Eric: Who Killed Marlon Rochelle? What Did No. 8 Mean?


Eric is a very weird show, and not because Benedict Cumberbatch argues with an imaginary yeti-like animal. It’s weird because the Netflix limited series didn’t need to have the plot centered around Vincent and Edgar at all. The subplot around the investigation being conducted by Michael  Ledroit, played brilliantly by McKinley Belcher III, was insightful and relevant enough to be the central plot of the limited series. I don’t know what happened, but the writers’ attempts at linking the search for Edgar and Marlon Rochelle didn’t really work for me. Since they’ve spent enough time on Vincent’s journey, I’m not really interested in giving him and his plot any more attention. Instead, I simply want to focus on Marlon’s murder case and what Ledroit unraveled about the system by sticking to his guns and ensuring Cecile got justice.

Spoiler Alert

Who killed Marlon?

Ledroit was the head investigator in the Marlon disappearance case. His findings led to the shutdown of the Sierra nightclub, which was the place from which Marlon allegedly dealt drugs, and the NYPD called it a day. But Marlon was nowhere to be found. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and Marlon’s mother, Cecile, kept turning up at the NYPD headquarters, looking for answers. This began taking a toll on Ledroit, especially after he was ordered to look into Edgar’s disappearance. Ledroit felt that he was abandoning a Black kid and redirecting the institution’s resources into finding a White kid. So, even though his boss, Cripp, told him to put a lid on the Marlon case, Ledroit kept digging. He had some vague hints regarding the number 8 jersey that Marlon wore and his employment at The Lux nightclub. 

Left with no other option at that point in Eric, he pressured his old friend and the owner of The Lux, Gator, to look through the CCTV footage of the night that Marlon disappeared. Now, Gator was under the impression that he was running a clean joint and no illegal activities were happening at The Lux. So, he was surprised to see one of his assistants, TJ, bringing Marlon to the nightclub, and he was infuriated when he couldn’t find the footage from June 12. Sensing that something was wrong, Gator beat the hell out of TJ until he produced the tape that Ledroit needed. Through that footage, it was revealed that Marlon was soliciting on TJ’s behalf, and his client was the deputy mayor, Costello. Apparently, officers Kennedy and Nokes caught them in the act, and then Nokes’ homophobia kicked in, and he kept going at Marlon until he died. And that was when the great cover-up began.

How did Bruno protect Costello?

Costello had the upcoming elections looming over his head, and he couldn’t risk the news of him being gay and being at the scene of a crime getting public. That’s where his brother-in-law and the head of Hudson Sanitation, Bruno, came in. He used his immigrant workers to take Marlon’s body and dump him in the vast garbage yard. Cripp knew about what Nokes and Kennedy had done. So, he kept Ledroit from looking into them. Ledroit grew suspicious when Kennedy was mysteriously killed. Nokes’ wife said that there was a dent in Nokes’ new car, thereby insinuating that Nokes had killed Kennedy because he was about to expose his involvement in Marlon’s murder. When Ledroit brought that up, Cripp told him to back off and focus on finding Edgar. 

Furthermore, when Ledroit played the tape that he had acquired from Gator, Cripp tried to shut him down without even thinking that his bias towards Nokes and Kennedy was out in the open. Ledroit didn’t listen to Cripp and called in Nokes, Costello, Misha, and Lakatos. Nokes and Lakatos pleaded the Fifth (the right to protect oneself against self-incrimination) and refused to admit anything in front of Ledroit. Misha took Bruno’s name, and Costello straight-up admitted that he was responsible for Marlon’s death because he didn’t do anything to ensure that his killer was imprisoned. Unfortunately, Marlon’s body wasn’t found because the dumping ground on the outskirts of New York City was too huge to parse through. That said, during the concluding moments of Eric, Cecile finally got some form of closure, and she simply asked the public and the institutions that are funded with the taxpayers’ money to “do better.”

What Does the Investigation into Marlon’s Death Expose?

The most obvious theme in Ledroit’s plot in Eric is that of racism. When someone hails from a minority community, which in this case is African-American, the crimes committed against them are usually swept under the rug. If the same thing happens to someone from the majority community, which in this case are the White Americans, and the perpetrator is probably a homeless Black person, then it gains top priority and is covered by the national media. I just think that the miniseries commits the same mistake that it’s trying to critique. The title of the show and the primary plot are dedicated to the White characters, while the Black characters get a share of the spotlight, even though it’s far more compelling than anything that’s happening in the main plot. The White protagonists get a happy ending, while the Black protagonists get a bitter one. I understand that that’s what real life is like, but this is a fictional story, and Benedict Cumberbatch is fighting an imaginary guy in a furry monster costume. So, I’m sure that the Black characters could’ve gotten a hopeful conclusion to their stories. 

In addition to that, Marlon’s death exposes the deep rot in the justice system. There’s homophobia, racism, and a tendency amongst criminal White men to protect other criminal White men. It doesn’t matter whether they are an officer of the NYPD, a mayor, or the head of the sanitation department; they’ll have each other’s backs without thinking about what’s going to happen if someone finds out about their transgressions. Finally, Ledroit’s investigation into Marlon’s case uncovers the true face of a city as illustrious as New York. Beyond the glitz and the glam, there’s something ugly that’s festering at its core, and no one wants to address it or solve it. The public servants are hand-in-glove with the capitalists and they are busy acquiring every inch of free space. Unemployment is on the rise. Homelessness is rampant. Naturally, people are turning to illegal activities to make a living or ease the pain of existence. And this is destroying the lives of the common folk while the uber-rich continue to party and move on. Eric is set in the ‘80s. We are watching the limited series in the 2020s. Has anything changed? Feel free to let us know.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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