‘Manhunt’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: What Led To Samuel Mudd’s Arrest?


“A Man of Destiny” is by far the most cohesive episode in Manhunt. The series started on a rather chaotic note, but everything eventually fell into place. Episode 5 follows the final leg of John Wilkes Booth’s journey to Richmond, which, to his surprise, was not rewarding at all. The land grants that were allocated during Lincoln’s term and were crucial to the reconstruction plan were suddenly revoked. Working for the new president was more challenging than Stanton had assumed it would be. But he was also well aware that it was only by staying within the system that he would be able to make a significant contribution and help the free people. With the Department of War finally closing in on its target, the fifth episode was exciting, nerve-wracking, and hopeful.

Spoiler Alert

Why was President Johnson against the land grants?

Lincoln’s administration had come to the conclusion that it was not enough to free the slaves; to live a respectable life and to be granted equal opportunities, the free people must have something to their name. It was then decided that some freed families would be granted 40 acres of land and a mule. This would guarantee a fresh beginning for the enslaved, and through it, they could be free in the truest sense of the term. But not everyone was happy with the decision. White men felt insecure about their position in American society, and they did not think it was fair to distribute land for free.

While Johnson believed in the Union, he was vocal about his support for the institution of slavery. He sympathized with the loss the White men had to bear for the freedom of the enslaved. The lands distributed to the free people previously belonged to British men, who were granted acres of land when America was founded. President Johnson tried to negotiate with those who opposed the land grants, fearing possible unrest if the Black population was not allowed certain basic rights. The concern from the other end was simple—they were afraid that soon Black men would become a part of White society, and the more rights they would be granted, the more they could keep on demanding. A petition was signed by those against the land grants, and Johnson realized that he would end up losing support for siding with a cause he did not feel strongly about. He wanted to win the trust of the White population, and it was only by revoking the land grants that he would prove to them that he was in complete control of every decision and Stanton was not a threat.

Edwin Stanton was furious when he was informed about Johnson’s decision to revoke land grants. He tried to reason with him, but the president refused to allow him to dictate how to run the country. It was a clash of ego and belief. Stanton realized that resigning from his position was not an option, and as long as he could, he would try to implement the plan that he and Lincoln had worked for. Johnson’s decision directly affected the life Mary had built. The 40 acres of land were her only hope for living a dignified life, and all of a sudden they were taken away. She had no choice but to return to her master, Dr. Mudd, and she begged him to take her back.

How did meeting the Confederate soldiers shatter Booth’s dream?

Booth and David were disheartened when they realized that they had traveled back to Maryland instead of making it to Richmond, Virginia, by dawn. The foggy night resulted in David messing up the directions, and they ended up where they had begun the journey. They found the bodies of Confederate soldiers lying on the bank. Booth suffered from excruciating pain and the fact that they did not make it to Richmond yet left him feeling hopeless. David proposed they dress themselves in the soldiers’ uniforms to camouflage and start their journey to Virginia all over again. Booth was frustrated, but he had no other option. While Booth catered to his broken leg, David took charge, and they were finally close to making it to Richmond. They rested at an empty house that they realized belonged to a Black family. When the father and son returned home the next morning, they were held at gunpoint and asked to take them to the ferry terminal.

Booth and David waited with the rest of the Confederate soldiers traveling to Port Royal to confirm their allegiance to the Union. One of the soldiers noticed Booth’s tattoo on his hand and tried to find out if he was the man the entire nation was searching for. Booth and David lied about being cousins and that they were at the Battle of Bull Run. The soldier caught his lies, and Booth decided to do away with the pretense and accept who he really was. He assumed the soldiers would hail him a hero, but as it turned out, they criticized him and called him a coward for shooting Lincoln from behind. They believed honor was meant to be won on the battlefield, and they refused to associate themselves with the decision Booth took. Lucky for Booth and David, they found a helpful man who suggested they rest at Garrett’s tobacco firm at Bowling Green. Booth’s health had deteriorated, and making it to a hospital in Richmond seemed almost impossible.

What led to Dr. Mudd’s arrest?

After confiscating Sander’s distribution list, Eddie noticed that Bryantown Market was one of the first stops on the secret line, and it happened to be where Dr. Samuel Mudd lived. The fact that Booth stopped in the middle of the night to treat his broken leg suggested that he knew Mudd well before the night of the assassination. Edwin Stanton and Thomas Eckert, along with their team, arrived at the doctor’s house with a search warrant to find evidence that would connect him to Booth. Mudd continued to act innocent and denied all allegations. Mary felt hopeful when she saw the men from the Department of War enter the house. When Stanton looked at her, she secretly signaled for him to search the room on the first floor. Stanton soon came across a boot with JWB stamped on it. He asked Mudd about it, but he continued to stick to his story. Stanton accused him of lying, and when the doctor refused to confess, Mary stepped in to speak against him. It took a lot of courage for her to speak against the man who repeatedly abused her and denied her basic rights. She confirmed that Mudd knew Surratt, Booth, and everyone else associated with the assassination plan. Mary had stayed silent for years now, and she felt hopeful when he was finally apprehended. Stanton appreciated the courage Mary showed and offered her and her brother to stay at a temporary settlement in Arlington.

How close was Stanton to apprehending John?

When Stanton found out from the doctor that Booth was walking with a crutch, he doubted that Booth had joined the Confederate soldiers who were on their way to Port Royal. Upon questioning the ferry captain, Stanton realized that his hunch was right. Booth had been at the ferry terminal posing as a soldier, and he had proudly confessed to the crime he committed. The captain remembered seeing Booth talk to a local named Willie Jett, who lived at the Star Hotel. Stanton and his team headed to the hotel, and Jett was interrogated. Stanton was ready to overlook the fact that Jett had helped Booth escape if he agreed to give away Booth’s current location.

Stanton and his team prepared to leave for Garrett’s farm, while Booth was treated to a sponge bath at the farm. After living through hellish days, Booth felt he was in heaven, being looked after of by an angel. Garrett’s daughter took care of him and called him a hero and a symbol. This was the first time someone he did not know appreciated his efforts. He finally felt understood, and he hoped that soon he too would be rewarded with medals. Booth had started to lose touch with reality. He refused to believe that a section of the Confederacy did not approve of his decision and that no one really cared about his contribution. All this time, the hope of being rewarded and celebrated kept him alive, but the closer he got to Richmond, the more distant his dream became. It was only a matter of time before he would be apprehended and sentenced to death. 

Finding Lincoln’s killer had become Stanton’s obsession, and now that he was finally so close to arresting the man, his health deteriorated, and he suffered from extreme weakness. Stanton needed treatment and rest, but he refused to consider any of it unless Lincoln’s assassin was punished, and maybe the thought of finally being able to bring justice was emotionally overwhelming. At the end of Manhunt episode 5, Eddie catered to his father’s health while the rest of the team went ahead to find Booth at the farm. Even with his body collapsing, Stanton instructed his team to carry on with the search. With only two episodes left, the chase seems to be finally over.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
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.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This