Bodies summary and ending explained

Bodies follows four detectives who investigate the same murder in different timelines. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

In 2023, while chasing a teenager, Shahara Hasan, a police detective, finds the dead body of a man who was shot in the eye in Longharvest Lane, Whitechapel. Hasan is not the only detective who finds that body. 

Alfred Hillinghead, in 1890, Charles Whiteman, in 1941, and Iris Maplewood, in 2053, also come across the same body in the same place. However, in 2053, the man is still alive, and Maplewood saves his life by taking him to the hospital in time.

London in 2053 is very different from what it used to be before 2023. A nuclear bomb killed half a million people and led to the creation of this new society. The government is known as The Executive, and Commander in Chief Elias Mannix heads it.

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Maplewood is one of the citizens who conform. She reaps the benefits of being loyal to the government. Elias Mannix tells Maplewood that the man who died was Professor Gabriel Defoe. He is believed to be part of a terrorist group called Chapel Perilous. 

Maplewood then finds out that Defoe is still alive, which makes Elias think that Defoe’s body that was found by Maplewood has come from the future. He asks Maplewood to tail him. If his assumption is right, then Defoe will die in a few days.

In 1890, Hillinghead’s investigation leads him to Sir Julian Harker, a rich and powerful man. Hillinghead works with a photographer named Henry to find evidence against Julian. However, Julian is always one step ahead of him. 

Hillinghead, who is married and has a daughter, falls in love with Henry. He walks into Julian’s trap, so Julian asks to frame his lover for the murder he is investigating. Hillinghead refuses to betray Henry, so he himself takes the fall to save Henry.

Julian then gets Hillinghead killed and marries his daughter, Polly. They go on to have children together, and Polly is so in love with him that she does whatever her husband wants her to do. 

In 1941, a much older Polly has Charles Whiteman, who is in debt, working for her. She makes him pick Defoe’s body from Longharvest Lane. A young girl, Esther, witnesses this and blackmails him, which leads to Polly asking Whiteman to kill Esther.

Whiteman cannot bring himself to murder the child, so he lies to Polly that he has killed her and makes the child stay with him. Whiteman starts caring about Esther, who is later killed by Polly. 

When Polly’s son, who is also in the police force, asks Whiteman to work for him and his parents, Whiteman finds out who is responsible for Esther’s death. He avenges her death by killing Polly and a very old Julian. He is then convicted and sentenced to death. 

In 2023, the prime suspect in Hasan’s murder investigation is a teenager named Elias Mannix. Elias is a troubled child who keeps telling Hasan that he did not commit the murder and that he is going to do something in the future that he does not want to do.

Soon, Hasan finds out about the cases from 1890 and 1941. She discovers that Elias’ adoptive parents are part of a cult that was started by Julian Harker, who is none other than Elias himself.

Elias from 2053 travelled back in time and took the place of Sir Julian Harkar, who died at war. Since he was from the future, he was able to make a lot of money in stocks and start a business called Harker & Co.

Julian left recorded messages for himself, and his cult ensured that Elias got to hear all of them. To create a better future for himself, he needed the world to suffer from an unthinkable catastrophe, which is where the 2023 nuclear attack comes into the picture.

The nuclear bomb was created and stored under Harker & Co. Bank. Elias has been told that he would be the one to detonate that bomb, but he does not want to do it. Elias’s biological father turns out to be Hasan’s superior and Julian’s descendant.

He makes Elias listen to a message from his older self. Elias is led to believe that he will be loved and be happy if he does everything that his future self has planned. Elias’s father also gives him the detonator, but Hasan manages to convince Elias not to detonate that bomb. She then takes him to meet his birth mother, Sarah. 

When Sarah rejects Elias and breaks his heart, he comes to believe that detonating that bomb is the only way he can create a happier future for himself. Hasan is unaware that Elias was also given another trigger to detonate the nuclear bomb.

By the time she finds out about it, it is already too late. Elias detonates the bomb, which kills half a million people in London, including Hasan’s son. The world changes and Elias goes on to become the Commander in Chief.

In 2053, Maplewood takes Defoe to her house when he requests her to keep him safe. She is then kidnapped by Defoe and her neighbor. They take her to meet Hasan. After losing her son, Hasan created Chapel Perilous to stop Elias from killing so many people.

Hasan tells Maplewood that Elias will use The Throat, a time-traveling machine created by Defoe, to travel back in time and live as Julian Harker. He will end up creating a time loop, which Defoe and Hasan have not been able to break.

As Maplewood is extremely loyal, she does not side with Hasan and Defoe. Instead, she alerts Elias, who storms the place with his troops. Elias gets his hands on The Throat and goes to 1889 to live as Julian Harkar. He is able to set into motion the events that led to the nuclear blast in 2023.

Bodies ending explained in detail:

Who shoots Defoe?

Once Elias travels back in time, Defoe tries to follow him to stop him and break the time loop. Maplewood, who fears change, does not want a different reality. She accepts this world, and she refuses to let Defoe change the past.

It is Maplewood who shoots Defoe in the eye when he goes after Elias. As a result, his body splits and ends up in four different time periods. Maplewood had started liking Defoe and regrets shooting him. 

Furthermore, the truth changes Maplewood. She knows that she has not done the right thing, so she saves Hasan’s life. She also finds Defoe’s notebook in the bag that he left at her house and comes to know that they can still save Defoe. 

According to Defoe’s notebook, his body should arrive at Longharvest Lane four days after he is shot. As Defoe had predicted, his body appears there four days later. With the technology developed by Maplewood’s brother, Hasan and Maplewood are able to save Defoe’s life in this timeline.

What does Maplewood change?

Maplewood joins forces with Defoe and Hasan to stop Elias. Hasan was told by Elias’ adoptive father that Elias was not without regrets. When Maplewood finds out about this, she plans to go back in time and plant doubts in his mind.

She goes to 1890 and meets Hillinghead in prison after he gets arrested. She tells him everything that has happened and that is going to happen, including the fact that Elias/Julian will marry Polly after Hillinghead’s death. 

Hillinghead is then taken to be killed by Julian, but before dying, Hillinghead surprises Julian with his knowledge of the future and his real identity. He also tells Elias that he will die alone and full of regret.

This changes Elias, who then lives his life doubting all his actions. Due to this, Polly starts suspecting him and ends up finding out that he got her father killed. Elias still has to make Polly give birth to his child. If she does not, Elias will not exist in 2053, as he is his own ancestor.

Polly does not deviate from Elias’ plan, but they live a very unhappy and loveless life. Elias realizes that he chose the wrong path and decides to record a secret message in 1941 for his future self, informing himself that he was led to believe in lies.

When Whiteman comes to kill Elias, he gives him the tape with the message on it and requests him to take it out of his house without his son’s knowledge. After telling him that Hasan needs to get this message, he makes Whiteman kill him.

Hillinghead was the first out of the four detectives to scribble his name and the sign on Defoe’s arm on the bricks of Longharvest Lane. Maplewood did the same, and now, before dying, Whiteman adds his and Hasan’s name to the wall with a clue, directing Hasan to go to a pub frequented by cops. 

Does Hasan stop Elias?

In 2053, Hasan and Defoe wait for the past to change. When they see the message left by Whiteman, Hasan uses The Throat to go to 2023. She manages to retrieve the record that Whiteman hid at the pub. 

She goes to Sarah’s house and waits for her younger self to bring Elias there. She calls and warns herself about the second trigger that Elias possesses. She then plays the secret message from 1941 for Elias.

Elias realizes that he will die an unhappy man if he detonates that nuclear bomb, so he gets rid of the second trigger, even though he knows that not detonating that bomb would change the future. Hasan finally succeeds in saving thousands of lives.

What happens when the time loop is broken?

Sarah holds Elias and cries with him. However, the future changes when the bomb is not detonated, and Elias disappears, as he does not exist in this timeline. The lives of the four detectives also change, as Defoe’s body never appears.

In 1890, Hillinghead sees Henry for the first time and smiles at him. Whiteman also meets Esther in 1941. In 2023, Hasan is sent to a far-right rally, but this time, she does not find Defoe’s body. However, Hasan takes a cab, and her cab driver is Maplewood. Surprisingly, she somehow knows Hasan’s name.

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