Tim’s inevitable death has been hanging over us since Fellow Travelers Season 1 Episode 1.
Fellow Travelers Season 1 Episode 8 — the series finale — brought the show to a close in an emotional and impactful way.
If I had to describe the final chapter in one word, it would be “unexpected.”
Back to the 1950s
It was an inspired choice to take us back to the 1950s to tell one last story about Hawk and Tim. Their love for one another ran more profound than ever during that period.
For all of its flaws, Washington, D.C., was where they met, and their relationship flourished despite having to keep things on the down low.
Their relationship is a big “what if” because had they gotten together somewhere else that was more accepting of same-sex relationships, perhaps they would have lived the rest of their days together.
The sad part about the return to the 1950s was Hawk’s willingness to do the unthinkable by telling the government about Tim’s sexuality.
Lucy: May I? How are you?
Tim: I have KS, recurring seizures, and my hair is falling out. What else? Um… Uh, my social worker suggested I sign a do-not-resuscitate order. How are you?
Lucy: The government ought to do more about this. It’s terrible.
Tim: They could do more. But people like you would have to pay higher taxes. Lucy: My father used to argue for a national healthcare system. He believed government should take care of its citizens. So do I. It’s not always wise to judge someone on appearances.
Tim: You’re right.
Lucy: This hospital is not what I expected it to be. It’s the only one like it in the country, where people with AIDS are treated like human beings. I’m sorry, Mrs. Fuller, but why are you here?
Lucy: I don’t know. You mean something to my husband. I suppose I had to see you so I would know.
Lucy: How much you mean to him.
Tim: Shouldn’t you ask him? Right. That wouldn’t get you anywhere.
Tim: My time with Hawk was rushed, with years in between. You had him most of his life.
Lucy: But you were always there. I could never get away from you.
Tim: It’s not a contest.
Lucy: Of course it is. It always has been.
Tim: Then why didn’t you leave him?
Lucy: Because we had a good life. And children. And then when Jackson… You don’t want to hear this. Please. When Jackson died, it was so unbearable. The only comfort I had was knowing that Hawk understood that suffering, felt the same way. If I had had to bear that alone, I wouldn’t have lived through it. I should be going.
Tim: Mrs. Fuller, thank you for coming to see me.
Tim went from being brimming with hope that he and Hawk could make this work to feeling so much betrayal and pain that he arrived at the hospital determined to blow up Hawk’s marriage.
While Tim isn’t the kind of person to do that, he got close enough, and who’s to say what he would have done if he hadn’t seen Jackson through the screen?
While Tim was happy about the situation with Hawk that allowed them to meet in secret, it was hard for Tim to fathom why Hawk went to these extreme measures to eradicate him from his life.
The only thing that makes sense is that Hawk chose Lucy, Jackson, and his family and didn’t want to start this family with secrets, which Tim came to respect.
Hawk has long been this man with many secrets, but he’d turned a corner and was ready to be more open and honest with himself.
Why Did Hawk Betray Tim?
It’s a shame that Hawk wasn’t more upfront about that and couldn’t bring himself to lay out his feelings to Tim because what he did was the ultimate betrayal.
Now it’s easier to understand why Hawk has been desperate in his attempts to look after Tim in the present because he’s holding on to these actions and feels somewhat responsible for Tim never finding someone else to love or be loved by someone else.
There are many things that Hawk wishes he’d have done differently, and maybe, just maybe, there’d have been some semblance of happiness for Tim in the end.
Tim was a shell of his former self after his most recent seizure and has been desperately trying to find a way to live, even when he knows that his time is running out.
Lobbying the idea of signing the DNR must have felt like the only way for Tim to have any power in that situation, or so he thought.
Seeing Tim go from knowing the end is near and letting it happen to the passionate man at the protest who understood he had to do something showcased elements of Tim that seemed dormant due to his death sentence.
The Protest and Saying Goodbye
Knowing he and Marcus played Hawk to stage the protest was another satisfying development because, for the first time, Hawk wasn’t in control.
I never thought I’d hear Hawk pleading with Tim to stay with him in San Francisco to help in his fight because Hawk had been so laser-focused on moving to Italy and starting afresh.
It’s also hard to tell whether he only came to that epiphany because Lucy said she would probably not be at home, as she realized her life partner would never desire her as she should be desired.
Lucy understood the bond Hawk had with Tim and was well aware that had the world not been so awful to the LGBTQ+ community, they may have never been together.
Hawk: What are you doing here?
Marcus: I’ll take your badge.
Tim: Marcus is going inside with me. He needs your badge to get in.
Hawk: I don’t understand.
Tim: I knew Lonigan would refuse to see us. And we’d never get close to the Governor. And then… I invited you to the gala. I mean, it was very convenient. Hawk: I think I’ve been used.
Tim: A little.
Hawk: All right. Hey. Give us a minute? Look, whatever you’re up to, and I don’t want to know all the details, I’ll wait for you.
Tim: No. You need to go home. Where you belong. No. It’s not…
Hawk: I want to stay.
Tim: I have to fight this fight. That means letting go of everything else. And if you’re around, I will not be able to let go.
Hawk: But I wanna show up for you.
Tim: Go home, Hawk. Please. Make it easy for me.
Hawk: Hey, Skippy. Promise you won’t write.
Tim: I won’t.
Lucy has got to feel duped into getting into a relationship with Hawk in the first place. Much like Tim, she wasted many years of her life with him.
Visiting Tim in the hospital came out of the left field, but there had to be some way to tie these two threads together. Even though Lucy and Tim were far apart, they both shared love for Hawk.
Now that Lucy has left Hawk, seemingly to return to Washington D.C., it’s a shame we didn’t see any footage of her living her best life, but then again, how do we know that she didn’t reunite with Hawk after Tim’s death?
There’s so much unsaid about where things went after Tim’s death, but knowing that Hawk could tell his daughter that Tim was the man he loved signaled that Hawk was at peace with his decisions.
It’s hard to tell whether Tim and Hawk met again after the night of protest, but something tells me that these two always find a way to get back in each other’s orbit.
Tim’s Death Happened Off-Screen
The decision not to show Tim slipping away on-screen was interesting. A part of me always thought we’d see him in Hawk’s arms as he passed away.
Seeing how Tim resigned himself to spending his final months not with the man he loved but by fighting for people like him was a testament to the man he was.
He could have spent his final days with Hawk, but he sent the man he loved away. He knew being in his presence woud make him lose sight of what he had to accomplish in those final days.
Kimberley: Dad? You found him? It’s beautiful. From what you’ve told me, it really suits your friend.
Hawk: Yeah. It does. Sweetheart. He wasn’t my friend. He was the man I loved.
At one point, Tim was staring death in the face, but seeing his resilience as he realized what he had to do was courageous and perfectly in line with the character we watched across eight episodes.
Marcus putting the pieces together to realize that Jerome had tested positive was another heartbreaking development, especially hearing Jerome, the kid he was raising as his own, tell him the results. It hit him like a ton of bricks.
The series didn’t tell us what became of Jermone, but the only solace we can take from this storyline is that he had both Marcus and Frankie by his side throughout.
They gave Jerome the family unit he never had and helped him live his authentic self, so they felt responsible for his wellbeing.
Saying goodbye to this series is tough. It’s a rarity that a show gets everything so right, from the casting to the production to the excellent writing.
My only hope is that the show will be recognized on the awards front because it genuinely has been the year’s best show. It’s not even a contest at this stage.
What are your thoughts on how the series concluded?
Do you think the end was fitting for all the characters?
Hit the comments.
Stream all episodes on Showtime.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.