‘Manhunt’ (2024) Episode 1 Recap: What Does Edwin Suspect About The Confederacy?

It’s too early to say that the latest miniseries by Apple TV+ would be a certified hit, but more importantly, Manhunt would be one of the most thought-provoking series to come out this year. Especially with the US presidential election around the corner, Manhunt might even remind the American public of the horrifying ordeals that the Black communities of the United States went through before and even after the Civil War. Not like the racist stance of White Americans against people of color differs much from back then, but I suppose the idea of segregationally hate has been spreading everywhere. Even countries built on diversity are struggling with this social issue, and that is what Manhunt reminds us of. The assassination of Lincoln is therefore a reminder to all of us about how perpetrators of evil will always try to claw their way to the surface and propagate their ideas. 

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Anachronistically set before and after the assassination of the President, Manhunt shows the harrowing tale of Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, as he goes on a nationwide manhunt in pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Lincoln. The series will also depict the perspectives of Wilke and other pro-Confederates, which will be an interesting take. 

Spoilers Ahead

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Who Attacks The Secretary Of State?

Manhunt begins on the day of the assassination of Lincoln. John Wilkes, a famous theater actor, is working with two other individuals named David Herold and Lewis Powell. They are actually affiliated with the Confederacy and have recently filed their surrender to the Union on April 14th. However, the Confederacy was a resilient bunch. Supporters of slavery had been conspiring against Lincoln. 30 minutes before the assassination, David guides Lewis to Secretary of State Henry Seward’s house to assassinate him. After David hesitates, Lewis heads in alone, while David stands outside holding the horse for their escape. However, hearing the horrifying screams from inside the house, David runs away, leaving Lewis by himself. Lewis’ gun jams, which prevents him from shooting Henry, so he stabs him and runs away. Seward, however, survives the ordeal because of a brace around his neck.


Who Is Edwin Stanton?

Edwin Stanton, played by Tobias Menzies, held the position of the Secretary of War in Lincoln’s government. He is also a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and one of the few politicians who is actively working for the abolition of slavery. After the attack on Henry Seward, he takes it upon himself to investigate the incident. The same evening, Lincoln goes to the theater to watch ‘Our American Cousin’, and Edwin assigns Parker as Lincoln’s security. The pilot episode explores Edwin’s relationship with Lincoln and his grief over losing his friend as he comes to terms with the tragedy that has happened. 

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How Did Wilkes Kill Lincoln?

Wilkes had been planning this assassination for quite some time, it seems. Being a popular actor, nobody had expected him to murder the President, which gives him an upper hand as well. Wilkes was a privileged White man belonging to a family of artists, but perhaps it is this privilege that makes him see himself as superior to the Black people. Towards the end of the war, small factions associated with the Confederate states like the ones John Wilkes Booth was a part of, began to take form around the country. These groups were responsible for the skirmishes along the Union States. 

A day before the assassination, he encounters Parker, President Lincoln’s security detail. Parker and Wilkes strike up a conversation about Wilkes being assigned a huge role, which would skyrocket his popularity beyond his elder brother and father. During the conversation, Parker reveals that he usually gives the President some privacy and steps out instead. Wilkes sees this opportunity as the only window to carry out the attack. Wilkes had already had his men assigned around the theater to help him make a smooth escape after the assassination. After his entry into the booth where the President is sitting, he shoots Lincoln in the back of his head. After the shooting, he declares slogans related to the beliefs of the Confederacy and makes a run for it. With his men in place at the right time, Wilkes indeed ends up disappearing into the evening crowd. 

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Following Lincoln’s shooting, the staff under the President had been mourning until dawn. The next morning, Edwin announces to the newspapers in print that the President has died at 7:22 AM. In a rather poignant scene, his office is surrounded by Black people who have gathered outside the White House to hear of Lincoln’s death. They even carry Lincoln’s coffin in support of his service to the Black people’s freedom.


Where Is Wilkes Heading?

In search of potential collaborators, Edwin and his men confront Joseph, who also works at the theater. A supporter of the abolishment, Joseph discloses the identity of Ned Spangler, who was a friend of Wilkes as well. Ned had held the door open for Edwin when he was escaping from the theater. It is later revealed that Wilkes was headed to Maryland, which was still a Confederate state. After having his ankle dislocated at the theater, Wilkes and David visited Dr. Samuel Mudd in Maryland and had him tend to the injuries as well. Dr. Samuel Mudd is a pro-slavery doctor who provides services and a brief asylum to Confederate figures. The main reason why Wilkes headed to Maryland was because people there still believed that slavery was necessary. At Doctor Samuel’s lodge, Wilkes and David rejoice after reading about the president’s demise.


What Does Edwin Suspect About Lincoln’s Murderer?

To investigate Lincoln’s murder, Edwin searches for evidence through Wilke’s hotel room, finding a bullet and a banknote from the Bank of Montreal, which is owned by Confederacy secret services to launder money. It is likely that the Confederacy was involved in the assassination, but without hard evidence, there can be no action taken either. Pondering whether indeed the confederacy is indeed involved, Edwin starts to think about possible outcomes for the actions that they must take. When asked about what he’d do if hard evidence was found, Edwin replied that he would start another war. 


Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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