‘Manhunt’ (2024) Episode 2 Recap: Who Is John Surratt Jr.?

The latest conspiracy thriller by Apple TV+ offers a gritty narrative following the death of the American President, Abraham Lincoln. Most of the story is depicted through the eyes of Edwin Stanton, a close friend of Lincoln and the Secretary of War. He takes it upon himself to unearth the conspiracy that got his friend killed and catch the people responsible. 


In the previous episode, almost 30 minutes before the assassination of Lincoln, Lewis Powell and David Herold orchestrated the assassination of the US Secretary of State. Lewis invaded Henry Seward’s house and stabbed him. Meanwhile, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor, had been planning Lincoln’s murder. A day before the tragic incident, he ran into Parker, Lincoln’s security personal, who ended up revealing to him that he doesn’t need to keep an eye on the President while he is in the booth at the theater. Seeing this as an opportunity to finally eliminate the President, Wilkes claims that the next day he is going to be more famous than his acclaimed brother and father. Subsequently, he infiltrated the Fort’s theater and shot Lincoln point blank. Evading security, he headed to Maryland, a Confederacy state. 

Edwin Stanton had been trying to investigate the people responsible. Starting with Wilkes’ hotel, he found receipts for bank transactions from the Bank of Montreal. The bank had been a front for the Confederacy Secret Services to launder money. Edwin claimed that if he found hard evidence suggesting the Confederacy’s involvement in Lincoln’s death, he would go to war once again. Meanwhile, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, on their way to Richmond, Maryland, made a stop at Dr. Samuel Mudd’s lodge. Dr. Mudd is a slaver himself and a supporter of the Confederacy war effort. He had been providing medical aid to Confederacy soldiers throughout the war, which is why Wilkes stopped at his farm to receive medical assistance.


Spoilers Ahead

Why Was Mary Surratt Arrested?

As the investigation into Lincoln’s conspirators is underway with Edwin at the head, Louis Weichmann, a staff member at the White House who is a part of the investigation, informs Edwin about his suspicions about his landlady. Weichmann lived in Mrs. Surratt’s boarding house along with John Surratt Jr. Subsequently, at the Surratt’s board, they question the landlady, who denies all the claims. However, while the authorities are at the boarding house, Lewis Powell walks in wearing his blood-stained coat from his failed assassination of Henry Seward. Lewis seems to know Mrs. Surratt while she claims to never have seen the man before, which gives it away to the authorities as they detain Mrs. Surratt and Lewis for conspiring against the President. 


Why Is Edwin Against Andrew Johnson’s Presidency?

Andrew Johnson was the vice president during Lincoln’s tenure, and after his death, Johnson was sworn in as the President of the United States. Edwin and Elizabeth Todd, Lincoln’s wife, have been against Johnson coming to power because Johnson doesn’t care about the revolution. He solely wanted to strengthen the US economy, rather than the war that Lincoln had won. He doesn’t even give any importance to finding Lincoln’s killer, which shows the man’s misguided priorities in the wake of a national crisis. Detective Baker, the chief investigator in the murder, even suspects Johnson of having been involved in Lincoln’s assassination. Baker believes that Johnson had the most to gain from Lincoln’s death as he was sworn in as president. At Johnson’s first presidential dinner, he gives a speech hinting that he doesn’t care what happens to Booth, as he wants to focus on reconstructing American. However, Edwin then threatens the president to not hinder his pursuit of the murderer, as he might reveal to the press that Johnson has the most to gain from the circumstances. 

Who Is Mary Simms? 

Mary Simms is a slave owned by Dr. Samuel Mudd. She lives at Dr. Mudd’s lodge as a housekeeper and aide to the doctor, helping him out with the patients he takes in. Mary’s brother also lives at the lodge. Mary has been owned by Dr. Mudd since she was an infant. She did gain her freedom briefly when she was a child, living north of the Mason-Dixon line in Pennsylvania, a free state for Black people. She was spotted by bounty hunters who hit up her uncle’s lodge and abducted her. Following her abduction, she was sent back to work for Dr. Mudd. She is present at Dr. Mudd’s lodge when an injured John Wilkes Booth arrives, seeking medical assistance. She is assigned by the doctor to shave Booth’s beard, but he makes a racist remark and sends her away. After Edwin realizes that Booth might’ve needed medical help, he sends his men to interrogate the doctor, who admits that he did treat a man with a broken leg but didn’t identify him as Booth as he was clean-shaved. When asked about his whereabouts, the doctor denies knowing anything as such. The authorities spot Mary and ask her about the same, but fearing her slaver, she agrees with the doctor’s claims instead. 


What Does Edwin Find Out At Surratt’s Maryland Boarding?

Seeking more information about Mrs. Surratt’s co-conspirators, Edwin and his men ride to Surratt’s boarding house in Maryland. While searching for clues in John Surratt’s room, Edwin uncovers a hidden section behind the wooden wall, where he finds hard evidence suggesting John Surratt’s involvement. He finds a telegram and an encoded message for John from Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. Finding the evidence, Edwin interrogates Weichmann, suspecting him of involvement as well. Weichmann had been living under the same roof as John. In fact, Weichmann was even friends with the Surratts, but he had no knowledge of their conspiracy. He was aware that the Surratts were Confederate sympathizers, but they had been friends since before the war. Weichmann and Surratt had differences of opinion regarding Lincoln and slavery. He explains that Surratt had left town before April 14th, claiming that he was looking for a job, but Weichmann never even suspected that they’d be conspiring against the president. 

What To Expect In Episode 3?

As Edwin and his men tighten their grasp on Surratt, Booth is already on his way to Richmond, where he plans to lay low for a few days. Perhaps Edwin would be one step closer to finding Booth as well. Mary Simms might have more significance in the next episode. She is already conflicted about confessing Booth’s whereabouts against her slaver’s wishes, but being a black woman in 19th-century Maryland doesn’t leave her with a lot of choice. 

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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