly and that he will stop making such personal favors.
A meeting between McCarthy, Cohn, and the army lawyers is arranged at a restaurant with the intention of discussing the case that McCarthy had filed against the army for protecting suspected communists. During this meeting, there is a fallout between the two earlier associates, McCarthy and Cohn, and the two angrily part ways. Upon the advice of his secretary and soon-to-be wife, Jean, McCarthy decides to fire the lawyer. On the other side, Cohn angrily thinks of some way to get back at the Senator, and David Schine now presents an envelope to him. Hawk had rightly predicted this rift between the two associates, and he had told Tim to hand over this envelope to Schine secretly.
As the envelope is revealed, it is indeed found to contain photographs and evidence of McCarthy’s own homosexual acts, which Cohn is delighted to see. This gives the lawyer an upper hand in the whole situation since there is yet no way to prove his relationship with Schine, whereas McCarthy could be easily called out with all this evidence.
What happens to Tim at present?
In the present timeline of 1986, Hawk decides to stay back at Tim’s San Francisco apartment for a few days as he looks after his old lover. During this time, the two men also visit Marcus’ house, where the journalist lives with his partner, Frankie. This confirms that Marcus and Frankie’s relationship has lasted for these many years, and now, when the times are more accepting, they are living together as a couple. This is truly in stark contrast to Hawk and Tim, and the characters themselves acknowledge this difference. Tim also wants Hawk to help their activist friends set up a meeting with the Chief of Staff, and the latter still fears that his identity will be exposed if he is ever seen publicly with Tim. The two men have an argument over this, and Hawk leaves the apartment. He spends the evening at a gay bar, where he also has to avoid an unwanted situation before returning to an empty apartment. Hawk is alarmed at Tim’s belongings lying around messily when a friend of theirs informs him that Tim had suffered a seizure, due to which he had to be rushed to the hospital. This could be the final few days for Tim, and whether Hawk gives his ex-lover some respect by keeping his wishes remains to be seen in the later episodes of Fellow Travelers.