Even though we knew the verdict and knew this was a case about race, O.J. Simpson’s acquittal was no less disappointing for two reasons: 1) we have not closed the gap of racial injustice and 2) this fascinating look behind the scenes of the trial of the century has come to an end.
For me the best part of this finale was the pictures at the end of the real people and the actors who portrayed them. Did Judge Lance Ito play himself? And the picture of O.J. today with the caption that he will be eligible for parole next year was the most sobering of all. But I digress, let’s talk about the episode.
We begin with Johnnie Cochran greeting O.J. with his choice of fresh designer clothes. “Today’s the day.” Johnnie tells O.J. and if he gets the chance to talk, he better not stop. There are no jurors to hear his “Dr. Seuss” statement of he did not, could not, would not, should not, kill Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, but Marcia Clark doesn’t want it allowed, however, Judge Ito permits it anyway.
Meanwhile, Johnnie’s staff is worried about the 20 plus death threats he’s received since the trial began. They have a plan to secure his safety – and it’s a doozy.
During closing arguments, Marcia reminds the jurors that although Mark Fuhrman is indeed a disgusting racist sorry excuse of a human being interested in genocide who should never have become a police officer, the evidence supports he didn’t plant the glove.
Chris Darden is next and reminds the jury how many times Nicole called the police to ask for help – though they never did – and it was during that 9th phone call that Nicole told an officer O.J. would eventually kill her. O.J. tabs away the tears.
Johnnie’s closing argument is immediate and passionate, opposite of the subdued speech from the prosecution, captivating the jurors right away. He tells them they have the power to right the wrongs committed by police against black Americans everywhere. And then we hear the infamous line, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Though Johnnie doesn’t wear the black ski hat he did in real life.
So the jurors finally get the case as the lawyers plan what they will be doing for the next week or so during the lengthy deliberations. Not so fast. After a straw poll is taken, the count is 10 not-guilty, 2 guilty. Although this poll was anonymous, everyone in the room knows it was the two white women who are delaying their escape for this nightmare jury assignment.
“Look, you might think he did it,” said the forewoman. “Hell, I might think he did it, but can we honestly sit here and say they proved it?”
What the prosecution proved is that a case should never last this long ever again. Best line of the night was delivered by Shapiro when he said, “God, they discussed this case less than anybody in America!”
As both sides try to ascertain what this quick verdict means, and police prepare for possible riots, Johnnie has enlisted the help of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to protect him and the defense team. Bob Shapiro is furious over this blatant attempt to visually stir a bias and won’t get in the van. He’ll get there in his Mercedes, like he has done every day so far.
Cut to a somewhat calm O.J. getting ready to shave. When the guard brings him the razor, he not only asks for his autograph “for his son” and tells him what a pleasure it has been guarding him, he assures O.J. that according to his friends working the hotel where the jurors are sequestered, he has nothing to worry about.
In the courtroom, after Judge Ito gives the instructions to remain calm as the verdict is read, we hear the clerk mispronounce Orenthal, as it really happened, and he is declared not guilty. Ron Goldman’s little sister says, Kim, says, forget these instructions of remaining calm, I’m having a meltdown. And it was nice to see.
Real footage is shown of the racial divide that occurred across America – whites with their deadpan silence and blacks with their jubilant celebration. Oprah had even recorded the verdict in her audience filled studio, and the same thing happened, except Oprah seemed a little shocked.
Robert Kardashian throws up in the bathroom sink and Marcia Clark cries to Gil Garcetti that she is “ashamed” to have lost the case. During the press release, Marcia pleads to victims of domestic violence not to lose faith in the system and to still come forward. Chris’ shame is so apparent he can’t even finish his speech and embraces the Goldman’s instead. Later, when the Goldman’s get into their vehicle, Kim asks her father Fred, “What do we do now?” Why, you take O.J. to a civil court and successfully sue him for wrongful death, that’s what!
There is a profound scene between Chris and Johnnie in a hallway as Johnnie offers to help Chris, after some time, get back into the black community. Chris says he never left, adding, “Police in this country will keep arresting us, keep beating us, keep killing us. You haven’t changed anything for black people here, unless, of course, you’re a famous rich one in Brentwood.”
Boom! Johnnie is quiet in this moment, but snaps out of it at his celebration party back at his office when sees President Clinton speak on the matter. Johnnie has arrived and their cause is now out of the shadows.
As Marcia packs away her boxes and boxes of notes from the trial, Chris announces his intentions to resign that’s been coming for some time. Marcia explains that she has “something to avenge” after a rape that occurred while in Italy at 17 by a waiter. What happened to the waiter? Same thing happened as O.J. – nothing.
But is there some retribution? When Robert takes O.J. back to Brentwood, O.J. is shocked that people are there with signs telling the killer he’s not welcome. Didn’t they hear? He was found not-guilty. At his house, his family is waiting, but the Brown’s didn’t allow his young kids, Sidney and Justin to be there. And if anything was missing in this anthology, it was their voices. But no time to worry about that, O.J. is ready to have the party of the century!
O.J.’s son, Jason, gives him a puppy because he knows his father will need a friend. Poor puppy. At the party that O.J. received $400K by a tabloid for the photos, he realizes none of his friends are among the house full of strangers. Except loyal Robert Kardashian who leaves after O.J.’s speech vowing to find the real killers – but he places the bible given to O.J., then given back to Robert after the trial, on the table. O.J. will obviously need it more. Jason tells his father he was unable to make dinner reservations for the following night at the Riviera Country Club. They have no room for him – ever.
O.J. goes outside alone to look at the statue of the man he used to be, but will never be again.
Tell us what you thing. Did the jury get it right? Was the case not proven beyond a reasonable doubt? What do you think the prosecution could have done differently?