Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Keepers Season 1 Netflix Series Review

The Keepers (2017)
Mini-series - 7 episodes

Watch The Keepers on Netflix
Created by: Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Josh Braun, Ben Cotner, Jason Spingarn-Koff, Lisa Nishimura
Directed by: Ryan White
Rated: TV-MA

Amateur detectives in Baltimore attempt to solve the fifty year old murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik.

This is an intriguing show, but it showcases some absolutely despicable men that raped and assaulted high school girls. The second episode focuses on this and it's just sickening. If you can get past that episode, the show begins focusing on the conspiracy and coverup of the murder, from cops that looked the other way to a district attorney that has some questions to answer. The heart of this case are the people that fifty years ago experienced trauma and are now trying to reconcile the abuses by finding the truth and making it public.
Watch it.

Sister Cesnik's murder isn't the main plot point.  This is a broad conspiracy that brings the movie Spotlight (2015) (read my review) to mind because both concern the Catholic church covering up abuses by priests. The Keepers focuses on the people left in the wake of the priest's crimes. The first episode explores the legacy of a teacher. Cesnik was revered by her students. When she brought the alleged abuses to light, it apparently got her killed.

This series jumps between recollections of the 60s, an investigation in the 90s, and the investigation in the present day.

Episode two is graphic and terrible, content wise. Maskell was disgusting. He preyed on children, from their insecurities to their past. He claimed it was God's will. He paraded doctors and cops through his office to participate in the buase, and then had them aid him in continuing the crimes. These were girls that didn't know any better and also trusted a priest, because you're supposed to be able to trust a priest. You could exclaim that you can't believe a priest would do this, but this is terrible for anyone. I considered quitting this series based on this episode.

Maskell's brother was a cop that helped coverup investigations into Maskell. The district attorney seems like she is covering something up, but it could also be the show also portraying her as such. Then again, maybe the DA doesn't want to call anyone out, or herself. If the DA began to confirm the allegations, she's putting herself at risk.
There is a lot of information that law enforcement didn't share, didn't accumulate, or just doesn't know. The district attorney claims there wasn't enough information against Maskell, but there are plenty of people refuting that assertion.

Tip lines and ads bring out hundreds of people that claim they were abused by Maskell. While the ads don't mention him by name, everyone that contacts them state asks if the ad is about Maskell.

Making a Murderer (2015) is the most similar show on Netflix, but The Keepers is focused on the characters and their desire for justice, not the perceived shortcomings of the justice system. Making a Murderer presents a sensational story, glossing over the main character who isn't as innocent as the show leads you to believe.

The characters in The Keepers have lived with the events that happened at the school for years. It's shaped them, and for some it's taken this long to begin even confronting their past. I don't want to call this show entertainment, but it does do a good job of focusing on one aspect of the case every episode as the conspiracy gets ever broader. The cast of those involved even in part grows every episode. By the end of the series its staggering how widespread the abuse was and how many people knew but nothing was ultimately done. Maskell went on to other churches.
One priest didn't bring the crimes to light because he didn't want to weaken the church. Everyone has their reasons, but none of them are right.

At the end, Maskell broke a lot of people. He ruined lives and relationships, and this is a showcase of how atrocious people can be. While there are a few that are trying to expose the truth, this will never be a show you want to watch again. It's traumatic, even for a viewer which doesn't even begin to approach the trauma suffered by the victims.

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