You can cut the sexual tension with a … uh, never mind! Although Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) used the opening scene to declare to the press that he respected the LAPD in spite of “a few bad apples,” there was no real peace made between any of the opposing parties throughout the rest of the Tuesday, March 15, episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, titled “Conspiracy Theories.” Much like his declaration, every move made by the prosecution and defense in the O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) murder trial was very calculated and strategic.
Watching Real Crime in Real Time
As the superpublic trial wore on, the audience got to see how professors at Harvard Law were using it to teach their courses. One professor applauded lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) for strategically using entertainment to draw viewers in. He explained that the world was becoming more and more invested in narratives and entertainment, telling his students: “If there’s going to be a media circus, you’d better be the ringmaster!”
Then he strode to his fax machine, wrote something on a piece of paper, sent it to Johnnie and allowed his class to watch as the lawyer got the fax, read its message and proposed the professor’s suggestion to the judge, right there on live TV. That suggestion was to bring up drug cartels and their infamously brutal murders. Johnnie took his cue from the professor all the way across the country and dramatically acted out having his throat sliced, providing the national audience with entertainment and a new conspiracy theory. Could Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman have been murdered because Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) owed a cartel money?
Back at the offices of the prosecution, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) laughed off the “desperate flailing,” but Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown) pointed out that the jury ate it all up and was much more engaged by “exotic” stories provided by the defense.
In a more subdued moment somewhere else in Los Angeles, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) quietly expressed his concern to Johnnie that no evidence had yet cropped up to exonerate O.J. Just as Johnnie was assuring his colleague that the truth always finds a way to come out, two of his former lovers appeared on a talk show, discussing how Johnnie managed two households while he two-timed them both.
“He’s the smoothest man in L.A.,” purred one of the women. Clearly, his efforts to buy their silence in the previous episode did not pay off. The topic of the show turned to Johnnie’s domestic abuse.
Under More Pressure Than David Bowie
As Johnnie was panicking and enraged, the prosecution was using Nicole’s old credit card records to prove she had purchased the extra-large Isotoner gloves that were found at the crime scene and which, they were sure, would prove O.J.’s involvement in her death.
Still feeling overjoyed about the gloves but annoyed by how easily Johnnie bounced back from the public airing of his dirtiest laundry, Marcia agreed to drive to Oakland with Chris over the weekend to unwind.
Back at home, where his current wife was no longer speaking to him, Johnnie was not as unflappable as he was when battling the press. Shapiro was stressed too, terrified of starting more riots and upsetting the LAPD. He began wearing a police solidarity pin and encouraged Kardashian to help him convince the rest of the defense to take a plea. When Kardashian refused, Shapiro issued a veiled threat, pointing out that Kardashian was on camera removing a garment bag from O.J.’s property and that a jury might just believe there had been a weapon in the bag that Kardashian had tried to get rid of.
Kardashian ran out of the room, back to his house, and opened the bag. There was no weapon inside, but he was even more unnerved than ever as he thought about how his kids were being tormented at school due to his defense of a man who seemed guilty to nearly everyone while he still couldn’t find any other explanation for how Nicole died.
A Professional Lovers’ Quarrel
At the birthday party in Oakland, Marcia and Chris drank and laughed with the guests. The topic turned to the case, and a tipsy Marcia tore apart all the plot holes in the conspiracy theory about how the LAPD had framed O.J. She didn’t convince the assembled friends of O.J.’s guilt, but she did make them like her. They cornered Chris and told him to make his move on her.
He walked her to her door and though there was an uncomfortable tension, he said “good night,” and she abruptly went inside, closed the door, and curtly said, “Good night, Darden.”
When they met again at the office, Chris tried to convince Marcia that they’d nail the entertainment factor that the jury and audience were after if they could get O.J. to put on the gloves. Marcia, still visibly upset from their unromantic trip to Oakland, brushed him off.
Since Prince Was on Apollonia, Since O.J. Had Isotoners …
In the courtroom, testimony about the gloves was heard and Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) called for a recess. In that time, Shapiro approached the gloves and slid one on with great effort. He smirked, then went back to the defense, whispering, “Those gloves are too small!”
Now Chris and the defense all wanted O.J. to try on the gloves, but Marcia still wouldn’t allow it. F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) taunted him, telling him, “If you don’t tell him to put on the gloves, I will,” just before Judge Ito walked back into the room.
Chris requested that O.J. try on the gloves. Marcia looked horrified.
O.J. struggled to fit his hands inside the gloves, and the jury watched with rapt attention. He announced that they did not fit.
Later, alone in his office, Chris watched the tape over and over again of O.J. trying on the too-small gloves. Then he grabbed the phone and called Ron’s family to apologize for what they had seen that day in court.
Tell Us: Would Chris have made that mistake if he didn’t misfire so badly with Marcia?
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs on FX Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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