The Year of the Women: The Keepers
***NOTE: There are show spoilers below!***
Since moving to LA I've been really into documentary shows and documentaries from Netflix. DJ and I watched Blackfish, Chef's Table France, Cooked, and The Amanda Knox Documentary, to name a few. Recently we watched The Keepers. Unlike the other documentaries we watched The Keepers is a horror story/murder case filmed in Baltimore, MD. DJ and I are both from Maryland and easily became obsessed with the show, from the streets we recognized, the scenery we knew and loved, and even the school the show is centered around, Seton Keogh.
It's odd because my little sister almost attended Seton Keogh, but the school was about to close down. However, I think my little sister still shadowed there. I also knew of Seton Keogh because my high school would race against them for championships and other big races. I remember the nuns would always say a blessing over their athletes at the starting line before the race; it was a really sweet thing to watch.
I first began the show with my two roommates, Amy and Jameel, although our other roommate Anna recommended it to us. The first episode is slow, but intriguing. The second one Amy and I watched together. It was horrifying, disturbing. The third one DJ joined in and he and I watched them until the ending.
The storyline is more than upsetting. At first the plot appears to be about a nun who was murdered, Sister Cathy, and then it's about a sex trafficking ring in the middle of an all girls Catholic school, run by the priest. Then it turns into a game of unraveling what is true and who was lying between two prominent institutions, the Catholic Church/Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Baltimore Police and Investigative departments. Throughout this unraveling you learn it was not one woman who was silenced, but many.
In the episodes they introduce and interview a number of people involved in the case from witnesses, police officers, investigators, to students, classmates and family members. The community is pulled together and torn a part. Truths are revealed and secrets are uncovered, many stories are conflicting and most of the clues lead down a rabbit hole to nowhere. Evidence is destroyed almost seemingly just as it was about to be uncovered and people die almost coincidentally as the case was being investigated.
This is not a happy story; there is no clean cut ending. Like many open murder cases, it remains unsolved. The stories told are tragic, the pain still evident in the voices of the victims. There is no happily ever after, no resolution and no justice.
But there is something very unique and uplifting about this documentary and that is the story of how these women who were silenced for so long found their voice, some of them together. What kept me watching this sad and disturbing story unfold, was the resilience and power of these women.
The first episode introduces us to two students who were in Sister Cathy's class, now grown women in their fifties or sixties. The two students, Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, both have been trying to solve the case of the murder of their beloved teacher, Sister Cathy. The question surrounding the whole show is, "Who killed Sister Cathy?" And Gemma and Abbie make it their goal to find out. They have been researching the case for years, Gemma being the investigator type, asking hard questions and pushing for answers, and Abbie being the researcher emailing and contacting different authorities and people to get more information.
As the show unfolds you watch these two women tirelessly search for clues and answers. They are both dedicated to the search and persistent to close the case. Upon first seeing these women investigate the case, you find yourself questioning, why are they investigating? Why isn't law enforcement investigating? What do these two women have that the law doesn't to solve this case? These two women appear almost comical at times, as you watch them try to figure out Skype on their computer or try to figure out some other form of advanced technology. As you watch them, you almost question their skills and ability to solve a cold murder case. I even found myself questioning, 'Really, these two women can take on more than the Maryland/Baltimore law enforcement?'
And the answer is YES, they can.
It shouldn't be surprising that they can. After all, if it was two older men on the case wouldn't anyone believe them? You find after watching the first couple of episodes that the sexism is rampant and real in the investigation and in the way the officials respond to these women. You find that the word of a woman still holds empty for most officials in Maryland/Baltimore County. You watch Gemma and Abbie try to gather information only to have officials and other officers shove them off or end the conversation.
However, Gemma and Abbie are not deterred. They continue to search and gather facts. By the end of the show, in episode eight, they have gathered more suspects than the police had and even uncover what appears to be a long line of cover-ups from the police department itself and from the Catholic church. It's encouraging to watch as these women prove to everyone just how much of a threat they are to those that have tried to silence them.
Gemma and Abbie are heroes. They are inspirations. They have proven that a woman's voice should be heard, and they have found their voices, and given a pedestal to the voices of their classmates that were once voiceless. The documentary sheds light on the corruption and manipulation of the Catholic Church and the police, but it also gives much of its airtime to these two bold women. Gemma and Abbie have begun a new era for women, especially for the women of Baltimore, and those involved in the case.