Fellow Travelers: Hawk and Tim’s Emotional Ending Explained

Spoilers ahead for episode 8 of Fellow Travelers!

The Showtime limited series concluded with a heart wrenching finale giving Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim (Jonathan Bailey) an unimaginable ending.

Promo for episode 8 of Fellow Travelers

The series finale of Fellow Travelers told a story of love and loss that was built up through 8 episodes of struggle, love, and acceptance between these characters and themselves.

A love story that spans decades had to be accompanied by a variety of conflict within these characters and Fellow Travelers did a standout job explaining what pulls these characters away from each other, but more importantly what draws them back together. There were intentional scenarios set up to make us love Hawk and Tim but also dislike them at times. It presented the flaws that they had so prominently to set up a story that only made them more human in the end.

That being said, this episode really brings to light for a final time the way Tim and Lucy were both victims of Hawk’s internalized homophobia. (That’s not to say Hawk himself wasn’t a victim as well.) While we do see a final moment of acceptance from Hawk, which I’ll talk about later, there’s still so much damage in the wake of Hawk’s lack of acceptance. Lucy choosing to leave Hawk was something I waited for all season because while I feel for Hawk, two things can be true. Lucy did deserve someone who truly loved and desired her and having her leave Hawk was the push that Hawk needed to be one step closer to acceptance of himself during his final moment with Tim.

Hawk and Tim’s Final Moment

Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey as Hawk and Tim via Showtime

The last scene Tim and Hawk share is what really stood out in this episode. Their public display of affection stood for all those moments in previous episodes that they were silenced. It held a strong sentimental value to these characters and the relationship they held for decades. They ended exactly where they never once thought they could be.

Tim then goes on to say “You were my great consuming love” followed by how he has no regrets in being lucky enough to get one. The only happy ending for a story like this is found in the absence of regret. Having two characters who love each other deeply find a way to overcome the judgment of others is where a happy ending resides. Having Tim say he regrets nothing gave his character one last thing for the viewer to hold onto so when Tim inevitably does pass away, there’s nothing left to be desired in his character development.

Hawk’s Acceptance

The first moment of Hawk’s acceptance starts here. Hawk initiates a final kiss in public sealing the moment off with closure for their characters. After decades of hiding and being afraid of what others will think, Hawk does not hesitate in his love for Tim during this very moment. This scene was the very definition of keeping something sacred for one person. There was a lot of homophobia that Hawk surrendered to throughout the decades so it was very satisfying to see it lead up to Hawk being unapologetic about this love for Tim.

While it held a big conversation during the season, I believe that this was Hawk’s way of saying ‘I love you’ to Tim. Lots of viewers had something to say about Hawk never explicitly saying it, but there’s value in a character as troubled as Hawk, not saying those words in the traditional way. By initiating that kiss, Hawk told Tim everything he needed to hear.

We then get the recurrence of the “Promise you won’t write” line said by Hawk this time. It’s a bittersweet callback to episode 5 that wraps up the scene quite well. This moment is there to signify the end of Hawk and Tim’s relationship. While Hawk broke the promise the first time and wrote, there’s this feeling of sorrow knowing that Tim can’t break the promise.

Beyond Measure

Tim’s section of the Aids Memorial Quilt in Fellow Travelers via Showtime

The last ten or so minutes is where there is an empty feeling. I have to praise the creative choice of not letting the viewer see Tim pass away, but instead heavily implying. The viewer goes the rest of the episode knowing something is missing and there’s this grief that sticks around even after this episode is over proving there is power in implications.

The show then cuts to this beautiful sequence of people walking around viewing The First Display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Created in November of 1985, it was beautiful to see this piece of history included in a show so relevant in queer media. Hawk finally finds Tim’s section where we see Tim’s name and the phrase “Beyond Measure” from episode 6 displayed on the quilt. This callback becomes significant when remembering the scene in episode 6 where Tim taught Hawk that phrase during their conversation about Jackson. Knowing now both Tim and Jackson are gone, it adds a layer of emotional depth to Hawk’s grief.

The viewer is granted this beautiful expository scene that allows this intimate moment to grieve with Hawk. We then see his daughter Kimberly approach and Hawk confesses “He wasn’t my friend. He was the man I loved.” That final moment of acceptance wraps up Hawk’s complicated character so perfectly. Any queer person knows the experience of coming out is a very vulnerable and scary moment, so to have a moment to sympathize with Hawk allows for the viewer to create a space of forgiveness for this character.

Award Winning Performances

Leading each episode, Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey stood out with their performances. They did justice to Hawk and Tim’s complicated love story and I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited to play them. Bomer and Bailey took risks episode after episode, and while Bomer’s nomination is well deserved, I can’t help but wish that Bailey could’ve seen a Golden Globe nomination for his work as well.

Overall, Fellow Travelers was a miniseries I didn’t expect to see ending the year. It was a take on queer love throughout decades that the media hasn’t seen yet. While there is a post sense of grief upon finishing the series, there is also a lot of appreciation and respect for a story told so strongly. It just goes to show that there is power in telling even the sad stories.

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