The dead body of the same person pops up in four different years—1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053—in Netflix’s latest mind-bending mystery thriller series Bodies. The mystery is a genuinely fascinating one, and so is the experience of binge-watching the series. And since we can’t stop gushing over it, we believe it’s a good idea to delve deep into the character of Gabriel Defoe, aka the person whose body (not sure whether to use singular or plural) turns up in different eras and works as the one common thread between all four detectives who would not stop until they got to the bottom of it. Despite the multi-layered story, which marches forward at a brisk pace, the narrative of Bodies is quite accessible once you get the hang of it. I thought the science in the series was rather simple and had a clarity to it. Before getting into that, let us take a look at the man behind all the science in Bodies.
Who Is Gabriel Defoe?
Gabriel Defoe was born in the year 2022, which was a year prior to the blast. We are talking about the original timeline here, where most of the events of Bodies take place, until Iris Maplewood makes an attempt at changing things for good. But Defoe, in my opinion, should remain a constant in every timeline. He is not directly related to Elias Mannix, aka Julian Harker, so the existence of Mannix/Harker has nothing to do with Defoe being born in 2022 and growing up to be a scientist.
In the original timeline, Defoe joins Chapel Perilous, the organization formed by Shahara Hasan with the sole purpose of taking down Edward Mannix. Now, here is the important thing: Detective Hasan already knew that Mannix would go back in time and travel back to 1890 at some point. So for Hasan, the only way to stop Mannix was to go back in time along with him. If we consider everything predetermined in this case, then we can make the assumption that Defoe eventually comes across Hasan and joins hands with her. That also shouldn’t take much effort, considering Hasan is already familiar with Defoe’s face due to the fact that coming across Defoe’s body is how she got involved in the matter in the first place.
In 2053, Defoe is seen working as a professor and researcher at Greenwich Park University, where he teaches the theory of quantum gravity. Mannix has taken over the world, leaving no stone unturned to let everyone know that they are loved. Even though he died in all three different years, i.e., 1890, 1941, and 2023, detective Iris Maplewood managed to save him in this one. In what I consider the most bizarre scene of the entire show, Iris brings in Defoe (the version who hasn’t died yet) to see his own self (the one who is at the hospital). Defoe tells her that he has no idea what is going on at that point, although we can now conclude that he was lying after all. The moment he sees himself lying in the hospital bed (and then eventually dying), Defoe knows for a fact that when he will eventually time travel, this will become his fate. The only way he has a chance of saving himself is by preventing Mannix from doing what he is destined to do, for which he needs Iris on their side.
I thought Iris and Defoe had a pretty great chemistry, and in spite of the complicated situation, it seemed like Defoe was genuinely into her. However, the date was cut short by Iris’s neighbor Lorna, who just happens to be another CP employee (thus justifying the existence of the character in the narrative).
What Is The Throat?
The throat is what they call the time machine in Bodies. We first see this unmissably gigantic red thing in 2053, when Defoe tries to describe what it does to Iris. It happens to be a device which makes his time travel theory a practical thing. And what is that theory? A person can actually travel through time, but once inside the Throat, the impact would be so fierce that the same person would be split into multiple versions and end up in different years. But here’s the catch: if a person travels back “X” years into the past, then another version of him would travel forward “X” years in the future. Not to mention that both the past and future versions would end up in the same location.
When Defoe and Hasan fail to convince Iris to take their side, the inevitable happens. Mannix appears, uses The Throat, and starts the same time loop again. Defoe tries to follow him into the Throat, but thanks to Iris firing her gun in order to stop Defoe, the bullet pierces Defoe’s left eye before returning back to Iris. Defoe does travel back to the past in four different years, but due to the bullet wound and no immediate assistance, he dies in each one. Well, he doesn’t die instantly in 2053, but he fails to survive eventually.
But when Iris realizes she is playing for the wrong side, she figures out one very important thing: along with traveling back to the past, Defoe would also go into the future. And the nearest future is going to appear in about four days, in 2053. Why? Because Defoe traveled back four days prior to his death, So this time, Iris gets ready beforehand and saves Defoe from collapsing right after he appears, this time in the future. This, however, doesn’t stop Mannix. For that to happen, traveling back to the past becomes a must.
What Happens At The End?
It all works out this time around. Iris travels back in time and arrives in 1890 where she somehow manages to meet detective Hillinghead. Even though she finds it not so easy to make Hillinghead buy her account of the events, the idealistic cop does take Iris seriously. He dies as he was supposed to but also manages to guilt-trip Mannix/Harker. In 1941, a dying, full-of-regret Harker records a much different message for his 2023 self, and thanks to detective Whiteman, the record ends up in the Whitechapel bar. The only problem was that the bar was also destroyed by the 2023 bomb. So Hasan from 2053 uses The Throat this time, travels back to 2023, takes the help of her 2023 version (the original timeline one), and manages to change Mannix’s mind. The never-ending loop is stopped, and there’s no Mannix or Harker to be taken care of.
But a series like Bodies couldn’t just end without throwing us a curveball, right? So we see Hasan taking a taxi and randomly talking about a feeling she often gets (hinting at her original timeloop version, if you know what I mean) to the taxi driver. And the taxi driver happens to be none other than Iris Maplewood, and her legs are fine in this refixed timeline. As the taxi goes by, we see a glimpse of a tall building with a clear “KYAL” sign on it. And that’s all we get.
Let us get into this. First of all, Iris can’t be crippled if the bomb never goes off. And like Defoe, her existence is not dependent on Mannix. But in 2023, Iris should be nothing more than an infant. So the one who is driving must have come from the future, by using the Throat, which is also a constant in every timeline, as Defoe would make it anyway. However, we don’t know what Iris is up to in this reformed 2023. Now, the KYAL sign on the building. Considering there’s no more Mannix, the cult can’t exist. So that might just be a whole other random thing. At least, there can’t be any plausible theory behind that.
What Happens To Defoe In The End?
We know for a fact that all four versions of Defoe that travel to the past in the original timeline end up dead, thanks to Iris’ bullet. But according to the science the series is based upon, Defoe would travel to 2053 (that’s the one we get to see), 2083, 2165, and 2216 (yes, I did the simple math). Now, we can assume that all three future versions of Defoe die as well. The 2053 future Defoe only survives because Iris was already there to save the man. However, with the time loop being contained and the original timeline being refixed, the 2053 version of Defoe wouldn’t exist anymore, just like how the 2053 Hasan disappears right in front of her own 2023 version. Defoe will still live and go on to become a scientist, and one day he will build The Throat. Only this time around, he probably wouldn’t be an activist. Or would he?