Fellow Travelers (Live Episode Blog) is updated every Sunday. Watch each new episode every Saturday on Paramount +.
Fellow Travelers is based on the novel by Thomas Mallon. Matt Bomer plays charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who maintains a financially rewarding, behind-the-scenes political career. Hawkins avoids emotional entanglements – until he meets Tim Laughlin, played by Jonathan Bailey, a young man brimming with idealism and religious faith. They begin a romance just as Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn declare war on “subversives and sexual deviants,” initiating one of the darkest periods in 20th-century American history. Over four decades, we follow our five main characters – Hawk, Tim, Marcus, Lucy and Frankie – as they cross paths through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s while facing obstacles in the world and within themselves.
Episode One: You’re Wonderful
Fellow Travelers opens in 1986 as Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer) celebrates his new role as Deputy Counsel to Milan with his wife, Lucy (Allison Williams), and kids by his side. At the party on their sprawling estate, Hawk finds himself approached by an old Washington colleague and friend, Marcus (Jelani Alladin), who asks to speak with him privately. Marcus is there to tell Hawkins that his ex-lover, Tim (Jonathan Bailey), is facing the final months of his battle with AIDS. Tim doesn’t want to see Hawkins, but he has left him a gift, a small paperweight carrying an image of the Lincoln Memorial.
As Hawkins looks at the paperweight, we are whisked back to 1952 and his first meeting with Tim at an election night party celebrating Eisenhower’s victory over Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson. For all of our British readers, it is essential to understand the landscape of American politics at this time as the political system not only shapes Hawkins and Tim’s meeting but everything to come.
The early 1950s saw America engulfed in ‘Red Scare’ politics following the Allied victory in the Second World War and the rise of the Cold War. Politicians actively promoted fear of the Communist threat to the American way of life while sowing the seeds of the witchhunt that was to come. Teachers, union leaders, artists, filmmakers and journalists were accused of having Communist beliefs if they dared to challenge the ultra-right-wing fervour of politicians such as Senator Joe McCarthy, played by Chris Bauer, a Republican who would launch a series of probes into the alleged Communist plot to overthrow the US government, backed by the Machiavellian prosecutor and manipulator Roy Cohn, played by Will Brill.
For LGBTQ+ people, this backdrop saw them further isolated as deviants, perverts and potential Communist conspirators. Anyone seeking a career in public service or the military was subject to personal interrogation and the threat of blackmail if their sexuality was to become known, as Eisenhower moved to ban homosexuals from serving in many government, public and military positions.
Hawkins is a well-respected war veteran who knows the political landscape he operates within as he meets Tim at the bar and is intrigued by his choice of a glass of milk rather than alcohol. To Hawkins, this shy, sweet boy feels out of place in the dark and destructive world of politics, secrets and lies within which he manoeuvres. Initially, Hawkins clearly spots an opportunity to corrupt this milk-drinking catholic boy keen to gain work in the muddy world of 50s American politics.
Bomer’s Hawkins is a political player who understands the rules of the game and uses sex as a political pawn. Early on, we see Hawkins cruising the local men’s room, picking up a young lad before aggressively fucking him and leaving; the boy’s name and job entered into the little black book that resides in his head. Meanwhile, he knows he needs a heterosexual cover, promising himself to a Senator’s daughter, Lucy (Allison Williams), knowing she is a mere career convenience.
Tim is different to the others Hawkins casually uses; he appears innocent but is also sharp, intelligent, and driven. Here, the chemistry between Bomer and Bailey is white hot as they play with each other and the motivations they hold. Hawkins gets Tim a job in the office of Senator Joseph McCarthy, ultimately turning Tim into a willing spy for his work with the Democrats opposing McCarthy’s agenda. But while Bailey’s Tim appears innocent, he also knows Hawkins holds the keys to the political doors he wants to walk through. Initially, their steamy sexual encounters play with the master and apprentice vibes on display in their day-to-day encounters, but as Tim grows in confidence, the apprentice soon learns how to manipulate the master.
As episode one of Fellow Travelers draws to a close, McCarthy reads his executive order to root out sexual deviants in government positions just as Hawkins and Tim’s fiery sexual power play morphs into something more tender. We are then taken back to 1986, where Hawkins has flown to San Francisco to see Tim. But will Tim agree to meet him?
Every frame of Fellow Traveler’s opening episode is stunning in its cinematic scope and detail, while the performances of Bomer and Bailey are electric. Equally assured is the exploration of the intersections between racial oppression and homophobia, and I hope we see more of this as we move forward. Nyswaner and episode director Daniel Minahan perfectly capture the fire, passion and intimacy of private sex in a world where public affection means personal destruction while also exploring themes of faith, self-loathing and hidden trauma. Here, sex is a brief escape that holds urgency, risk and heat in abundance. But this is only the start of Hawkins and Tim’s sweeping story, and we have a further seven hour-long episodes to come as we journey from 1952 to 1986 against a backdrop of social change, liberation and destruction as AIDS took hold.
Fellow Travelers – Live Episode Blog
Episode Two: Bulletproof
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.
As episode one drew to a close, Hawkins sat in a small San Fransisco cafe in 1986, waiting for Tim to call him back, and as the phone rang, we were left wondering whether he would invite him over. As episode two opens, we have our answer: the phone call was from Tim’s sister and carer (Edie Inksetter), and she has no intention of letting Hawk near her brother as she states, “Tim was never able to have a real partner, you stole that from him.” This one sentence plays into the themes raised in episode one, where Hawkins was difficult to read: a man of secrets, lies and love who sat in the political shadows and often used people for his gain. Yet, there is far more to Hawkins than was revealed in the first episode, and this second episode begins to paint a more complete portrait as we are whisked back to 1953.
McCarthy’s final scenes in episode one saw him read his executive order to root out sexual deviants in government positions, as Hawkins and Tim’s fiery sexual encounters began to morph into something more tender. As episode two opens, it’s clear that Hawkins and Tim are now far more than fuck buddies; they are secret partners who live in the shadows and leave each other’s apartments before sunrise in fear of being seen. Of course, that doesn’t stop Hawkins from using their relationship to gain information on Cohn, McCarthy and Schine’s anti-communist plans or their new mission to rid the country of homosexuals. But Tim now feels like a willing participant in this information exchange. Or maybe he would just do anything to keep Hawkins at his side? After all, Hawkins is bulletproof, right?
As Cohn, McCarthy, and Schine root out alleged homosexuals from government positions, nowhere is safe, and every conversation or encounter carries risk. Meanwhile, the acclaimed poet Langston Hughes testifies before the Subcommittee of Investigations, suspected of holding communist views and beliefs, with Marcus caught between his need to cover the hearings as a journalist and his passion for Hughes as a writer and civil rights campaigner. Marcus can’t stay silent on Hughes’ treatment and overtly criticises Cohn, leading to him being barred from further hearings. Here, Fellow Travelers beautifully begins to explore the racism at the heart of the US Government and the precarious position many black people found themselves in as the federal government openly controlled their ability to speak about the racial injustice at the heart of politics. And let’s not forget that all this was taking place as Cohn acted as prosecutor in the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were accused of being Soviet spies before being executed by the state.
Hawkins has arranged for Tim to be seen on “dates” with his lesbian secretary, Mary (Erin Neufer), for cover. Tim is initially unaware that Mary is a lesbian, but on visiting her home, he discovers she lives with her partner Caroline (Gabbi Kosmidis) in secret. This revelation opens a door in Tim’s mind; after all, if Mary and Caroline can maintain a relationship away from public view, then surely something similar is possible for two men. However, Mary quickly informs Tim that Hawkins knows nothing about Caroline, and she wishes it to stay that way, once again making Tim doubt that relationship freedom will ever be possible in a country determined to hunt down and destroy anyone who doesn’t conform to its heterosexual image.
At the same time, Hawkins agrees to meet his mother, Estelle (Rosemary Dunsmore), who tells him that his father is dying and it’s time he returns home to make peace. This is our first insight into Hawkins’ past, as he reluctantly arrives at his family’s sprawling estate and walks into a room full of extended family he hasn’t seen in years. It is clear that Hawkins’ relationship with his father is complex, and as he steps into the room where his father lies on oxygen, the reason is confirmed as his father states, “You were good at a lot, son, but you were never good at concealing yourself.“
Hawkins’ father caught him performing oral sex on his high school tennis teammate, Kenny, when Hawkins was a teenager and had never let him forget. Kenny was Hawkins’ first boyfriend, sexual encounter and his first experience of loss as Kenny died in World War II. In a powerful scene, his father asks for an apology while questioning whether Hawkins is still homosexual, only to be met with Hawkins’ defiance. It’s a beautifully scripted and performed scene that shows Hawkins’ pride despite the veil of secrecy around him. This one scene gives us insight into Hawkins’ persona as we discover the reason he keeps his life compartmentalised: the protection of everyone he loves, including Tim. Over the years, Hawkins has realised that the only way to remain bulletproof was to carefully manage his external and internal world, shielding parts of himself from others while never allowing anyone to penetrate his emotional core. Many older gay men will relate to Hawkins’ choices, and Bomer beautifully encapsulates the inner turmoil of the multiple lives Hawkins has created to stay safe.
But as Hawkins returns to Washington, events take a deadly turn as Mary’s partner, Caroline, receives notice that she is being investigated for being a lesbian due to rebuffing a male colleague’s advances. Suddenly, everyone is at risk, including Tim, leading Hawkins to take things into his own hands as he dictates a letter from Tim that saves Mary but condemns her partner, Caroline. Tim knows Hawkins is correct, but it makes him question whether he can live this life of secrets and lies, leading him to turn back to his catholic faith for absolution as Hawkins decides it’s time to fully embrace Mary as his own cover.
Meanwhile, Marcus seeks to bring down Cohn and Schine by acquiring evidence that Schine dodged his draft in the Korean War before sharing the evidence with Bobby Kennedy. At the same time, while Marcus waits to see whether Kennedy will act on his tip, a new relationship blossoms between him and Cozy Corner drag artist Frankie Hines (Noah J. Ricketts).
As episode two comes to a close, we are brought back to San Francisco, 1986, where Hawkins has snuck into Tim’s apartment building, knocking at the door, before hearing Tim’s unmistakable voice say, “Doors open!” thinking it’s his sister. As Hawkins steps in, it’s clear that nobody is bulletproof.
Fellow Travelers – Live Episode Blog
Episode Three: “Hit Me”
“All through dinner, I was wondering, why is he here? Do you know?”
It’s 1986, and Hawk and Tim stand looking at a corkboard in Tim’s apartment. In the top left-hand corner, a black and white photo of Tim opens a window to their past, a road trip they took together that ended on a beach. But Tim is still unsure why Hawk has chosen to visit him after years of no communication, and as Tim asks why Hawkins is here, Hawk responds, “My sister thinks I wanna ease my conscience.” Hawk stares at the lesions on Tim’s hand, and Tim openly tells him that it’s Kaposi sarcoma before stating, “My friends and I debate who has the best chance to survive: the ones with KS or the ones with PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia).”
Suddenly, the gravity of the situation hits Hawk like a speeding bus: Tim is going to die, and so much remains unsaid. Bomer and Bailey’s on-screen chemistry in these delicate opening scenes is stunning as both men attempt to determine the motives behind their sudden reunion before we are taken back to 50s Washington, where Hawk is now dating Lucy and hasn’t seen Tim for weeks.
As McCarthy, Cohn and Schine’s mission to eradicate communists, queers, and immigrants continues at pace, Hawk has received a tip-off that could bring down McCarthy. An ex-Army corporal, Daniel allegedly had an encounter with Senator Joseph McCarthy years before, one that shows the Senator to be nothing more than a liar covering his tracks through the misery of others, much like Cohn and Schine.
Hawk checks out the source with Marcus, who believes it accurate and learns that the Army vet lives on the coast. After weeks of no contact, Hawk invites Tim to join him on a weekend road trip. It’s another example of how Hawk manipulates Tim, using him when it suits his needs. In my rundown of episode two, I asked whether Tim was willing to participate in Hawkins’ games or would merely do anything to keep him at his side. It’s now clear that Tim is in love with Hawk, even though the word ‘love’ seems alien to the man at his side. Tim agrees to the road trip on the proviso that they can finally spend some time together, away from the secrets and lies of Washington.
As they arrive at a small beachside bar, Hawk tells Tim (or Skippy) that this area is known for its “cheap booze and rough trade.” and that “It’s the risk that makes it exciting”, referring to the casual sex on offer. But for Tim, Hawk is the centre of his attention, not the countless men who view him as a potential “quick fuck.”
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Marcus’ relationship with drag queen performer Frankie continues, with Marcus nervous and apprehensive of any commitment. Marcus is attempting to navigate his feelings for Frankie and is unapologetic about Frankie not being his “usual type”. Here, there is a series of fascinating conversations around the intersection between race, masculinity and gay love as Frankie invites Marcus to a drag show in an all-white club in town. Marcus has his reservations but agrees to attend to support Frankie. But as Marcus arrives at the venue, he is denied entry due to his colour, leading to a confrontation outside the club.
However, when Frankie comes outside to help diffuse the situation and support Marcus, Marcus quickly disowns him in fear of public perception. For Marcus, it’s clear that his race sits at the heart of his world experience of discrimination and oppression as his sexuality is hidden from public view. But for Frankie, sexuality and race are equal in his sense of self and his understanding of the discrimination surrounding him. One wonders what the future is for Frankie and Marcus as the evening’s events erect a wall between them based on secrets versus acceptance and love versus fear.
Back in Rehoboth Beach, Hawk leaves Tim alone in the bar as he scouts out the ex-Army boy who could bring McCarthy down. But what he finds is a young man high on drugs, low on confidence and fearful of the world around him. As Hawk attempts to sober him up, Tim leaves the bar in search of him and on finding Hawk, he learns about the real reason for the trip. Once more, let down by Hawks’ refusal to tell him the truth, Tim says, “I want to be with you, sleep in the same bed with you all night, not get kicked out at midnight so the neighbours won’t see me leaving. I want to eat a meal with you, like other couples.” Hawk is taken aback by this clear indication that Tim sees them as a couple. – something Hawk has worked hard to suppress. But Hawk agrees to them having dinner together if Skippy pretends to be his nephew.
As they sit down to dinner, Bomer and Bailey sparkle as they bounce off one another with a series of suggestive one-liners. But, it’s more than clear that Tim isn’t prepared to hide anymore as the meal ends with him storming off before the night culminates in Tim giving Hawk what he came for: “rough trade” in a steamy, brave and bold sex scene as Fellow Travelers explores themes of powerplay, BDSM and Hawkins’ need to own the men he fucks.
The next day, Hawk returns to the ex-Army boy who holds the key to McCarthy’s fall and learns that Daniel was McCarthy’s “rough trade” years before. Daniel has proof of their steamy encounter, and Hawk knows just how explosive that evidence is, but he also learns that McCarthy destroyed Daniel in the process. Is he doing the same to Tim?
As Hawk and Tim sit on the beach waiting to leave, Hawk says, “We lie about who we sleep with; I know it hurts you… but the lying gets easier.” Tim considers Hawks’ words and responds, “It isn’t who we sleep with; it’s who we love.” This is the first time the word love is mentioned, and Hawk doesn’t brush it to one side as we might expect.
Back in Tim’s apartment in 1986, Hawk hears a thud and scream as Tim falls, getting out of the shower, badly cutting his leg. Rushing to his aid, Hawk helps him up before vigorously washing Tim’s blood from his hands, as Tim suggests it’s time Hawk had an AIDS test. Shocked, Hawk says, “It’s fine; I have no open cuts on my hands.” But Tim looks at him and says, “I’m not talking about my blood; I’m talking about your life.” As episode three draws to a close, Hawk waits with Tim in a San Francisco clinic, learning that Tim used to work there before his diagnosis, and as Hawk is called in for his test, the secret gay life he has kept locked away for so long suddenly spills out as the nurse asks him about his partners. Maybe Hawk isn’t willing to hide anymore, or perhaps the walls he has erected between his two lives are so high he doesn’t know how to break them down. Time will tell.
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Episode Four: Your Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire
“I’ve done my window shopping
There’s not a store I’ve missed
But what’s the use of stopping
When there’s no one on your list
You’ll know the way I’m feeling
When you love, and you lose
I guess I’ve got the Christmas blues.”
Tis the season to be jolly, or is it? As episode four opens, a dazed civil servant leaves a non-descript interview room as white as a sheet. As he stumbles through the corridors out of the government building and past the Salvation Army band, it looks like he might be suffering from a heart attack. Moments later, he is dead, lying on the cold, hard road, blood pouring from his head, having walked in front of a truck. He was just one of the many men interrogated as part of McCarthy, Cohn and Schine’s witchhunt of gay, bisexual, lesbian and queer government employees; a witchhunt led by those who, themselves, enjoyed the company of same-sex lovers and hounded others to cover their own tracks on the slippery road to power.
Up to now, Hawk has kept his private life private, controlling everything around him with ruthless precision. But as he arrives in his office, a small blue envelope sits in his drawer. Hawk immediately knows what it is, but who could have accused him of being gay? Maybe it’s due to his road trip with Tim, with Cohn, Schine and McCarthy onto his mission to derail their witchhunt. Or maybe he just slipped up, if that’s even possible? One thing is for sure: his life and career are now hanging in the balance, as is the safety of Tim.
Tim is unaware of Hawk’s pending interview or interrogation, as it should be termed as they exchange Christmas gifts in the safety of Hawk’s apartment. It’s evident in these scenes that their road trip only deepened and intensified their love; Tim and Hawk are now a couple in all but name, and Hawk’s walls are crumbling before our eyes as he gives Tim a pair of gold H and F inscribed cufflinks. But at the same time, Hawk knows he needs to be seen with Lucy as much as possible to protect Tim and himself as the vultures circle overhead.
A series of fascinating historical discussions thread through the love triangle emerging, reflecting the impossible choices many LGBTQ+ people faced at the time. Hawk loves Tim, even though he can’t bring himself to say it, and he cares for Lucy even though he knows he is using her. Lucy and Tim are victims of the triangle Hawk created, and one or both will lose in the end, but at least Tim knows he is part of the lie. Like many women of the time, Lucy is unaware of the lie, offering her love without question to a man who will never fully let her in. Hawk knows the damage this could do but is willing to play the game. Lucy, however, has no choice, like so many women whose experiences are disregarded when talking about the hidden sexuality and desire of men. Back in 1986, there are glimmers of Lucy’s anger and pain as she phones Tim, asking where her husband is; there are also signs that she acknowledges the pain she and Tim have endured through his lies. I hope Fellow Travelers builds on these discussions and ensures the female voice emerges.
As Hawk attends his first interview, he is asked to walk up and down the office with his interrogator, clearly convinced that all gay men have an effeminate stride; then, he is asked to read a passage of literature while being questioned about his private life. Hawk breezes through the questioning before discovering that he must return for a polygraph test the following day. It’s the first time we have seen a glimmer of fear in Hawk’s eyes as he considers how to avoid the polygraph test uncovering his lies. But as Hawk has always done, he spends the evening reading up on how a Polygraph test works while practising controlling his heart rate.
Earlier, I asked who could have accused Hawk of being homosexual, and the truth comes out at a festive soirée as one of his office assistants, Miss Addison (Keara Graves), admits with a glint of revenge in her eye that she accused him after finding a book Tim left on his desk with the inscription “you’re wonderful” inside the cover. Hawk quickly shows how ruthless he can be as he whispers in her ear, “You’re right, Miss Addison, I am wonderful. So why don’t you just suffer? Merry Christmas.” Hawk is clearly planning to make Miss Addison pay for her betrayal.
The next day, at the Polygraph test, Hawk’s plan to control his heart rate by focusing on a single image rather than memories is successful. But one thing is clear: Tim’s face is reflected back at him when asked whether he has ever loved another man, offering another sign that Hawk is, without question, in love, whether he wishes to admit it or not. As he celebrates his success with Marcus, Marcus asks, “Your celebrating because you don’t love Tim or because you’re such a damn good liar?” Hawk swigs his whisky in response.
But what of McCarthy, Cohn and Schine, I hear you ask. They may be at the height of their powers, but the house of cards they have created is beginning to topple as Cohn demands special privileges for his lover, David Schine, who has been drafted into the army. Cohn’s demands have placed McCarthy’s office in a tricky situation that could lead to the entire office being investigated in front of cameras, and McCarthy’s patience is running out. But Hawk may have an answer to Cohn and Schine’s fears of facing the sack and losing their power: the testimony of the soldier who slept with McCarthy. Using Tim to deliver the evidence to Schine, Hawk sacrifices his interest in bringing down Cohn in favour of bringing down McCarthy.
Meanwhile, back in 1986, we learn that Marcus and Frankie are still together (hurrah!) and that, alongside Tim, they created a safe space for many young LGBTQ kids and activists. As Tim, Marcus, Frankie and the teens they protect come together to watch 60 Minutes, a familiar face graces the screen: Roy Cohn. As he is grilled, Cohn denies he is dying from AIDS while continuing to bat away questions regarding his sexuality. But when Tim asks Hawk to make contact with the chief of staff for the California Governor in his fight to introduce an AIDS anti-discrimination bill, Hawk immediately dodges the request, leaving Tim’s apartment following their disagreement before returning later that night, worse for wear, only to discover Tim has had a significant seizure and is in the hospital.
Fellow Travelers – Live Episode Blog
Episode Five: Promise You Won’t Write
“I need to get over you.”
The house of cards surrounding McCarthy, Cohn and Schine is about to collapse as we join Fellow Travelers for its fifth episode. But the collapse won’t just rock the foundations of McCarthyism; its ripples will threaten everything and everyone in its path in the most dramatic, emotional and shocking episode we have seen so far. In this episode, the trajectory of each person’s life suddenly and sharply changes in a whirlwind of intrigue, lies and manipulation. Here, the damage and horror of McCarthyism are laid bare as we say goodbye to the 1950s, and our characters’ paths divert, each carrying deep scars that may or may not heal with time. To say this is a brilliant slice of drama is an understatement; it may be one of the best hours of TV drama I have seen this year.
As McCarthy and Cohn’s power begins to ebb away in Washington and their lies slowly catch up on them, the city police have launched a significant crackdown on subversives, targetting the Cosy Corner, where Marcus is tenderly holding Frankie, as the police march in, beating everyone in their path with batons. As Marcus flees with Frankie, it’s again clear that Marcus values his reputation more than his relationship, as Frankie stops to help people while he runs to safety: an event that will finally see Marcus make the decision we have been waiting for, a decision to stand up for what’s right no matter the ramifications.
Meanwhile, Hawk is searching for Senator Smith’s son, Leonard (Mike Taylor), who hasn’t been seen for the past two nights, only to find he has been arrested after being caught giving another man head. Hawk knows his action could lead to the downfall of Senator Smith and immediately starts planning a way out without ever considering the potential emotional damage he is about to inflict on Leonard, a man he has already stripped everything from as he took his place at Senator Smith’s side as an adopted son.
Leonard’s story, a character we have only briefly seen up to this point, provides episode five’s dramatic clout. As Hawk attempts to ensure his police record is disposed of, Cohn has already gotten wind of the story and seizes the opportunity to blackmail the Democrat Senator into resigning. Here, we see just how unscrupulous Hawk can be as he admits Leonard, with his father’s approval, into a clinic specialising in conversion therapy. As he sits talking to the psychiatrist who runs the establishment, Hawk hears how aversion and electric shock therapy have been “proven” to cure sexual deviants. The fact that Hawk is willing to subject Leonard to this treatment as he places an iron wall around his own sexuality is disturbing at best. But the fact that he does it with a smile is downright horrific.
Before he takes the broken Leonard into the building, Leonard reminisces about the first summer he met Hawk at the family house and their mutual act of masturbation on a camping trip. Coldly, Hawk responds, “All boys do that, but normal men grow out of it.” It’s clear Leonard has always known Hawk’s sexuality as he snaps, “I thought of telling my Dad what you were.” Hawks’ answer is again as cold as ice, “About what, some sad, twisted fantasy you created in your perverted brain?” But for all his skills manipulating and controlling those around him, Hawk cannot stop Cohn’s blackmail of Senator Smith, and Smith, brilliantly played by Linus Roache, knows that time has run out. I will not talk about the dramatic events that follow in this week’s blog for the benefit of those who may still need to watch the episode. But I will reflect on the earth-shattering ramifications of these events next week.
But this week’s episode isn’t just about the events spiralling out of control around Hawk, Senator Smith, Cohn, and Leonard; it’s about Tim’s final and heart-breaking acceptance of the twisted lies and manipulation of the political system around him. Ultimately, Tim’s fight for justice and truth in a den of deceit is instrumental in bringing down Cohn and McCarthy. But it is also the moment that Tim walks away from Washington as he enlists in the Armed Forces, as Hawk drops the bombshell that he intends to marry Lucy.
As the episode draws to a close, Hawk and Tim sit together, looking over the Washington skyline; we know their paths are heading in different directions as Tim states, “I need to get over you,” and Hawk gently agrees. Hawk understands that his life will destroy Tim if he stays, and Tim finally sees the reality of Hawk’s world for what it is: a twisted game of political chess. Their love is clear as they silently hold each other, but for now, it’s a love that will only lead to personal and social destruction for them both. Meanwhile, back in 1986, Tim sits on a hospital bed following several severe seizures as Hawk walks in and silently sits at his side, gently holding his hand.
Episode Six: Beyond Measure