‘Manhunt’ Episode 3 Recap And Ending Explained: Who Was George Sanders?


John Wilkes Booth craved fame and recognition after the assassination. His photograph was on every newspaper and bounty poster, but it was not enough to satisfy his ego. His dream was to be declared the second president of the Confederacy, and it could only be his reality if he managed to make it to Richmond, Virginia. Manhunt Episode 3 titled ‘Let the Sheep Flee’, begins with Booth’s dream. Becoming the president of the Confederacy was wishful thinking, given the fact that he had barely started his political career. The thought was his respite from reality, where he was hiding away in the woods of Maryland. Booth wanted Confederate sympathizers to flock around him and hail him as the national hero, and he believed Virginia would treat him the way he deserved.

Spoiler Alert

Where was Booth heading?

John Wilkes Booth felt a little closer to his dream of becoming an important chapter in history, where he was the hero and not the villain. The native American man, Swann, stayed true to his words and guided them to Rich Hill. He did not mind helping white supremacists, as long as he was paid for his job. A Confederate spy, Sam Cox, lived there, and David begged him to help them. The man recognized Booth and invited them into his house. He walked down a hidden staircase and welcomed David and Booth to his signal room. Sam turned out to be a member of the Confederate Secret Service, and he had connections in England and Canada to help Booth escape. He was thankful to Booth for the assassination, and he offered to help him in any way he could. Booth asked for his guidance to reach Richmond, but Sam warned him that the Confederate capital was in complete ruins. He advised him to head to Montreal, but Richmond was Booth’s dream, and he refused to budge. He had a picture in his head where he would be looking straight into Jefferson Davis’ eyes and sharing tales of his victory. All of a sudden, when he found out that Richmond was destroyed by the Union and Jefferson Davis was on the run, his dream started to fall apart. David tried to convince Booth to travel to Mexico, but he refused to run away like a coward. He wanted to hold on to his pride, and he was not ready to let the risk he took go unnoticed. Running away meant losing momentum; his face would be forgotten, and he would have to spend the rest of his life in hiding, but that was not the life Booth had envisioned. Even though there was nothing left in Richmond, Booth decided it was the only place he wanted to be, and he would risk his life to be there.

David started to second-guess his decision to assist Booth. The actor was more self-absorbed than he had assumed him to be. His inability to accept reality and his failure to make a rational decision left David worried. He was not as brave or driven as the rest, but here he was, caught up in the mess. He hoped to become a hero as well by helping Booth in the assassination, but with every passing second, he wondered if Swann was right to call him Booth’s lackey. David was frightened by Booth’s lack of empathy as he shot one of their horses dead. David had no choice but to wait in the woods for the signal to Richmond, but if he had a way out, maybe he would have left.

Why was Stanton in favor of apprehending the Confederate leaders?

Edwin Stanton did not trust President Johnson to live up to the expectations of the freed people, but when Johnson showed interest in apprehending the Confederate leaders, he felt hopeful. He did not mind explaining the reconstruction plan, as long as the president intended to work on it. Stanton did not agree with Lincoln’s decision to be lenient on the Confederate leaders who were planning escape. Lincoln did not believe punishing them would result in anything constructive, and he preferred them gone rather than locked up. He thought it was best to “let the sheep flee,” but clearly, that backfired. The wolves never rested and plotted against him from afar. After the assassination, Stanton thought it would be best to uproot the network of leaders completely, and Johnson showed interest in his proposition. Together, they planned on getting hold of the prominent figures in the Confederacy.

How did the racially motivated attack trigger Stanton?

During the distribution of food rations provided by the US War Department, chaos broke out. A white woman hurled insults at the black officers at the desk. The frustrated crowd attacked the federal officers, and instead of tackling the crowd, the local police accused the officers of causing unrest. The entire incident was driven by racism, and the situation got worse when a white man pulled out his gun. The man accused one of the officers of stealing a horse, but in reality, Sadie belonged to the officer. The police concluded that a black boy could not own a fine horse, and when he refused to hand over the reins of the horse, the accuser pulled out his gun. Within seconds, the young black officer collapsed on the ground and bled to death. The entire incident unfolded in front of Stanton’s residence, and he stormed out of his room, seeing the chaos. Stanton got hold of the man’s gun, but it was all too late. Another life was lost in a racially motivated attack, and the incident helped Stanton realize how important it was to frame the laws of the country to ensure the safety of the free people.

How did Johnson betray Stanton’s trust?

Stanton was hopeful about convicting the murderer, Frank Leech, and he advised the public prosecutor, Joe, to ensure that the man was not released under any condition. He was surprised to learn that Leech had already delivered a letter written by councilmen to Johnson requesting a pardon, and as per Joe’s clerk, Johnson planned on signing it. Not only was Johnson ready to free Leech even after his involvement in a racially motivated attack, but he had also decided to grant the leaders of the Confederacy an official pardon. This was not the discussion Stanton had with the president, and at the end of Manhunt episode 3, he was furious that Johnson had lied to him. Apparently, Johnson had a change of heart all of a sudden, and he did not mind favoring white supremacists. Stanton was afraid that all the progress they made during Lincoln’s term would be nullified by Johnson. He was ready to sell the country to the highest bidder as long as the economy prospered. Stanton was fighting a lonely battle, but he refused to give up.

Where did John Surratt escape?

Like most Confederate leaders whose involvement was beyond the pardon terms, John Surratt escaped from the country. He had settled in a church in Montreal and was living the life of a priest. Investigator Baker had sent journalist Sanford Conover of The New York Tribune to Montreal to gather information from his sources about the whereabouts of John Surratt. George Sanders, an influential businessman and a member of the Confederacy, knew Conover, aka James Wallace, as a deal broker. Sanders did not hesitate to give away Surratt’s whereabouts in a riddle as long as he got a business deal out of it. Conover found Surratt in the Catholic Church and lied to him about a change of plan. He hoped for Surratt to believe that Sanders had sent him to the church to get him out of there before Stanton found him.

John Surratt was not new to the game, and he could sense that Wallace (Conover) was lying. A sudden change of plan, Sanders personally sending a man for protection, and Wallace mistaking a ship ticket for a train—all of it did not add up, and the doubt was visible on Surratt’s face. Within seconds, Surratt and Wallace broke into a fight, and by the time Stanton traveled to Montreal, he found Wallace tied to a chair. Conover and Stanton headed to the Navy outpost in the hopes of catching Surratt. Upon reaching there, Stanton learned that Surratt was responsible for sinking a ship, and the navy men were busy rescuing people. By the time they turned their attention to Surratt, he was on a Confederate ship heading for Liverpool. Stanton felt hopeless with the news of another potential lead gone. The navy officer showed him a trunk left by Surratt on the ship that belonged to Booth. Stanton believed it was a move planned to throw the investigators off Booth’s track by faking his death. It did not come as a surprise when Stanton found out that the ship Surratt left on was chartered by George Sanders.

Who was George Sanders?

Traveling to Montreal helped Stanton draw the connection between George Sanders and the Confederacy. Sanders was against Lincoln’s policies because of the losses businessmen such as himself suffered as a result of banning the slave trade. But the assassination filled him with hope. Lincoln was no longer there to ensure the rights of the free people, and Johnson was too easy to please. Johnson wanted success in his first month as president, and pleasing the men in the industry might have seemed the only way for him. He wanted the economy to boom, and keeping the businessmen happy was his key. George Sanders convinced Johnson to declare official pardon to most Confederate leaders and allow the ones who failed the criteria to leave the country without any hassle. Sanders had also bought the ‘Weekly’ to ensure he was in control of the narrative. With the president and the media on his side, he was confident that he would be unstoppable and that the likes of Stanton would not be able to cause him any harm.

While George Sanders found ways and means to protect the Confederate leaders, significant progress was made in the investigation of Lincoln’s death. The key to the coded message was found in the Confederacy’s Secretary of State’s room, and by using it, there was a possibility that Stanton and his team could prove that the Confederacy was linked with Lincoln’s assassination. That was the only way to ensure that the Confederate leaders were not allowed to walk away scot-free. Along with finding evidence, Stanton also had to be in control of the narrative and make the common people aware of what Sanders was up to. Manhunt is taking an interesting turn with the introduction of George Sanders, who represents a particular influential section of people who determine and control the political climate from afar. While men such as Sanders were ready to go to any extent to protect the criminals, Stanton continued his fight for the basic rights of the free people. 

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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