The queer-led miniseries Fellow Travelers came to a predictable yet still emotional conclusion with episode 8. Titled ‘Make It Easy’, the episode served as a finale that gave certain characters closure after facing decades of hardship due to living in a homophobic society.
I will begin my review by saying that while I enjoyed watching Fellow Travelers, I do feel that this miniseries would have benefitted from being six episodes long instead of the eight we got. It’s well-acted and shot, but the on-again-off-again situation between Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer) and Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey) became a bit too repetitive as the show continued to highlight their “romance” that spanned decades. I mean, I stopped doing my weekly episodic recap and review videos on The Geekiary’s YouTube channel after episode 4 because I felt I was watching the same content every week with slight changes to the setting.
The eight-episode Fellow Travelers would have been helped if at least one entire episode was focused on the supporting cast, especially Marcus (Jelani Alladin) and Frankie (Noah J. Ricketts). Making it all about the toxicity present in Hawkins and Tim’s relationship was a bit too much for me. It got boring quite fast.
With Tim running out of time in his battle against AIDS, ‘Make It Easy’ opened with Lucy (Allison Williams) calling Hawkins. She had decided to visit San Franciso to see Tim one last time. There’s something important she wanted to talk to Tim about. As with such stories, the women suffered a lot due to being married to gay men who were unable to love their wives the way they wanted to be loved. Lucy’s spent decades feeling like a third wheel to Hawkins and Tim. I liked that she finally found it in herself to put a stop to it and regain some control of her life.
Lucy’s conversation with Tim in the hospital was well-written. Even though Tim stated that Lucy still spent more years with Hawkins than he did, the bottom line was that Tim was everpresent in their marriage even if he wasn’t physically around. No matter how much Lucy tried to strengthen her bond with Hawkins, she couldn’t compete with the connection her husband shared with Tim.
Talking to a deteriorating Tim made Lucy realize another essential fact. Lucy had spent years thinking of Tim as, let’s say, the “second wife”. So, at first, she thought things would get better after Tim died. She wasn’t proud of having such a notion, but it was understandable considering her position. However, after meeting Tim and seeing how Hawkins was spending his nights with him at the hospital, she finally faced the truth that she was indeed married to a gay man. Hawkins would continue being gay even after Tim’s death. He wasn’t going to magically start having sexual feelings for Lucy overnight. And to top it off, Hawkins wasn’t someone who took loyalty seriously. Even after getting married to Lucy and Tim not being around for years, Hawkins still couldn’t help himself from hooking up with other men.
Hawkins, being Hawkins, tried his best to make Lucy change her mind about leaving him for good, but she wasn’t going to budge. And you know what? Good for her. I’m here for Lucy getting the chance to live the rest of her life without being attached to Hawkins. She stood up for herself and I wish her all the best.
As for Hawkins, even though I understood that working in government and being queer was tough back then, I just couldn’t find myself feeling any sympathy for such a character due to his selfish nature. In my opinion, anyone who got close to Hawkins better brace themselves to eventually get hurt. He didn’t like doing anything unless it benefited him. And even though Hawkins talked about how much he loved Tim and (in some way) Lucy, it didn’t feel genuine because again, he would be quick to prioritize his career when it came time to make a choice. He regretted his actions, of course. But then again, regretting doing something and shedding a couple of tears doesn’t hold any weight if you are going to continue a toxic pattern across decades.
What Hawkins did to Tim in the finale by mentioning his name to the team that was investigating closeted queer people in government and as a result preventing Tim from working in the Federal government ever again was unforgivable. And yet again the writers continued to have Tim find ways to forgive Hawkins and fall back into an unhealthy relationship dynamic.
Near the end of the episode, ‘Make It Easy’ had a scene between Tim and Hawkins where Tim described Hawkins as his all-consuming love. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes after listening to Tim say that. Their relationship had been so weird to watch because on one hand it’s supposed to come across as a tragic love story involving gay men who couldn’t be together due to homophobia, but on the other, the darkness associated with their relationship was made clear whenever it’s compared to Marcus and Frankie’s love story.
I guess the writing team wanted to say that while the audience might not consider what Tim and Hawkins shared as genuine love, it still felt true to Hawkins and Tim and that’s why it made sense for Tim to say what he said. Tim had finally come to accept Hawkins for the type of guy he was. And while it wasn’t the best decision to make, Tim was okay with it.
Now, whether or not Hawkins deserved any sympathy or some kind of redemption arc was left to the viewers.
At least, that particular scene between Tim and Hawkins was used to share a very interesting line about loving God. Due to Tim having a lot of feelings about his religion and sexuality, he came to a resolution by continuing to love God even if God didn’t love him back.
In contrast to Hawkins and Tim’s relationship, I do feel that Marcus and Frankie were underutilized. As queer Black men living in that particular era, they had a different set of issues to face. I do feel that the writers could have done a lot more with them.
It was nice to see Frankie refusing to hide who he was as time went on. Marcus also found it in himself to become more involved in politics and support Frankie’s activism. But still, those two deserved a lot more screentime, especially with how repetitive the Tim and Hawkins situation became. But what’s done is done.
‘Make It Easy’ closed with Hawkins finding Tim’s name in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Whether or not it’s okay to have a fictional character’s name present in said quilt is something for the viewers to decide. With Hawkins having lost Tim and Lucy, the scene ended with Hawkins coming out to his daughter about how Tim was the man Hawkins loved.
It’s an emotional yet predictable ending to a show that shined a light on queer lives across the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. More could have been done with the storylines (some of them got unceremoniously dropped) and certain characters, but having said that, I would still recommend you check such a miniseries out.
What did you think of Fellow Travelers?
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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