'The Jinx' Second Season Finale: Can It Achieve The Insane Heights Of The First?

Photo courtesy of HBO

The second season of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” director Andrew Jarecki’s six-episode series about the sociopathic real estate scion/ serial killer, concluded this past Sunday.

But in the history of true crime documentaries, high-end division, nothing compares to the 2015 finale of part one of "The Jinx."

In 2010, Jarecki had already directed a semi-fictional movie, “All Good Things,” the story of a much younger Durst (played by Ryan Gosling) and his first wife, Kathie McCormack, a fourth-year medical student who had mysteriously “disappeared” in 1982.  Her body was never found.

Tickled by his portrayal in that movie by a blonde heartthrob, Durst, in his narcissism, allowed himself to sit for a long on-camera interview with Jarecki.



Durst thought he’d come off well.

Still suspicious at the time of the interview was the never-solved 2000 murder of Durst’s  “best friend,” writer and mob-boss daughter Susan Berman, in her home in Los Angeles.

By then, Durst had already been tried in Texas for the 2001 murder of Morris Black, his hall mate in a Galveston boarding house where the millionaire heir had showed up in a wig and a dress as a deaf-mute woman named Dorothy.

At the Black trial, (it was later discovered that Durst had paid off one of the jurors) and with the help of the most expensive lawyers, Durst explained that he didn’t kill his friend –- “but I did dismember him.”

He got off.

During that sit-down interview with Jarecki, the doc maker  confronted a now cleaned-up, well-dressed Durst with evidence about Berman’s murder, which he continued to deny.

In the finale episode of part one, the pièce de résistance was the footage showing Durst leaving the interview to use the rest room, not realizing he was still mic-ed.

While looking in a mirror and washing his hands, he declared, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

He was arrested the day before the finale aired, for the first-degree murder of Susan Berman, with his own admission becoming part of the ensuing trial. So had “The Jinx” not been made, Durst might still be a fugitive from justice.

Sentenced to life without parole, he died only a few months later in prison, in 2022.

Part two shows the ravages of time.

Whereas earlier he had showed one of his girlfriends how he did “lady push-ups” in prison, Durst appears in footage at the Berman murder trial as a terrifyingly shrunken figure in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace and a COVID-era clear mask. He barely has a voice, croaking out answers. His bony skull looks cadaverous.

And while some of the middle episodes get a bit laggy, the second part gives us previously unseen footage of prisoner Durst, his prison phone calls, new depositions and interviews that introduce us to some of his oldest “friends.”  It’s also “Law-and-Order”-level great about showing the side of the D.As and prosecutors.

Above all, it’s a telling portrait of complicity and Durst’s enablers, including his three younger siblings.

The story goes that as a seven-year-old, Durst had watched his mother jump from the roof of the family house, committing suicide. But reportedly he had been angry and violent from birth. His siblings were always afraid of him and did everything to avoid him.

At a time when homicidal Bob was on the lam, he stalked his brother Douglas who had taken over the family real estate business. Police were called. The youngest, Tom, who also worked in the business, seemed traumatized by Bob, still, during his deposition.

Not one of them reached out to the police or Kathie's family, the McCormacks, either at the time of her disappearance or during  the ensuing years.

The documentary shows that rich, powerful dynastic families have a habit of sticking together, no matter what.  (Other similarities to the Trump family come up.)

In his deposition, taken when the McCormacks again sued the Dursts for the death of their sister/daughter, Douglas Durst copped to the fact that if it had happened now, he would have responded differently.

Bob Durst had a habit of helping friends financially, and in that way bought their loyalty. Berman had defended him about Kathie, until she didn’t, and then he felt he had to kill her.

The day before he left for Los Angeles to carry out the murder, he’d married New York real estate agent Debrah Lee Charatan, who had founded her own all-female real estate agency in the ’80s. She later stiffed the women who worked for her and went bankrupt.

Charatan was the perfect consigliere for Durst, handling his financial matters while he was in prison or in hiding. She refused to give Jarecki an interview, but in the depositions, she comes off as a sociopath, a great match for Bob.

They’re heard talking on the phone when he’s in prison, scurrying to spend and hide of all his money so that Kathie's family would never get a cent. During this time, Charatan also used Bob’s money to create her own enormous real-estate empire, which she enjoys today.

The finale ending focuses on “Debby.” Because she wouldn’t meet with the crew, they do some re-creations, which are usually cheesy, but they capture her glamorous life as the Cruella of land grabs. What she says in the end shows her to be the monster she is.

It's no confession of murder, but it does nail her brand of vicious amorality, which explains a lot.

Part two is streaming on Max, and it’s still catnip for true crime fanatics.

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