Everyone’s got their own agendas this week. OJ wants to feel like the team captain. Darden wants to make a mark on this case. Marcia maybe wants something more from him, and isn’t happy about not getting it. Robert Shapiro doesn’t want to alienate city officials — or the police. Johnnie Cochran is trying to dodge the media as it unearths the details of his personal life. And Robert Kardashian just wants to believe that his best friend is innocent.
Much of the action revolves around the infamous gloves (though we have yet to hear the infamous line born from their presence) — what starts off as a victory for the prosecution becomes a massive misfire. Turns out, if you put a key piece of evidence in O.J.’s hands — literally — he’s able to manipulate it, though there are a lot of other factors to consider, as laid out here. Point is, Darden is especially humiliated, and while Cochran and Shapiro high-five, the families of the victims suffer more than ever.
Star Witness (Best Actor)
It’s been hard to figure out who the shining star of this cast truly is, especially when it comes to the menfolk. But goddamn if Courtney B. Vance didn’t rule this episode; his bravado was as unmatched as ever, but watching him confront the fact that even he can’t control the media at this point was him at perhaps his most humbling moment (and we’re including that wrongful handcuffing from Episode 5 in this, for the record).
Honorable mention, by the way, to David Schwimmer for his horror at the knowledge that he could be an accessory to the murders. If you’d told us during Episode 1 that Robert Kardashian was going to become one of those show’s most sympathetic characters, we would not have believed you, and yet here we are.
"Are you helping my daddy find the man who hurt my mommy?" asks Nicole’s oldest daughter, as detectives go through boxes of the deceased’s belongings. In general, we haven’t been too thrilled with the way "American Crime Story" has portrayed anyone under the age of 18, but this moment (no offense meant to the child actors involved) was incredibly cloying, lacking the realism which has made this series so compelling otherwise.
I Didn’t Know That…
…things got so far with Marcia and Chris, on a personal level, during a weekend getaway to Oakland. While their trip is in the public record, what really happened is between them. However, it was shocking to see our favorite Will They/Won’t They make it as far as Marcia’s hotel room doorway — and equally shocking to watch both of them pull back from something they clearly wanted, at least in the moment.
The Most 1990s Moment
Oh my goodness, remember fax machines? Probably not. You probably did everything in your power to forget about fax machines. But here they are, in Episode 7, letting Alan Dershowitz give Johnnie Cochran interrogation tips all the way from Harvard Law. It’s actually a pretty cool moment, but that doesn’t mean we actually miss fax machines. At all.
Remember, This Really Happened
So, Johnnie Cochran’s history of domestic violence and complicated relationships was documented — though of course, the full truth is illusive. The LA Times profiled the man in 1995, and when the reporter confronted Cochran with the allegations, he wrote, "Cochran’s body sags. His eyes close. He knows the implications of his ex-wife’s accusations, given the charges of domestic violence against Simpson. He shakes his head. His response is adamant, ‘I never, never touched her. You can talk to her.’"
The key thing is that "People v. O.J." doesn’t waste its time on Cochran’s denials, which is consistent with one of the show’s basic policies: It’s not whether the facts are accurate that matters — what matters is the impact they have.
"If the Glove Don’t Fit…" (Best Line)
"What’s out there in world osmoses back into the courtroom, sequester be damned. If there’s going to be a circus you better damn well be the ringmaster."
— Alan Dershowitz
It’s a drum that this show has beat pretty regularly — that narrative matters more than truth — but this might be the most eloquently it’s been put so far. Dershowitz hasn’t had a huge impact on the show to date, but hopefully we get a little bit more of him. If only because he’s the first person who has accurately described what exactly was happening here.
The Key Takeaway
In 1995, there were plenty of crazy conspiracy theories surrounding the O.J. Simpson case, thanks in large part to all the people who really, truly wanted to believe he didn’t do it (or the people who wanted to believe that, in this case, the LAPD was wrong). But as Marcia brilliantly laid out for Chris Darden’s friends, the actual logistics of how that conspiracy would work are just impossible. The O.J. Simpson case, when you get down to the basics, is a classic example of Occam’s Razor in action. It’s everything that grew around it that led to the circus in question.
While the ride remains enjoyable, there were some jarring elements to this week’s episode that simply didn’t work. For example: Marcia Clark’s very legitimate anger at Darden going against her specific orders about the gloves gets lumped in with her reaction to things with Darden getting very close to crossing the line on a personal level. Given how well this show has done in previous weeks with depicting Marcia as first and foremost a professional, this choice rankled. And in addition, while the gloves were a massive turning point in the original trial, their depiction here ended up feeling a bit anti-climatic. There’s still a lot more juice (pun not intended) in this series, but this week dragged just enough to have us hoping that the next episode reignites our excitement about what is still one of the spring’s most compelling dramas.