‘Fellow Travelers’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: What Happens In The Army-Mccarthy Hearings?


The romantic drama series on Showtime, Fellow Travelers, has been garnering a lot of viewership and popularity, and rightly so, as it keeps delivering on the compelling promise shown from the very beginning. In the last episode, Hawk Fuller handed in the confidential photographs to Roy Cohn through the former’s passionate lover, Tim Laughlin, and this now has some political repercussions. Along with the Army-McCarthy hearing, which the new episode 5 covers, it also contains different setback, leading to a heartbreaking loss for Hawk.

Spoiler Alert

How does Hawk lose his closest mentor?

Fellow Travelers episode 5 begins with Hawk roaming the streets, or rather the dark alleys of Washington, looking for a particular individual. Such alleys have been extensively covered in the show earlier, too, for these spaces, along with specific dimly-lit toilet stalls and a handful of bars, served as the only place where homosexual men could meet each other. On this particular night, Hawk is not looking for any unattached intimacy but is in search of Leonard Smith. As shown in the earlier episodes, Leonard is the wayward son of Senator Smith and, the brother of Lucy. Therefore, Hawk naturally takes on the responsibility of looking for the young man when he does not return home for a few days, as Hawk feels duty-bound to both his mentor and his future wife.

It had been established that Leonard was not particularly fond of Hawk, for he had a stern belief that the man had taken away his place as the son of the Smith house. Senator Wesley Smith always conferred more trust and love on Hawk, whom he had technically adopted, but neglected his own son, Leonard, mostly because of the latter’s lack of discipline. Leonard, therefore, never missed a chance to remind Hawk how he had taken away his space inside his own house, but now a different reason for the young man’s frustration with Hawk is also revealed. As it turns out, Leonard is homosexual as well, secretly, of course, and in his course of life, he had an interaction with Hawk too.

When the two were young boys growing up in the Smith house, they had gone out boating one day and spent some time together at their makeshift camp, then masturbated together. As this incident comes up, Hawk brushes it away by stating that it was just a normal practice among boys. However, to Leonard, this was definitely something more than just a pastime of teenage boys, and his young mind seemingly felt that Hawk might express something more to him. This did not happen, for Hawk was as comfortable hiding his sexuality then as he is now, and so nothing ever happened between the two. Although Leonard does not have any proof, he strongly believes and knows that Hawk is gay as well. At present, despite once thinking of revealing this piece of information to his father, Leonard decides to protect Hawk’s image.

However, the same cannot be said for Hawk, as he is still more concerned about the senator’s reputation and political position than anything else. Besides, Hawk has never been close with Leonard, and there is even a sense that he dislikes the young man, particularly because of how he is unable to keep his sexuality hidden. Although Leonard had never opened up to anyone about his interests in men, his frequent drinking sprees were an indication of his messy mental situation. Just like he knew about Hawk’s sexuality, the latter knew of his identity as well, which is why Hawk goes looking for Leonard in the areas frequented by gay men. But before he can do anything, Leonard is picked up by the police after he is caught in a compromising situation with another man. Although the man was released from detention, news of this arrest poses a big threat to Senator Smith’s reputation.

Hawk is quick to inform his mentor and boss about this situation, also letting him know that Leonard is indeed gay. This shocks and saddens the man more than anything else, as being a parent to homosexual children was still considered an unfortunate fate at the time. The man goes down the wrong path by getting Leonard admitted to a rehabilitation center, where gay men are given “mild” doses of shock therapy to cure them of their “ailment.” It is Hawk who finds and arranges for this rehab plan, further demonstrating his astonishing characteristic of hiding his homosexuality. He just wants to send Leonard away from Washington at the moment in order to protect his mentor, and Hawk achieves it completely.

Unlike her father, Lucy is much more understanding and compassionate towards homosexuals, possibly because she has seen gay couples and their love before. She does not ever believe that her brother is sick or should be subjected to medical treatment, but there is nothing she can do either. This whole matter takes a very sad turn by the end, though, despite Leonard being sent away from Washington. Hawk and the Senator were hoping that their opponents would not be able to get their hands on the police report about Leonard’s detention, but this did not happen. Soon, the man starts to receive political threats about the situation, asking him to give up his position as a senator and allow the opposing Republican party to select a replacement or face a scandal. The threats directly mention that news about Leonard’s homosexuality will be released otherwise.

In a tremendously helpless situation, Senator Smith decides that the release of such news would hurt the family for generations, smearing the reputations of Lucy and Leonard as well. Giving up to the demands of the opposition would not help either, as there would be no guarantee that the scandalous report wouldn’t be used against him further in the future. Instead, the man decides to end his own life and protect everyone around him. Senator Wesley Smith shoots himself in his office in a shocking turn of events, and Hawk now technically finds himself at the head of the Smith family, in a sense. Even if he could have tried to end his courtship with Lucy, it is no longer a possibility. Hawk meets with Tim and informs him of his final decision to marry Lucy, an act that would support and comfort the Smith family the most at such a time. In an emotionally poignant scene, Hawk and Tim decide to accept their fates and try to stay away from each other in the future. Tim also enlists himself for army service, and he dearly wishes to forget his beloved in this manner.

What happens in the Army-McCarthy hearings?

The Army-McCarthy hearings have been an event being built up in Fellow Travelers, especially since there is now a rift in the otherwise tight bond between Senator Joseph McCarthy and lawyer Roy Cohn. As the side had recently filed a lawsuit against the US Army for supposedly sheltering communists, the army was bringing a different charge as part of their defense. Roy Cohn, who was believed by many to have been a closeted homosexual, was very fond of his fellow associate, David Schine. Fellow Travelers does not hesitate to suggest that this fondness was of a romantic nature, and Schine had been taking advantage of it to make his time at the army easier. It was because of Cohn that Schine was demanding, and even getting, special benefits with regards to food and clothing, even managing to get leaves while being on duty.

The army lawyers were now bringing this very matter to trial, trying to prove that Cohn and Schine possibly shared a secret relationship that itself went against the principles of their senatorial associate, Joseph McCarthy. It was also this very matter that had caused the rift between the sides, as McCarthy, convinced by his new wife, Jean, had declined to support Cohn’s actions, as this would harm the Senator’s own reputation. By now, Cohn had already gotten the envelope containing proof against McCarthy, and so he got the Senator to continue with their trials against the army. Cohn now figures out that Tim must have some important connections, through which he secured the photographs, and he questions the young man about it too. The veteran lawyer makes it clear that he doubts Tim over his actual allegiance, especially since it was Hawk who had gotten him the job at Senator McCarthy’s office.

Ultimately, though, Tim also decides to act out against his employees when a questionable situation arises during the trials. Schine had a photograph of himself, along with some important army officials, hanging in his office, and this photo was also part of a special request of his that Cohn had fulfilled. However, Cohn now uses this very photograph, in a doctored state, to prove in court that Schine himself had many connections in the army. Showing a cropped photo of only Schine and Army Secretary Robert Stevens, Cohn suggests that it was this official who was serving the special requests of the young businessman. But Tim had seen the original photograph in the office, and he now decided to inform others about it.

At first, Tim tries to tell McCarthy this, hoping that this will help the man’s position in the whole matter. However, the Senator is unwilling to give much attention to Tim, and so he finally changes his stance. Instead of helping out the man who was, and would continue to be, so vicious against homosexuals, Tim quits his job and hands in a letter at the office of the army lawyers. This letter mentions and explains the doctoring of the photograph, and soon, Schine is questioned about this in the next hearing. The incident not only puts McCarthy and his side on the backfoot, but it also marks a split between Cohn and Schine, as the latter angrily walks away from the lawyer’s office.

What does Marcus decide to do?

A certain incident in Fellow Travelers episode 5 reveals a weak spot for Marcus Hooks when a police raid takes place at the Cozy Corner bar. As all the patrons rush out of the place, Marcus abandons his lover, Frankie, and instead ensures his own exit. The two later meet at a park bench, and Marcus explains his prior action. The man is extremely close with his father, who follows each and every article that is published in his name. Marcus knows that if his father ever finds out from the newspaper that the same name associated with so many news articles has been arrested for being a homosexual, the man will be terribly shocked and hurt. Marcus, therefore, chooses his father’s mental well-being over expressing his identity.

But as time goes by, the man also realizes the importance of being at peace with his identity. This is particularly because of his other identity, which often brings prejudice against him—the color of his skin. Marcus decides to no longer bear with the racism that he faces at the Washington Post office, and so he quits the job. Instead, he is about to accept a job at Jet magazine, and along with this new position, he decides to move in with Frankie when the latter returns from a musical tour. This ascertains why Marcus and Frankie have been together in the present time, in the 1980s. A few minutes from this present timeline also show Hawk visiting the hospital to meet the sick Tim, who is still in a critical health condition.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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