Tagged Cuba Gooding Jr

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 7”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 7: “Chapter 7”
Directed by Elodie Keene
Written by Crystal Liu

* For a review of Chapter 6, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 8, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-33-03-amReturn to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell is well underway. Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson) cheers behind the scenes watching footage like the greasy douche he is, and loving every minute of the drama. Of course nobody knows where Diana went – a.k.a dead. Not that Sidney gives a shit. The cameraman notices Rory Monahan (Evan Peters) getting stabbed, but can’t get his camera ready in time to catch anything. Then comes a scream in the night from their PA. In the dark we hear her choking, Sidney beckons the cameraman. They find the PA with her throat cut. And then Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) in The Butcher’s clothing emerges, stabbing Sidney, as well as hacks the cameraman to unseen bits. She proclaims to the fallen camera: “I am the tree and the lightning that strikes it.”
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-34-08-amAudrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) and the others try finding Rory. Matt Miller (André Holland) keeps telling them that “R is for Rory.” You know nobody wants to hear that. Either way, he and Shelby (Lily Rabe), along with Audrey, Lee Harris (Adina Porter), Monet Tumuslime (Angela Bassett), and Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) all go searching the house for clues. They find a pool of blood upstairs. Audrey convinces everybody that Rory got that part and Sidney convinced him to do them a frighten in order to get their blood pumping. The poor wife is left believing her younger husband took off on her for better things. That’s sad.
Down in that cellar Agnes raves by firelight to a camera. She’s separated completely from reality now, don’t think she’s coming back ever again. Thomas White has taken over Agnes, full stop. She slips in and out of persona, yes, but ultimately The Butcher is becoming her primary personality. To devastating effect. “‘Cause the fans wanted more. And they wanted The Butcher.” However, things get spooky for even Agnes, as the ghosts of Roanoke’s Lost Colony start appearing around her, their wooden symbols hanging from the cellar’s low ceiling.
At the house nothing is getting any easier. Dominic edges up on Shelby, right as Matt appears out of nowhere: “Fuck her right here for all I care,” Matt tells them both defiantly. During an aside confessional, Dominic shows us that Sidney’s given him a body cam in the form of jewellery, to make things difficult for anybody and everybody. What’s better than screen time?
Shelby has a run in with Agnes in the bedroom. The old woman rages, going from The Butcher back to herself, and back again. A legitimately creepy moment. Agnes slices a piece out of Shelby, although Dominic takes her down before she can finish the poor woman off. All the while the cameras are everywhere, constantly rolling and catching the terror. Yet off into nowhere disappears Agnes.

 


Everyone’s becoming desperate. Nobody is coming to help, certainly, and we know why. They don’t know, though. For the time being they try and devise a plan how to get help, or simply get out of there. So several of the group head down into the tunnels below the house, where Edward Mott once supposedly led the Millers. Only they come across a screaming ghost, one that Lee’s gun can’t seem to take down. They rush out into the daylight, no longer fearing Agnes, wherever she’s hiding. Inside the Millers lament their lost marriage: “This place took something from me,” Matt confesses.
In the sky rises the Blood Moon. Lee, Monet, and Audrey finally stumble across the trailer, along with the gutted corpses of the crew and Sidney. No phones, no way to get out even in the car which is dead; you know it is! Then Agnes comes running at them from the woods. Lee shoots her into the dirt luckily, and the three women try to move on. Except torches in the woods alert them to ghosts of the Lost Colony. The Bloody Moon has begat spirits in flesh and blood. Meanwhile, as Audrey gives a Blair Witch Project-style confession to her phone’s camera, blood drips from overhead: from her dead husband. The ghosts still come for them sending the woman running into the darkness.
Or are they ghosts? No, it looks like humans in the night this time.
Oh, and Agnes, she’s survived a bullet in the chest, doing a little homemade surgery. You know that bad bitch isn’t going down. Perhaps it’s just more of the Blood Moon’s dark magic.

 


Poor Matt and Shelby never should’ve agreed to go back to that place. In the middle of the night Matt takes a walk downstairs. As if on a mission. Against his best interest, Dominic follows along with that sneaky body cam. He sees Matt in the basement where the Witch stands in the shadows: “Ive been waiting for you,” says Matt. Right before she grabs him violently, pulling him out of sight in a flurry of fierce noises. Dominic goes to get Shelby, they head back down together. They find the Witch on top of Matt. When Shelby pulls her off Matt tells them he came back for her. This prompts Shelby to smash his head in with a hammer until it’s nothing but mush. Wow.
The hillbillies have got hold of Lee. Tied up, she’s at their mercy. Uh oh. These are the real hillbillies, not the reenactment crowd. They’re the real and nasty deal. The Polk family; living off blood and the land. Mama (Robin Weigert) has her boys get to work on Lee, starting with some thigh flesh. They grease her up, season her. Y’know, that good stuff for “tenderising.” Likewise they’re torturing Audrey and Monet a bit mentally. Surely they’ll be seasoned soon enough. First though, they’re force fed a bit of Lee.
Up at the house Agnes is preparing the place for burning. Behind her rally the ghosts of the Lost Colony. Nice note: a parallel shot of the real Shelby with the fake Matt matches one previously of the fake Matt and fake Shelby from those reenactments, as they watch the torches from the window. Problem now is for Agnes – the real Butcher has arrived, and she isn’t sharing places. Agnes begs that she “only wanted to be on TV.” Not good enough. You’re fucking axed in the face, Kathy!screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-12-26-amWhat a solid episode. This really turned things up a gory notch. With that excellent 6th episode the plot twisted, and after that the series did itself a favour by coming out with this blood soaked “Chapter 7” that explodes across the screen. We can only wonder what will happen next. I dig that they’ve shortened the season, too. Not that they couldn’t have stretched it more to 13 again, just that they’ve set themselves a decent round number of episodes, they halved the plot in a sense, and now we’re heading into the homestretch, where anything at all can happen.

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 4”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 4: “Chapter 4”
Directed by Marita Grabiak
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 5, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-26-34-amIn the talking head interviews, Matt (André Holland) relates how Shelby (Lily Rabe) was pissed after supposedly seeing him having sex with a woman in the woods. During the reenactments, Shelby (Sarah Paulson) confronts Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) until he breaks down: “Its like a part of my brain was cut out.” She comforts him, though the real Shelby affirms that she knew there was something not right, at all. What she saw was real.
That night Shelby sees the Pig Man. And he is also very real. Matt wrestles with him briefly before the couple get away. They’re saved by Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), from out of nowhere. He uses the “Croatoan” spell, shouting it and dispelling the creature. But warns: “Hell be back.”
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-29-36-amSo Dr. Cunningham tells us about Croatoan. How it was left when Roanoke Colony disappeared. Really, it’s blood magic. Spooky. The doctor quickly relays that he’s the so-called guardian of the house, trying to make sure people know about its history. Matt’s eager to kick him out, although Shelby has seen the Pig Man before. Through the craziness, she believes Elias. In the basement, he shows them some of his work: all the “paranormal activity” that’s occurred in and around the house. Essentially, a history of horror and torture concerning various families that were unfortunate enough to have bought the house over the years. Like the Chens, who were taken by surprise once the Pig Man showed up. And once Thomasin “The Butcher” White (Kathy Bates) came by? Shit. Things got much, much worse. Cunningham tells Shelby and Matt about how even those nasty nurses were afraid of the place. The Butcher did them in good, too. Real medieval style. On and on and on the tales go. He mentions the “Dying Grass Moon” as being when the disappearances and murders take place.
Lee (Angela Bassett) is on the hook for her missing daughter, though Matt and Shelby wanted to get to the bottom of the whole Priscilla mystery. Something with which Elias can help. Lots of creepiness when Matt spies the strange woman (Lady Gaga) from afar. Shelby chases her until eventually getting lost and running into some hunters – the ones Dr. Cunningham told her about, who once stayed in the house and turned their guns on each other. Well, they’re still wearing those wounds. Quite graphically; dig it. Shelby didn’t, and tried using the Croatoan spell. Doesn’t work because of the lunar cycle, so says Elias. Then in the middle of the forest they see Flora with a bunch of ghosts (people who’ve died or disappeared in the house), the Pig Man, and of course Ms. Priscilla. A horn begins to blow soon. An arrow, or three, are plugged into the poor doctor. While the couple run off there’s no doubt we’ll see Elias again. I’d bet on it.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-44-14-amAt the house, Cricket Marlowe (Leslie Jordan) is ready to rock. They’re obviously ready to do whatever they can to get Lee’s daughter back. He tells them about talking to The Butcher. She’s pretty ready to rock, as well. Y’know, with the bloody moon rising and all. “Id kill for a Coke Zero right now,” Cricket says as he tries to get psyched up about what to do next. He takes off only to return hours later: “I met the bitch with the real power.” It’s that strange woods woman. She temporarily blinds him, puts a knife to his throat. Tricky lil’ Marlowe’s able to get himself out of it, after discovering a few things first. She shows him a vision. They’re in a cornfield. Hundreds of years ago. At the Lost Colony in Roanoke. This is where they came, to where the house now stands. They did terrible things, such as sacrificing little children; Cricket witnesses The Butcher smash a girl to death with a rock. Yikes. Her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) wasn’t pleased with the new path, under tutelage of that strange woman, the woods witch. The Butcher then pretended to repent for her wrongdoings, only to kill everyone. Even her boy. She puts a cleaver right in his chest to boot before slashing anybody not fully dead yet right into the grave. She binds them to their new land with blood. Lots of it. Her own, too. She lets the woods witch cut her throat, “bonding” the whole colony to the land “for all eternity.” Cricket says he’s got the spell to clue everything up.
Yeah, right. In his Uber on the way home Cricket spies Flora running across the road. So he gets out of the car and now you know he’s not getting back to the Millers any time soon.

 

 


Matt and Shelby wait for him. But he never comes. Night comes, Matt’s feeling a little creeped out. Foolishly, he heads outside – though with a gun – after hearing things, seeing fleeting images. The sounds they draw him to the cellar out in the woods. He finds the witch there, waiting. “Debts must be paid,” she tells him. Oh, you know what she means! Don’t pretend. A little later Shelby wakes and can’t find her husband. He’s stuck down in the cellar, mesmerised by her story. She was a “descendant of the Druids and their Roman conquerors.” Instead of being a victim, she slaughtered the soldiers keeping her captive. Anyway, Matt was lured into the honey trap. Meanwhile Shelby’s laid siege to by The Butcher and her ghostly hordes, Flora in their grasp. When Matt finally tears himself out of the spell, they get some help from Priscilla; she manages to get Flora away from them.
But poor Flora, she’s frightened. Then outside they all see Cricket. The Butcher rips his guts open while the Millers watch from inside. The colony gets truly medieval on Mr. Marlowe. Absolute savagery.
Things aren’t looking good for Matt and Shelby. We know they survive it. Yet even in the real footage of their interviews – are so sure they’ll be safe in the near future?screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-06-26-amscreen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-07-15-amLove this season so much! Lots of creepiness, a bit of gore. Some strange oddities of various types. Can’t wait for more in the next chapter.

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 2”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-56-18-amLast we left Matt and Shelby Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr. & Sarah Paulson in the “dramatic reenactment“; André Holland & Lily Rabe in the documentary-style clips), things were bad. Shelby’s lost in the woods, finding a strange torch wielding cult (including Wes Bentley) and a man whose skull has been… partially removed. The strange woman Shelby thought she’d run over chants in the darkness (Kathy Bates), a group of people surround a man having a pigtail nailed to him. Terribly creepy little cuts.
After running and running, Shelby stops a moment. Only to find more madness. “I never thought about what could be in the wilderness, hiding in the dark,” the real Shelby recounts. We see Bates’ character lead a strange ceremony involving a man put up on a cross, a pig’s head stuck on his shoulders. Shelby takes off again until passing out in the middle of the road, where Matt’s sister Lee (Angela Bassett) finds her. Of course it all sounds mad to the police and everyone else. Poor Shelby. God damn. Ultimately she too believes it’s the “mountain men” trying to drive them out of the house.
A very bad, tragic misunderstanding.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-59-39-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-01-50-amWe get to see more about Lee now, she and her ex-husband Mason (Charles Malik Whitfield) exchange their daughter Flora (Saniyya Sidney) for a while. Yeah, that’s a great fucking idea. Bring a little girl into a haunted house, or at the very least a house out in the country being laid siege to by hillbillies. Anyway, things kick off real quick once Lee finds Flora talking to somebody upstairs. Who? Oh, just somebody named Priscilla. Who isn’t there. A ghost? Or something more? Lee does the smart thing and pries a bit. “She said shes tired of all the blood,” Flora responds when questioned about Priscilla and her bonnet. When Lee literally finds one laying around, she gets spooked.
The great thing about any haunted house film or show is that part of everything is the human, psychological drama happening. There’s Lee and her girl, as well as Matt and Shelby, everyone with their own issues, taking things in differently.
That night more pig noises come from outside. Shelby takes action and insists on tracking them down, so Matt tags along. In the dark, out amongst the trees, they get separated. As one would expect from any horror. When they find each other, they come across a large stick figure with a pig’s head on top, roasting in fire; the skin and meat hanging below dripping into the flames. “This was beyond having a cross burned on your lawn. There was something demonic about it.” the real Matt speaks through voice-over.
With a bit more evidence this time, the police reluctantly look into what’s happening around the Miller’s place. Then a phone call comes through to Matt in the night. Except the phone’s disconnected. In the shadows, he finds an apparition: mean nurses tending to an old, frail and sickly woman named Margaret (Irene Roseen). They can’t hear Matt, but he watches on as one of the nurses tells their patient “Youve been warned” before blowing her brains out with a revolver. Now he’s seeing terrifying things, it isn’t only Shelby anymore.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-14-57-amThis incident sets things into a frenzy. The police, as suspected, can’t find anything to backup Matt’s story. He starts questioning the integrity of his brain, literally, after the incident in the city. Problem is the cops are gradually getting less interested in helping, which isn’t all that abnormal by real world standards.
When Mason shows up for Flora, they can’t find her. It used to be a game she played with them. This time, not finding her may have something to do with the house. They find Flora in a crawlspace talking to Priscilla, who disappears quickly. Apparently Flora tried to make a trade: a doll for their lives. Seems Priscilla is homicidal. And it’s not just her. Flora warns her parents: “Theyre going to kill us all. And save me for last.” Fuck. That’s eerie. Dad hauls his daughter off and things aren’t looking any better for Lee as a mother. Especially considering she started drinking afterwards, off the wagon again. She broke a few things. Shelby’s not happy to find knives in the ceiling, although we can guess that probably wasn’t Lee. Those nurses are creeping about, too. In her drunken state Lee sees a lot of things from pigtails to pig heads and it’s one bad hangover she’s headed for in the morning.
There’s a little girl hanging around outside to boot, which sends Matt and Shelby outside. They come to a trap door with a ladder leading below ground a ways; hmm. Inside are a number of things including tapes in a camcorder. On them is a man named Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare). He speaks frantically saying things like “Im not what I am” and generally in distress over “forces that will not let me sleep.” He speaks of the house and its forces wanting to kill him. He further assures the viewer he’s not crazy. Then Cunningham tells us of his book about two nurses – Miranda and Bridget Jane. Oh yes, you guessed which nurses. Twisted bitches. They killed people with specific names to spell out MURDER. Everything got even wilder as it went on turning into one of those epic, insane tales of true crime.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-24-14-amMore craziness to set the Millers off. Peeling away wallpaper, Matt finds the unfinished word MURDE written on the wall. Everything gets more real at this point. They keep on listening to Cunningham’s rambling tape. Doesn’t help any, except to frighten the shit out of them further. Scariest yet is when the tormented doctor heads inside the house with only his camcorder, night vision on, to guide him through the silent hallways. “Show yourself,” he yells to whatever’s in the dark. Before something, someone appears and startles him. And downstairs, a butcher’s knife with blood on it is stuck in the front door.
They just wanted to leave. Not so easy, though. No getting out of that mad house. Everything amps up a notch after Lee shows up with Flora again. When she’s clearly not supposed to have here there. More of that impulsive Lee behaviour already. Her brother tries to talk sense into her. Shelby tries talking the ex-husband down from calling the cops.
But can Mason get there to take his daughter away before anything worse happens? The little girl whom I assume to be Priscilla beckons Flora to come outside, out near the trap door in the field. Then she goes missing. The adults start to search frantically.
In a clearing, Lee finds her daughter’s yellow sweater at the top of a thin, ridiculously tall tree, its trunk looking almost stained with blood. They stand below, not sure what to do next.
And what can they do?screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-05-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-58-amVery pumped for “Chapter 3” next week. Some people keep complaining, and I have no idea why. I love the re-enactment stuff, it adds a fun twist to the show. I’m still feeling like there’s going to be an angle to all that. Just like My Amityville Horror had its drama, My Roanoke Nightmare is going to bring something with that faux-documentary posing as a real documentary. Mark my words.
Also, did you catch Lady Gaga in her brief appearance? She shows up a couple times early on. Very unnerving look to her character. Can’t wait for more, of everything!

 

 

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 1”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 1: “Chapter 1”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of Chapter 2, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-25-amThis year’s theme? My Roanoke Nightmare. Delicious.
We open on a series of talking heads. Almost seems like an Amityville Horror sort of thing, too. My Amityville Horror is a documentary by the man who was a child during the supposed Lutz story, and this seems to mirror its style a bit.
Well, Shelby (Rabe) and Matt (André Holland) are a married couple. They tell us about their relationship, what they do for a living, so on. They talk about the “worst night” of the their lives when Matt is randomly knocked out by some gang of kids. He nearly died because of their foolish brutality. We see Sarah Paulson playing Shelby and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Matt, like reenactments of that night. Sadly, Shelby lost her baby on that evening. After the event they took a trip out into the wilderness: “We werent city folks,” Matt says.
Out in the woods is an old farm house. A massive backwoods mansion. The house is cheap, just like the one the Lutz family fell into buying in Amityville. They snatch it up, now owning a surely haunted house. Shelby knew it from the beginning, in the back of her mind.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-34-amStrange banging in the night already starts Shelby and Matt off on a rough note. Interracial couple, rednecks kicking around. They’ve had troubles before, but were more than willing to fend any trouble off. Nothing’s too great. When Shelby’s home alone it starts raining teeth. TEETH! That’s pretty fucking unsettling. Of course no teeth are left when Matt gets back. To be expected when you live in a haunted Southern mansion. I mean, even the house, the big windows upstairs, the shape, it’s so reminiscent of The Amityville Horror. Not in a bad sense. Dig the homage.
One evening while cooking, home alone, Shelby sees two young women pass in the hallway, staring at her. Nice bit of tension, as she goes to check out where the women went. Finding nothing, only a suspenseful moment or two. Later when she relaxes in the hot tub outside until somebody holds her under. She calls Matt, who gets home quick, and the police, of course. Although the police don’t care much. Lots of paranoia swirling already. The couple aren’t sure anymore what to believe. So I LOVE the cinematography so far this season – the house especially looks ominous even in how the shadows cast over everything, big windows everywhere like eyes, darkness crowding around them.
Living in the house only gets worse, as you’d imagine. Weird noises get Matt out of bed and he finds a mutilated pig on the porch outside. He doesn’t tell his wife, he assumes it was the redneck boys who wanted to buy the house. So like a smart person, he hooks up lots of cameras and a nice security system hooked to his phone. Better yet, he gets his sister Lee (Angela Bassett) to go out there and look after Shelby. Lee was a bad ass cop, whose injury from getting shot on the job led her to taking medication a bit liberally. One day, really lit up on pills, she chased a serial rapist and her addiction was discovered. This got her fired, before wreaking absolute havoc on her personal life; she lost her husband, even her daughter. A sad, human tragedy.

 

 


Nothing changes in the house. Just because a security system’s in place and a former cop is looking after Shelby doesn’t mean whatever inhabits that house is going away. Paranoia runs mad now with another person kicking around. Only makes it easier for Shelby to confuse ghostly apparitions with Lee moving things, walking around, et cetera. An added interest is that Lee is still an addict. She asks Shelby not to drink, though I’m not sure how well that will hold up. On the other side is the fact Lee is also sceptical of her sister-in-law.
Then the house starts working on Lee. A lone wine bottle rolls across the floor at her, so she assumes it’s Lee being a bitch. “Why would you do something like that?” she questions Shelby. Now the accusations fly between the both of them. Meanwhile, Matt gets a text from his automated security: people in hoods carrying torches have headed through the gate up to the house. Oh, my. He tries to call the ladies, but they’re too busy arguing.
Suddenly, Shelby and Lee are interrupted by a videotape playing on the television, the strange noises from the night coming out – then on the tape appears a pig-headed man in the wilderness, squealing and bloody. Like anybody would be, the women are terrified. The hooded people with their torches get inside the house while the pair hide, and Matt rushes from a couple hours away to try getting home. When the ladies finally come out of hiding there are tons of creepy stick figures a la Blair Witch Project hanging about the house. Cops once more do nothing.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-45-55-amscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-59-43-amWhen Matt is back he watches the video, only getting angrier at the local hillbillies. He still doesn’t want to leave; Shelby takes off in the car thinking only “fight or flight.” On her way she hits somebody in the road (it’s Kathy Bates and she just walks it off). Shelby chases her into the nearby woods and gets lost. She winds up finding more of the stick figures that were hung in the house, which sends her running into a place where the earth below seems to breathe. Deeper in she comes across a man missing some of his scalp and skull, brain exposed. And in the darkness lurks a man holding a torch, among many others holding torches – Wes Bentley’s character. We’ll just have to wait and find out who he is, as well as what happens to Shelby out there.

 

 


I don’t care what any of these other horror sites are saying – they probably won’t continue watching after the first episode of the series, anyways. So fuck ’em. This was a great start to the new series. Fun references, eerie shots and sequences, a bit of character intrigue and gritty development. “Chapter Two” will likely be good fun.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 9: “Manna From Heaven”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 9: “Manna From Heaven”
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

* For a review of the previous episode, “A Jury in Jail” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “The Verdict” – click here
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The penultimate episode of American Crime Story has arrived.
We begin with recap of the trial via television. The tapes of Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) are being tracked down. Meanwhile, in court Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) is doing his thing, asking his witness whether someone “sounded black“, which prompts Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) to go off. It gets so heated that Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) calls a recess. Of course, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is pissed herself because the racial nonsense distracts from anything truthful.
But the defense are jumping all over Fuhrman and the supposed tapes. Bob Shapiro (John Travolta), Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) and the rest try to get things in order. “We must get them,” orders Johnnie re: the tapes.
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Johnnie: “God brought us these tapes. Theres something much larger at play here. This, is Manna from Heaven.”
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The prosecution are variably worried in their own respects about Fuhrman; Darden more so. Yet Johnnie and his crew are moving along to the beat of their own drum. We’ve got F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) touting his influence in the boardroom, offering to head up the whole Fuhrman angle in North Carolina, where he and Cochran are headed for the tapes and transcripts. And so the two dig in on Fuhrman and his extremely complicated racist background. Unfortunately, the NC judge is not happy to have a flash, proud, strong black man like Johnnie in his court. So, Bailey has to take over. He placates the Southern racists, managing to slip out those tapes and transcripts for their case in California.


Bailey: “Mr. Cochran take a good look where youre standing. Were in the South. Havent you noticed the scent of mint julep and condescension in the air? Right behind you is a statue of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle. With all due respect, I dont know if you play as well in Dixie.”
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Back in Los Angeles, Marcia is getting even more worked up, as the tapes make their way further towards their trial. Ito won’t let them in yet, but the teams are allowed to review them. There’s an ominous tone to this episode. All the looming racism of the past connecting with Fuhrman and the ongoing racism, that sadly still burns today in the U.S. The entire opening 10 minutes or so are incredible.
So everybody tucks in and listens to what Fuhrman’s got to say on the infamous recordings. The editing in this series is spectacular, as always. They cut both of the teams listening to the tapes together, back and forth between the two. Super intense sequence overall. Immediately, Fuhrman launches into a tirade about “niggers” and “Mexicans“, and talks about the right way to enforce the law, tough on the street. He says the word nigger about a dozen times in the first few sentences. Brutal. Each side realizes what this will do to their case; obviously, Marcia and Darden see this can crush them.
But they’ve got something “unexpected” for Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood), an “O. Henry twist“, as Marcia puts it eloquently. There’s a bunch of talk from Fuhrman on the tape about Ito’s wife, the “highest ranking woman in the LAPD” – another nail in the whole Mark Fuhrman witness debacle. The entire thing becomes a massive shitstorm.


Gil: “This screams gross incompetence


Both sides are pressed against the wall, though. Cochran and Co. don’t want a mistrial, while Darden suggests to Marcia that’s their best option, to start over without Fuhrman and his madness. Everything involving Ito spill out in open court, as he prefers it to happen. He even happens to give a little shout out to hardworking women in male-dominated environments.
Above all else, Ito determines another judge has to call whether the case should stay in front of the court. Yowzahs. So much happening on each side.
So Marcia and Chris go back to the drawing board. As do Johnnie, Shapiro, and everyone else. The whole court, really. Cochran suggests giving Ito the tapes with the parts about his wife edited out. Everyone seemed to find that suitable, but it’s up to a new judge now. Tempers flare in the meantime, with Shapiro blowing up on Cochran. Same goes for Darden – he chews Marcia out for not having listened when he advised they shouldn’t use Fuhrman to begin with, and this opens more cans of worms, relationship-wise amongst them.


Darden: “You put me on this trial because you wanted a black face. But the truth is, you never wanted a black voice.”
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On his own, Cochran is running against the tapes, him and the Coalition with which he’s involved. They’re determined to root out racist LAPD officers. Everyone from Shapiro to Garcetti is worried about more riots like in Watts. The city is almost on fire with racial heat.
People like Ito, they’re caught in the middle. People like Johnnie are willingly in the middle o the storm.
In court, things get rolling again. Johnnie wants those tapes, and he is running with them. On the other side, Clark isn’t defending Fuhrman, but rather the victims of the crime at the center of their trial. Regardless, they’re both passionate speakers. Merely different breeds of thinkers, different strategists. And Marcia does her best to try and make sure the jury won’t hear the tapes.
It’s all down to poor Ito. He has to read through a ton of vile, racist trash, as well as contend with the backlash on either end of his decision. A terrible position in which to find oneself. Nobody would’ve wanted to be him during that time. Especially once he decides the tapes will be allowed, as they’re a matter of “national concern“, so says Ito. A huge blow-up comes out again between Darden and Cochran, with the former unimpressed how his old mentor is making a mockery of the court. This gets Marcia up on Chris’ behalf, each of them nearly held in contempt by the judge. One of the most INTENSE sequences of the entire series. Orderly chaos. Eventually it all calms down, but the dirty laundry is out on the line for all to see.


Finally, the court hears some of Fuhrman. The recording is played, his speech is spelled out in text. Damning stuff, as he goes on about police brutality. Everyone in court is horrified by some of the things he says. Openly admitting to hating black people, as well as the brutality that routinely goes on behind the scenes of the LAPD. Awful, vicious. A very creepy scene, hearing these things come out. Imagine what it must’ve been like in the courtroom that day. People like Fred Goldman (Joseph Siravo) are disgusted with the focus being taken off the murder victims, and everything honing in on Fuhrman, et cetera. At the same time, Darden and Clark are licking their wounds, attempting to figure out somewhere to move next. Marcia apologizes for not listening to Chris earlier. Too late, though, better late than never at all.
Ito rules on the Fuhrman tapes. Only concerned with “perjury” and not all the LAPD corruption. Cochran isn’t happy, neither is Bailey. As usual, Bob dances around not wanting to piss off the police. He doesn’t get why Johnnie is so inflamed. Because he’s white. He could never fully understand. Nevertheless, Johnnie blows things up and advises Los to “remain calm” – but does he want that, or would some riots help his cause? The enigma of Cochran is that he’s at once a theatrical act, a performer, a disguise, and simultaneously he’s a proud, tough man who does right by people, too. You just never know who you’re going to get at any given time.


Fuhrman is being brought to the stand. Outside the court it’s a circus, inside like a morbid auditorium awaiting some bloody dissection of a patient. And that’s sort of what’s about to happen. All his lies are poised to come out.
And before things get started, Darden leaves the courtroom. Wow, a powerful statement in itself.
Johnnie starts his surgical procedure in open court. Only Fuhrman asserts the Fifth Amendment for all his questions. Another wrench in the machine. The one question Cochran does go on to ask gets the same response, and casts further doubt on the evidence. Things are getting very rough from here on in for Clark and Co.
One ray of sunshine? Marcia got primary custody of her children. A small glimpse of hope after a terrible time in court.


Next and final episode, “The Verdict”, promises lots of interesting things. Let’s see how Ryan Murphy finishes things off along with his super talented crew of actors, directors, writers, and everyone else involved. An amazing series that’s giving us impressive insight into the events behind the scenes of such an infamous trial.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 8: “A Jury in Jail”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 8: “A Jury in Jail”
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Written by Joe Robert Cole

* For a review of the previous episode, “Conspiracy Theories” – click here
* For a review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “Manna From Heaven” – click here
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Only a couple more episodes left, as O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr), Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson), Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), and the rest of the various figures hurtle towards the trial’s finish.
This episode begins with the jury being chewed out for tardiness. The trial went from two months to eight months. Everyone in the jury’s a little pissed.
But wait, let’s skip back 8 months earlier. Everyone is happy to be on jury duty, away from home and on a sort-of-vacation. At least until they start to discover the rules of their jury duty for the trial of the century, or “The Superbowl” as one of them puts it. Not so fun anymore when the pool is “off limits” and when you can’t even skim a Reader’s Digest without it being approved.
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Well Cochran and Bob Shapiro (John Travolta) are back together, laughing, toasting champagne. As Marcia and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) still aren’t too steady. And Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) is losing his god damn mind over the ill-fitting glove.
Over at the hotel with the jury, everyone’s arguing over what to watch. “What is a Seinfeld?” one of the women quips after Martin gets vetoed. Amazing to see the Martin versus Seinfeld showdown, more of the subtle racial angles within the writing of American Crime Story brings out.
Then we switch over to O.J. playing poker for Skittles in an interrogation room with a couple buddies, including Kardashian. What’s amazing is that O.J. is in the process of retelling a portion a Seinfeld episode, saying: “Im tellinyou they gotta give that Kramer his own show.” Never have we more evidently seen, directly in the writing and editing, an instance of where the perceived whiteness of Simpson comes out. Nicely written sequence all over.
What this episode gets into big time is how nobody, even just a little over 20 years ago, understood DNA. It frustrates Marcia, while providing fodder for jokes in Simpson’s camp. But when Clark has an expert break it down in layman’s terms, the jury, the defense, everybody in the court understands how damning this testimony is for O.J. Even Kardashian sees it, the look on his face almost ghostly. 1 in about 170-million; hard for Rob to get past.
Later, he and Simpson sit alone together talking of “the numbers” involved in the DNA found at the scene. Rob has a problem with Nicole’s blood being everywhere, disguising it as concerns of the jury. The faith of Kardashian is shaking in his old friend.


Simpson: “And this is them asking?”
Kardashian: “Yeah. This is them asking.”


More problems now; in the jury. One of the jurors was previously arrested for kidnapping, which Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi). He plays it off saying “you know how ladies can get“, not worrying about Marcia’s presence in the room. Even with Cochran dancing his best dance, Ito dismisses the juror. At least now Marcia doesn’t have to put with even more sexism. For the moment.
In the jury room, some of the other black jurors worry about being dismissed because they’re black. So within all the racial things happening during the trial, within the jury itself, there is even a division between some of the black people who see things differently. So many perspectives, it’s mind boggling at times.
So on goes court with a new juror in place. The defense bring up questions about missing blood belonging to O.J. and there becomes a doubt; in the minds of the jurors, those looking on. It gives Simpson confidence, Rob pause, and Marcia a look of terror. All of a sudden their explanation on the DNA becomes near redundant. Even wilder is the fact the expert, when off the stand, shakes the hands of everyone – the prosecution, except Marcia who refuses, and then the defense. Uh oh. That ain’t good.
Back in her office, Marcia loses it and tosses the place a bit. All that pressure has got to be getting to her. Wouldn’t be human if she brushed it off without any worry.


More juror worries. A woman on the jury accused her husband of abuse, but lied about it.
F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) outright drops some highly sexist shit in front of Marcia, already bringing more of that nonsense on her. But again, a black juror is dismissed. Hmm. Even Judge Ito recognizes there’s some ridiculous racial foolishness happening behind the scenes. And this is what American Crime Story brings out beautifully, the things we know about after the fact but couldn’t see during the original trial. So many racial games, from jury to prosecution to defense.
Marcia and Johnnie have a head-to-head outside. She proves time and time again how tough her mettle is, despite any of the sexist bullshit she has to suffer.


Marcia: “Toughen up, Cochran. This is the smokers lounge. Daycares on the first floor.”
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The problem jurors are being sussed out on the defense side. Meanwhile, the prosecution has their own ideas. And some of both sides clash. So now with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” we’re getting the battle of the races amongst the jurors, the prosecution and defense going back and forth. Amazing little sequence, even before Queen kicks in. We see how what was on the surface of the trial was truly only scratching it, barely. All the games behind the scenes made things much more volatile. Even some of the jurors are upset about racial treatment, the divide in the room: “They treat us like were second class,” one woman yells at the judge in his quarters.
Ultimately, Ito has to step in and stop all the madness after accusations against jurors and all kinds of things. He’s experiencing his own skewering in the media, from jurors to people on television.
Now we’re back to the beginning of the episode. The jurors’ guards are switched up, the environment in the lunch room is vastly different, everybody speculating on the mindset of others. A real mess. Then they refuse to come into court, which throws Ito into a furor threatening to have them all arrested. When they do come in, many of the jurors are dressed entirely in black. So Ito suspends testimony and Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” plays loud, proud with jurors smiling proud.


Dominick Dunne: “It just gets curiouser and curiouser


Cochran and Co. are all worried about what’s happening in the courtroom. Worst of all, Simpson is losing his mind. He wants on the stand, and definitely doesn’t want a mistrial. Bailey thinks it’s a good idea because “people love him“, Johnnie seems open to it, yet of course Shapiro resists at first. Bob is worried about Marcia cross-examining O.J. and so Cochran decides they’ll do a “rehearsal” for their client.
Over with the jury, one of the women goes absolutely nuts and tries to flee before the deputies catch her. She’s almost gone absolutely mental.
More alone time with Clark and Cochran. He brings her a coffee, the way she likes it apparently. Greasy, Johnnie; real greasy.
So the defense rustles up a Marcia lookalike. They have her press him with Clark-like questions he’ll encounter on the stand. Everyone watches O.J. do his thing, charming, joking a bit. Kardashian looks almost filled with fear. Bailey and Cochran aren’t sure of what to make of it. Shapiro’s not happy at all. It’s a whole new ballgame if they intend on putting him up there with the real Marcia.
Most of all, Kardashian’s taking things incredibly hard. He believes they might “get him off“, but it is clear he doesn’t believe fully in his friend’s guilt. His ex-wife Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) urges him to just get up and go. Kardashian admits, unfortunately, that would essentially convict Simpson if it happened, and it would all makers things worse for their family. An emotional scene. Schwimmer is awesome in the role, loving his performance.


But the finale is the most damning. Someone gets a call – it’s about Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale). And it is not good.
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The next episode, penultimate season finisher “Manna From Heaven”, promises to be a whopper. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans. Dig this series so much, it is all around 5-stars.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 6: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 6: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by D.V. DeVincentis

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Race Card” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Conspiracy Theories” – click here
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This episode begins with Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) in court over her children. She starts to express herself “outside of protocol” and the judge is not pleased. But we’re seeing the warring parts of her life; she is a high profile, powerful woman, also not without her faults and flaws. I’m sure her husband wasn’t any better, though, we definitely get a glimpse of her obsession with the law over anything else in her life.
Marcia rushes on into the court, as everyone else is already seated. Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) gets everything rolling.
On the stand is a friend of Nicole, who recounts a vulgar moment about O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr) grabbing Nicole by the crotch in front of a crowd. Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) tries to keep everyone’s cool, including Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) who gets feisty. Johnnie tells O.J. and Bob that the woman is “crying on cue” and seems pretty confident when Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) taunts a bit on his way out of court. I’m sure Cochran’s got a few tricks ready to roll out his sleeve.
At home, Marcia sees herself on television. Except it comes in the form of talk about her beauty, whether or not she dresses well, her style described as “frump incarnate” by one of the people on the news. This weighs on her, while she has other things that need attention, from family to the courtroom.


More custody troubles. Marcia finds her husband wanting further custody, as she’s so busy all the time. Particularly with the Simpson trial now. Lots of looking at Marcia in this episode already, excited for more.
Meanwhile, Johnnie is laying out his next strategy. Bob shows up late, then in typical Shapiro style glares at Cochran, as he goes on about his routine. Cut to Marcia on the stand, talking to Detective Phillip Van Atter (Michael McGrady), whom Johnnie cross-examines afterward. What comes out of the conversation here is that Cochran tries to draw Van Atter into admitting they quickly identified O.J. as a suspect, rather than a “husband to be notified” or anything else. For now, Johnnie is setting things up to show how the LAPD is lying about “small things” to get to the bigger things later in the questioning.
We get to see all sides of Johnnie, too. He’s a jack of all trades, hanging with police and laughing with the likes of Detective Tom Lange (Chris Bauer). He then turns around and puts Lange on the stand, grilling him; even bringing up that where Lange lives, where he took evidence for “6 hours” before logging it, is the same place where cops involved in the Rodney King case live. Any way he can draw doubt into the picture, he can, and he will. Major, major doubt now with Shapiro and Cochran double-teaming Lange over the evidence; something he’d not done before, that he “can recall“, anyways.


I dig seeing the relationship between Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. She is very supportive of him, even after sort of using him on the case in a racial sense. However, Darden clearly cares for her, as both a friend and a colleague. What they both have in common is that they’re marginalized, in life and in the case. She brings up being judged – can’t be too uptight or they call her a bitch, can’t let loose and party or they’ll take her kids away. Same as Darden’s situation on the case, stuck between a rock and a hard place – seems a black man can’t judge O.J. or he’s a traitor of some kind versus the fact he’s black and a lawyer and doesn’t want to go against his best judgement simply due to him and O.J. both being black.
On the radio next day, a DJ polls – “Is Marcia Clark a bitch or a babe?” This prompts Darden to call in and vote for babe. Although it seems he’s playing into it, he does so because of his feelings for her, obviously. They’re sort of cute together, Marcia and Christopher.
When Marcia calls Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), things get sketchy. Cochran brings up a witness who has to be on the stand right away. Then “babysitting issues” for Marcia come up, as the personal side of her life spills into the public eye of the court. Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) tries to convince Marcia into letting go of the media; “stop watching tv,” he tells her sternly. He hates it and knows the whole thing is sexist, but there’s simply nothing he can do. Except to suggest some “media consultants” he could put her in touch with, causing a bit of embarrassment on both their parts with the whole office listening in. But again, Marcia has so many things, each bigger than the last, to tackle.
In court, Johnnie takes jabs at Marcia about “childcare issues” and she finally stands up to say it is offensive, “totally out of line“, making clear she will not stand for any his bullshit any longer. Finally, on comes the housekeeper, Ms. Lopez, whom Cochran wants on the stand. Marcia starts to unravel a bit of Ms. Lopez’s story concerning a ticket out of the country, then begins working on whittling down the timeline the housekeeper proposes: “Whatever Mr. Johnnie says I said,” she tells Clark. Then she can’t seem to remember. “Good enough for me,” says Marcia.
Outside Marcia receives a ton of media attention, women chanting out to her as she leaves the court. But it’s Johnnie who’s got the trouble – rumours of his own clash with domestic abuse in the past are about to hit the newsstand. Although, Marcia still has her trouble, too. Her ex-husband Gordon goes on the news revealing Marcia didn’t need to leave court to take care of her children, effectively spreading their dirty laundry in public.
Johnnie gives a call to a woman named Barbara. Obviously the one whom he abused. He ends up offering her the profits off selling a property he owns, that was her “pet project“, and putting the bribe out there for her to take.


At the prison, Johnnie, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), and Bob Shapiro go meet with O.J. The Juice is not happy about the whole “Mr. Johnnie” incident in court with the housekeeper. He wants more control, to be involved with all the decisions. “When I wanna hear from you Ill rattle my zipper,” Simpson screams at Shapiro, yelling everybody out of the room.
Back over to the trial. In the lobby, Darden has it out with a black reporter who seems to only focus on Cochran. At the same time, Dominick Dunne (Robert Morse) pipes in for Darden, seeing behind the thin veneer of celebrity that lays over Simpson.
Marcia shows up with her new hairdo, which has everyone turning their head. Not necessarily in a great way, but turning nonetheless. She goes for a short, curly do, even more than before. And she digs it. Until Judge Ito makes a remark and her eyes reach around the room to see everyone mocking her. Darden writes her a sweet note, though, the papers next morning give her a brutal going over. Then she experiences NASTY sexism – at a store getting Tampax, a cashier makes a remark about her period and how the defense are in for rough times. Wow. Unbelievable writing, yet the situation is atrocious. Such blatant sexist talk, and it affects her deeply.


Detective Mark Fuhrman is on the stand now with Clark. He expresses distaste for the trial devolving into “personal issues” rather than “facts” and all the evidence. And so his testimony begins, recounting the crime scene, the evidence found, et cetera. Things go along smoothly. Stories of the white Bronco, the blood, and the police worrying O.J. himself may have been injured in whatever the incident had been. Of course Simpson and Cochran don’t think that’s too true.
Later during drinks, Bailey goes on about Fuhrman’s “tombstone” and how he’s going to ask the man about the word “nigger“, whether or not he uses it. As those of us know, this is exactly what Lee did during the trial, and is largely believed to be one of the nails in the coffin of this case later.
Back to court, where Bailey gets up to talk about Fuhrman’s service with the Marines. Seems Bailey was a Marine, too. Then he heads into hacking away at Fuhrman, attempting to make it look as if the detective possibly planted evidence, or even to put that seed of doubt in peoples minds. Finally, Bailey drops the question on Fuhrman, whose response is no, he doesn’t use the word nigger. Great editing and writing in this scene makes it quite exciting.


At the office, Gil shows Marcia a paper that published a nude picture of her. And it’s real. The husband before Gordon took them. Now they’re in the public eye, like the rest of her life; now it’s her body. Gil seems thrown off. Not as much as Marcia.
Everything is weighing hard on her. She’s about to break, as the tears well in her eyes and Darden tries to comfort her. Ito sees it. The defense sees it. Luckily, the judge graciously breaks the court for recess until the next day. An act of mercy on his behalf.
Afterwards, Marcia weeps in her office on the floor. Darden goes to see her, to try and be of some help. She breaks down further: “Im not a public personality, this isnt what I do. I dont know how to do this. And those other guys, theyre flashy hot shots. Theyre used to it. But II just can’t take it.” He sits with her, a literal shoulder on which to rest her head. At least they’re in it together.


Amazing episode, so much focus on Marcia while still pushing the entire narrative forward. Wonderful writing and lots of nice direction from Ryan Murphy. Stay tuned with me for the next one, “Conspiracy Theories” – see you next week.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Race Card”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Race Card”
Directed by John Singleton
Written by Joe Robert Cole

* For a review of the previous episode, “100% Not Guilty” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” – click here
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This episode starts out in 1982, as Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) is driving with his little girls. He’s pulled over by a motorcycle cop. Johnnie explains he’s on the way to dinner with his daughters. “This is the third time this week somebodys pulled me over for no reason,” he explains to the officer. When the cop tries to engage the girls, Johnnie gets “hostile” – supposedly. Cuffed and leaning over the hood of his car, Johnnie assures his daughters everything will be fine. Meanwhile, all the white faces look at him from the sidewalks. Then the officer comes back from checking on things, letting him go after recognizing his position as Assistant District Attorney. Johnnie’s daughters ask if the man called him “a nigger“, but Johnnie assures “he didnt have to” and asks them never to say that ugly word again.
Back to the present timeline in 1995. Johnnie’s introduced at a church, heralded for taking the reins on the O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr) case. Everyone is praying for Mr. Cochran in his litigation. The community is right behind him all the way.
Well on the television, as Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson), Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) and others watch on, Johnnie plays the titular race card. He claims, in front of reporters, the only reason Darden is now involved is due to his blackness, which pisses Marcia off, but resonates at least slightly with Darden.

 


With The Dream Team running full steam, Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) is refusing to work with F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) – or, he is for a few moments. “Judas,” Shapiro fires across the table. Bailey replies slyly: “I suppose that makes you Jesus?” Well Johnnie puts a stop to it all in the name of work.
This scene edits us back and forth between the prosecution/defense teams. Clark and Co. are going hard at the abuse angle, how Simpson was a serial abuser, pursuing Nicole Brown constantly and aggressively even before their relationship became fully serious. At the same time, Cochran and the others are going at the evidence, its credibility, et cetera, as well as the fact the witnesses to any of the supposed events, before and during, aren’t strong enough. This is amazing writing, as well as editing, because it puts us right in the room with both teams at once, giving a bird’s eye view of every step.
Then we find out Darden is taking on the Dt. Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) angle. This makes Christopher more curious now, as if he’s feeling what Cochran had said, as if his race is the only reason for his assignment here. But he doesn’t bother to say anything about it to Marcia.
Fuhrman and Darden meet in the latter’s office. Christopher brings up what the defense may bring in front of the court. For his part, Fuhrman says “its not going to be an issue” and even makes the comment about his “black buddies” from the force. Something about him gives Darden a “real bad vibe” and he brings his concerns to Marcia, about the things Fuhrman may be hiding, how he feels Fuhrman is playing a part for them. Here, we’re seeing the difference between how blacks and whites understand racism. Marcia simply tells Christopher: “Massage it.”
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Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) meets with Dominick Dunne (Robert Morse). Ito gives Dunne a front-row seat to the Simpson trial. Dunne’s history with violent trials is clear, as his own daughter was murdered. Those who don’t know, Dunne is an actual journalist and writer, whose daughter Dominique was murdered and whose killer got off light. This is a nice, interesting piece because we also see Ito’s own fame-whoring here. He hauls out a picture from Arsenio Hall – signed and everything. The look from Dunne shows us how he feels, as well as how we can glean the way Ito sees stardom. Incredibly interesting.
At the start of the trial, Darden and Cochran meet in the lobby. Christopher wants them to be respectful of one another, but Cochran makes clear: “Brother, I aint tryin to be respectfulIm trying to win.”
Shapiro is up giving his piece on the domestic abuse charges, how they ought not be relevant to the murder case. However, the prosecution clears things up, like we’re all thinking: that’s some flawed logic, Shapiro. The prosecution begins to dig up O.J’s jealousy, his anger, his quick temper, and so on. Certainly doesn’t have O.J. sitting there listening too easily. But when Darden gets up hoping to “address a separate issue“, he brings forth the situation concerning Fuhrman – his past with racial epithets, slurs, his possible prejudice. Christopher drives home there is no legal precedent for it in their case: “The Nword is a dirty, filthy word, your honor. It is so prejudicial and inflammatory that the use of it in any situation will evoke an emotional response from any AfricanAmerican. Were talking about a word that blinds people, and when you mention that word to this jury it will blind them to the truth. They wont be able to discern whats true and whats not. It will impair their judgement. It will affect their ability to be fair. Itll force the black jurors to make a choice: whose side are you onthe man, or the brothers? So the People strongly urge the court, respectfully, not to allow that vile word to be uttered at any time during this trial.” Johnnie paints this statement as “outlandish, unwarranted” and “preposterous” and as an offence to all African-Americans. On the side after giving his statement, Johnnie leans to Darden and says: “Nigga, please.” Wow. Just wow. What a powerful scene.

 


The media immediately starts painting Cochran as the saviour of black people, whereas Darden comes off as an “Uncle Tom” to many, supposedly. Either way, Christopher isn’t happy. Nobody around him seems to get the racial complexities with which he is dealing. Darden starts talking about affirmative action when he was going to college and Marcia says she remembers: “No you dont, youre white,” replies Chris. The issue of race penetrates every aspect of this trial, from the crime itself involving O.J. to Johnnie, to Darden’s involvement and assignment with his team. Nothing here is unaffected.
At home, Johnnie practices his speeches for his wife Melodie (Tayler Buck). We see how part of his speaking, his practice is also being able to speak, to orate, to write well. He gets in some alliteration, a bit of flowery talk. Certain times Johnnie is funny and endearing, while others as we’ve seen he can be incredibly intense, even vicious.
Johnnie gets a call about Shapiro’s people fooling up witnesses for discovery. Seems as if Cochran is ready to go full barrel, no matter who it costs.

 


At the trial, things are heating up. Outside are mobs of people trying to get pictures of the defense, the suspect, Johnnie. People have “FREE THE JUICE” shirts and signs proclaiming O.J. as innocent. Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), Bailey, and all the rest head inside for the opening statements. Judge Ito starts things off, he jury arrives, and finally everyone is seated.
First up, Marcia brings her statement, which focuses on the public persona of Simpson, how “like many public men he has a private side” – a batterer, an abuser, and now, murder. She brings up the bloody glove, other DNA facts, so on. Truly damning evidence, if it’s all on the level, right?
Then comes Johnnie. He smiles at the jury, beginning with a Martin Luther King quote about justice. Johnnie leaps into a mention of witnesses, people that the prosecution were not aware of due to the Shapiro-end flub. Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson) jumps up angrily to bring out the point of the witnesses being unavailable to them before the statements. Everyone is in shock. Ito claims he’s never seen Hodgman look as he is now. And not long afterwards, Hodgman keels over, his chest tightening. He’s wheeled out on a stretcher, which casts an ominous cloud over the proceedings. In the office, Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) is throttled with the news of Hogdman, not sure where to go from there. Although, Marcia keeps pushing Darden as being “ready” to step up.

 


Later, Marcia calls Chris during the night. She tells him about his sort-of promotion, but either way Darden is very happy. “Now its on us,” says Clark.
During a lavish dinner party, Dunne is running his mouth about the trial. Then while a black butler serves them, everyone stops talking. Funny – he’s supposed to have a better perspective on these things due to his own daughter, yet there he is playing interpersonal racial politics between the rich and the servants, and gossiping about the case and those involved with all those high society people. Goes to show how the white upper class view these things.
Right afterwards, we cut to Johnnie at the Simpson home. He looks fondly at the pictures on the table in the hall, which show O.J. and his family. But then there’s too many white women kicking around. Johnnie remarks to himself: “This wont do at all.” Cut to all sorts of black art, pictures of Simpson and his beautiful black grandma – all from “the Cochran collection,” quips the man himself.
Johnnie meets with O.J. to tell him about appearances, for the next time everyone sees him up at the old house. Cochran lets him know about the redecorating, though, O.J. isn’t incredibly pleased. He doesn’t like all the placating happening, making himself seem more black, or whatever it is Johnnie wants out of him. Johnnie just wants him to seem like the average African-American instead of the “Mayor of Brentwood” – and Simpson responds saying: “I did what I had the right to do.” He had people with their hands out hoping to make it, like he did. “You gotta do it on your own,” says O.J. The man won’t apologize for getting out of the hood, essentially. Similar to what other famous black people have expressed over the years. So many angles we white people never can understand about what it is to be black.

 


Up at the home of Nicole Brown, everybody’s in attendance. Except there is nothing there, at all. The walls are bare. “This tells them nothing,” says an angry Clark: “She was a mother, there was a family!” In opposition, the Simpson house looks forced, a “complete misrepresentation” in Darden’s eyes. Even O.J. doesn’t look very happy, he knows it was all a pose. Marcia definitely knows, as does Darden. They both are extremely displeased with the state of affairs. When Darden sits on a bench in the backyard, O.J. tells him to get off, which leads to Johnnie and Chris aside talking – Johnnie advises him to “let the white people do” Fuhrman.
Back at his place, Chris calls his father and complains about what’s happening. His father suggests maybe Johnnie is truly trying to help. Cut over to Darden running through things with Fuhrman at the office. The detective tries to paint himself as a friend of African-Americans. Darden presses him on the use of racial epithets, which Fuhrman skirts around slightly before saying: “I haventever.”
Clark and Darden come up against each other after she finally admits wanting to have him put Fuhrman on the stand. Their relationship seems a little fractured now, as Marcia agrees to take the detective. It’s obvious Chris is not comfortable.

 


The very finish of the episode sees the evidence on Fuhrman come forward, to the audience only. The WWII memorabilia, the medals, he particularly mentioned collecting earlier turns out to be.. troubling. Definitely things brewing in terms of Furhman’s prejudice. Wait and see. Of course if you know the story of the trial, then it’s obvious. But part of why I love this series is because of how it frames the real events, the racial issues it examines, as well as all the characters on whom we’re gaining insight through these types of scenes.
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Next episode is titled “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” – a beautiful play on the old Brady Bunch catchphrase. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans. This series gets better and better each episode.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 4: “100% Not Guilty”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 4: “100% Not Guilty”
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dream Team” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Race Card” – click here
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This episode starts with “Everybody Dance Now” playing, as O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr) lives a vastly different life than his present situation, partying, dancing, sniffing coke, his good friend Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) at his side.
But then we cut to the Juice flipping his meal tray over in jail, lamenting what once was, but clearly is no longer.
In the trenches, Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) gets F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler), Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), and the whole team together. Although, he prefaces this by asking: “Who thinks O.J. did it?” Nobody is keen to say they do, so at least they’re on the same team. Johnnie brings his brand of law to the table, suggesting black males are on their side, but black women – they don’t like “their men marrying white women.” Either way, they want to get charging; head on.
Now we’re in court, as Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) brings up hair testing, to which Cochran slightly objects, challenging the prosecution on all fronts, at all times. Cochran manages to muddy things up by creating sub-hearings, this one on the subject of collecting O.J’s hair samples and how many will be given.
In his cell, Simpson receives Johnnie by himself. The Juice is obviously breaking down in prison. Johnnie reminds O.J. – “Remember who you are. These walls around you dont change that.” Cochran tells a story about his own career, how he hoped to “change things from the inside” and such. It’s definitely inspiring. Vance does an impressive job playing the larger-than-life character of Cochran. So here Johnnie gives up a story about how Juice was giving him strength, seeing him play football and playing hard. This gives O.J. at least a little bit of inner strength himself, the fires of which Johnnie stokes: “This, O.J. Simpson, is the run of your life.”


Now we’re introduced to the judge of the upcoming case: Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi). His wife, Mrs. Ito (Carolyn Crotty) is a police officer. When signing a form, she hovers over the name of Fuhrman for a moment, unsure, unsteady. Ito and his wife have what seems to be a solid relationship, cheering one another on respectively. Here is another name, Judge Lance Ito, propelled to relative fame by this huge case.
In the courtroom, Ito arrives with everyone risen – Clark and her team on one side, The Dream Team on the other. The episode’s title comes directly from O.J. declaring his plea as “absolutely 100% not guilty.” However, at a restaurant on their own, Shapiro tells Bailey they need to keep Cochran under a watchful eye, as well as the fact he believes the case to be “unwinnable” and hopes to garner a deal because of Johnnie’s presence. A bit of friction here, though, as Bailey isn’t impressed with being pro bono.
In other news, Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) is trying to get a book deal in the works due to her relationship with Nicole Brown. She speaks highly of her deceased friend, but it’s obvious everyone is trying to get their 15 minutes out of the entire situation. She further goes on about Nicole’s breast implants, as well as other things which really don’t flatter Mrs. Brown-Simpson.


Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) is doing work alongside Detectives Van Atter (Michael McGrady) and Lange (Chris Bauer). In the meantime, Marcia meets with Kim (Jessica Blair Herman) and Fred Goldman (Joseph Siravo), the latter of which is especially upset about the treatment of Ronald Goldman, his own son – he’s simply been “a footnote” in the trial, a joke, as if he were asking to be killed. But Ronald was an honourable man according to Fred. The poor Goldmans are torn to pieces, obviously, which is not easy for Marcia to witness either. She tries to assure them: “We are gonna get him.” To which Fred replies: “You better.”
Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) wants to take out the death penalty. Except Marcia does not want that, she would rather take Simpson right to the end. O.J. simply is too famous, too loved: “We cant even execute Charlie Manson,” says Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson). When they start to check out focus groups, which prove to show us the racial divide, as well as the fact people think Marcia “seems like a bitch.” Lots of sexism towards Clark as the only female lawyer involved with the trial. She discusses this and other things with Darden later over drinks in the office. Christopher reminds Marcia that Johnnie is a showboater, but the real damn deal, so they should never underestimate his power.
On the other end, Kardashian is having trouble fitting in with his defense team. He doesn’t like that people see Nicole as a golddigger. His care for both parties in the relationship may prove to keep him down amongst The Dream Team.


Bailey and Cochran also have their own chat over drinks. Lee is not keen on settling, saying they ought not “settle like a pussy.” There are so many sides being played on The Dream Team right now, as everyone is angling in a different direction. Only now Bailey and Cochran may have aligned.
The lawyers all talk about how the trial is a spectacle, like a basketball game. Judge Ito kicks things off for the jury selection, which go regularly with questions about police, particularly the LAPD, whether or not prospective jurors have had encounters with police, good or bad, et cetera. The Dream Team feels things are headed towards a prejudice against black people. Furthermore, The Dream Team is starting to become divided slightly. Shapiro wants to do a press conference, which doesn’t sit well with the others, particularly Johnnie. But what Bob wants, Bob gets. The tension is mounting inside the defense already. Then Cochran has his own impromptu press conference while getting his shoes shined, because he is the real star of O.J’s legal team. The papers get printed with Johnnie on the front, no picture of Shapiro.
Gil now wants some flavour on their prosecution team; they need someone black, without him coming out and saying it. Marcia suggests Darden, stalling Gil in his tracks. That might be a good way to shake up Johnnie, as well as the others on the defense. But for now, Judge Ito has concerns – Faye Resnick’s book is out and may possibly damage the trial entirely. The teams set out to read the book, finding out what can affect their respective strategies. Simpson is not happy about the contents. All the while, Faye goes on Larry King Live, probably coked out, and pumps the television set full of bullshit.


Ito resumes jury selection. Although, Shapiro wants things suspended due to trial by media. Then there’s Bob talking for his whole team, no other opinions. But Johnnie jumps in to use his gift of gab, whereas Bob floundered in his own ego. The big conversation in Ito’s office concerns “playing the race card” and Johnnie states: “So be it.” The hateful relationship between Shapiro and Cochran has truly begun now.
Back to Larry King Live, Bailey is giving his own interview. He pretends to be on Shapiro’s side then gives up a load of soundbytes perfect for the media to use, taking Bob down in front of everyone. A clever, dastardly move.
The jury selection continues on with The Dream Team gladly accepting the jurors being presented. Over at the jail, Simpson receives good news from Kardashian and Cochran, as Shapiro shows up late; he has “possible options” to cut a deal. Nobody else is impressed at all. Clearly, Bob believes O.J. did it. This creates an incredibly awkward, viciously tense atmosphere. Bob gets completely passed over, as Kardashian starts to talk through the conversation they were having earlier. Now, Johnnie and the others are hoping to oust Shapiro for his foolish arrogance and egotism. At home, Bob’s wife wants him to quit, she doesn’t like what the case is doing to her life. And Bob makes it clear he wants to “put a lid on Johnnie Cochran” because he’s got issues with race himself.


Marcia offers the third chair position to Darden. He gladly, silently accepts.
Poor Juice is confused with everything going on, as Johnnie is in another league than him, or anyone else. Kardashian advises his good buddy that Johnnie ought to be lead on the case, but O.J. doesn’t enjoy conflict. Robert pushes hard to have the change made because it is going to affect Simpson’s life gravely.
At Shapiro’s office, Bob finds all the Simpson files gone. It is already quite clear, along with a New York Daily News front page, Shapiro is off The Dream Team. When Bob storms in on the meeting of the new reformed team, O.J. is on the phone with them and lets Shapiro know what the deal is: Johnnie’s on lead. In his own way, of course. Things start to move ahead with Bob merely riding in the sidecar.
In the courtroom it’s full steam ahead, as Johnnie takes the reins. But he is very surprised to see Darden sitting with Clark, also ready for war. The staredown begins and now the next episode will be spectacular after the trial falls into place.


Stay with me for the next episode, “The Race Card”, fellow fans.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Dream Team”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Dream Team”
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Written by D.V. DeVincentis

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Run of His Life” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “100% Not Guilty” – click here
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After last episode’s finale, O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr) is in the custody of the LAPD following his run with Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) in the infamous white Bronco, and Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) talking his old now suicidal friend down over the phone.
This episode begins with Robert and his children, as they go out for food on Father’s Day. What a day to be having in the midst of the looming trial. Here, we see Robert and his family given a table all due to his new found fame. The kids love it, of course. However, Robert’s not too keen on the eyes of others on him, nor his he happy his ex-wife Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) tells the kids “Uncle Juice” is guilty of the crime of which he’s accused. “In this family being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than being famous,” Robert explains to his children: “Fame is fleeting, its hollow.” What an ironic line, as we see nowadays where some of his children have ended up; as hollow celebrities, famous for nothing.


We watch the media spin a picture of O.J. from normal to shadowy, dark, signifying the “falling of an idol“. Meanwhile, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is going ahead as planned, not concerned with media, rumours, or anything else. She gives a live press conference, as the Juice watches on in his jail cell and new county outfit. Things at her office seem lax, happy even. Nobody there is prepared with hindsight as we are, they don’t realize the road ahead is paved with good intentions, but it’s hard, rough road all the way.
Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) isn’t doing as well as Clark. He is frustrated and angry. Now we get a meeting between him and F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), as Shapiro gains what insight he can from the older of the two. They both watch coverage on the television, including a Larry King interview with Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler), which takes potshots at Shapiro in particular and casts a dark gloom over the trial. Bailey’s suggestion? “Hire him.”
At the office, Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) has lunch with Marcia, as they discuss a few things together. Garcetti makes reference to the trial of Rodney King, something he certainly does not want to relive. I love all these real people being portrayed onscreen. We cut back to Dershowitz and a couple of his team meeting with Shapiro, who still has Bailey at his side as his aide and of course Kardashian. Everything isn’t exactly smooth with Dershowitz around, but he certainly gets things done. He refers to O.J. as similar to a Greek god in almost mythic stature, being a big name in sports and all. One of Dershowitz’s team brings up DNA evidence, and how it may come into play with this trial; as in they’ll try to keep any DNA out of the prosecution’s arsenal, hopefully casting doubt on the chain of evidence, et cetera. “No quarter,” says Dershowitz – everything is up to be attacked. In the Clark camp there is also lots of planning, shaping of strategy and so on. When it came to this case there certainly was an intense meeting of the minds re: lawyers.


Speaking of which, we find Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) with his wife Dale (Keesha Sharp). She instills a bit of fire in him, saying that while he doesn’t want to be involved in a big loss, which Johnnie says will happen, he’ll hate it even worse if someone else gets O.J. off. Johnnie knows this himself and now the seed is planted in his mind.
Cut over to Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) who sees the magazine cover with a “blacker” O.J. on it. Things are in upheaval. Everyone knows it’s “racially insensitive“, but more than that Johnnie is worried about the overall culture of the LAPD, as having an agenda when it comes to black people, males specifically. On the other side of that, Shapiro’s team starts to dig dirt on Dt. Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), who apparently hates black people.
Shapiro tells a journalist about the “systematic railroading” that Simpson is experiencing due to racist Fuhrman. He also hints at a conspiracy possibly; planted evidence and so on. This is a smart move on Shapiro’s part, but at the same time doesn’t that give up a bit of their strategy? If it doesn’t go on record as a quote directly from him, I suppose not. We’ll see how this media angle plays out.
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In jail, O.J. has a meeting with Bailey, Kardashian and Shapiro. On his part, O.J. has “dirt on his elbows” and isn’t really accustomed to the treatment he’s receiving, including the obvious infrequent showers. The team wants to get Johnnie, but Simpson has a problem: “You wanna make this a black thing. Well Im not blackIm O.J!”
Switch over to Johnnie. He receives a call from someone who’s obviously not O.J. and it really pisses him off, as the person on the other line laughs and says he’s guilty. Watching the journey of Cochran to where he’ll end up in the middle of the trial is a lot of fun, very intriguing. Also, there’s Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnussen) who finds himself caught in between celebrity’s double edges: women love him, men hate him.
Then there’s Darden. He ends up at the Clark team headquarters to give Marcia a heads up on the developing Fuhrman situation. To see Darden gravitating towards Clark, away from Cochran, it is sort of amazing. Because so many expect all black people to have just sided with Simpson, only that is terribly untrue, which should be obvious. But I love watching Darden and Cochran falling on opposite sides of the spectrum in the whole racial angle of the case. Well Marcia, she wants Darden on the case to really hammer the nail in Simpson’s coffin once the trial gets to a crucial point.
Kardashian and Jenner argue over the murder of Nicole. Kris is upset at her ex-husband for standing by O.J. especially when the evidence supposedly points to a different story. Although, that is something people can and will certainly debate. I’m still unsure, all these years later. It’s enjoyable to see it all play out dramatically. The writing in this series has been top notch so far.


The 9-11 tape is leaked of O.J. beating the hell out of his wife. Everyone on the face of American soil hears it, from the Clark team to people in the streets, in parking lots; everywhere. Marcia doesn’t want her case compromised, as witnesses and all sorts of people are on television, in the news. It is quickly turning into far more of a debacle than she’d ever anticipated.
In Shapiro’s office, he and Bailey sit together talking. The New Yorker piece concerning Fuhrman and the racism is out, which Bailey loves (those of you who know the case you’ll already know F. Lee is possibly the reason O.J. eventually got acquitted). There is lots of fallout. Marcia and the others are worried, seeing as how Shapiro and team are “trying to take down the LAPD“, making an entire other thing out of Simpson’s case.
Kardashian is reading The New Yorker’s article to Juice in prison. Simpson seems to be coming around to the entire race angle, but only after some prying from the two Roberts. And in an excellent transition, we’re back with Cochran in his office. He receives another call – will it truly be the one now? Next, we see Shapiro and Cochran meeting. Robert advises “I will remain lead counsel” and that looks to sit well initially Johnnie; for now. But Cochran also demands: “I need to believe him.”


The first of two final scenes from “The Dream Team” see Johnnie embrace O.J. in the small room where they meet. It’s emotional for Simpson. He tells the lawyer – “I loved Nicole more than you can possibly imagine.” The tears and the sobbing, it all rings true. At least the way Gooding acts it, anyways. Truly, though, it looks as if he is innocent. Johnnie assures that if O.J. doesn’t have all the strength required for their path, then “you can have some of mine.” He promises Juice a hung jury, and that he’ll get to go home.
The very last scene, Marcia sits outside her house smoking and sees a headline concerning Cochran, The Dream Team, and essentially the hard work ahead of her in this case. Nice little quiet ending, which begins to pit the two massive teams of lawyers against one another, ready to do battle.


Next episode is “100% Not Guilty” and I’m excited to see what happens next. Lots of fun writing, amazing performances. Can’t wait to see more new characters brought in and watch the ones already around develop.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 1: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 1: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszweski

* For a review of the next episode, “The Run of His Life” – click here
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The series opens on video footage of the Watts Riots. Then there’s Rodney King himself uttering the famous “Why can’t we all just get along?” quote. Soon enough, we come to Los Angeles. Out from the door walks O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr). He apologies to his driver for being a little late, needing a shower. They head off, as the driver is starstruck by his run-in with celebrity.
Cut back to an L.A. neighbourhood. A man walking his dog ends up stumbling across a murder scene. Back to the crime scene – Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) looks around before Detective Phillip Van Atter (Michael McGrady) shows up to head the investigation. They head over to the Simpson residence where Fuhrman finds the now infamous white Ford Bronco pushed up against the curb; on the door is blood, inside a little more. The detectives rush to the house. In the backyard, a sort of creepy statue of O.J. stands tall, as they look on. Over at the guesthouse, Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnuseen) is strung out, barely making sense, but he points them in the direction of where he heard “loud bangs“, which he supposed to be an earthquake. Simultaneously, we cut to shots of O.J. being told about Nicole Brown’s death; at first it seems he isn’t that surprised, almost sounding fact. He sits on the edge of a bed and appears to weep – meanwhile, the detective on the phone with him, Dt. Lange (Chris Bauer) is suspicious because “he never asked how she died.


Now we’re introduced to Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson). She gets a call from Dt. Van Atter, who needs advice on the double homicide involving Simpson’s former wife. The law is mounting against O.J., and Clark seems as gung-ho as anybody else.
I love the look and feel of the show already. The cinematography is solid, as is the score; the music lies beneath each scene and sort of keeps you on edge, no matter which characters are in front of you.
The Simpson home, post-murders, is turning into a media hotspot. At the same time, Marcia is gearing up to start dealing with Van Atter’s case. They immediately begin a timeline on O.J. to determine exactly where he was at the time of the murders. Furthermore, they try to figure out motive as to why O.J. might have killed both Nicole and Ronald Goldman – either he walked in on them, or Goldman interrupted the murder of Nicole. Here, we also see some of the ‘oh how could he ever have done this’ which often dominates celebrity criminal cases. People become lost in the aura, the myth of a celebrity, stuck in the fame, and end up being blinded to what’s truly happened.
Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) tries to get access to the crime scene, saying O.J. is expecting him. Then the man himself arrives in a limo, his face unshaven, his eyes weary; he knows a battle is ahead of him. But does O.J. know it because he did it, or does he simply understand what’s about to happen? Police meet him and there’s something not quite right about the way Simpson reacts. Yet appearance isn’t everything.
A news camerman catches the actual arrest of O.J., cuffs and all, in the backyard sneaking around to get a clip. Van Atter shows up and uncuffs him, only needing him “detained“. Simpson makes clear he has nothing to hide, agreeing to cooperate. Then the camerman delivers his news to his colleague: “O.Js a suspect.”
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Best yet, Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) is introduced. First, he’s getting ready to look good for the day. His wife helps him out, suggesting purple. But Johnnie “dont wanna look like no grape.” He has a heated conversation with Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) and they get very honest. Darden wants to quit, but Johnnie assures him: “The world needs more black men willingly to make a difference.” I enjoy seeing Cochran introduced before the trial and all that because we’ve got a chance to see bits of his character in advance.
Marcia Clark is disgusted with the system – Nicole Brown had been beaten up a bunch of times, O.J’s violent behaviour evident long ago. Her associate makes a hard point about how the police operate when it comes to famous people. However, now we’re going to see how they operate when it comes to black famous people, especially since murder is on the table. Then Marcia gets a listen of the interrogation tape when O.J. spoke with Van Atter. A timeline begins to come out, except it isn’t as concrete as Clark would like, giving O.J. plenty of opportunities to possibly change his story later. “Hes the Juice,” Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) tells Marcia, as she tries figuring out how the questioning went so slack.


The family and friends of Simpson are rallying around him. A bit of a confrontation happens, on the sly, between O.J. and Kato; the latter lies about what he told the police, not telling them the two “had burgers” the night of the murders. Kardashian and Juice talk a little bit, but O.J. gets slightly upset because he keeps claiming his innocence. But there are lingering looks on the man’s face, which give up something else about what’s happening underneath the facade.
Out having dinner, Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) is schmoozing and having fun when O.J. reaches him on the telephone. Those who know of the trial will know who the man is before we’re formally given more on him.
Shapiro meets with Simpson and Kardashian. There’s talk of Johnny Carson, name dropping from Shapiro, but mostly he tries to make sure O.J. uses any expense at his disposal to get the job done. Naturally, like any good high quality lawyer would do. A private conversation between Juice and Shapiro sees the latter ask his client: “Did you do it?” To which the reply comes, fairly quick: “No. I loved her.”


Clark and associates are busy compiling a timeline, bringing witnesses together. They’ve got a pretty damn good look at the events, so far. But I’m sure, like the real case, lots of twisty, turning nonsense will begin to get in the way.
While they’re pressing forward, O.J. is busy with his own situation, taking a lie detector test. He’s asked several questions before a whopper: “Is the person who killed Nicole Brown in this room?”, and all of a sudden O.J. isn’t answering so quick. The tester reveals a score of “minus 24“, “the worst you can do” as confirmed by Shapiro to Kardashian. This puts the fear and doubt in Robert’s eyes, even as he denies the fact O.J. could’ve killed Nicole. Back in the room with O.J., he is flipping out about the detector and it seems like the world is just falling down all around him at each turn.
The funeral for Nicole is underway. Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) and Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) talk about the abuse Nicole suffered at the hands of O.J., but this is factually untrue: supposedly, Jenner claims she didn’t know until the trial when evidence of these incidents were presented. Outside, O.J. tries to make it into the funeral with photos taken everywhere, people yelling at him, and many questioning why he’d bring his lawyer. The whole scene is intense, as Simpson walks in towards the casket, everything silent and the entire room watching on. One huge note: Cuba Gooding Jr has done an impressive job playing Simpson in this first episode, and I really cannot wait to see how he develops the character over the course of this series. Right now I am blown away. Plus, the technical aspects of American Crime Story makes everything better, capturing each scene, every look and glance with absolute perfection.
We get more of Marcia, too. She pretty much hangs up on her daughter after Van Atter and Lange show up with more information. Very telling. She values her job almost more than anything else in life. Can’t wait for the magnificent Paulson to flesh out Clark, as well. She is a fantastic actress and no doubt will provide the range necessary for the role.


The impending big arrest is coming. Shapiro sweats it out, as things do not look good for the Juice. Speaking of O.J., he’s sleeping over at Kardashian’s place, likely in one of the girls’ rooms; posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and other teen heartthrobs of the 90’s adorn the walls. They start to get Simpson ready for a physical exam, as he flips out more. Shapiro is still not sure about his new client, asking if there’s any last confessions needing to be made, but O.J. has no time for more of that. Doctors check him out while Shapiro and Kardashian each try to hold a steady face. The police are pissed, though, as Shapiro hasn’t brought Simpson down to the precinct yet. Stalling, I imagine.
Grand jury hearings begin now. Clark is questioning Kaelin, who won’t answer a thing clinging to the 5th Amendment. She then finds out O.J. hasn’t turned himself in yet.
And the finale of the episode comes with Simpson writing a letter in Robert’s office. In fact, he has written a will, a statement for his fans, a letter for his mother and another for his kids. All because he plans to kill himself. The gun comes out and Robert has to talk his friend down. O.J. even puts the gun right to his temple, his eyes filled with tears.
But Rob can’t get it done. Simpson runs off with the gun at his head, down to “Kimmys bedroom” (little name drop for her). His friend keeps on trying to talk him down, just as A.C, a.k.a Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) shows up to help.
A squad car arrives and two LAPD officers come to arrest the culprit. Only O.J. is gone, Rob is distraught. Everyone is gone crazy looking for him, but he is gone. So is the Bronco.


Next episode is aptly titled “The Run of His Life”, after the book of the same name. Get ready to see some of that famous footage we all saw back in the 90’s, as the white Bronco speeds away on the Los Angeles freeway. Stay tuned with me, folks. Loving this series already.