film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb


The Strange Excellence of 'The Jinx: Part 2'

By Alison Lanier | TV | May 8, 2024 |

By Alison Lanier | TV | May 8, 2024 |


It’s not uncommon for true crime to accordion out from its original story nowadays: it’s the somewhat absurdist experience of a documentary circling back to observe the effect it’s had on the continuing story. The Vow, for instance, followed the rise and fall of the NXIVM cult in its first season; its second followed the legal repercussions of that fall, as well as the impact of the show’s first season.

The Jinx takes this season-two effect to a whole new level. The Jinx was a pop-culture sensation when it aired in 2015, a six-part docuseries about the infamous Robert Durst, called Bob, who was accused or suspected in three separate, violent murders, even confessing to dismembering and disposing of one of the bodies.

The first episode of The Jinx: Part 2 is about … the airing of The Jinx: Part 1. It’s an incredible and surreal media Mobius-strip of an experience. Durst goes on the run after watching the fifth episode of the first season and realizing how utterly screwed he is … which we know because he made weekly calls to a New York Times media critic who was interviewing him about the experience of watching the series. A positive ID of Bob Durst on the run is provided because a fellow hotel guest in New Orleans had just been watching the finale of The Jinx.

The filmmaker is a repeated subject of conversation … hotel managers identify an ex-juror whose wife worked for Durst because they’d seen him interviewed on the first season of the show. Visitors to Durst in jail express astonishment that Durst had done “Jarecki,” the Durst circle’s shorthand for Durst’s willing participation in The Jinx’s first season.

One of the most memorable and striking moments of the second season premiere shows the screening of the sixth and final episode, which Jarecki hosted at his home. The attendees included families of victims, prosecutors, writers, and other people with an intimate stake or role in the docuseries they were watching.

Then comes the muttered line, caught on a hot mic immediately after Durst rose from his interview: “Killed them all, of course.” It’s a perfect nutshell of a confession.

When the attendees remember to breathe again at Jarecki’s screening, the immediate question is: Can we use this? The answer turns out to be yes.

And that’s the foundation of the show’s second season: the aftermath of that moment, of Durst’s recapture, of the legal narrative-building that followed The Jinx’s own. It’s all about making the story, whether that means Durst’s lawyers putting him in a wheelchair and neck brace, or the prosecution deciding not to include very revealing recordings of Susan Berman, Durst’s close friend, victim, and prior accomplice, which might make her less sympathetic to the jury.

Meanwhile, Andrew Jarecki is on the sidelines, following the story whose seeds he planted as it sprouts and tangles before his eyes.

Jarecki appears on camera only periodically, more reserved and reflective than in the first season. He appears, at least to me, to be pointedly not trying to make himself into a character this time around, to absent himself as a documentarian, whereas in the first season, he operated more closely to the action as an investigator.

It’s hard to think of another true crime media event of this kind that has had such a stunning trajectory, and it’s a surreal experience to watch unfold. With returning faces and new personalities (my favorite are the energetic brothers on the prosecution’s legal team), it’s a story where we know the ending but watching it take shape, step by careful step, is an exercise in the power of narrative from one minute to the next.

Three of six episodes of The Jinx: Part 2 are now streaming on Max; new episodes stream Sundays.