Barry's Time Travel Review Score
The 2023 limited series Bodies starts well and keeps the momentum on through 6 episodes, but like many time travel movies and shows, it fumbles in the 3rd act and wraps things up clumsily, leaving many questions open. That said, the set design and editing are fantastic. This article will cover all the central aspects of the story, timelines, characters and plot holes. Here’s the plot and ending of the 2023 series Bodies explained; spoilers and rants ahead.
If you’d like to understand Elias / Julian’s bloodline leading back to him, check out – Harker Family Tree Explained (with diagram).
Hollywordle – Check out my new Hollywood Wordle game! Where To Watch? To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch. Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Hollywordle – Check out my new Hollywood Wordle game!
Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Netflix Bodies: Unclear Mechanics Of Time Travel
The mechanics of time travel was the most flawed, underexplained aspect of the show, given time travel was at its core. Here’s why.
We’re told that in around 2050, a secret study led to the invention of a machine called the Throat. This device displaces a person through time, both into the future and the past.
This is fine, but there is no consistency.
We see Elias Mannix picking a time and landing precisely in 1889. Defoe, who goes through right after, is somehow cloned 5 times and sent to 1890, 1941, 2023, and two dates in 2053. We even see a diagram in the show explaining what is expected when one enters the Throat. However, neither Elias, Iris or Sahara are cloned this way. E.g. we know Elias didn’t arrive in other years apart from 1889; otherwise, he would have utilized that to his advantage.
Also, if one is taken both to the past and future, then will Elias and Iris also land up in 2217? Would Sahara also land in 2083? Would there have been dead bodies landing up in future years of 2083, 2165 and 2217?
Bodies: Plot Explained: The Mannix Timeline
Bodies: 1889, Mannix Timeline
Who is Julian Harker?
Elias Mannix is a mysterious man from the future who arrives on Longharvest Lane. He’s admitted to a hospital and claims to be a deceased person, Julian Harker. The real Julian’s mother is stricken with grief and chooses to accept this stranger as her son. Julian builds the Harker business by providing people stock market advice. Since he’s from the future, he’s never wrong, creating an inner circle of influential and loyal followers.
Who is Alfred Hillinghead? What happens to him?
Detective Alfred finds a mysterious naked dead body in Longharvest Lane in 1890. Alfred is secretly attracted to men and falls in love with a journalist, Ashe. The two investigate the murder. A man in Ashe’s photos and a walking cane imprint leads them to Julian Harker.
Julian tricks and drugs Alfred and takes photos of Alfred with the corpse, making it look like a gay relationship. When Alfred uses a fingerprint from his spectacle to incarcerate Julian, he gets blackmailed and is asked to frame Ashe. Alfred confesses to murder to protect Ashe.
After carving his name in the alcove on Longharvest Lane, Alfred tells his wife that he cheated on her with Ashe, and the cops arrest him for murder. On his transfer, the coroner kills Alfred on Julian’s orders.
The Flaw: The show relies heavily on Alfred carving Hillinghead in the alcove. There is no reason for him to go and etch his name because he has no concept of time travel; it’s 1890.
What happens to Polly?
Julian woos and marries Polly, who is unaware that Julian killed her father. She eventually gives birth to her son, who they name Hayden Harker. After this, Julian tells her that he is a time traveller from the future and inducts her into his cult.
The Flaw: Polly doesn’t demand why Julian has the dead body her father was investigating or ask him if he was connected to her father’s death.
Securing the vault
Julian purchases a bank and identifies a vault where his descendant will place a crude atomic bomb once it is invented several decades later.
Bodies: 1941, Mannix Timeline
Who is Charles Whiteman (Jewish: Weissman)?
Charles is a detective who has been doing dirty work for a mysterious voice who calls him from time to time. This caller is Polly, who has been acting on Julian’s instructions.
One such task given by Polly is to transport a mysterious naked dead body in Longharvest Lane in 1941; this is the same dead body as the one in 1890. Another cop who doubts Charles follows and intercepts him but is killed in a blast before discovering the body in the boot.
Who is the girl, Esther?
On Longharvest Lane, Charles is seen by a homeless girl, Esther, who shows up at the police station and blackmails Charles. Polly finds out and asks Charles to terminate Esther. Unable to do so, Charles hides Esther at his home. When they get bombed, Charles and Esther run underground. Polly approaches as a harmless old woman and poisons Esther while Charles is attacked by another cop.
Charlie confesses everything to his superior, Calloway. Eavesdropping on the calls of Charlie’s assistant, they locate Polly, whom Charlie kidnaps as is about to kill. Calloway shows up with the police chief, Hayden. Hayden kills Calloway and arrests Charlie, who stabs Hayden in the neck and escapes. Charlie then kills Polly and Julian. For this, he is sentenced to death.
What are the recordings Julian was making?
Julian is from the future. He already knows that his recordings were heard by critical people, leading to the bomb’s detonation. He makes many recordings for his descendants with instructions on what they must do.
Who places the atomic bomb?
Given Polly and Julian die in 1941, we’ll have to assume that Hayden found a way to smuggle an atomic bomb and place it in the vault of the bank years later.
The Flaw: Can you imagine the Defence Department explaining how they “lost” an atomic bomb after nuking Japan and the act being declared a war crime?
Bodies: 2023, Mannix Timeline
Who is Jack Barber?
Jack Barber is a senior officer, the grandson of Hayden Harker and part of the cult. He has a fling with Sarah Mannix, who gives birth to Elias. Unable to cope after being abandoned by Jack, she takes to drugs and gives up Elias to foster care.
Bodies: Who is Elias Mannix?
Elias grows up in foster care, having visions of him killing a child. He is eventually adopted by Andrew and Elaine Morley, who are picked by the Harkers. In 2023, Elias needs to trigger a bomb that will initiate a series of events that lead right back to the bomb, a loop. Who needs Elias to do this? Well, an older Elias does.
Who is Syed?
Syed grew up in the same foster care as Elias. The Morleys convince Elias to give Syed a gun and send him down Longharvest Lane. Detective Sahara spots Syed’s gun, chases after him and finds a mysterious body in Longarvest Lane. She later arranges to meet Syed through his sister. Syed meets Sahara in a mall, where he shoots himself.
The Flaw: Given the first episode was all about Syed, why he did what he did is left utterly unclear. What was Syed being told? Why did he agree? And most importantly, if he’s committed no crime, why did he blow his brains out? It appears Syed’s character and his death were placed only as a motive for Sahara to try harder to protect Elias.
What happens to Sahara Hassan?
After Syed’s death, Sahara finds Elias from a surveillance footage showing him handing Syed a gun. Sahara brings the Morleys in for questioning. Elaine tricks them by giving a false location of Elias’ trailer, which is rigged and explodes, killing a cop.
Elias contacts Sahara at her home, and she arrests him. Not wanting to fail another kid, Saraha listens to Elias, who’s been told that Sahara will make him do something horrible. After finding Hillinghead’s name carved in the alcove, she follows his case to find out that the bodies found in 1890, 1941 and 2023 are the same with identical prints. She also discovers that Julian’s prints from 1890 match Elias’.
Sahara meets Sarah to discover that Jack Barber is Elias’ father. Jack takes Elias from custody and disappears. Sahara goes to Jack’s house to find a vault key and a record player. This is the recording made by Julian in 1941 with the instructions to find the vault. Sahara discovers the bomb. She gets a call from Jack with instructions to get to the boat where he’s holding Elias.
At the boat, Elias plays the a recording Julian made in 1941 for his younger self, stating he finds a loving family. A scuffle results in Jack getting shot. Despite hearing the recording and watching his dad die, Sahara convinces Elias to hand over the trigger.
The Flaw: At no point does Elias get enough information to know what is going on to believe the old guy’s voice is his future self, who’s travelled back in time.
When Sarah refuses to meet her son, Elias gets enraged. He opens the note Jack gave him. It’s a phone number; Elias realizes it will trigger the bomb, grabs a phone from some kid and activates the bomb.
Bodies: 2053 Mannix Timeline
The bomb causes the ruling party to be killed/overthrown. Somehow, Elias grows old to become Commander Mannix, the new leader. There is no explanation as to how Elias made this leap. Sahara forms the resistance.
Bodies: Who is Gabriel Dafoe? Who is the dead body?
Gabriel is a scientist who is secretly a resistance member. His research has led to the invention of a time machine called the Throat, which they cannot power down or destroy. Gabriel is the dead guy who appears in many time periods.
Who is Iris Maplewood?
Iris is a handicapped detective who serves Mannix because they offered her tech to make her walk. Her brother detests Mannix and chooses his freedom over his ability to walk. I believe they both lost their legs due to the 2023 blast.
Iris finds a mysterious naked body in Longharvest Lane in 2053. She is able to get him medical help and identifies him to be Gabriel. Mannix recruits her to help with the investigation. When she goes to his university, she’s surprised to find another Gabriel alive, who she arrests.
Gabriel witnesses his future self die and goes home with Iris, and later, Iris’ neighbour and Gabriel take her prisoner and take her to Sahara, who tries to explain about the time machine and how Mannix was the one who trigged the bomb in 2023.
The Flaw: Iris is clearly using Mannix’s tech. Sahara and the team do nothing to ensure she can’t be tracked.
As everyone (other than the resistance) expects, Mannix finds Iris and forces Gabriel to send him to the year 1889. He lands as the mysterious time traveller in the past and recreates history. Gabriel follows after Mannix, but Iris shoots him in the eye just before he can leave. He’s thrown to multiple times – 1890, 1941, 2023, and two dates in 2053 – 4 days before and 4 days into the future.
Why does the body have no bullet exit wound?
The Throat only transports organic matter across time. Before the bullet can exit Gabriel’s head, he’s transmitted, but the shell stays behind.
Bodies: Plot Explained: The Interim Timeline
Bodies: 1890 Interim Timeline
Iris secretly hands Sahara to her brother. Iris figures out that Gabriel will arrive in a couple of days and preps some medical gear for the head. When Gabriel arrives days later, they save him. Iris jumps back to 1890 to create a new timeline. She scratches her name into the wall.
In prison, she meets Alfred and gives him information about his murder and Julian marrying Polly. When Alfred is being transferred, he calls Julian by the name Elias and tells him he will die alone. Alfred is murdered, but now Julian is left with doubt about his plans.
While he gets married to Polly, he’s a changed man and obsesses over the future. And so Polly snoops and finds dead Gabriel in the basement and confronts Julian, who admits to killing her father. Polly is filled with hatred for Julian, causing them to have a loveless marriage.
Bodies: 1941 Interim Timeline
A regretful Julian makes an alternate recording for Elias, saying his earlier message was a lie. He hands this recording to Charlie moments before he kills him. Mysteriously, Charlie is convinced about time travel and runs with the recording. He is chased and hides in the alcove and scratches his name and a clue to where he’ll hide the record.
He goes to the pub, hides the record behind a photo and marks it with the symbol. After this, Hayden kills Charlie.
Bodies: 2023 Interim Timeline
In 2053, Sahara goes to the alcove to find Charlie’s clue and jumps back to 2023, goes to the pub and finds the record. She goes to Sarah’s place and intercepts her younger self, who arrives with Elias. She plays Elias this second recording from Julian, which convinces Elias to not trigger the bomb. Julian explains that the visions of Elias killing a child was basically he killing himself. Sarah exits to hug Elias, and he disappears.
Why did Elias and Old Sahara disappear?
Because Elias didn’t trigger the bomb, he doesn’t become Commander Mannix and doesn’t go back in time to become Julian Harker. The Harker family tree disappears, and so does Elias. There’s no bomb, either. We have an alternate future, and hence, Old Sahara also disappears.
The Flaw: Sarah looks around, confused with people disappearing around her. If Elias was never born, then Sarah was never a drug addict living alone in that house. She should have disappeared in a poof of logic as well.
Bodies: Plot Explained: The Ending Timeline
Bodies: 1890 Ending Timeline
This new timeline doesn’t have Elias or the Harker family. There are no mysterious bodies in any of the times. Alfred doesn’t get entangled in any mysterious case and is not murdered. He doesn’t start his romantic relationship with Ashe.
Bodies: 1941 Ending Timeline
Charlie is not working for the Harkers. This doesn’t mean he’s not a dirty cop, but he doesn’t get caught in a murder mystery and die.
Bodies: 2023 Ending Timeline
Sahara doesn’t investigate a mysterious body; the procession is eventless. However, on the way to her father’s birthday, she is intercepted by Iris. A pan shot shows us that KYAL (Know You Are Loved) now exists in 2023.
Bodies Ending Explained (Not): What is Iris Maplewood doing in 2023?
The ending of Bodies reveals that the new timeline changed something that resulted in Iris somehow travelling to 2023 instead of 1890. Either that or, like Gabriel, she was cloned and sent to multiple times, and she’s done something that has resulted in the creation of KYAL. The ending is so hazy it left audiences frustrated.
This is one of the most awful endings an otherwise good time travel story has had. The series initially sees a perfect Causal Loop with a bombing event leading to Elias growing old, going back in time to ensure the bombing. Then, this single consistent timeline is altered, creating a set of events that cannot happen and causing people to selectively disappear, leading to an alternate timeline. To add to the misery, Bodies has a forced open ending where we see Iris (from 2053) in 2023 with the same look as the Mannix Timeline. If everything was erased, then there is no way for Iris to be in 2023. There is no KYAL because there is no Elias/Julian, yet we see a building. There is absolutely no explanation that can give any backing to that messy ending. It felt like they didn’t know how to end it, so they threw in something erratic for the shock value.
What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of Bodies, the 2023 Netflix show? Drop your comments below.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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