The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: Poor Little Rich Boy
March 15, 2015 9:09 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

2013: Durst’s interview with Jarecki begins with his childhood, when he witnessed his mother’s suicide.

His father, Seymour – distant and cold, obsessed with building the Durst Organization into a real-estate behemoth and leaving his mark on the Manhattan skyline – pressures young Robert to join the family business. Durst describes his disinterest in following in his father’s footsteps, and recalls meeting Kathie McCormack, a beautiful girl from a modest background. The couple fall in love and move to Vermont, where they lead a simple life and run a health-food store called All Good Things. But not long after, Seymour prevails and Robert returns to New York to take his place at the powerful Durst Organization.

1982: Robert and Kathie have been married for nearly 10 years, during which they have moved from their idyllic life in Vermont back to New York City. They divide their time between a penthouse apartment on Riverside Drive, and an upstate house on picturesque Lake Truesdale, 50 miles north of Manhattan. After a weekend at the lake house, Durst walks into the 20th Precinct and tells desk sergeant Michael Struk that he hasn’t seen his wife in five days. He says that when he last saw her, he was putting her on a train in Katonah to return to NYC for medical school classes. The details of their last weekend together are a subject of much controversy by those who know the couple. Believing Robert knows more about Kathie’s fate than he is letting on, her family and friends embark on a hunt for the truth.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, this one was a corker. The documentary is taking the same shape as the director's stated impulse for the film: take a monster and find humanity in them. You cannot hear about his childhood trauma without feeling for Durst, especially his assertion/insight into his wealth and how it has impacted his life.

But after the opening - what, fifteen minutes or so - we get to Kathie's story and it sounds like he was a real controlling prick. So much for my empathy, it just fizzled. Not just controlling but physically abusive. And, it turns out by the end, a liar (although we already sense it, he confirms it outright with his testimony to the police).

So things have gotten more solidified to my mind: we have an abusive, insecure, controlling prick with huge entitlement issues. Where is this doc going? How can we possibly develop this subject further? I've sort of exhausted my interest in Durst, but I am very interested in Kathie's friends who organized to do detective work on their own when they realized how uninterested the police were in solving the crime.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:18 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

It takes the sharp turn from victim to abuser, I think, when (during the interview) he talks about having to spend time with Kathie's family:
Jarecki: These experiences with her family were kind of like "Bob meets the average American family."
Durst: Well, more than "meet." "Bob is forced to spend time with the average American family." "Bob is supposed to be polite and cooperative and pleasant, and engage in the same conversations that they are." And I just couldn't do that.
Interesting: Jarecki feeds him "average" here, and it pays off later in the episode when Durst uses it in a more chilling way:
Durst: If she had met some normal type guy from Long Island, she would have had a bunch of kids like her, her siblings. And she would have lived a, I hate to say "normal," but I don't know how else to put it. An average or something like that life.
It felt to me that there was a real undercurrent of disdain to it: that when Durst says "average" he means "mundane."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:30 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mod note: As weird of an intersection of developing news and in-the-can documentary as this apparently has become, for now let's default to treating this place as what it is: a TV discussion space with spoiler guidelines that include not talking about stuff that happens in the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:08 PM on March 15, 2015

Incidentally on that: I was vaguely planning to post the rest of the episodes over the next few days, as I watch them. But if anyone wants to post 'em quicker, or jump straight to posting the finale episode to discuss it and the developing news: feel free and I'll catch up to it later.

(The HBO site has decent chapter synopses for FanFare post purposes, although I split the one here to keep most of it in the more-inside.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:12 PM on March 15, 2015

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