Bodies episode 3 begins with DI Alfred Hillinghead (Kyle Soller) attending church with his family before leaving early to start his investigation into the Longharvest Lane murder circa 1890 with journalist Henry Ashe (George Parker).
Based on the clues they find in the alcove near the murder, Hillinghead and Ashe deduce that the suspect uses a swan-neck cane, customary for medical ailments which correlates with their theory that he has a limp in the left leg as he carries the cane with his right. Hillinghead notices a hexagonal imprint in the dirt, suggesting vanity, style, and most of all, money. It’s likely a cane tailor-made to order and there’s only one high society canemaker in this part of London.
At the canemaker’s, Hillinghead deduces that the owner might be a Freemason, so he uses the secret handshake to win his favor and the man gives them the address of the cane owner, which leads them to Sir Julian Harker (Stephen Graham), one of the wealthiest men in the city—and he looks exactly like Elias Mannix.
In 2023, DS Shahara Hasan (Amaka Okafor) is concerned about Elaine Morley’s threat toward her son Jawad (Oscar Coleman). Her superior, DCI Barber (Michael Jibson), assures her that they’ve got all the cops in the city looking for Elias Mannix in the aftermath of the explosion that killed one of their colleagues and they provide Hasan with a personal security detail.
Hasan doesn’t have to wait long to come face-to-face with teenage Mannix (Gabriel Howell). He breaks into Hasan’s house that night and pleads with her to listen to him. He says he didn’t kill anyone, but “they’re” going to make him say he did.
Pivoting to 2053, DC Iris Maplewood (Shira Haas) takes the very alive Professor Gabriel Defoe (Tom Mothersdale) to meet the dying Gabriel Defoe. Defoe is understandably confused and disturbed by seeing a version of himself, or at least someone who looks like him, on the surgical table. The only real difference between them is that the body has a tattoo he doesn’t. Within seconds of his arrival, the Defoe in surgery flatlines and dies. That can’t be a coincidence, can it?
In 1941, things aren’t going great for DS Karl Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) as he’s getting extorted by an 11-year-old. The little girl who saw him on the lane, Esther (Chloe Raphael), is demanding he pay her ten pounds or she’ll tell his boss that she saw him on the lane with the body. Of course, that organization Whiteman works for doesn’t think paying her off is enough. He needs to silence her. Permanently.
Ashe informs Hillinghead that Julian Harker is a decorated war hero who returned home to live with his mother, Lady Agatha Harker (Anna Calder-Marshall). But the strange thing is, he apparently looks nothing like Agatha’s son. However, the woman was so pleased to have her “son” back she had all the portraits repainted to look like him and together they’ve made a killing at the stock markets as Agatha hosts séances that make eerily accurate predictions.
In reality, it seems like “Julian” is really Elias Mannix, who must be some kind of time traveler. Hillinghead and Ashe deliberate how to continue their investigation into a man as powerful as Harker when the answer arrives at their door in the form of a personal invitation to that evening’s séance. If Hillinghead can get an item that Harker has touched and it matches the fingerprints lifted from the gaslight, it won’t matter how powerful he is. They can reopen the investigation with him as a prime suspect.
And speaking of suspects, in 2023, Elias’ attorney says his client plans to confess to the murder on Longharvest Lane and to planting the firebomb that killed an officer. Hasan is surprised by this sudden change in opinion. Elias claims he had lied to her at her house. Then Hasan asks Elias some questions and he can’t seem to confirm a single detail or motive, making the whole thing suspicious. But Barber doesn’t want to complicate things. They just need to confirm his prints and close the case. The end.
It looks like Whiteman is the man his organization thinks he is, as he does take Esther out into the woods, chloroforms her, throws her in a hole, and shoots her dead. A man follows behind Whiteman in a car. Will he have to dispose of yet another witness?
Young Elias ditches his solicitor on advice from Hasan so he can speak with her one-on-one. He says Hasan is kinder than “they” said. He says he didn’t take those surveillance photos, the Morleys did. Hasan tries to press him into talking, that’s all he has to do. “What are you so afraid of?”
During the séance, Hillinghead tries to get a read on Julian Harker, but he leaves before the actual ceremony begins. Hillinghead uses his time alone with Agatha Harker to ask his questions, such as who the Spirit is. It gives the name “Defoe” and starts spelling out the name of the person who killed him—”MA-” before the board is swept away.
At the same time the séance is occurring in 1890, Maplewood questions the living Gabriel Defoe in 2053. How can he and his doppelgänger have the same DNA? Defoe doesn’t have the answers.
Unfortunately for Hillinghead, the entire night takes a dark turn as he realizes that the sherry Julian Harker gave him as a token of hospitality upon his arrival, was drugged. Julian and his men take Hillinghead’s body and stage it in a compromising position with the dead Defoe. Even Ladbroke (Andrew Whip) is there, whispering that he had tried to warn Hillinghead and he should have stayed away. Apparently, Mannix’s rise is predicated on Hillinghead’s downfall. It’s all part of some grand plan.
Well, things get even weirder in 2023 as Hasan takes charge of the interview and directs Elias to follow her under the table so they can avoid the cameras. There, Elias reveals that the Morleys have known everything all along. They said the body had come before and will come again, because of him.
Neither he nor Syed killed the man on Longharvest Lane, but everything that has happened has been predestined. In just a few days, a bomb unlike anything anyone has ever seen before will go off, killing hundreds of thousands of people and the most chilling part of all is that Elias says Hasan is the one who makes him do it.
Before they can get any further, Barber returns and clears out the room before taking Hasan to his office. They’re preparing to charge Elias. Andrew Morley has been let go. Hasan is pissed that he’s not listening to the possibility of another bomb coming. Barber benches her from the case.
And in 1941… Whiteman did not actually kill Esther. He smuggles her to his home in Whitechapel and tells the organization that he did murder her and that he’s done working for them. He also provides Esther with all the money that he agreed to and fills her in on what happened. That he was told to kill her and had to make it look like he did because they’d been followed. They enter a begrudging alliance for now.
Hillinghead wakes up thoroughly confused the next day. He makes it back to Ashe’s house and Ashe takes care of him while he recovers from the drugging. Neither of them know what’s happened, but Hillinghead didn’t manage to get Harker’s prints. In a very sweet moment, Hillinghead asks Ashe to hold him while he sleeps and when they wake up, they finally act on that sexual tension that’s been brewing between them.
Maplewood reports to the Commander, the adult Elias Mannix himself, to inform him that Professor Defoe was deeply rattled by watching his doppelgänger die in front of him, but otherwise doesn’t appear to know anything about what’s happening. Mannix tells her that Defoe is not a doppelgänger and the body that died is just him from the future, two days from now. The reason all of this is so important is because the terrorist group Chapel Perilous has apparently created some kind of device that allows them to manipulate time.
What if they used it to destroy everything Mannix and his company have built in their new world? It sounds like Chapel Perilous are the ones behind sending the body back through time. But there’s still plenty we don’t know yet and it’s hard to imagine Mannix is acting altruistically. For now, Maplewood just needs to stay on Defoe and continue following him.
The final scene of Bodies episode 3 is quite strange, so bare with me a moment. Hillinghead leaves Ashe’s flat to go back to Longharvest Lane, into the small alcove that he and Ashe previously investigated earlier in the episode.
There, he carves his name and three tallies with a cross through it into the brick wall—the same thing Defoe has tattooed on his wrist (though the alive Defoe does not, at least, not yet). In 2023, Hasan goes to the exact same location in Whitechapel and uncovers Hillinghead’s etchings in the wall.