AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON – EP. 4 – A REVIEW BY HAYDEN PITTMAN

OJ Court

(CONTAINS SPOILERS)

Tuesday nights fourth episode of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” continues the trend of producing quality episodes, great acting and interesting inside information. This episode was one of my favorites so far, as the show finally gets going with selecting the jury, so that the actual trial can begin.

As seen in previous episodes, both sides are pushing for a certain type of person to be involved in the case, and as this episode goes on, at least half of the jurors turn out to be African American, and the personnel on both the defense and the prosecution appears to be shifting. 

The episode opens with a flashback of an amusing party scene that Simpson is recalling. Drugs, alcohol, girls, music, flashy clothes and more fill the screen until we quickly find Simpson back in his cell and dreaming of a better life and situation. With his “dream team” of lawyers almost complete, the defense plans on challenging absolutely everything in the preliminary hearing, be it Marcia Clark’s request to use the restroom or being picky about the number of hairs the prosecution can request for a hair test. The more objections and challenges the defense can come up with, the harder and longer it will be for the other side.

Before jury selection can begin, both sides poll different groups of people to see what their true opinions of O.J. are, and what they think of others involved such as Nicole Simpson, Clark, Shapiro, Cochran, etc. To no surprise, O.J. polls well among African Americans and Nicole isn’t very popular, while many think Clark is a cold b**** who needs to smile more and change her appearance. The numbers and news reports show that some believe Shapiro to be in over his head, while they seem to love Cochran. As a result, the defense naturally begins to push for as many African Americans on the jury as possible, while the prosecution says they simply want a group of fair, educated people. 

During the jury selection, a newly published book comes to light, using the help and hearsay of Faye Resnick (decent performance from Connie Britton), a close friend of Nicole Simpson who paints O.J. in a horrible, abusive light. This suspends the selection for a time, so that the judge and both sides can fully examine the material.

At one point, the prosecution decides to take the death penalty off the table, due to O.J.’s celebrity status and popularity and begin discussing the idea of bringing on an African American of their own to help out with the case. They also deal with the upset and heartbroken family of Ronald Goldman, the male victim found dead with Nicole, who seems to have been mostly forgotten in the shadow of this high profile case. The scene where Clark engages with the Goldman family is very emotional and intense to see play out.

While the prosecution addresses their own issues, the defense begins to have internal trouble as Cochran and Shapiro start butting heads. Shapiro is annoyed that Cochran continues to step on his toes and acts as if he is in charge, and after Shapiro pushes for O.J. to take a deal and plead guilty to manslaughter, he is removed as lead lawyer, at O.J.’s request and the support of the rest of the team. This leaves Cochran in charge, and the team believes he has the better vocabulary and face to lead.

By the end of the episode, the jury is finalized, Cochran officially takes over, and the defense finally adds a third lawyer to their team, Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown), who happens to be African American and an acquaintance of Cochran’s. If this episode was any indication of the exciting and detailed trial to come, then I’ll have an even harder time waiting for next week.

You can see “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” Tuesday evenings on FX at 10PM ET/PT, and you can catch up on previous episodes at http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/american-crime-story/episodes.

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