Piper Weiss
March 16, 2015 6:48 am

On Saturday, Robert Durst, of HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, was arrested in New Orleans on murder charges, relating to the 2000 death of his close friend Susan Berman. On Sunday night the finale of The Jinx aired and TV history was made. If you haven’t seen The Jinx and know nothing about it, stop right here, read this synopsis, then take the day off and watch the entire six-episode documentary and come back to this post. If you did watch last night’s episode, then you know that the final scene in the episode was perhaps the most chilling thing you’ve experienced sitting in front of the TV box. This was no joke.

Near the end of the episode, Durst is presented with his own handwriting on an envelope he sent to Berman, as well as the anonymous note sent to the police alerting them of a “cadaver” on the day Berman was believed to be murdered. The word “Beverly” is misspelled in both in the same way and the handwriting is so similar even Durst admits he can’t tell which one he had written. He is core-shaken. He burps. He covers his hands with his face. Then he goes to the bathroom, still miked up.

The ending was so startling it’s already led Gawker and Buzzfeed’s Kate Arthur to question the timeline of the taping, with Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak considering conspiracy theories with regards to the doc’s finale and Durst’s arrest. The New York Times states: “More than two years passed after the interview before the filmmakers found the audio.”

.Why did it take so long to find the audio of something so pivotal to the producers’ (very thorough) investigation? And was the timing of Durst’s arrest, the day before the finale, deliberately advantageous to the series? As of now, there are only lingering questions, not only about Durst’s fate, but about the perfectly executed production itself.

Juzwiak wonders: “Could it be that Jarecki, Smerling & company sat on Durst’s ostensible confession for the sake of making good TV (and/or avoiding legal trouble)? Did they produce an arithmetically challenged lie to cover themselves, or is the Times‘s reporting off? And what about the timing of Durst’s arrest? Was the evidence handed off to ensure that it would happen just in time to publicize a (however unfairly) slept-on HBO documentary series? Or was there some kind of backend deal cut between the filmmakers, the cops, and HBO so that the cops got their man, HBO got its publicity, and the viewers got a thrilling package of documentary entertainment and real-life results?”

Then there’s the question of whether Durst’s taped statements can be used against him in court, considering he was seemingly unaware he was still being taped. Daniel J. Castleman, the former chief of investigations in the Manhattan district attorney’s office tells the Times, “That’s pretty damning stuff.” He continues: “The question is: Is it admissible in court?” It could be, Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is a professor at Columbia University Law School adds in an interview with the Times, “so long as it can be shown that the tape wasn’t tampered with.”

Now here’s that last scene. Watch it again.

(Featured image via Slate)

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