Bodies ending explained: Did the detectives save London?

Bodies. Amaka Okafor as DS Hasan in Bodies. Cr. Matt Towers/Netflix © 2023.
Bodies. Amaka Okafor as DS Hasan in Bodies. Cr. Matt Towers/Netflix © 2023. /

Netflix’s Bodies was a bizarre mix of police drama and time travel. Just how did it end, and what does it mean? Here’s an explanation!

Caution: This article contains SPOILERS for the first season of Bodies.

Bodies is a complex tale, so strap in, this is going to be tricky. In four different time periods, four London detectives find the same naked male corpse shot through the head on Longharvest Lane.

1890: Detective Inspector Alfred Hillinghead, a by-the-book cop, hides how he’s homosexual (which is literally a crime at this time) despite having a wife and daughter.

1941: Charles Whiteman (alias Karl Weismann), a semi-corrupt Jewish cop answering to a mysterious woman during World War II.

2023: Shahara Hasan, a dedicated detective tracking what seems to be a terrorist conspiracy.

2053: In a future dominated by technology, detective Iris Maplewood finds the body, which is still alive and identified as scientist Gabriel Defoe. When she goes to where he teaches, she’s shocked to find a very much alive and well Defoe walking in with him jarred on this doppelganger.

This 2053 is still reeling from a massive terrorist bombing in 2023 that killed half a million people and gave rise to a new authority called the Executive, led by Elias Mannix. They promote the message of “know you are loved” with “KYAL” plastered all over London. While supplying the world with amazing technology (including a brace allowing Iris to walk), they also impose total control.

Iris discovers Defoe is part of an insurgent group led by an aged Hasan, who lost her son in the 2023 bombing. They tell her that, amazingly, it was Mannix behind it all, using a time travel device called “the Throat” to achieve his ultimate goal.

What was Mannix’s plan?

In a wild turn on the classic “time loop” motif, everything happening across the series has been one long game. Using the Throat in 2053, Mannix traveled back in time to 1889 and assumed the identity of the dead Sir Julian Harker. While Harker’s mom saw through it fast, his knowledge of the future and how it could make them rich convinced her to go along with his ruse.

Mannix married Hillinghead’s daughter, Polly, while establishing a cult using the line “know you are loved.” They had a son, Hayden, who eventually became Whiteman’s boss in 1941 and the adult Polly was the one ordering Whiteman about. Whiteman ended up killing both her and the aged Harker/Mannix, letting himself be arrested and hanged for it.

Hayden had a son, Danny, who changed his last name to Barber and eventually became Hasan’s boss in 2023. He deliberately got a drug addict pregnant to give birth to, yes, Elias Mannix. Raised in a horrible foster system, Elias felt lost and unloved. Thanks to records left behind by his older self, Elias knew of a massive bomb placed in a London bank in 1941. When his mother rejected him, Elias set the bomb off and the Harker cult used the chaos to gain control and impose their twisted viewpoint of “love” upon the world.

Who shot Defoe in Bodies?

Iris didn’t believe this crazy story at first until Mannix and his agents attacked the rebel base, shooting Hasan. Mannix then confessed to Iris he was behind the 2023 bombing and went back in time to 1889 to start this whole loop over again.

Defoe failed to stop him as this whole plan had been to try and break the time loop. Iris tried to stop him and ended up shooting Defoe, who fell into the machine, which split him across the time periods.

Iris realized she was Defoe’s murderer, and the entire time travel story was for real. So, she decided to complete the mission to go back and stop this loop herself. Using Defoe’s notes, she caught his body when it reappeared in 2053 to enact a plan.

Does Iris change history?

Iris landed naked in 1890, including without the brace allowing her to walk. However, she ended up in the cell next to Hillinghead, who had confessed to killing Defoe to protect his lover, Ashe. In the original loop, Mannix/Harker killed Hillinghead so he could marry Polly. However, Iris was able to convince Hillinghead of what was happening.

Armed with her words, Hillinghead changed the meeting with Mannix to reveal he knew the man’s identity and that Mannix would die alone and filled with regret. Mannix ordered Hilinghead killed, but his words weighed on the marriage to Polly, which was less happy than before.

Eventually, Mannix confessed to Polly he had her father killed, forever driving a wedge between them. She still had his child and aided his plans but no longer believed in Mannix as a good man. By 1941, she openly hated her husband, with Mannix deciding to make a secret record for his younger self. When Whiteman came to kill him, Mannix gave him the record to keep for Hasan. Whiteman hid it in a bar near where Defoe’s body was found before being gunned down by Hayden and the police.

Hasan suddenly remembered a new history reading about Whiteman’s death, although the pub had been destroyed in the 2023 explosion. So she used the Throat to go back to the day of the bombing and found the record hidden in a  portrait.

How does Bodies end?

The past version of Hasan was driving the young Elias to his mother when the older Hasan showed up. She contacted her younger self to play the elder Mannix’s record, expressing regret over his actions and telling his younger self not to do this and he truly was loved.

Moved by the words, Elias tore up the phone number that would set off the bomb, thus breaking the loop (including his own birth) once and for all. Hasan and her future self embraced before Elias and the future Hasan winked out of existence as their entire timeline was erased.

After happily seeing her son alive, Hasan went back to her job. Meanwhile, it was shown that without Mannix/Harker around, the timeline had been shifted. Whiteman was an honest cop in 1941, meeting a young girl he failed to save before. Back in 1890, Hillinghead was also still alive, having a more pleasant encounter with Ashe before going home to his family.

Finishing her shift, Hasan entered a taxi driven by none other than Iris, who appeared to be from the future. As the cab drove on, a building in the London cityscape suddenly flashed with the “KYAL” logo.

So, while it looks like the detectives have saved their past and present, there still seems to be a threat from the future and, thus the possibility the saga of Bodies isn’t through yet.

What happened to Maddie on Bosch: Legacy?. dark. Next

Bodies is now streaming on Netflix.