“Absolutely 100 percent not guilty.” That’s what Cuba Gooding, Jr. confidently claimed when his character was asked how he pled. I wanted to punch him in the face, mainly because he delivered the line with the same smugness that the real O.J. Simpson did more than 20 years ago. The fourth episode finally brings the action inside the courtroom, and it was certainly well worth the wait. Some more details were revealed, such as the defense’s dirty tactic of calling for a hearing about how many hairs could be pulled from O.J.’s head, despite the fact that the prosecutors asked for a standard sample.
When Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) was referred to as “honorable” before his entrance into the courtroom, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and think of the scene in Liar Liar when Jim Carrey has a similar reaction as the judge enters the room after Carrey’s character can no longer lie. I’ve read several books about this case, including Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder, and Ito had always been painted as incompetent, to say the least. It was ironic that one of the reasons Ito claimed in this episode that he was chosen for this case is because he had a strong backbone. Outrage author Vincent Bugliosi would beg to differ. He blames him for allowing the defense to take control of the courtroom and play the race card up the whazoo. I was impressed by how much Choi resembles the real Ito, especially considering that the main cast mostly does not exactly consist of dead-ringers, with the exception of Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. The performances are stellar enough, however, that this can easily be overlooked.
Some viewers have stated that they couldn’t accept Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson because he’s “too small” and his voice is raspy and high-pitched compared to the deep voice the criminal he’s portraying has. At first, I was slightly surprised at the casting choice, but when I thought about it, I realized it actually makes perfect sense. If they were going to go with a well-known actor, than Cuba Gooding, Jr. was the most logical decision. He had already played a professional football player almost 20 years ago for his Academy Award winning role in Jerry Maguire. Now, he’s playing a retired NFL player (who also happens to be a sociopath). At 47 years old during filming, Cuba is almost exactly the same age O.J. was at the time of the murders and the trial. He is a mere three inches shorter than the killer (5’10” vs. 6’1”). Cuba has a similar skin tone, and they gave him the same hairstyle that Simpson had. Sure, the producers could have cast an unknown actor who looks and sounds more like Simpson, but honestly, I’d rather not look at someone who is a doppelganger of him because I can’t stand looking at that murderer’s face. Cuba convincingly captured the killer’s arrogance and fits of rage. Performance is more important than appearance.
The most heartbreaking, emotional scene of the series so far was the introduction of Fred and Kim Goldman, father and sister of too-often-forgotten “other victim,” Ron. Fred tearfully expressed to Marcia Clark his disgust about how his son “is like a footnote to his own murder,” and how the media tried to taint his character, and neglected to focus on any of his many good aspects, such as his selfless volunteer work.
Luckily, there was some comic relief, particularly in the form of Connie Britton’s scenes as Nicole’s “friend” Faye Resnick, where she was chain-smoking and downing martinis as she was giving her ghostwriters juicy details about her years knowing Nicole. She painted her slain friend in the most unflattering ways imaginable, yet Faye still managed to come across as sympathetic when she would throw in some compliments, such as Nicole being a good mother. Only a very brief scene of her infamous interview with Larry King, who played himself in this episode, was shown. I found it funny that the camera never zoomed in for a close-up of King, probably to hide the fact that 20 years have passed since the real interview. I don’t really see the point of doing that, since the dude has always looked old as hell. But anyway, I would have liked to see more focus on that interview, especially considering that this episode is Britton’s last appearance in the series.
The funniest moment in this episode, however, occurred in the second scene that involved a meeting among the defense lawyers. Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) opened up by saying, “First question: who thinks O.J. did it?” Crickets were heard as Shapiro’s eyes scanned the room, clearly hoping someone’s hand would shoot up. No such luck. “Me neither…”
There were no Kardashian kids featured in this episode, so the countless fans who have been bitching will be happy about that. Personally, although I find those talentless, attention-seeking whores annoying as hell, I was not too bothered by their appearances in a whopping three short scenes so far.
I loved the episode’s ending, where the newly rearranged “Dream Team” walked into the courtroom, and stared across at the prosecution’s table in bewilderment, when they spotted African-American Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown), who had been unexpectedly assigned to the prosecution team. Marcia Clark shot them a condescending, yet subtle smirk, as if she was saying, “We can play this game just as well as you can, bitches.”
I can’t wait to find out if O.J. is guilty or not. The suspense is going to kill me…like a knife to the throat.