Perhaps a good way into reviewing Andrew Jarecki's HBO docu-mystery "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" is through its title.
Unless there's a more direct articulation later on, the title comes from a quote in the second episode.
New York real estate heir Robert Durst is musing on why he didn't want to have kids with his first wife Kathleen.
"Somehow I thought I might be a jinx," Durst tells Jarecki.
Durst has spent three decades linked to Kathleen's disappearance, as well as several other murders, including a colorful 2001 case in Galveston, Texas that begins "The Jinx."
A jinx, indeed.
This brings me to Serial, the podcast that's likely to be mentioned in every single review of "The Jinx."
In the final Serial episode -- Spoiler alert, but not really -- Sarah Koenig's colleague Dana Chivvis raises the specter that in order to accept the innocence of Adnan Sayid, you have to be willing to accept that Adnan has been the victim of an unimaginable string of bad luck. I'm not going to get into cell towers and The Nisha Call or any of the specifics, but Dana's point is that the best way to excuse these sticky pieces of anti-Adnan evidence is to just say that the universe was pretty much conspiring against the appearance of Adnan's innocence.
When it comes to hypothetical innocence, the difference between being a jinx and having bad luck is at the center of the difference between Serial and "The Jinx," both tremendous pieces of ongoing true crime investigation.
Bad luck speaks to victimization. It speaks to wrong place/wrong time circumstance. It allows for pity and mercy and advocacy. Oh and Adnan Sayid has been in jail for 15 years.
Being a jinx? That's ominous. That's inviting the forces of darkness, even if you don't have the ability to steer them yourself, or at the very least acknowledging their inevitability. It may not be the active imparting of harm, but as Robert Durst presents it, it's at least the passive enabling of harm. Oh and Robert Durst is a free man.