Too Many Questions: ‘The Jinx’ and the ‘Big Reveal’


I found every interview scene with Robert Durst in HBO’s The Jinx to be riveting in the creepiest way possible. Like watching an old man hitting on a 22-year-old at the bar, you wanted to look away, but you just couldn’t.

The way director Andrew Jarecki pieced the interviews and information together was utterly fascinating. I actually enjoyed what other people had to say about Robert Durst and his alleged (admitted) murders more than Robert Durst’s own words.

HBO’s six-part miniseries was one of the most engrossing, infuriating, stressful and purely satisfying viewing experiences I’ve had in a long time. The Jinx lived in the paradoxical middle of a Venn diagram: a real-life conclusion so shockingly perfect, it felt better than the climactic moment in any fictitious story.

“Stranger than fiction” has long been a calling card of this genre. A real story with real people and real facts has a way of hooking us like a fictitious story never could. I don’t know why this is. Maybe we identify with a real person easier than a fictitious one. Or maybe there’s always some additional information to find if we look hard enough.

And herein lies the magic of The Jinx. It was real, but it unfolded too perfectly. Because of this, the reactions of those tuning in ended up being just as fascinating as anything in the documentary.

“Why would Robert Durst reach out to Andrew Jarecki and suggest this documentary? Why would Robert Durst — a rich man — allow himself to get caught shoplifting a sandwich from a grocery store? And what effect did witnessing his mother’s suicide have on him?”

This is just a small, sample size of the many questions people were asking while watching The Jinx. They’re all interesting questions, but we’ll never know the real answers to them. Yet we ask them and crave for them to be answered anyway. This need to know probably extends to our desire for closure. And in this case, that desire for closure led to other questions.

“When did the filmmakers discover the audio recording of Robert Durst talking to himself in the bathroom? When did they involve the police? What’s the timeline of all the interviews? What if they waited too long and Robert Durst got away?”

I would argue that all of these questions are irrelevant. They live in a hypothetical world, so they really don’t matter. The police did arrest Robert Durst. And Robert Durst did take part in the documentary.

The big reveal in The Jinx was our unending appetite for information. The more we get, the more we want. The reveal of the letter at the end of the penultimate episode was more than enough closure for me. Following his arrest, there’s only one question I want answered: “Will Robert Durst actually be convicted?”

Nick Ewertz (@ewertz) lives in Philadelphia and works at Allen & Gerritsen as a senior copywriter. He’s also a rum-runner and purveyor of useless pop culture knowledge.