Not simply the series’ best offerings thus far, the fifth and sixth episodes of “The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” were among the best hours of any television show this season.
The seventh episode, which airs this Tuesday, is not quite as outstanding. It is, however, another compelling installment of an immensely compelling FX drama series.
It also tackles one of the most notorious elements of the OJ Simpson murder case: the glove.
Entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” Tuesday’s episode explores the alternative theories that emerged during the most closely followed murder trial in modern American history.
On the one hand, such theories were everywhere (and are still everywhere). On the other hand, credible alternatives to the state’s assertion — that OJ Simpson murdered Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman — were few and far between. Simpson’s supporters could easily express shock at the allegation, defend his character and criticize the way the police handled the investigation, but they could not as readily articulate a realistic scenario of what they believe actually happened. Few could even pinpoint another conceivable suspect, let alone one as damned by the evidence as OJ.
For one member of the Dream Team, the consequence is heartbreaking doubt about Simpson’s innocence. For all members of the Dream Team, the consequence is a more challenging case; after all, believable conspiracy/alternative theories are a great way to create reasonable doubt. For the prosecution, the consequence is a potentially dangerous degree of confidence: certainty about OJ’s guilt may cause the state’s attorneys to underestimate the defense’s ability to dispute that guilt.
This week’s episode examines those consequences before building to one of the most anticipated moments of the season: the glove fitting.
Headline Planet recently screened the episode, which airs Tuesday at 10PM ET. While we will not provide specific scene details, we can reveal some items to expect:
The episode is entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” and it spotlights the legal strategy of using alternative explanations to create reasonable doubt (if not establish outright innocence). Naturally, the theory that a drug cartel murdered Nicole and Ronald — and attempted to give them “Colombian Neckties” — comes into play.
Bob Shapiro & Bob Kardashian: Different Shades of Doubt
Through Team OJ members Bob Shapiro and Bob Kardashian, we encounter the different forms of doubt that have come into play. One’s concern is primarily about the likelihood of achieving a “not guilty” verdict. The other concerns the likelihood that OJ is actually not guilty.
Johnnie’s Double Life
“American Crime Story” has consistently presented Johnnie Cochran as a wildly charismatic, utterly brilliant legal and strategic mastermind, it has not at all presented him as a perfect, textbook hero. It has alluded to character flaws and past transgressions.
When the story of his supposed “double life” (as well as some other damning allegations) goes public, Johnnie finds himself dealing with the fallout. That fallout factors into Tuesday’s episode.
We know he can provide masterful support for his client, but can he protect himself? Can he successfully mitigate the situation?
A Frank Meeting
While OJ may typically be mild-mannered, we’ve seen that he can be assertive. This week’s episode provides another glimpse of that more commanding side of his personality. Worried that one of his lawyers is not fully supportive of the team’s mission– and thus not performing at 100% — the murder suspect lays down the law. Get on board, or get out the door!
The speech pays off, as the attorney responds by making a gamechanging contribution to the team’s case.
Extracurricular Activity: The Charming Side of Marcia Clark
Episode six provided a glimpse into Marcia Clark’s humanity and vulnerability. Episode seven showcases her likability.
Invited by Chris Darden to go to a friendly gathering at a bar up in Oakland, Clark seizes the opportunity to get away from the courtroom.
While she does not completely throw caution to the wind, she does reveal a personality more fun, lively, and charming than is typical of her courtroom demeanor. It would be a stretch to say she perfectly fits in with Darden’s group of friends, but her presence is not at all uncomfortable. She drinks, she laughs, she has fun, and she renders herself infinitely more appealing to viewers — and to her colleague.
When the gloves appear on the screen, we all know what is coming. As has been the case throughout “American Crime Story,” that knowledge of what happens does not at all dampen the thrill of watching it happen.
Neither overwritten nor overdirected, the pivotal scene relies organically on what it meant to these real-life characters — and to the case — to underscore its importance. The result is a tense, intriguing, exciting window into one of the most notorious moments of one of America’s most notorious legal cases.