Netflix’s ‘Bodies’ starts with a murder investigation, which seems straightforward in the beginning but gets convoluted as the mystery spans more than a century. Four timelines are interconnected by the dead body, and the search for answers leads four detectives on a journey they never thought was possible. In its final episode, the show wraps up almost all loose ends. We know the identity of the victim, the murderer, the circumstances in which the murder took place, and how it all emanated from a conspiracy on a much bigger scale. It’s a satisfying end, but then, a thread comes loose when Iris Maplewood is spotted in the timeline she doesn’t belong to. What is she doing in 2023, and how is KYAL still around if Elias Mannix is gone? Here’s our theory. SPOILERS AHEAD
Iris Maplewood in 2023 Points Towards a New Timeline in Bodies Universe
In the final episode of ‘Bodies,’ Iris Maplewood from 2053 goes to 1890, where she succeeds in the plan of sowing doubt in Elias Mannix’s mind about his plan and what he considers his destiny. He is the only one who can stop himself, and she gets to him through Alfred Hillinghead. This creates a ripple which eventually leads to a 15-year-old Elias deciding not to detonate the bomb, which in turn erases him from existence, creating a new timeline.
While Elias was one of the crucial factors in the way that things turned out in 2023 London and the murder mystery that confounded four detectives across different timelines, a lot of things were left untouched by his actions. Even if there is no Elias, the four detectives and the people in their lives still exist. There are minor changes in their lives, but it’s nothing substantial, not until after 2023 when the blast was supposed to have killed half a million people in London.
Another thing that ‘Bodies’ establishes in its final episode is that things usually go the way they are supposed to. For example, in the original timeline, Iris wasn’t supposed to be in 1890, but when she goes there, she tweaks the events just enough to cause an impact more than a hundred or so years later. Her actions lead to changes in Elias’s life, and things happen differently than they were supposed to, but they still happen. He still marries Polly, they have a child, and he creates the KYAL cult; despite her hatred for Elias, Polly still pushes his plans forward and kills Esther, and Charles Whiteman kills her and Elias.
What Iris did 51 years ago yields results in the form of a new tape that Elias makes and tells Charles to give to Shahara Hasan, who doesn’t find it until after everything has gone haywire (as it was supposed to). Her choice in 2053 to go back for the tape in 2023 is what finally becomes the turning point in the course of the bigger picture. It should be noted that this turning point wouldn’t have happened if Elias hadn’t destroyed the world.
Having established these facts, it’s clear that Elias is not the real driving factor behind everything that happens in ‘Bodies.’ He is one of the players whose actions become the focus of the first season, but there is a whole wide world out there, with or without him. The main thing that matters in all this is the time machine that Gabriel Defeo creates in the 2053 timeline. He did it in the original timeline without any particular influence of Elias Mannix. This is why, even in the universe where Elias doesn’t exist, Gabriel Defeo still goes on to create the time machine. And hence, Iris Maplewood time-travels to 2023. But why 2023, and why does she seek Shahara Hasan again?
Do Elias and KYAL Exist in the New Timeline?
When Elias decides not to detonate the bomb, the series of events changes, and he disappears. At first glance, his disappearance might make the viewers think that he is erased from existence. But that might not necessarily be the case. It’s just an indication that Elias didn’t choose to go down the path that he’d previously been on. Setting off the bomb was one of the crucial events in his journey, but that was not his entire journey.
He thought it was important for him to go through with detonating the bomb to get to the point in his life where he would travel to 1890 and live a life of love and happiness with his family. But, of course, that was not the case. When Iris sows doubt in his mind, he discovers that his actions don’t necessarily guarantee his happiness. In this new version of his life, Polly hates him, and their marriage is full of grudges and resentments, as opposed to the happier version his older self had promised him. This leads Elias to realize that all the pain he caused others to get to his own happiness has only caused him more pain. He is unhappy and full of regrets, which is what he wanted to escape in the first place.
Elias disappearing in the scene where he chooses not to detonate the bomb doesn’t mean that he is completely erased from existence and never existed in the new universe. It only suggests that he didn’t have the life that led him to that choice in the first place. He could still have been born, still traveled back in time, still married Polly Hillinghead, and have kids, who had kids, who had kids, who eventually had Elias. He could still have been the leader of the new world and still created KYAL, but not under the circumstances that initially motivated him.
As discussed in the last section, any changes in the timeline are automatically adjusted by the universe to create space for those changes while also keeping things mostly as they were. So, the detectives are still detectives in the new timeline, they are still the same people they were originally. They still cross paths with the people who had impacted their lives the first time around. If this is true for Iris, Shahara, Charles, and Alfred, why couldn’t it be true for Elias as well?
With this logic, we speculate a new life story for Elias. His family tree had to have branched out the same way it did in the original universe for him to exist, but his life could still be different. In the new universe, baby Elias might not have been torn away from his mother. Perhaps he grew up with the love of his family and under the Harker name. Perhaps, when he went to the 1890 timeline, he didn’t dedicate his cult to work towards doomsday. Perhaps he gave them a new directive, a roadmap to a better world, but with different milestones than the ones they had to cross in the initial timeline.
This explains why there’s KYAL in 2023, even though Elias should be only 15 at the time. This means that the Harker family didn’t run a secret cult anymore. They are out in the open, though one cannot be sure if their motives are still any good. Perhaps they still want to destroy the world to create their own version. Perhaps they already have! This explains Iris Maplewood coming to 2023 and seeking Shahara Hasan because the latter has a part to play in the new version, where the story might unfold differently, but the key players are still the same.