Netflix’s ‘Bodies’ takes the audience thirty years into the future, when the world has been rebuilt after a tragedy that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. In the 2053 timeline, London is under the rule of the Executive, and it’s called KYAL, “Know You Are Loved.” The phrase is used by its residents as a way to express their loyalty to the Executive, but as the story unfolds over several timelines, it turns out that the phrase has other meanings, too. It appears in all four timelines, creating a connecting thread between the stories. What is the meaning of this phrase, and why were these words chosen to represent the futuristic society? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Significance of the Phrase “Know You Are Loved”
To understand the importance of “know you are loved,” we must look into the origins of the person who may or may not have coined this phrase. While four detectives and their investigation into the origins of a mysterious dead body drive the plot, the core of the story is a man named Elias Mannix. Born in 2008, Elias had a rough childhood. When his mother got pregnant with him, his father’s family refused to acknowledge their part in it, claiming that his mother was trying to extort them for money.
Elias would have stayed with his mother, but he was taken away by social services when she fell into bad habits and couldn’t take care of him. He felt abandoned by her because she didn’t try to stop them from taking him away and never tried to get him back from the homes he had to live in over the years. Eventually, he was adopted by the Morleys, but even then, he didn’t get the love he’d wanted all this time.
His mother didn’t know, but Elias’ father belonged to a cult created by Julian Harker, and the Morleys were a part of it, too. It was their job to keep Elias safe while also educating him about his destiny and the things that he was supposed to do in the future. The boy was told that he was supposed to change the world, become its leader, and usher in a new society where things were better than they are today. It was a lot of pressure for a teenager to handle, especially when he was told that he would have to blow up London before embarking on the path of his destiny.
Even though everything had already happened, even though it was known that the bomb would go off, there was still some uncertainty because Elias was in a conflicted state of mind. The cult knew that he would be convinced of it eventually, but they needed to have things happen in the correct order with the right people involved to push the boy in the right direction. Meanwhile, all Elias wanted was a normal life where he would be loved, not blindly followed, looked up to, or expected to be someone great.
Eventually, when Elias lays the foundation of the new society under his leadership, he calls it KYAL, “know you are loved.” It is his way of telling the people that they are cared for under his regime, but also, in a way, a reassurance to himself that in his role as the leader of this new society, he is loved too. It becomes a go-to phrase for people and a trademark of the new London, which is under an authoritarian regime. Once Elias travels back in time, the phrase takes a new meaning.
Even though Elias has changed the world and seemingly created a utopia where the subjects are cared for by the state, he still lacks the one thing he’d always wanted: a family. When he was young, he heard recordings from his older self, telling him about the woman he’d marry, the children he’d have, and the happy life he’d live with them. This was the promise Elias looked forward to, and everything that he did was to get to the point where he could travel back in time and start his family. Until then, he keeps reassuring himself that things will turn out as they are supposed to, and he must have faith that he will have the love of his family.
In 1890, Elias finally gets the life he wanted. He has a woman who treats him as her son, even though her real son died in the war. He marries Polly, who loves him with her whole heart. They have a son, and they spend their lives together, happy in each other’s presence. Once Elias gets it, he knows he must make sure all the right steps are followed so that his younger self retraces his steps and comes back to this life. To ensure this, he starts his cult and calls it KYAL, repeating the phrase, “know you are loved.” As the cult turns dark, manipulating and killing people, the phrase takes a negative connotation. But for Elias, it remains the only thing he can hold onto when everything seems bleak and loveless.