Bodies is a new mystery thriller series on Netflix that provides for an intense and loopy watch based on its mind-bending idea and a good style of execution. Largely featuring elements of both crime thriller and science fiction, the series follows four police detectives in London over four different time periods investigating a peculiar death at a particular alley in the city. The strangest fact, though, is that the victim in all four cases, over four different time periods, is the same man. To add more urgency to this already mysterious premise is the threat of a bomb blast that has the capability to wipe out the entire city of London. Overall, Bodies makes for an entertaining watch with great thrills and is fueled by commendable acting performances.
Plot Summary: What is the series about?
Bodies begins in the present time in the year 2023, with a focus on Detective Sergeant Shahara Hasan who works in the London Metropolitan Police. Shahara is a single mother to her young son Jawad, whom she raises with the help of her loving and caring father, Ishmael. On this particular day, Shahara joins up with her team to provide security at a far-right extremist protest site in Whitechapel when there seems to be a surge in the electrical power, and she spots a young man hiding behind a dumpster and aiming a gun at the protestors. Shahara is quick to respond as she chases the man and soon enters a small alleyway named Longharvest Lane. However, the sight that waits for her here is all the more peculiar, as the body of a man, completely naked and bleeding from the left eye, lies in the middle of the small alley. As Shahara pulls out her gun, the young man returns the favor and manages to escape the scene.
We are taken back, around 82 years, to the war-stricken London of 1941, where police Detective Sergeant Karl Whiteman is living a life of secrets. Despite being in the police force, he works for a mysterious woman whose identity he does not know. It is only through phone calls that Whiteman is given his secret assignments, and on this particular night, he is to drive to Longharvest Lane and pick up a dead body to then drop it somewhere else. When the detective arrives at the place, he finds a naked man with a bleeding eye lying dead there and immediately gets working on his orders.
Fifty-one years earlier, in 1890, Detective Inspector Edmond Hillinghead of the London Police was roaming the streets when he heard a police whistle and reached the same place i.e. Longharvest Lane, to find the dead body of a man, completely naked and with a bleeding eye, which seemed to have mysteriously appeared at the place. Following the very same pattern, Bodies then reaches a time period in the future, in 2053, where Detective Constable Iris Maplewood is driving through a technologically advanced London city. Her electric car gives way when an electromagnetic pulse sourced at Longharvest Lane disrupts the power in the entire area. Going into the small, now-closed alley, Maplewood finds the same dead body as the previous three detectives.
Who was the victim found to be?
Both in 1890 and 2023, the dead body of the mysterious man is taken into the police morgue, where it is examined, and the investigators try to identify the individual. In the case of 1941, this does not happen immediately, as Whiteman tries to drive it to a different location but is cut short when his superior officer stops him. The officer had been suspicious that Whiteman, or Weissman, as his real name was, might be the mole who was leaking information about the police department, and so he was personally investigating him. However, a German bomb dropped on London helps out Whiteman, as the officer dies in the process, and Whiteman is given the responsibility of investigating the strange scene the next day. As part of this investigation, the detective pretends to find the body in the trunk, and thus, the body is taken to the police morgue.
In these three time periods, the dead body is actually the very same one, with the same strange and unbelievably mysterious clues. Firstly, the man had been killed by a bullet shot at his eye, and when the body is examined, no bullet exit wound is found, meaning that the bullet must still be inside the body. However, when the body is further opened up, no bullet is found, suggesting that it had somehow disappeared inside the body itself. Next, a specific marking is found on the left wrist of the body, which cannot be linked to any other symbol or group, puzzling the detectives about what it actually means.
In the 2053 time period, all these same clues are found on the dead body, but it is only at this time period that the identity of the victim is also found out. The city of London in 2053 is also very different from other times, as a horrific bomb blast in the past had changed its entire course. Immensely advanced in technology and science but accessible only to a select few, London is now run by a tech corporation named KYAL and owned by the corporate head, Commander Mannix. While DC Iris Maplewood had decided to join KYAL and be a part of the high-tech world, her brother had decided not to. It is with this brother’s help that Iris illegally finds out about the victim of the murder—Gabriel Defoe, a professor of quantum gravity theory.
The reason why Defoe’s identity could not be found in either of the other time periods is that Gabriel Defoe was actually born in 2021, and so it is the 2053 period that is truly home to the man. Gradually, over the duration of Bodies, it is revealed that, based on his research and studies, Defoe had invented a time-traveling machine named The Throat. This machine is shown to be more of a rudimentary and experimental one, since one can only travel one-way to a different time period through it, either in the past or the future, but cannot return from it. After finding out about Defoe, Iris realizes that when his body was found at Longharvest Lane, he had traveled back in time from just four days in the future. Therefore, the real action takes place four days later, when Gabriel Defoe walks into his own time machine and gets split over four different time periods—1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053. The unusual symbol on his wrist is also because of time travel, as everyone who goes through the Throat machine gets it.
What is the bomb threat looming over London?
The bomb threat is uncovered during DS Shahara Hasan’s investigation in 2023, when she finds out about the Asian man who led her to Longharvest Lane. This man, Syed Tahir, kills himself soon after that, and in connection with this, Shahara finds a lead in another young man named Elias Mannix. Elias had been brought up in a children’s home and was now living with foster parents Andrew and Elaine Morley. As Shahara’s investigation progresses, the situation gets more threatening and convoluted, for Elias admits that his foster parents were asking him to carry out an act of terrorism. According to the young man, the Morleys wanted him to trigger a bomb blast that would wipe out the entirety of London, and soon, this actually turns out to be a very real plan in the works.
In the original 2023 timeline shown in Bodies, Shahara tries her best to reach out to Elias and calm him down so that he does not set off the bomb. While the DS tries this, Andrew Morley plays an old record, which is surprisingly the voice of Elias Mannix himself, but from a much older age. The older Elias talks directly to his younger self, as if he knew this situation would come, and he tells the boy that he must trigger the bomb. Realizing by now that there is a real time-loop in the works, Shahara somehow manages to contain the situation when her colleague shoots Morley dead, and the remote for the explosion is destroyed.
However, Shahara and the police force ultimately fail when Elias’ biological mother refuses to meet him. Burdened by the grief of always being abandoned and the shame of letting his foster parents down, Elias triggers the bomb with a backup method by dialing a number. Surely, the bomb goes off, resulting in the deaths and injuries of thousands of people and changing the dynamics of London forever. Although Shahara Hasan does survive this terrible day, she loses her father and then her son Jawad because of a disease from the bomb’s effect.
What is the time-loop created by Elias Mannix?
At the crux of Bodies is a time-loop created by the main perpetrator, Elias Mannix, the very same individual who exploded the bomb in 2023. Being a loop and not a plane, there is not really a beginning point to this strange set of occurrences, and as confusing as Bodies might be in this regard, time is to be thought of as a circle with no point of origin. It is perhaps best to start in 2023, when Elias is a teenager or young adult with numerous mental and behavioral issues, mostly with regards to his troubled childhood. Born because of an accidental pregnancy, the boy did not know his father at all, and at the mere age of four, he was abandoned by his mother as well. Following this and the subsequent fostering of the Morleys, Elias triggered the bomb, changing the shape of London forever, and then grew up under the wealth and influence of his family.
In 2053, Elias Mannix then established the corporation KYAL, short for Know You Are Loved, a phrase used by the man himself throughout the time periods. He is the same Commander Mannix that presides over DC Iris Maplewood, and he gets to know that a secret organization called Chapel Perilous has been plotting to kill him. As it turns out, Chapel Perilous was actually founded by Shahara Hasan, and Gabriel Defoe is a trusted associate in the group. After the death of her son due to the bomb blast in 2023, Shahara left her job in the London police and vengefully followed the life of Elias Mannix. Now that she knows who he is, Shahara gets a time machine to be made by Defoe and intends to go back to the past to undo Mannix’s action and bring her son back to life in a way.
However, this plan goes terribly wrong when Elias Mannix arrives at the Chapel Perilous hideout and holds everyone captive. The man now carries out a plan of his own, for he intends to keep his legacy intact over every possible time period. Elias steps into the Throat and travels back in time to 1890, as the same adult man as he is in 2053. While recovering from the injuries of the fall in a hospital, he learns of a wealthy and influential family, the Harkers, the matriarch of which could not get over the loss of her son, who had apparently died in Burma during a war. Elias now entered the Harker house, claiming to be their son, Sir Julian Harker, and he further grew the wealth of the family by predicting the future for other rich and influential people of the time.
However, as Defoe immediately followed Mannix into the Throat machine in 2053 and was shot by Iris, his dead body gets transferred over different time periods, and thus, he lands in each of the four periods at the same place in Longharvest Lane. In 1890, Mannix managed to bring down DI Edmond Hillinghead’s investigation of the body using his powerful influence, and he even killed the DI, following which he married the inspector’s daughter, Polly. Elias Mannix lived as Julian Harker till 1941, when he assigned his wife Polly to get rid of the next body of Defoe that would arrive during this year. It was Polly who had assigned DS Karl Whiteman to remove the body from Longharvest Lane and take it to the Harker family mansion. When this plan failed, Polly killed the young girl Esther, who had seen Whiteman with the body but had later become very close to him. Julian and Polly’s only son, Hayden Harker, was the chief of police in 1941, and so he managed to cover up his family’s crimes, by hanging Whiteman for killing his parents.
It was also in 1941 that the dying Elias recorded the message for his younger self in 2023 to hear, as he had to make sure that the bomb blast would certainly take place. In 2023, the young Elias Mannix is found out to be the biological son of DCI Jack Barber, who is actually the grandson of Hayden Harker. Therefore, it is Elias himself who gives birth to the lineage in which he is born again in a later time period. Without the bomb blast in 2023, Elias would not grow up to be a corporate head, and Shahara would not be vengeful against him because her son would still be alive. There would be no Chapel Perilous, and so no time-traveling machine invented by Defoe. This would mean that Elias would not be able to go back in time to 1890 and start the lineage all over again, which would completely wipe him out of existence.
It is for this reason that he left his voice messages on the records for his younger self in 2023 and targeted each of the police detectives. He needed Hillinghead to die, as that enabled him to marry his daughter Polly and ensure that his lineage would have the high detective IQ required for each of them to be part of the police department. Elias had also established a cult during this time, which ensured that his plan would still be followed after his death, and the Morleys were part of this very cult. In 1941, Whiteman was needed to wipe clean the evidence of the mysterious dead body. In 2023, Shahara was needed and, therefore, brought to Longharvest Lane through Syed Tahir because she was required to know Elias Mannix well enough to grow vengeful against him later on.
How Did Shahara and Iris end the time-loop?
At the end of Bodies, Shahara and Iris finally manage to bring an end to the time-loop when they identify the weak point of their enemy. Elias Mannix had gone to this extreme extent to build his own lineage, believing that he would be much loved by everyone and that he would achieve true happiness following all this. However, when the man died in the past time period of 1941, he was actually not content at all and rather felt sad and guilty about his actions. But the time-loop was such that the devastating effects of it were already in motion, so it could not be changed.
Shahara and Iris, in 2053, found out about this very matter and decided to make use of it with the help of the Throat time machine. Iris travels back to 1890 and meets with Hillinghead, to whom she reveals how Elias is going to kill him. She also tells Hillinghead to convince Elias that he will ultimately not die happily and that all his efforts to ensure his legacy will go to waste. Although Elias does kill Hillinghead, the DI plants this idea in the man’s mind before being killed, and Elias Mannix (as Julian Harker) lives on with this very same thought. When the man is on his deathbed in 1941, he decides to undo all his mistakes and so leaves a different message for his younger self in 2023, asking him to bear through the pains of abandonment but not detonate the bomb in London. When Karl Whiteman comes to kill Elias, he hands over this record to the DS and asks him to somehow preserve it for the future.
Whiteman decides to follow the plea and hides the record inside a photograph at a pub frequented by the London police. Shahara of 2053 now travels back to 2023 to get hold of this record and hand it over to her younger self, who was dealing with the bomb threat at the time. In this way, the record finally reaches teenager Elias Mannix, who hears the message and decides not to detonate the bomb. Without this catastrophic terrorist attack, London does not change in the future, and so the entire time-loop falls apart. Elias Mannix ceases to exist in any of the time periods, and the whole problem is finally solved.
Does Iris Maplewood Arrive In 2023?
During Bodies‘s ending, Shahara suddenly finds herself in unaltered 2023, where she has no knowledge of anything that has happened. This is the very scene with which the series began, as the woman plays with her son and speaks to her father before leaving for the right-wing protest rally. There is no emergence of Syed Tahir now, and similarly, Hillinghead and Whiteman’s lives are also unaltered. In the last scene of “Bodies,” though, Shahara boards a cab after her shift has ended, and she has minor conversations with the driver.
The driver, whose eyes are only shown, is clearly Iris Maplewood, who was born in 2023 but must have been very young. Iris, or the driver, also directly mentions Shahara’s name without the DS having told her about it. This further suggests that this is not the Iris of the 2023 timeline, but rather one that has somehow traveled back to the past. As the shot pulls further, a building with the word “KYAL” is also seen in the background, suggesting that the “Know You Are Loved” organization already exists in this timeline, perhaps letting us know that this is a different time-loop altogether. Additionally, Iris is driving a cab, which means she isn’t handicapped anymore. Mannix’s bomb never went off in this new time-loop; therefore, Iris, her brother, and many others didn’t face its consequences. But then why did Iris come to the past to meet Shahara?
Why Does Iris Meet Shahara In 2023?
It can be surmised that while trying to stop Mannix, Iris and others have accidentally created another time-loop in which someone closely related to Mannix or someone completely different created the “Know You Are Loved” organization in the present. The corporation might already have or might be exploiting people in the future, because of which Defoe sent Iris to the 2023 timeline to seek Shahara’s help so that they could stop KYAL. It is quite possible that the corporation might be killing millions or trillions of people in the future, a future that didn’t involve Mannix. Iris and Shahara of the future had made some huge changes to the new time-loop; for example, the two detectives, Karl and Edmon, who were meant to die prematurely, were both alive in their respective timelines. These two people, along with several other changes, created huge ripples in the new time-loop, which is the only explanation for the early creation of KYAL. So, what does it all mean?
Ironically, Iris seeking Shahara to save the present and the future has become a new pattern in their lives, and we don’t think it will be stopping anytime soon. Even if they stop KYAL in 2023, there would be many other ripples that would be impossible to control. Hence, the only safe thing to say is that time is an endless loop, and there is no escape from it. Iris and Shahara will embark on a new mission with every new time-loop that they would create, and it might continue like this for all eternity. However, Bodies has already established the point it wanted to make, and considering it’s a limited series, we won’t be seeing other time-travel adventures of these detectives. So, the journey for us ends here, with the end of Mannix himself, because no matter what you do in the world, good and evil will exist, and KYAL is the villain in the story trying to control the lives of the people under the pretext of creating a just world where everybody gets the love they deserve.