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Reason Netflix dropped the entire series the same day.


Which Suspects Are Worth Keeping On The Keepers?

Seriously, how many despicable people can one series discuss?

After a three-episode journey into the horrific experiences of Jean Hargadon Wehner and the other women sexually abused by Fr. Maskell at Archbishop Keough High School, The Keepers returns to the search for Sister Cathy Cesnik's killer. I have to admit, I was ready to get back to traditional true-crime doc territory. I felt worn down and pretty freaking terrible after being taken through Jean's decades-long experience -- which is nothing compared to what she went through, I know, but still.

In Episode 5, "The Suspects," we're introduced to a few people who may have killed Sister Cathy. I had been working on the assumption that Fr. Maskell would be thrown up as the prime suspect but the filmmakers move us away from that possibility rather quickly. In hindsight it's clear that director Ryan White did a nice job of never actually putting Maskell forward as the killer while also never disabusing the viewer of that possibility.

The scenarios that get put forth in this episode seem...less than satisfactorily credible. They rely on the memories of several people, including two who were children at the time of the murders, and a lot of weak circumstantial evidence. Now, yes, I know I am calling into question the validity of memories as evidence after spending three episodes fervently believing the memories of Jean. But not all memories are the same, right? Repressed memories caused by sexual abuse and PTSD aren't the same as overhearing a conversation when you were a child and later, sometimes much later, assigning significance to it based on nothing more than thinking that something seemed a bit weird at the time.

I could be way off here but I came away from the episode with the sense that the filmmakers were trying to create a whole lot of something out of a lot of, well, not nothing -- but certainly something less convincing than I had hoped for.

Which is not to take anything away from the efforts of Abbie and Gemma to find the murderer because, damn, those sisters had been doing it for themselves for years.

The premise for this exploration of potential suspects is based on two concepts that the show has not done a great job of connecting so far. First, Abbie and Gemma's belief that the person that Jean refers to as "Brother Bob" has a role to play in murder (BTW, I just recently watched Twin Peaks for the first time, so having a mystery potential killer known as Bob in this show is a lot scarier for me now than it was three weeks ago. Thanks, David Lynch). Second, the belief of journalist Tom Erlandson that Haskell was not the type of person who could be directly involved in murder. With those two ideas thrown out there, we are presented with two new suspects.

Since we have only two episodes left, it seems likely that one of the people we've been introduced to is the killer. Let's rank our list of suspects from "You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time" to "Let's get you fitted for some leg irons."

  1. Some Other Brother Bob
    Are we going to get thrown a curveball in the last two episodes? It's a pretty common true-crime strategy so I'm not discounting the possibility. Also, if you take a close look at Abbie and Gemma's chart -- which they built with the help of coffee filters --

    a detail that I just love for reasons I cannot explain -- there are a few other names on there we have yet to hear, so who knows. But I don't think so. I'm banking on this all coming back to the priests at Archbishop Keough. I keep thinking about how the other priest at the school, Rev. Neil Magnus -- who was also accused of abuse -- has disappeared the last few episodes. Maybe he did play a minor, albeit criminal and disgusting, role in the abuse...or maybe not.

  2. Serial Sexual Abuser And All-Around Dickhead Fr. Maskell
    The Keepers had yet to offer any real, hard evidence for or against the possibility of Maskell being the killer. The fact that he took Jean to the body doesn't mean he killed Sister Cathy or was even involved in its planning. But he was a pretty despicable person -- very smart and manipulative, according to more than a few people. And he liked to shoot guns and apparently owned a few of them. Even though Cathy wasn't shot, the handle of a gun can do nasty damage. But I think I side with Tom Erlandson on this one. It's unlikely that Maskell would have been directly involved in the murder.
  3. Gay Uncle Billy Schmidt
    There seems to be a decent case here for Billy Schmidt being the murderer. He lived across the hall from Sister Cathy. He had a mysterious friend/possible lover named Skippy. After the murder he developed a substance abuse problem, apparently kept a nun's habit in the attic, and eventually committed suicide. And to top it all off, Billy's nephew Brian said on the record that he was there when Billy disposed of the body.

    It’s a compelling story but one that has a bunch of problems when you start taking it apart and, in the end, no real solid evidence was presented that implicated Billy. But we've got two episodes left. Who knows.

  4. Abusive Husband Edgar Davidson
    This guy seems like a real winner. According to his first wife, "Margaret," Ed's sister encouraged her not to marry him. When your future in-laws are warning you off, you know something has to be up with this guy. Turns out she was right. He's a shiftless bastard who doesn't pay the rent, lies about going to work, and chokes her when she threatens to leave. After they do get divorced, Ed gets arrested for attempting to lure middle-school girls into his stolen car. A year after Cathy's murder, he presents Margaret with a necklace that seems like it could have been the engagement gift Cathy purchased on the night she disappeared. But why would he kill Sister Cathy? That part is never really explained. And again, when you start dissecting Margaret's story, some major issues become apparent -- most notably a lack of connection to Maskell. But Ed's still alive and it looks like the filmmakers are on his trail.
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