'The People v. O.J. Simpson' finale recap: The verdict is in
By Zane Moses
For The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 06, 2016 | 11:42 AM
The verdict is in on "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson." Tuesday night's final episode was a strong finish to a mediocre show.
The episode begins with testimony from O.J.
"I did not, and could not, and would not commit this crime," O.J. said. "I have four kids, two kids I haven't seen in a year, and every week they ask me, 'Daddy, when are you coming home?'"
It's another cartoonish line delivered in a cartoonish manner by Cuba Gooding Jr.
We are then taken back to the defense offices, where F. Lee Bailey is trying to gauge the jury, and Johnnie Cochran, fresh off of receiving another death threat, is penning his closing statement. He is contemplating rhymes to use and stumbles upon the first half of one that gives him pause.
Marcia Clark begins her opening statement with an indictment of Mark Fuhrman.
"There is an ocean of evidence that has been unchallenged by the defense, and in an attempt to distract you, they took you through a twisted road," Clark said.
Clark then goes through this ocean of evidence in what I thought was a convincing way. If I were on the jury, I would like to think I would vote to convict based on those statements alone. But that is what is fun about television court cases — thinking about what side I would end up on.
Chris Darden then steps up and delivers a statement about the nature of the relationship between O.J. and Nicole. This statement is also equally convincing. It seemed to me at this point that a conviction was a no-brainer, considering how much evidence there was — did not comprehend just how much evidence until this moment.
"The rage he has, the anger, the hate, flows out of him and into the knife, and from the knife into her," Darden says.
We then get another overly dramatic zoom in on Johnnie Cochran, an artifice that has plagued this show from the first episode. He begins his speech railing the words and actions of Mark Fuhrman. Cochran pleads with the jury that they cannot continue to allow injustice to prevail.
He ends his speech by repeating the famous line: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
We then get an awkward scene in which the lawyers are saying what they are going to do while the jury deliberates and it is made clear that no one likes Bob Shapiro.
Now we are brought inside the decision room with the jury. There is a paper poll taken to gauge how everyone felt about the case. Two votes for guilty were given, pretty clearly by the two white jurors.
This is made when all of the jurors' heads turn toward the back of the table to reveal a white juror with a scowl on her face. It is a ridiculous scene that belongs in a cartoon, like much of the show.
Speaking of cartoonish scenes, the jury decides that the prosecution did not undeniably prove that O.J. committed the crime the same day, and Judge Lance Ito receives a phone call with the news. The camera once again zooms in tight and Ito says, "Are you [expletive] me?"
It is another moment when the show draws attention to these curse words, seemingly trying to prove that FX is just like HBO. I do not think anyone actually cares.
We then get even more dramatic zooms on the lawyers, shocked at how quickly the jury came to a decision.
"They've discussed this case less than anyone in America," Shapiro says.
After a commercial break, Shapiro explodes, saying that Cochran has hired an anti-Semitic security force.
Over in O.J.'s jail cell, O.J. has a great conversation with an admiring prison guard.
"I've been talking to my buddies over at the hotel where they're keeping the jurors. Let's just say I don't think you have to be nervous at all," the prison guard says.
This merits another dramatic zoom on O.J. for whatever reason, and with that we are whisked away to the lawyers again. For all the negative aspects of the show, it still broke my heart to see the optimism that the prosecution had going into the courtroom.
The verdict forms are checked over by the jury and the judge in a scene that is seeping with anticipation, once again a testament to the natural drama of this story. The fidgeting of everyone involved left me gripping my seat with nervous energy.
We then see how the nation is standing on edge, awaiting the results of the case. It is a fascinating look into how the world turned its eyes to the courtroom — a viewpoint we have not seen much of through this show.
The not-guilty verdict is read and we see the reaction of all involved, from the quiet disappointment of Marcia Clark to the intense death stare of Chris Darden. We are then taken around the world to see crowds cheering or in disbelief. It cuts back and forth from the jubilation of entirely black crowds to the jaw-dropping horror of entirely white crowds.
When the courtroom is adjourned, Robert Kardashian goes straight to the bathroom and pukes in the sink.
The state prosecutor, Gil Garcetti, is terrified for his legacy.
"20 years of public service, and I feel like my headstone will say, 'he lost O.J.,'" Garcetti says.
Marcia Clark is devastated and feels ashamed, but Garcetti congratulates her for arguing her case her way.
Garcetti, in his statement, attacks the jury for making their decision based on emotion and not reason.
Clark's statement begs women who have suffered from domestic violence to not be discouraged by the verdict, and to continue to fight against the monsters that hurt them.
"We came here in search of justice and you'll have to be the judges, I expect, as to whether or not any of us found it today," Darden says.
The season ends with the Goldmans, the father and sister to the deceased lover of Nicole, sitting in their car. They hear that the public is reacting with joy to the verdict. Kim Goldman turns to her father and asks, "What are we going to do now?"
Despite the needless dramatic zooms, the final episode of the season was strong, featuring good performances, dramatic tension and the intriguing story we've been given all season. My heart broke for the prosecution and I had to put myself in the shoes of the jury, two rare levels of engagement I had with the show.
The show itself, unfortunately, was not as strong as the final episode. It was too melodramatic and it gave minute details supreme importance. Many side storylines were raised and unresolved. It hardly focused on the public perception of the case. Some performances made me roll my eyes on how grossly they were over acted. And it just was a drag to sit through week after week.
If it were four episodes shorter with less camera movement it might have been a brilliant show. As it is, I think it is brilliant story that was squandered by a cartoonish, overly dramatic and tedious show. I would like to see the O.J. trial reimagined as a movie in the future.