‘The Jinx – Part Two’ Review: A Wildly Meta True Crime Rollercoaster One Can’t Stop Watching

Though he is technically director and showrunner of “The Jinx,” there’s no denying that Andrew Jarecki is now also one of its characters.

While filming Season 1 of the smash hit HBO docuseries, Jarecki and collaborators Zac-Stuart Pointier and Marc Smerling stepped out from behind the camera when it became clear that they stumbled upon critical evidence incriminating documentary subject Robert Durst. They turned that evidence into law enforcement and elicited Durst’s hot mic showstopper: “Killed them all, of course.” Durst was indicted just days before the finale, creating an unprecedented cultural juggernaut.

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As a result, “The Jinx – Part Two” becomes an extraordinary specimen, a piece of TV in which the show and its creators have become part of the unbelievable, sprawling narrative that starts and ends with Durst. In the first episode — titled “Chapter 7,” suggesting that “The Jinx” is not so much two seasons as twelve installments — Jarecki gathers the family and friends of Durst’s victims, along with key law enforcement who tried and failed to convict Durst for the murders of his ex-wife Kathleen McCormack and best friend Susan Berman for… a “Jinx” viewing party. It’s ostensibly part of Jarecki’s ongoing mission to center those affected by the “buzzsaw” of Durst’s presence in their lives, but surreal doesn’t even begin to cover the sensation of watching Jim McCormack while he watches a documentary TV show about his vanished sister while being filmed by the director of that very show.

From there, the case picks back up, with the burden of justice placed on the shoulders of lead prosecutor John Lewin, one of the main interviewees of the season (the filmmakers also spoke with him for Season 1, but ended up not using that footage). As the case continues, viewers will bear witness to a parade of what Jarecki calls “burlesque” figures close to the proceedings or crawling out of the woodwork of Durst’s history; the high-profile celebrity lawyer, the uncooperative witness, the best friend who formed one-third of a tight-knit trio with Durst and Berman. Berman’s own friends and associates emerge to talk about their relationship and what information she might have possessed for him to execute her without hesitation rather than letting her testify. Most if not all of them are familiar with “The Jinx,” in some cases moved to come forward after watching it. “The Jinx – Part One” looms mesmerizingly over “The Jinx – Part Two,” often cited in court by witnesses or by Durst himself while he frets over phone calls from prison.

In terms of production, the series looks the same — sometimes to its detriment. Either there are more dramatic reenactments than in “Part One,” or they feel distinctly more gauche this time around, even if they are a true crime staple. Other than that, the compilation of recorded conversation, video interviews, and courthouse footage meet the standard set for a dynamic, compelling docuseries. More than once, Jarecki presents evidence or revelations to subjects while he’s filming them, another echo of that ubiquitous Season 1 finale.

Jarecki and Pointier mostly take a backseat after the first of four episodes screened for critics, ceding the spotlight to Durst’s victims — for even the living interview subjects, allies and challengers alike, have seen their lives inalterably impacted by that buzzsaw. Whether they were lied to, manipulated, or so convinced of his innocence that they maintained it until the end, he influenced their behavior, and “The Jinx – Part Two” captures the chilling sensation of realizing that you or someone you care about has been used, and the effects were ultimately catastrophic.

Grade: B+

“The Jinx – Part Two” premieres April 21 on HBO, with new episodes weekly.

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