Sunday, December 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Fellow Travelers' - Hawk Ignores His Family to Provide Support for Tim During a Turbulent Time in 'Beyond Measure'

Showtime's Fellow Travelers - Episode 1.06 "Beyond Measure"

It's 1968 and Tim's an anti-war protester sought by the FBI. Hawk and Lucy have a settled life, two children and a country house - the perfect spot for Tim to hide. Out of touch for years, Hawk wants Tim back in his life and Tim - on his way to becoming a priest - can't resist Hawk's charms. Marcus puts aside his career to care for his aged father while denying himself romance. Frankie becomes a counselor for "girls" left behind by society.

"Beyond Measure" was written by Dee Johnson and directed by Uta Briesewitz

Hawk and Tim are in constant pursuit of what will make them feel complete. Their love is the closest they've ever felt to that goal. Even then, it was a toxic and dysfunctional relationship. All these years later, Tim still grapples with the improbability of love being a sin. The world tells him and Hawk that they are deviants for who they love. Their community was persecuted and killed. That hasn't changed despite the conclusion of Senator McCarthy's hearings. Tim didn't feel new purpose by joining the Army. Hawk couldn't replace his feelings for a family with Lucy. Those are the choices they made. More than a decade has passed since they've last seen each other. Despite that, Hawk has closely monitored Tim's life. He is always keeping track of his movements. He upheld the promise never to write. Tim couldn't fulfill that. The two are constantly drawn to each other because they believe that's all they are worthy of accepting. They are each deserving of so much more. Yet they spend decades in complete turmoil hurting others because they can't find that acceptance within themselves.

Tim has become a protestor against the war. He's essentially ceding control to another person yet again. He sees the power of mentorship through a Catholic priest. Even then, he convinces himself that joining the seminary is the only way to prevent these feelings from occurring. It doesn't work. He's a compassionate person who advocates for peace and acceptance. He still deals with the massive consequences of going against the government. He's charged with kidnapping because he held someone against their will and forbid them from leaving. He acted with kindness. He wanted to ensure no one got hurt. This action propels him into Hawk's world once more. It's not suddenly presented as a better alternative. The issues they dealt with in the past are still present in 1968. The lies are as prevalent as ever before. That's the only way to live. It's a life of secrecy. That's all that they are capable of having. Sure, they can enjoy momentary bliss of expressing their sexual desires. That is completely fleeting. Afterwards, the remorse sinks in. That showcases once more how torn these individuals are. They understand these feelings. Yet they feel as if it is wrong to have them and act on them.

Hawk invites Tim to stay at his family's cabin. It's a secluded place separate from the house his family occupies. He's still tempting fate by having these various parts of his life so close to each other. Tim was bound to be discovered at some point. Hawk was more concerned about helping Tim evade the law. That's not the true peril. Instead, it's all personal drama. Lucy wants her opinions to be validated and empowered. She deserves a peaceful and happy life too. Hawk withholds what she desires. She has certain expectations about what marriage and family are. She lived in that ideal for a long time. She was blind to the truth. However, she too kept her awareness of Hawk and Tim's love buried. She denied a reunion between them. She hoped that Hawk leaving for a life with her and their family would be better. He didn't need to get caught up in this drama of the past once more. She is protecting herself. She's doing what she believes is right. And yet, she yearns to be desired. She wants a family. Hawk provides that. It's out of obligation. It's not love. He still prioritizes his own needs. Everyone around him feels that distance. They don't always have the words to understand what's going on. Instead, they are left to believe something is wrong with them and that's why he is incapable of loving them fully.

Jackson believes his father doesn't love him. As such, he acts out. His behavior can't just be written off as typical sullen teenage behavior. He feels alone in this world. Hawk and Tim can certainly relate to that feeling. Tim relates to Jackson better than Hawk does. Sure, Jackson still weaponizes Tim's presence to disrupt Hawk and Lucy's marriage. He aims to deflect from his bad behavior. He views his father as a hypocrite. Meanwhile, Lucy is just suppose to accept that Hawk loves her the most and always returns home to her. Yet he's incapable of giving his full self. She enjoys the freedom of exploration as well. Even that is meant to be a secret she has to hide. Hawk catches everything. He notices the glances and the absences. He has been trained to be careful. Yet he can't control everything. He wishes to produce an incredible deal for Tim to avoid prison time. He doesn't understand why Tim won't take it. Hawk has never understood Tim's relationship with God. His faith has always remained a mystery. It's this aloof concept that only invites more pain and agony. Hawk isn't removed from those concepts. He inflicts plenty of damage as well because he often positions himself as the only person who matters. That isn't true. Yet he endures a lifetime of protecting himself despite the frequent cost it wrecks on the people he loves. He's present for Tim in 1986. Even that promises to be fleeting because of Tim's deteriorating condition.

The truth is at least known amongst Hawk, Tim and Lucy. They don't have the capacity to fully understand and lead with empathy. They haven't arrived at that enlightenment. They each made choices they have to live with. They can't do things differently now. These are the lives they accepted. They must commit to them. Hawk and Tim's sexual orientations don't have to be the sole thing that defines them. And yet, they have that basic understanding of identity because it's a constant battle just to know where and how to fit in. Marcus and Frankie face a similar struggle. They always had better communication. The narrative offered the reassurance that they stay together. They face their own problems. Marcus must care for his ailing father. He can't embark on the road like Frankie does. Frankie essentially equates retiring from drag and leaving this relationship with growing up. As they mature, they find new understandings of what's acceptable. Frankie can make more of a difference by becoming a social worker and advocating for those who have no one fighting for them. Meanwhile, Marcus remains shamefully in the closet. He enjoys his freedom. That denies him love. That's what this relationship was. He can't speak about it truthfully. He continually hides that aspect of his life even when he's willing to sacrifice everything to support his family. He can't live his truth. None of these characters can because they are plagued by the times they live in. It's a sad tragedy. One where their stories were still present. The issues are pronounced in dire ways that inform social behavior across the world even in the most intimate and revealing moments.