What to make of 'The Keepers'
"ometimes it's easy to forget that we spend most of our time stumbling around the dark. Suddenly, a light gets turned on and there's a fair share of blame to go around. I can't speak to what happened before I arrived, but all of you have done some very good reporting here. Reporting that I believe is going to have an immediate and considerable impact on our readers. For me, this kind of story is why we do this." — Marty Baron, "Spotlight"
In December of 2015 Netflix walked into a hit with "Making a Murderer," a true crime documentary that explored a murder case, subsequent trial, and perceived injustices. The case of Steven Avery captivated viewers and has spawned a second season. But it's also spawned imitators. One of which is "The Keepers," a mini-series that debuted in late May.
The seven-episode true crime documentary explored the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy, a nun and school teacher who was murdered in 1969 in Baltimore, Maryland. Even 48-years later, the mystery surrounds the death and other elements of the time surrounding the case.
Whereas "Making a Murderer" left viewers to wonder whether justice was served in a court case, "The Keepers" doesn't offer as much to cling to. There was never any suspect apprehended for the case, and not much in the way of justice served. Nearly 50 years later, all the documentary series had to offer was questions and possibilities. For those interested in these types stories, that's still something worth exploring. But it's hardly as satisfying as exploring the Avery case.
But, in part, that's why there's another aspect to "The Keepers" that's worth considering. The series is also, in part, about the abuses of priests at the Catholic high school where Sister Cathy once taught. Whether that played a role in her murder is unclear. But what's very clear is that there were abuses, and even 50 years later the victims continue to be plagued by memories and shame surrounding those experiences.
It reminded me of "Spotlight," the excellent 2015 film that chronicled the journalists who uncovered the abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston and around the globe. I remember the deep sadness and rage I felt in watching that film and thinking of the abuses that were perpetrated by those that claimed to represent Jesus Christ. I felt the same when I watched "The Keepers." There is a portion of the story that resonates deeply, and touches on those issues.
And that's the part of the seven hours that worked. The murder mystery, for as hard as they try to breathe life into it, feels incomplete. The other story, it feels like one that needs to be told, and the series does.
For those looking for another "Making A Murderer," "The Keepers" may not satisfy. But for those looking for an interesting story, this works in its own way.