[Content Warning: The second episode of The Keepers contains narratives of sexual assault, child abuse, and rape.]
The Keepers episode 1 opened with a straight-forward analysis of the forensic details of the case of Sister Cathy Cesnik, but things get much darker and deeper in the second part of this series.
We open with the poetic journalist Tom Nugent interviewing Jane Doe, now revealed as Jean Hargadon Whener. Whener immediately asserts her belief that Cathy had been murdered by someone she knew, with the implication being that Cesnik was killed over some kind of forbidden knowledge about the school where she worked.
Whener proceeds to give some truly shocking information throughout the episode about the abuses she suffered as a student at the hands of various teachers, priests, and higher-ups at Archbishop Keough High School. Whener's accusations have implications beyond the school as well. There is a suggestion that police may have been involved, too.
The formerly anonymous whistleblower's details are absolutely gruesome and difficult to sit through, and most of the episode is dedicated to her testimony. Without going into too many specifics: Whener states that she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by the priests who ran the school, with Father Maskell as the main perpetrator. Whener was led to believe this was part of a spiritual rehabilitation program, and increasingly dissociated from the experiences, coming forward to no one and remaining silent about her experiences. Her descriptions are truly nauseating. Whener also claims that there were, at least on one occasion, cops present during the rapes.
Cesnik, who in interviews with a handful of former students appears to have been somewhat of a progressive guardian angel for numerous girls, deduced that something nefarious had been going on behind the scenes and promised to directly intervene to prevent this from continuing. Her disappearance coincides almost directly with her confrontation with school authorities on the subject of abuse. While the other former students of Cathy do not come forward with such extreme stories of abuse, the general narratives of fear and horror surrounding the school's figureheads seem to be shared.
Another subplot also emerges in this episode: Gerry Koob, introduced in episode one as a friend of Cathy's reveals the long-unrequited love between him and the murdered nun. Koob, a former priest, had attempted to court Cesnik, but Cathy seemed more committed to her religious obligations than to his love. He remained a close confidant of Cesnik's until her last days.
It seems likely that these revelations will come together more coherently with the unofficial investigation launched by concerned Baltimore citizens in future episodes. But will the case be solved through the course of the series?
[Photo: Screenshot from Netflix]