*Warning: this contains spoilers for Bodies*
The same dead body on the same London street in four distinct eras? A gunshot wound to the head but no exit wound? Already perplexed by Stephen Graham’s latest Netflix movie Bodies?
Fear not, since the drama, which follows four investigators Hillinghead (Kyle Soller), Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd), Hasan (Amaka Oskafor), and Maplewood (Shira Haas) as they investigate the same crime in 1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053, boils down to one thing: love.
At least, that’s how series creator Paul Tomalin, who has previously written episodes of No Offence and Torchwood, defined the series’ arc ahead of the film’s premiere. And he should be aware.
Here’s Paul’s take on the eight-parter: ‘Jacob [Fortune-Lloyd], the actor who played Whiteman, said the show is very much about love, but also more than anything, it’s about the absence of love.
‘And when he said that I was like, “Christ, yeah.” And a lightbulb went off. It’s very much about what it’s like to feel unloved.’
The showrunner continued: ‘It’s very much about the isolation and burden of suffering when you’re not feeling loved and that was something that we discovered through the process of making it. It wasn’t something we went in with.
‘We went in with, “How the hell do we get to episode 8?” and we went in with, “How do we answer this conundrum in a satisfying way?’
‘But the theme that emerged via Stephen Graham’s character, and of course, his performance became really centralised on that and it’s very gratifying.’
If you’re still perplexed, here’s an explanation of what happens in Bodies. Let’s start at the beginning of the episode, with the enigmatic deceased male body.
So, first and foremost, the corpse belongs to Defoe (Tom Mothersdale), a member of the Chapel Perilous, which is attempting to put an end to Mannix’s (Stephen Graham) terrible reign in 2053.
Defoe has built a time machine in the intention of travelling back in time and putting an end to Mannix’s rule.
However, Maplewood has been brainwashed by Mannix and now works for his administration, keeping the country under his control. She has been assigned the duty of taking down Chapel Perilous.
She shoots Dafoe when he is partly in the present and half in the time machine, transporting his corpse to four separate time zones after successfully penetrating the Chapel Perilous headquarters where there is an epic fight.
Mannix also travels back in time to 1890, when he impersonates Lady Harcourt’s son, is accepted into her household, and starts a Doomsday cult.
He plots the assassination of Hillinghead, the investigator who accuses him of involvement in Defoe’s death, and marries his daughter Polly (Synnove Karlsen).
In 1941, an elder Polly (Anna Calder-Marshall) manipulates Whiteman, who is also investigating Defoe’s death, to carry out her husband’s desires.
Hasan, the officer in charge of Defoe’s death in the current day, realises that the same individual has been found in past times.
She catches a youngster named Elias (Gabriel Howell) in connection with the murder, but he still manages to build a nuclear bomb, which destroys London and prepares the way for Mannix’s rule.
If you’re still with me, let’s go back in time. Defoe isn’t the only member of Chapel Perilous; the group is commanded by an older version of Hasan who is hell-bent on bringing Mannix down.
They understand the only way to do so is to travel back in time and prevent the chain of events from occurring in the first place, thereby breaking the loop.
Maplewood, who realises her mistake immediately after shooting Defoe, turns sides and offers to travel back in time herself.
The plan succeeds, and she meets with the first detective, Hillinghead, and encourages him to face Mannix, informing him what would happen in the future.
The message reaches Mannix, and the loop gradually changes, starting with Mannix not killing Hillinghead, as he had done in prior cycles.
Because of this alteration in the chain reaction, Elias, who is revealed to be Mannix’s younger self and has been traumatised by his mother’s departure, decides not to explode the bomb.
Mannix, according to Paul, had only ever set off the cataclysmic bomb in the mistaken notion that being the nation’s leader would replace the hole of being unloved.
But was there a takeaway from the story? Paul’s reaction? No.
He continued: ‘I don’t dial in to be given ever a moral. I think what is satisfying is when the idea is baked into every page, every word, every image.
‘And so I hope that’s what happened, [a moral] certainly wasn’t a conscious attempt. I think the best writing is where you deliver a bit of your own unconscious and then everybody finds that similarity within it, I would hope.’
Bodies is available to stream on Netflix.
Source My Celebrity Life.