‘The Jinx’ Postmortem: Robert Durst & The Curse of the Hot Mic

(Warning: If you haven’t yet watched the final episode of “The Jinx” on HBO, do so first. If you haven’t seen any of the documentary, you have something new to binge on.)

As I’m drafting this, it’s been about two hours since the conclusion of the HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life & Deaths of Robert Durst. Gawker, Time Magazine, and the NY Times have already posted their reviews of the final episode (which I recommend perusing) — the sentiment, which will be echoed here: shock.

For the second time during the filming of The Jinx, Andrew Jarecki and crew caught Robert Durst talking to himself on a hot mic. In the previous instance, Durst recited rehearsed-sounding ramblings about not telling the “whole truth” during previous questioning of his wife’s disappearance in 1982. 

This time, however, what the audience got was much, much more telling.

The finale of The Jinx centered more on the producersefforts to get Durst to commit to “one last interview” than on Kathie Durst’s case or Susan Berman’s murder — an interview that Durst ducked for weeks, even at one point claiming to be in Spain, while telling a Berman friend he was really in LA.

There’s a good reason, of course, for Bob Durst to be concerned about his final encounter with Jarecki. At this point in the documentary, audiences were already clued-in to one of the most damning pieces of evidence against Durst in the Berman murder: a letter, sent to LAPD following Berman’s death, in which Beverly Hills was incorrectly spelled “Beverley”. This, as we saw last week, matches identically with the way Durst incorrectly spelled the city’s name in a letter to Berman herself; one that, tonight, Bob confirmed he “could have written” before later saying that he did (after a telling burp).

As the final minutes of The Jinx played out, Robert stopped in the bathroom before heading out. Unfortunately for him (but, extremely lucky for both us; and, maybe, Berman and Kathleen Durst’s families), his mic was still clipped on — and, recording.

What followed might have been one of the most chilling things I’ve ever heard on TV.

There it is. You’re caught. You’re right, of course. But you can’t imagine. Arrest him. I don’t know what’s in the house. Oh, I want this. What a disaster. He was right. I was wrong. And the burping. I’m having difficulty with the question.

What the hell did I do?

Killed them all, of course.

While I contend that this wouldn’t stand in any court of law as a confession — it sounded, to me at least, more like Robert Durst playing out an extension of the last interview with Jarecki — it was enough to keep Durst and The Jinx social media famous all night long (tough to do, whenever The Walking Deadis on).

News of Durst’s arrest late Saturday in New Orleans, on a warrant from the LAPD for Susan Berman’s murder, only added to the drama surrounding the man; though, I will admit, it didn’t spoil the final 40 minutes of The Jinx in the least.

While Bob’s statements may seem the final nail in his coffin; remember, this is the same man who admitted to dismembering a body and got acquitted — there’s even less physical evidence in the Berman case. Outside of the note to the LAPD (which Durst could easily change his tune on — say he went for a visit, found the body, and, given his history, didn’t want to stick around), there’s no evidence from the scene that seemingly would be enough to convict.

As someone who enjoyed every second of HBO & Jarecki’s The Jinx, I will be very interested in seeing what comes of this latest arrest. Can he find a jury that isn’t biased based on the documentary? Can he weasel out of another one? Can he learn to stop mumbling confessions when he’s wearing a microphone? I’m not sure.

One thing’s for certain: he probably won’t be giving any more interviews anytime soon.

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