Sunday, December 17, 2023

REVIEW: 'Fellow Travelers' - Hawk and Tim Finally Reach Love And Acceptance in Their Relationship in 'Make It Easy'

Showtime's Fellow Travelers - Episode 1.08 "Make It Easy"

In 1957, Hawk and Tim reunite at Senator McCarthy's funeral and try, one last time, to find a way to be together, but the pressures of impending fatherhood may force Hawk to commit an act of betrayal. In San Francisco in 1986, Hawk seeks redemption, seeing Tim through a medical crisis and facing Lucy, who arrives with an ultimatum. Marcus and Frankie are stunned by news concerning their adopted son, Jerome. Tim makes a wrenching decision that will change Hawk's life forever.

"Make It Easy" was written by Anya Leta & Jack Solomon and directed by Uta Briesewitz

Fundamentally, this series centered on the liberation and freedom that comes from living an open and loving life. Hawk and Tim loved each other. Yet they also caused each other a lifetime of pain. The world wouldn't come to an end if they showed affection in public. For far too long, Hawk feared that perception. He wasn't comfortable with who he was. Instead, he put together a fake life that was limited in the amount of happiness anyone could have. He was an expert at manipulating situations to his benefit. He succeeded because of the ways people in his generation were trained to look away and not question anything unseemly. Others in position of power used their authority to punish those who didn't conform. The world was changing. It still takes decades for any true acceptance to come. There are still far too many places in the world where hatred and discrimination are prominent. It takes the courage and action of those willing to fight for a better future for all. That requires stepping into the spotlight with full confidence. Tim was willing to sacrifice everything. His spirit was nearly broken by his AIDS diagnosis. Hawk's return to his life gave him the confidence to continue fighting.

Death was teased as the inevitable outcome for Tim. He was facing a terminal illness. He suffered numerous strokes. Hawk didn't know how to care for him. He was battling forces outside his control. He couldn't offer the comfort and camaraderie that came so easily for Tim, who flourished in his new life in San Francisco. Hawk was still limited to the same mindset that plagued them many decades previously. He couldn't admit his love for Tim because that would be admitting his true sexual orientation. He would have to out himself to embrace that love. He was never willing to do that. That would compromise him too much. Yet he was more giving to Tim than any other person in his life. It scared him at times. He was frightened by the pain he caused others because of the love he had with Tim. That was enough to keep him sustained. He always left sexually satisfied. He was even willing to reverse their roles during sex. Sure, he only did so after confirming that the military turned Tim into a man. He needed that argument to feel comfortable. Love is at the center of their connection. That can't be denied.

Lucy has known about Tim for a long time. She understood that her husband loved him more than he ever did her. He settled for the life they built together. She was happy with that. However, she too had to be satisfied with the constant compromises. She could never fulfill Hawk how he needed. He only gave her intimacy and vulnerability when she demanded more. Love shouldn't be that hard. It was a constant battle. One where Lucy always questioned if she was desirable. She wondered if she was good enough. She isn't broken. This is simply all the affection he can give her. It's not fair. They remain married for three decades. It comes to an end. Lucy makes that decision. She can't continue living this way. She was grateful that someone else was going through the same experience she was after Jackson's death. She leaned on Hawk despite him leaving their family. They shared that pain. Tim ultimately brought Hawk home to her. It was all a debate of Hawk lining up his priorities. He pushed away love in service to what he believed his responsibilities should be. That meant being a husband and father. Even then, he was limited in the love he could express because he was hiding a key part of who he was. That wouldn't change even after Tim's death. Lucy recognized that.

Everyone often had to make those painful choices for Hawk. He was incapable of giving them what they needed. He didn't trust himself to make the right decisions when he was tempted by Tim's presence. That's why he ultimately derailed any opportunity for Tim to work in the federal government. Tim was adrift for many years because he lost his passion. He was disillusioned by working for Senator McCarthy. Crowds grieve after the politician's death. Tim's confused. He reunites with Hawk. Their passion is still thrilling. Hawk still leaves because their love becomes inconvenient for the life he wants. Mary sees that plainly. That's precisely who Hawk is. Tim can't be blind to that. They both must endure their own journeys of self-discovery and acceptance. Far too many people are innocent to the turmoil and discrimination. Jerome isn't responsible for the government doing nothing to care for people who are HIV-positive. He has power in standing up for his community. Love unites his whole family. Meanwhile, love provides access to the gala for Tim. That's the limit of what can be accomplished by this love story. It's still immensely powerful and moving. It's not a conclusion wrapped in death. That's an element. The resolution doesn't require that urgency to say everything that needed to be said.

Hawk mourns upon seeing Tim's name in the AIDS quilt while it's on display in Washington, D.C. His greatest love has died. His wife has left him. He's not alone. He's supported by his daughter. Kimberly accepts this element of her father's life. She too knew Tim was more than just a friend of her father's. She let him share the truth when he was willing and able to express it. She offers him that grace. He loved Tim beyond measure. That became the phrase that defined their bond. They shared a complicated story. One where they were in constant search of something that they truly desired and deserved. Tim knew that his love for God transcended any criticism of his life. He was deserving of that love. He was confident even without knowing for certain that he had it. He was clear in his ideals. That's what gave him strength to fight back. He needed people to take notice. That always terrified Hawk. He had to be limited with what energy to exert on any particular issue. He would hurt the people he loves if it benefitted him in some way. They also understood. He was risking a lot. It was a blessing to have as much time with him as they did. Even then, it's fair to yearn for more. It's devastating when that can't occur. Yet Hawk is free. He basks in that glory despite the hardships. That's what life is. It isn't easy. He found the person he was willing to endure it all alongside. He came to that realization too late. He still accepts that grace. That's powerful. And now, he gets to share that with the world in Tim's honor.