‘American Crime Story’ Ushers In Dark Days For Robert Shapiro

The last episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story saw the defense bring in Johnnie Cochran, at Robert Shapiro’s request, to help them account for what everyone on the show refers to as “a downtown jury.” This week, we saw the consequences of that decision. And John Travolta in a Hawaiian shirt. And Larry King in a wig. Again!

Away we go.

1) The big takeaway from this episode is that Shapiro is out as lead attorney now, and Cochran is in. There were lots of small cuts over the past few episodes that led to the decision — the suicide-note press conference, disrespecting Bailey by telling him he was earning exposure and nothing else, everything he said and did and the person he was, including dropping a “these people” within 30 seconds of meeting with Cochran — but the mortal wound was self-inflicted: pushing hard for the settlement and an admission of guilt. I mean, even Kardashian got mad at him for that, and David Schwimmer’s Kardashian is a sweet, sweet man. When you’ve lost him, you’ve really lost. (A note: Our weekly Juice count will be coming later in its own post. This is getting out of hand in the best kind of way.)

What we found out in the private moments was that Shapiro seemed to be more concerned with preventing another riot than defending his client, which is kind of reasonable on a macro level, but also not his job. That’s, like, Batman’s job. Aaaaannnd now I wish John Travolta had played Batman at some point in his career. Slippery slopes with this show.

2) One of the other big factors with Cochran stepping in involves his developing relationship with O.J., which really kicked into high gear with that pep talk he gave him in jail. That was incredible. I half expected him to start yelling about the six inches in front of his face like Pacino in Any Given Sunday. I mean, I was pumped up after he was done giving it, and I’ve never even played professional football or murdered anyone (allegedly!).

The point is: Between his own bungling, Kardashian and Bailey turning on him, and Cochran going full Cochran, Shapiro has been removed as lead counsel, which is a shame because I was really starting to enjoy Travolta shouting “I’m lead attorney” at anyone who would listen.

3) That tortured football analogy O.J. used to inform Shapiro he was out and Cochran was in? I wanted it to go on forever.

“You’re the quarterback and he’s the running back, but maybe we’re not gonna throw so much anymore. Or maybe you’re the coach and he’s the quarterback. Wait, no. That doesn’t make sense. We’re the defense.

“Okay, so, start over: Johnnie is the middle linebacker now. You’re the strong safety who sometimes moves up to linebacker in the dime package. You’re in the last year of your contract and you’ve got something to prove. Maybe you were the captain until Johnnie came in as a big shot first-round draft pick. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing here. Lee, you can be nose tackle, getting in the trenches and doing the dirty work. Bobby, you’re the flashy lockdown corner with the big game and bigger mouth. Hang on. No. You’re the…”

Just that, for like an hour.

4) Two other Travolta notes:

  • His performance in Judge Ito’s chambers after the prosecution accused him of playing the race card was a thing of beauty. Every decision he makes as this character fascinates me. I want to watch this whole series with the real Robert Shapiro and just ask him questions about John Travolta until he has me escorted off his property.
  • “Then don’t say it! F*ck!” Need more Shapiro/Travolta raging alone in his den at news coverage.

Delightful, as always.

5) I lied. One more Travolta thing. I love that he came home from Hawaii and wore a Hawaiian shirt to the office his first day back. I truly believe this decision says more about his character than everything else we’ve seen and heard over the rest of the first four episodes. I was like “Ohhh, he’s Comes Back From Hawaiian Vacation Wearing Hawaiian Shirt Guy! I get it now!”

6) Meanwhile, on the prosecution side, another rough week. The DA took the death penalty off the table, Darden’s Cowlings case got pushed aside, and Marcia Clark got destroyed in the jury research. Just brutal. The focus group started with “She’s a bitch” and it somehow got worse from there. I mean, she scored a four. A four! And the best solution their expert came up with was, essentially, “Yeah, idk, maybe smile more and look prettier?” Please note her face after that suggestion. Marcia smash.

7) Like the football analogy scene, I also wanted the scene where Marcia was pulling liquor out of her desk to go on forever, too:

MARCIA: Have a drink with me.

[Marcia pulls out bottle of whiskey]

DARDEN: I only drink tequila.

[Marcia pulls out bottle of tequila]

DARDEN: Hmm… margs?

[Marcia pulls out triple sec and freshly squeezed lime juice]

DARDEN: Kinda hot outside. Frozen?

[Marcia pulls out 10 lb. bag of ice and blender]

DARDEN: You know what I could go for? Some guac.

[Marcia pulls out avocados, jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, onions, and a cutting board]

DARDEN: That’s why you’re the boss.

8) A big shoutout to Connie Britton as the champagne-swilling Faye Resnick for getting the phrase “Brentwood Hello” into the modern lexicon. Between this and Better Call Saul giving us “Hoboken Squat Cobbler” on Monday night, it truly is the golden era of prestige dramas explaining graphic sex terms to viewers.

Also, wanna have some fun? Track down some customer reviews of Faye Resnick’s book. Here’s an excerpt from an Amazon user named Becky, titled, simply enough, “YUCK!”

This woman considered herself to be Nicole’s best friend. Poor Nicole. Because if that was true, and this woman was Nicole’s best friend, then I wonder what her enemies were like? If the revelations in this book are true, then Nicole was nothing more than a bisexual man leach who was kissed more times than the Pope’s ring. What kind of friend would write such a trashy and expoitative [sic] book, whether true or not, mere months after a friend’s brutal murder? What kind of friend would want to cash in on this terrible tragedy? The money that Resnick was paid for writing this book is, in my mind, blood money. I hope she’s happy. If this woman was a true friend, she would have fought for justice for Nicole with dignity, love, and compassion, and NOT write this garbage, which serves nobody and does nothing but bring more pain and sorrow to the unspeakably victimised [sic].

Tell us how you really feel, Becky!

9) On a more serious note, that scene with Marcia Clark and the Goldman family was rough. Heartbreaking, really, especially when Clark said, “We’re going to get him” and Ronald Goldman’s father replied “You better” through angry tears. Sometimes knowing how this all turns out ain’t so fun.

10) That scene at the end where Cochran led the legal team into court was mighty cool, in part because slow-motion footage of just about anyone walking into a room is cool, and in part because the song playing in the background was “Black Superman” by a group called Above the Law, which is really just an A+ selection given the circumstances.