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Reason Autopsy/decomposition discussion, and a gruesome interrogation technique.


Does The Keepers Need To Drive Down Every Dead End?

When is it chasing a lead, and when is it chasing their tails?

Does the Edgar Davidson/radio show bit remind anyone else of the Melvin Belli chapter of the hunt for the Zodiac killer?

It's not exactly analogous, but I think it came to my mind for the same reason the exploration of the nieces' stories generally in E05 recalled for me some of the more outlandish "my family member killed the Black Dahlia" claims. The memory of a child is a strange thing; I could swear to you up and down that, the day Reagan was shot, I trundled between our den and the kitchen to give my parents little handwritten updates where they were sitting drinking wine. My parents swear up and down my father was away on business in Philadelphia and was drinking wine at my grandmother's kitchen table, not ours.

It's not that nothing happened in these families; it's not that this particular thing didn't happen. But the nearly-50-year-old memory of an argument between your parents is a thin thread.

Edgar seems very unwell, too. Moody shots of him fidgeting with that rubber band aside, I don't know what is to be taken from his calling into a radio show in the '70s to insert himself into the investigation, other than that everything else we know about him suggests a poor grasp of relating to the world.

And speaking of those moody shots -- can we ease up on those?

This is a visual medium, and no doubt Ryan White doesn't want to get into too predictable a pattern of talking-head, re-enactment, talking-head, re-enactment. The re-enactments are also a little on the nose at times, but do a good job of recreating that particular creamy 1960s black-and-white; they have a good vintage feel.

These pointed holds on birds and falling snow just kind of slow things down. The episodes are an hour long as it is. You stall too long, you get people Googling key figures in the case, finding out they're dead, and losing motivation to stick with the full seven episodes.

Why haven't police talked to Gemma and Abbie?

I have a feeling they will now, as it's an open case, and the optics of not collaborating with people who have collected this much information -- especially in case with alleged police involvement and destruction of evidence at its center -- aren't great. I can see where the detectives assigned to it might take an unofficial "we're pretty sure we know who did it, but it's too hard to prove so many years later" posture; officially, they should probably consider debriefing these two if only to look like they want it solved.

Where's the follow-up on Tom Nugent's claim that we should take Gerry Koob's story with "a gigantic boulder of salt"?

It feels to me like the filmmakers don't want to question Koob's account, because the doomed romance between nun and priest isn't as good an angle if you blur the lines. But if he killed her, or knows who did, that makes even more doom-y, no? And since you've included the footage of Nugent talking about the holes in his timeline, why not review it more closely, or ask more questions about why Nugent doesn't believe Koob at all?

The now-ancient McKeon confirms to Cathy's sister by phone Koob's version, but apparently he said at the time that he drove up from Beltsville, not from Annapolis with Koob. This is probably nothing, just a slip of the tongue by McKeon, but if it is something, what is it? How did Koob pass the polygraph, then? And if you don't believe that, given the closeness of their relationship, Cathy wouldn't have told Koob something about the abuse, why not follow both those ideas to their logical ends -- that a) she didn't know about any abuse, in fact; or b) that she did, but was trying to protect Koob because they'd threatened him to her?

AND and, if their relationship is your evidence that she would have told Koob had she known, could The Keepers make the nature of that relationship explicit? I don't usually ask for more hand-holding given that the majority of true-crime programming repeats its tentpole facts to death over the course of an hour, but if you're going to include a letter in which Cathy reports that she got her period, very late -- this is a nun, in the 1960s; we were still euphemizing periods at my non-sectarian girls' school two decades later -- and that she wants him "within" her, amidst the suggestion by a commentator that Koob was involved, I think you have to take a position on whether they were sexually involved, because it goes to motive.

What even with that vagina story?

I...what? If they really were trying to break him, I could see the cops using ugly crime-scene or autopsy photos. Certainly it's SOP in scripted crime shows. I can even see the cops wrapping something they said was her vagina in newspaper, to rattle him. But her actual vagina? They're just going to ask to ME to remove her labia and borrow them for a sec? That's insane, and the police asked about it here are gentler than you'd expect in their "...WTF? Yeah, no" responses, but what strikes me is that Koob bothers to mention it when he must know it makes him sound insane. This isn't a stupid person; he must see that it sounds bazoo and that certainly nobody's going to confirm that it happened even if some variation on it occurred.

Where is the anonymous student who visited Sister Cathy the night before she disappeared? Where is Joyce Malecki?

Occasionally over-arty shots of vultures in tree branches aside, the deliberate pace of The Keepers and the narrative decision to follow single stories and ideas to their logical conclusions, leaving others on the back burner, works for me. It's unusual, and it's risky, because as I said, there's always the chance viewers will just pull up a search engine and find out for themselves whether Sister Russell can be chased down.

With one episode to go, I think we've probably seen what we're going to see of these two, which is fine (and the tagline for the series wasn't "Who killed Joyce and Sister Cathy?"). But The Keepers could do a better job of signaling which threads it is going to come back and pick up later.

Is there any crime show Werner Spitz won't take part in?

At least he appears to have had an actual role in the original case this time, but since he does know he's going on TV, maybe stay on top of the ear-hair sitch?

I kid, mostly. I think pretty highly of Spitz as far as TV-expert regulars go. But we spend as much time on his credentials here as we do on his analysis, and that analysis adds little.

Of all the things we'll probably never know for sure here, is the letter to Marilyn the most maddening?

Who sent it? What did it say? Was Cathy forced at weapon-point to write it, or to address the envelope? And why couldn't a snoopier relative have received it? I know, I know, her father told her not to blah blah evidence BUT WHYN'T SHE PUT SOME GLOVES ON AND READ IT ANYWAY GAH.

...I mean, I guess I wouldn't assume either that it would be taken from me before I could read it, then destroyed or lost, but if the cops came to my house and weren't like, okay, open it in front of us, I would...go ahead and open it in front of them.

It's not anyone's fault, but man, is that one frustrating to let go of.

Does anyone else need a more painstaking review of the timeline vis-a-vis the maggots?

The headline is that Jean Wehner was right, and could have seen maggots on Sister Cathy's face when she was brought to the body. The autopsy indicated maggots in the trachea and mouth; according to Gemma's research, the weather around Baltimore that week was unseasonably warm. But I get a little lost as to when in the timeline of Cathy's disappearance/death Jean was brought to the body, and what that then means for the crime -- that is, was she killed and her body stored somewhere for a while, or was she dumped there immediately and nobody found the body for two months?

I believe Jean, in the main, because men sufficiently depraved to rape her while calling their ejaculate the Holy Spirit are absolutely capable of terrorizing her with the corpse of her protector. I did consider the wiping-her-face detail perhaps a bit more poetical than the facts; I think something like that happened. I didn't look at the maggots themselves as evidence of anything. If we're now to see them as a linchpin, I'd like to go back over where exactly they put the timeline.

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