Warning: contains spoilers for the Bodies finale.
Bodies is a story that does not lack for ambition. Told over eight hour-long episodes set in four different time periods, and featuring a huge cast of characters and a complex, politics and philosophy-themed time-travel plot, it’s a major endeavour.
Adapting it for television was as much a gamble for Netflix as it was for Vertigo Comics when, in 2014, the DC imprint published Si Spencer’s eight-part graphic novel. Would it even work on screen? Was its multiple-thread story too complicated? Would audiences be willing to invest their time unravelling its many mysteries? Would it, in short, be a hit?
That’s the question showrunner Paul Tomalin says determined what happens in Bodies’ final moments. Tomalin told Cosmopolitan.com that while it was important that the series brought its characters to an end because not to solve their various mysteries would be a disservice to the audience, the decision was made to leave a question mark hanging over the very last scene.
Bodies’ Final Twist
In that scene, we see lead character DS Shahara Hasan (played by Amaka Okafor) on a new version of the first day we met her in July 2023 and taking a taxi to Spencer Street (likely named in homage to the original Bodies graphic novelist, who sadly passed away in 2021) to celebrate her dad Ishmael’s birthday.
This 2023 London time loop wasn’t about to be devastated by the 14th of July nuclear blast that killed half a million people, and this Hasan wasn’t about to lose her father and her seven-year-old son to the blast and its fallout. That fate had been averted by Maplewood using “The Throat” to travel back in time to 1890, where she’d explained everything to Victorian copper Hillinghead, and he, in turn had planted a seed of doubt in Elias Mannix about his bomb loop.
(A refresher if anybody needs one: Before Elias had him killed in 1890, Hillinghead told Elias that he would come to regret detonating the bomb and that it wouldn’t lead to the happiness he sought. That became true when Elias told his wife Polly – Hillinghead’s daughter – that he was responsible for her father’s death, and the Mannix/Harker family life subsequently became one of misery and hostility. In 1941 just before his own death at the hands of Whiteman, Elias recorded a message for his younger self/great-great-grandson telling him to sacrifice himself and not to detonate the bomb. Teenage Elias listened to him, briefly reunited with his mother Sarah, and disappeared as a result of his choice – never having been born to Barber and Sarah in this new non-bomb time loop.)
However, in the final moments of the episode, a spanner is thrown into the works. Apocalypse averted, Hasan tells the taxi driver that she likes the song playing on the radio and asks to turn up the volume. That song is “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”, one we’ve heard on the show before, in the 1941 segment, being played on the piano by Polly Hillinghead (aforementioned daughter of Alfred, the 1890 detective).
We see the driver’s hand and – it’s hard to make out, but perhaps also – see The Throat symbol of three vertical lines slashed by one horizontal line on her wrist. It would make sense for the symbol to be there, as the driver is revealed to be Iris Maplewood, apparently at the same age as we saw her in 2053, so presumably having travelled back in time once again.
Maplewood and the KYAL Tower
There’s the first question: the last time we saw Maplewood, she was stuck in police custody in 1890 without the hi-tech spinal column that allowed her to walk with her inherited medical condition. How did she get to 2023, and why had she sought out Hasan if the bomb plot had been successfully averted?
Hasan tells the driver: “Feels sometimes like this whole city’s about to boil over, just erupt, makes me worry about the future, do you know what I mean?” Maplewood agrees that yes, she knows exactly what Hasan means.
Next question: why do we then see on the horizon a London skyscraper lit up with the letters KYAL (Elias Mannix’s slogan “Know You Are Loved”), just like the building we saw in Maplewood’s post-nuclear blast 2053 future? If teenage Elias never existed in this time loop, how did the slogan popularised by his grown-up self wind up there?
Why Unravel a Closed Mystery?
It’s a door left open, according to Bodies showrunner Paul Tomalin, simply there to give the story somewhere to go in a potential second series. Should Netflix decide to renew Bodies, then that mini-cliffhanger would be the first step on that journey. As reported to Cosmopolitan.com:
“The characters were brought to an end,” says series creator Paul Tomalin. “But that being said, if it’s a ridiculous hit and people are storming Netflix [for more], we left that ellipsis just in case, with a very exciting idea that does justice to the set up and develops it further.”
So that explains its purpose – there are no answers for us to find yet, and no hints that we’ve missed. The final moments of that scene are just a little stinger intended to pave the way for more Bodies should the first series prove a hit.
Bodies is available to stream now on Netflix.