‘Feud’ Season 2 Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: How did James Baldwin Motivate Capote to Write Again?

It is ridiculous that in episode 3, titled The Secret Inner Lives of the Swans, Truman Capote pops too many pills so that he would never have to worry about waking up again, but death is still so far from his doorstep. Because death sometimes means a permanent freedom from the daily torment of life, and Truman Capote, in this third episode of Feud: Capote vs The Swans, seemed to be someone who didn’t deserve it at all. In the previous episode, Truman Capote called himself Prometheus, as he ignited a fire among the swans, making them turn against each other, but in this episode, he is seen regretting his choices back in 1975, when he dropped the bombshell by publishing his salacious article in Esquire.


Episode 5 opened with a furious Babe Paley finding out about her husband Bill’s affair with Happy Rockefeller, which had just been made public by Capote’s article. Babe was screaming and badmouthing her husband, while Bill, who was equally frustrated by all this, made a phone call to Capote. Out of anger, Bill unleashed his frustration on Capote and asked him to kill himself. Truman, on the other hand, seemed to be guilty and depressed because of the choice he had made. So he popped too many sleeping pills to kill himself, but fortunately, he woke up the next day to a phone call from the famous African American writer, James Baldwin. James called him to boost him up and asked him to meet him at La Côte Basque for lunch.

Truman was upset and ashamed to go out in public. As he walked into the restaurant, he found people in his surroundings constantly eyeing him. However, that’s why James was there to ignite his confidence, which he had lost after all the scandals. James asked him to talk about the true nature of his swans—not what he wrote but what he had been able to know by being so close to them. Hesitant at first, Truman eventually spoke about the duality of his group of swans. He started with the love affairs of these women, who were a bit hypocritical when it came to having extramarital affairs. Because not only their husbands but also these swans had been in several extramarital relationships before, and when their husbands found out about it, they just chose to ignore it. But it had never been the same for them when it was the other way around, as when the swans had caught their husbands cheating on them, they acted erratically and demanded expensive gifts from them in order to forgive and forget. Therefore, love has always been a materialistic arrangement for these hypocritical swans.


Not only that, but Truman also continued speaking about what terrible mothers they all were. He gave an example, as we saw how badly the swans used to treat their children. In one scene, we saw a drunk Babe asking her daughter on her birthday to get all of the guests, especially the clown, out of her house immediately. After that, she just walked into her washroom, slipped, and fell into the bathtub.

Leaving La Côte Basque, the two writers continued their gossiping and entered an art gallery nearby. In this art gallery, they found amazing art pieces by Kandinsky and many other painters. As James asked Truman why people like William Paley were so fascinated by art, Truman corrected him, saying that they were not fascinated by art, but they just wanted to put their name on every valuable thing. They were not passionate about artistry, but by collecting art, the Paleys just wanted to flaunt their wealth and status. Truman could also recall the parties where he had to accompany the swans, where he got the opportunity to know them even better than before. He expressed how rude and mean these swans could be when it came to socializing with other people. On one particular lunch date, Babe and Slim humiliated Ann when she came to talk to them. However, ironically, Capote had also humiliated Ann even worse than the swans did. 


Capote was tired and fed up with this conversation, so James took him to a bar to lighten his mood, but Truman had never been in control when it came to drinking their sorrows away. He got extremely drunk, and James asked him to rein in his drinking habit as it was taking a toll on him. James reminded Truman how he had wasted his ten years since he wrote his masterpiece “In the Cold Blood.” James eventually took Capote back home, where the two writers got a little closer to each other, but James had always maintained a distance as he never wanted Truman to catch feelings for him. According to him, the two were best friends who couldn’t be lovers because, if they became so, they could even murder each other. James asked his friend to forget the worries and take up the pen to use it as a weapon against these elite people who knew nothing but their social status. Only Truman’s pen could destroy their social reputation and bring them down, so he shouldn’t waste his talent and time by lamenting what he could and what he did all these years. Truman felt the kick inside him, and inspired by James’ words, he decided to write again.

James said goodbye to Truman and walked out of the door. However, at night James made one final call to Truman from the airport. He told Truman that he was going to Paris and before leaving he just wanted to tell him that only the Queen of England can legally kill the swans to eat them. James wanted to tell Truman that he should feel empowered by the creativity within him, and with this creativity he should also feel like a king who would decide the fate of this swans.  The scene shifted back to the same scene where Truman woke up in the morning. It’s revealed that Truman had been hallucinating his meeting with Baldwin due to the effects of his sleeping pills. He had just woken up from a deep sleep and found the energy to create again. He would probably start writing his next unfinished masterpiece, “Answered Prayers.”


In the ending of The Secret Inner Lives of the Swans, we saw Truman hire a waiter, whom he asked to make a special dinner for him. The waiter prepared a delicious dish of swan meat for Truman, who was so delighted that he asked the waiter to share how he had caught the swan. Truman vowed not to drink again until his writing was finished, and he told Jack that he was going to write his next masterpiece. In reality, we don’t have any idea if Truman Capote and James Baldwin shared such an intimate bond, so we can say this series took the creative liberty to portray them as two best friends more than lovers who cheered up each other at their lowest. 

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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