'The Jinx — Part Two' review: HBO's sequel has as many twists as the original The Jinx ended with Robert Durst, a wealthy man suspected of multiple murders, making self-incriminating statements on a hot mic. Part Two picks up where the original left off: arrest and conviction.


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The first 'Jinx' ended with a hot mic murder admission. 'Part Two' shocks as well

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Ten years ago, "This American Life" presented a podcast called "Serial," examining the facts and loose ends involving a cold murder case. Nine years ago, HBO followed with a TV equivalent, "The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst." Together, those two wildly popular programs helped ignite the true crime documentary and podcast craze, a genre that itself became so imitated that it was spoofed by Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building."

"The Jinx" recounted the story of Robert Durst, a wealthy man suspected over many decades of the murders of several people. The documentary series was made with Durst's cooperation, specifically several on-camera interviews with filmmaker Andrew Jarecki. The final episode climaxed with some stunning remarks made by Durst while he was alone and talking to himself, still wearing a hot mic. Durst was arrested the night before HBO televised the final episode of "The Jinx" and later was convicted of murder and died in prison in 2022. This Sunday, Jarecki returns to HBO with a sequel documentary series, "The Jinx: Part Two," which also will stream on Max.

I highly recommend you see the original "Jinx" first if you haven't. It's available on most streaming sites. But it's not required. "The Jinx: Part Two" is amazing right from the start because filmmaker Jarecki never stopped filming. In the original series, it was the accidental recording of Robert Durst muttering to himself in a bathroom after Jarecki confronted him with a damning piece of physical evidence, that helped lead to the wealthy man's arrest. "The Jinx: Part Two" swoops right back in, using phone wiretaps recorded by prosecutors, interviews with investigators and even conversations with witnesses on both sides at the trial, some cooperative, some hostile.

"The Jinx: Part Two" starts its behind-the-scenes narrative just as the original "Jinx" is days away from premiering on HBO. Jarecki, being driven in a car with a colleague, discusses a phone call he'd gotten from Durst's attorney. Jarecki's crew is filming the conversation in the car, leading us seamlessly into this sequel.


ANDREW JARECKI: So I just heard from Bob's lawyer, who has been pressing, as you know, to see the finished episodes, and he was sort of saying, we're curious about whether you come to the conclusion that he's guilty or he's not guilty. But obviously, there's a concern that there could be a prosecution as a result of this, and we are, you know, very keen to see it as soon as possible. I mean, I said to him, well, I know for sure they'll let me show you one, you know, Episode 1, tomorrow or whatever, and he said, well, then I might as well just wait for Sunday.

BIANCULLI: Events are captured in real time, revealing themselves like elements in a thriller. Halfway through the run of the original "Jinx," Bob Durst, watching from home, is feeling kind of cocky, but then, because of a spelling error in his handwriting that seems to connect him to an anonymous note sent to police after one murder, he shifts gears. FBI agents and Los Angeles district attorneys track him withdrawing large sums of money, then fleeing before the final episode, but as "The Jinx: Part Two" shows, he's cleverly tracked down in a New Orleans hotel and captured.


AUTOMATED VOICE: Please hold while we attempt to connect your call.


ROBERT DURST: Steve (ph)?

STEVE: Hello?

DURST: Steve, it's Bob. I was arrested in New Orleans.

STEVE: By who?

DURST: By the FBI.

STEVE: Oh, boy.

BIANCULLI: LA deputy district attorney John Lewin is the first to interrogate Bob Hearst (ph). It was filmed and recorded, so we see it in "The Jinx: Part Two." But Lewin asks Durst a question about the original film.


JOHN LEWIN: Obviously, you're aware of "The Jinx."

DURST: Obviously.

LEWIN: Yeah. And what made you do - I don't get it. What made you talk to them?

DURST: Still sort of putting that together in my own mind.

BIANCULLI: What follows is a story with as many twists, turns and shockers as the original. Jarecki is as good an interviewer as he is a director, and what he gets out of his conversations with people, from Bob's friends and lovers to his investigators and prosecutors, is unexpected and sometimes is almost laughably candid. As it turns out, there's a great story to be told in the continued telling of the Robert Durst story, and there are some lessons to be learned, too. Don't commit murder. If you do commit murder, don't cooperate with a documentary filmmaker. And if you do, kill someone and talk about it on camera, learn how to spell.


BIANCULLI: On the next FRESH AIR, minority rule. We talk with Ari Berman, who writes, the Founding Fathers created political institutions within a system that concentrated power in the hands of an elite, propertied, white male minority. We'll talk about the compromises made by the Founding Fathers and how they're reflected in today's politics. Join us.

FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with additional engineering support by Joyce Lieberman and Julian Herzfeld. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Ann Marie Baldonado, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Therese Madden, Thea Chaloner, Susan Nyakundi and Joel Wolfram. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. For Terry Gross and Tonya Mosley, I'm David Bianculli.


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