Bodies series premiere recap: One naked dead guy, four detectives spread across time

1941 Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman. Bodies.
1941 Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman. Bodies. /

Spoilers ahead for Bodies episode 1

The same body is discovered across four points in time always at the same location, on Longharvest Lane in White Chapel, London in Netflix’s UK thriller based on the comic book series by Si Spencer. Bodies episode 1 primarily focuses on three of the four timelines, introducing us to detectives Shahara Hasan (Amaka Okafor), Charlie Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd), and Alfred Hillinghead (Kyle Soller). There is a fourth detective, but we’ll come back to her later. Without further ado, let’s jump into recapping this gripping premiere episode!

Bodies begins with Detective Hasan in 2023 during the middle of a far-right protest. Hasan notices a young male with a Glock hiding behind a dumpster and gives chase. He leads her directly to the body, which appears to be a naked white male with a gunshot wound in one eye.

In 1941, World War II is in full swing. Detective Whiteman is a charming Jewish man dealing with discrimination at work, particularly from another detective, Inspector Farrell (Jonny Coyne). Whiteman is implied to be a spy working for a clandestine organization via secretive phone calls he receives at the precinct.

His latest order is to retrieve the body on Longharvest Lane and drop it off at a specified location.

Then we go back in time even further to 1890, where we meet Detective Hillinghead, a closeted gay man during an era when homosexuality was seen as a criminal offense. Hillinghead finds the body in a rookery where a photographer/journalist named Henry Ashe (George Parker) is caught snapping photos.

In addition to the body, the other similarity between all three moments of discovery is the lights in the vicinity burning out with a loud pop and spray of sparks within moments before the body is found. Each era also seems to be embroiled in a serious political upheaval.

Hasan is a single mom and practicing Muslim woman living at home with her father and young son. She isn’t even supposed to be on duty the day in question but her boss, Barber (Michael Jibson), calls her in last minute. Hasan doesn’t believe the kid at the crime scene, Syed Tahir (Chaneil Kular), actually had anything to do with the murder. But tensions are high and if word gets out that an Asian man killed a white man amid the far-right rally, police will be on high alert and potentially kill any guy slightly matching Syed’s description, guilty or not.

That night while attending her father’s birthday party, Barber calls Hasan away again to speak with Syed’s sister, Aaliyah Tahir (Natalie Drew). Since Aaliyah is also Muslim, he thinks Hasan has a better chance of getting through to her and therefore Syed. And yeah, he knows its lame of him to ask.

It works, though. Hasan convinces Aaliyah to reach out to Syed to convince him to trust Hasan. Syed contacts Hasan and tells her to meet in the food court at a mall. There, Hasan tries convincing Syed to give her the gun and allow her the chance to bring him in, where he can relay his story in full. Unfortunately, Syed has other plans. He alludes to some greater plan at play here and claims he had to lead Hasan to the body, that everything has already been foretold and is playing out exactly as was predicted.

Syed then fires the gun to get the armed cops who followed Hasan to the meeting (she agreed to a wire tap on her phone should Syed reach out) to shoot him dead, but Hasan saves him. Not for long. Syed tells her “know you are loved”—the same conclusive phrase heard during Whiteman’s mysterious phone calls—then shoots himself in the head while Hasan is helpless to stop him.

Later, Hasan remembers seeing two coffee cups on Syed’s table in the food court, signaling he’d met someone else beforehand. Her suspicions are confirmed via a review of the security footage. Even better, Hasan saw Syed’s companion earlier, hanging out street side in a raincoat.

Back in 1890, Hillinghead visits the photographer to see what he managed to capture. From his photos, we learn Henry Ashe is also gay and takes boudoir-style shots for other gay couples and himself. The sexual tension between Ashe and Hillinghead is thick and Ashe even tries kissing him, prompting Hillinghead to put him under arrest. But not before noticing a photo showing a man in a window near where the body was found.

Ashe’s alibi is a tricky beast since revealing what he was doing could get him and others in trouble. After being booked, he reveals one of the men he was photographed with is the assistant police commissioner’s married son. Oop. I doubt that’s getting out, meaning Ashe is probably in the clear and Hillinghead’s next best lead is the guy in the photo.

Well, Hillinghead also learns something disturbing while the coroner, Ladbroke (Andrew Whipp), performs the autopsy. There is no bullet. The 2023 and 1941 coroners find the same thing. Despite an entrance wound in the body’s eye, there is no bullet in his brain, yet also no exit wound. How is that possible?

Ladbroke also freaks out when he sees Ashe’s photo of the guy in the window. He immediately recognizes the man and warns Hillinghead to burn the picture and bury it or he’s dead already.

Whiteman doesn’t fare much better than his past or present counterparts. His job dumping the body is interrupted by a meddlesome Farrell, a nasty antisemitic piece of work who has clearly been waiting for a chance to get Whiteman thrown out. He follows Whiteman that night and pulls him over. But before he can open the boot of Whiteman’s car, the problem is handled by a German airstrike. Killing Farrell instantly.

The following day, Whiteman is assigned to the investigation into Farrell’s death. The cops know he had pulled over the car in the wreckage, but not why. Whiteman retrieves his lighter from the vehicle and then opens the boot, feigning surprise when they find the body inside.

Now it’s a full-fledged murder investigation with a cop’s death tangled up in it. The people Whiteman was supposed to deliver the body to are not happy with his mishap. They demand he burn all the police reports, which is obviously a near-impossible task. But if Whiteman doesn’t follow their instructions he’ll suffer the consequences, which sounds suitably ominous.

Bodies episode 1 ends by introducing us to the fourth detective and timeline, Detective Iris Maplewood (Shira Haas), 30 years into the future. Just like the others, Maplewood finds the body on Longharvest Lane. But there is one big difference. In 2053, the “body” is still alive!

Next. Bodies episode 2 recap: Who is Elias Mannix?. dark