Streaming Media

Bodies Mini-series Review

Bodies (2023)
Mini-series – 8 episodes (2023)

Watch Bodies on Netflix
Created by: Paul Tomalin
Starring: Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Shira Haas, Amaka Okafor, Kyle Soller, Stephen Graham
Rated: TV-MA
Watch the trailer

Four detectives in four different time periods of London find themselves investigating the same murder.

I really enjoyed this show as it crafted this intricate mystery and conspiracy that spans time. The comparison of different time periods along with the forthcoming destruction that makes the situation dire served as a gripping story. That was until the last episode undid most of my good will for the show. The final episode contradicts itself and only serves to undermine the show and the logic purported. The final episode undid this series.
It depends.

The premise is a dead body found in an alley, but this body appears in that same alley in 2023, 1941, 1891 and 2052. It’s the same body, and we follow each time period as they try to solve the case with their respective technologies.

Early on 2052 was the most interesting period because it was the only one with a plot. DC Maplewood (Shira Haas) is the only detective that can advance the case. The other time periods are just filling space. You really need to get through the first two episodes to give this a chance. By episode three we can see what’s coming in advance as the dictator of the future is named Mannix (Stephen Graham), a kid suspect in 2023 is also named Mannix, and a man named Harker in 1891 looks just like the Mannix of 2052. We know all of this is related.

DS Shahara Hasan (Amaka Okafor) in 2023 is able to connect her case to the two prior cases because the evidence guy randomly remembers the 1941 case. It’s a stretch and a half. Kid Mannix’s dad seems to know something about things to come.

In 1941 DS Charles Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) is dirty and he’s being pushed to end the case. The cop in 1891, DI Alfred Hillinghead (Kyle Soller), is caught in his own entanglements with his bosses pushing him to drop the case. It’s a broad conspiracy and it seems to tie back to Harker in 1891. 

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Amaka Okafor, Kyle Soller, Shira Haas, play
Whiteman, Hasan, Hillinghead, Maplewood

Episode five breaks the plot wide open as we see how most of the pieces connect. Many of the people we’ve seen are in on this. Mannix has a dream to create a world where people are loved. His method of recruiting is vinyl records with his predictions he distributes. Curiously he waited until he was on his deathbed to record them, and he apparently remembers every detail of every event in his life back from when he was  kid. I really question how he can remember enough to do that.

One of the recurring mantras of the series is that everything the characters do only leads to the end result. Dictator Mannix has this grand plan to create the perfect society, and it’s a result of how he felt unloved as a kid. His plan is sound, but like most villains his methods are highly questionable. You do wonder how he devised this plan, but it’s from the records he recorded for himself. This series presents time as a constant. You can’t change it. If you travel back in time to change events, you only ensure they will happen. There is no way to alter the future or past, you only confirm it.

Stephen Graham plays Mannix, Harker

Episode seven shows us Mannix’s journey from the future to the past and back. I did wonder, and it’s not answered, if he disappears from 2052 who takes over his dictatorship? Did he have people in place for that?

I liked the idea that time is constant and the characters can’t alter the future. It makes expectations grim. That’s why the final episode was so disappointing. The characters attempt to alter the past to change the future. That seems like a lost cause. Except it isn’t, despite we’ve been told they can’t change it. I was so disappointed that this undoes the show’s premise. The problem is that the detectives are only able to solve the case and change the past specifically because of what Mannix has schemed. If they change the past, the very thing that propels them to fix the past doesn’t exist and thus they would never fix. If they don’t fix it, it would happen. It’s a paradox. That’s where this falls apart. This show for some inexplicable reason wants a happy ending and it shortcuts everything to get it.

The final episode bungles everything I liked about this. I would have loved for this to flip the reason Mannix had this plan. It could have set up his plan as selfishly wanting to feel loved and creating a method to have people follow him and achieve that. Because of the detectives’ interventions, it’s revealed he enacted this plan, as horrible as it is, selflessly so that others could live in a world of love he never had. I wanted something with more of a twist and a bite. I did not want something that undermines the entire series. Even worse, the last episode contradicts it’s own logic. Characters that travel to 2023 from 2052 to stop Mannix disappear when the timeline is changed, but a character that traveled to 1891 from 2052 not only doesn’t disappear, but somehow survives to 2023.That happens only because the show wants to end with a stinger, this wink and nod. Few series with such promise manage to squash it so quickly and effectively.


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