TV, Venue

The Secrets She Keeps: Predictable, but Emotional

Adapted from the novel by Australian writer Michael Robotham, The Secrets She Keeps is a psychodrama following the life of Agatha, a woman who steals a baby from a hospital after faking her pregnancy. 

Robotham based the novel on the real-life kidnapping of Abbie Humphries, who was stolen at birth in 1994 by Julie Kelley, a 22-year-old suffering from a severe personality disorder. She was missing for 17 days before being returned unharmed to her mother. 

The first episode was, in a word… predictable. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this; it made the plotline more cohesive, with Aggie’s borderline psychotic behaviour explained by the arrival of her period, resulting in an emotional scene in which she strips off, revealing her fake pregnancy bump for the first time. 

I imagine that the scene where Aggie agrees to return the baby to his mother but ends up pulling a gun on her was meant to be the climax of the series. Unfortunately, it was, in my opinion, a little lacklustre. It felt as if we were rushing towards the reunion between mother and child, rather than focussing on Aggie’s complex mental state.

The scene in which Aggie visits her previous baby’s grave was much more engaging. She lays a wreath on the grave of the baby assumed to be the product of her teenage rape at the hands of a religious leader. Then, the camera pans out as Aggie tells of the new baby she is having, showing three graves in total and revealing the repetitive nature of her crimes. She lays a hand on each one, saying “it doesn’t mean I love you any less… or you… or you”, bringing us into the immediacy and severity of her mental illness. 

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Dolly Carter

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September 2021
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