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The Jinx Part 2
Photograph: HBORobert Durst in ‘The Jinx Part 2’

‘The Jinx part 2’: the stranger-than-fiction true story behind murderer Robert Durst

HBO’s true-crime saga is back with more dark, Coens-esque twists

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

‘What the hell did I do? I killed them all, of course.’

The words that sealed Robert ‘Bob’ Durst’s fate were picked up by a hot mic during a bathroom break. In a surreal twist, the mic belonged to the production crew of HBO’s true-crime series The Jinx. The septuagenarian had inadvertently fessed up to murdering three people on the very documentary show that was investigating those mysterious deaths.

Nearly a decade on, much has changed. Durst went to trial, was convicted, served time, and, in 2022, died of natural causes while still in custody.

But for filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, the story had a distance still to travel. In The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, the Capturing the Friedmans director picks up where the first series left off to follow Durst, first on the lam, then through the justice system, then into prison – exploring, in mind-bendingly meta ways, how the HBO series itself became a key element in this dark true-crime tale. Here’s what you need to know.

Who was Robert Durst?

A eccentric, curmudgeonly 72-year-old when the first season of The Jinx aired in 2015, Robert Durst was the son of New York real estate tycoon Seymour Durst. He became estranged from his family and, Succession-like, control of the main Durst estate fell to his younger brother.

Even so, his own vast wealth – the New York Times estimated it at $100 million – supported a life of luxury. And, as it later turned out, crime.

In 2015, Durst was arrested and charged for the murder of Susan Berman. She was an old Durst acquaintance, a journalist who was found murdered, gangland-style, at her Benedict Canyon home in 2000. The case had gone cold before Durst unwittingly admitted to the crime on The Jinx.  

As the subject of a doc, Durst is a strange mix of cunning and wildly indiscreet – a character straight out of a Coens movie. His runaway mouth is the star of the show, delivering bizarre and often unprompted gold. As LA Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, the lawyer prosecuting Durst, notes in the first episode of the second season: ‘Bob always talks.’ 

The Jinx Part 2
Photograph: HBODurst in prison in ‘The Jinx Part 2’

Where to watch The Jinx Part 2 

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is airing over the next six weeks on Max, Fandango at Home and Prime Video in the US, with the finale landing on May 26. You can catch it on NOW TV and Sky Documentaries in the UK. 

The Jinx Part 2
Photograph: The Jinx: Part 2LA Deputy District Attorney John Lewin

What have reviews been saying?

While not as effusive as season 1’s notices, the reviews have been largely positive for The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. Critics have praised Andrew Jarecki’s ability to summon further twists and turns from a story that had seemed to reach peak bonkers nine years ago. ‘It’s still surprising. It’s still emotional. It’s still nearly impossible to stop watching once you start,’ writes USA Today. ‘Amazingly, knowing whodunnit doesn’t make this new season less gripping than the first,’ says Vanity Fair.

‘Jarecki is as good an interviewer as he is a director, and what he gets out of his conversations with people – from Durst’s friends and lovers to his investigators and prosecutors – is unexpected, and sometimes is almost laughably candid,’ says NPR.

Other critics have found the focus on the legal case against Durst too granular to satisfy. ‘It’s simply possible that “justice” is less dramatically interesting than “injustice,”’ The Hollywood Reporter. ‘The first season set the bar impossibly high for the second, and the new season can’t come close to clearing it,’ agrees Alan Sepinwall in Rolling Stone

For The Guardian, the follow-up series is too long to hold the attention for six episodes. ‘Like Durst,’ it writes, ‘it doesn’t always know when it’s time to stop talking’.

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