AGAIN, apologies for how late this is. Last week’s Oscars workload got ahead of me — plus, the Downton series finale – but here we are, under the wire. From here on out, these should be available to you with greater timeliness. (I am from the era of recaps when you had the entire week to crank them out; that’s a hard habit to unlearn.)
This was a very interesting episode, as always, and there was a lot to unpack. I find the continuing relationship between Chris Darden and Johnnie Cochran to be endlessly layered, and so fascinating — and, my god, doesn’t this show make you think, “If I were accused of murder in 1994, I would be on the phone with Johnnie immediately”? He is obviously the most skilled legal mind in the entire courtroom (in addition to being, as am I, a lover of alliteration), and Courtney B. Vance has created such a complete and nuanced character here.
Moreover, I think the way the show is using the Darden/Cochran relationship to further explicate the racial issues inherent in this case — in terms of the way the case was tried, in terms of public opinion, in terms of the way these characters see themselves and other people see them — is both smart, and moving. As much as I want this show’s version of Johnnie Cochran to be my legal defense mastermind should I need one, I also want to hug its Chris Darden. Sterling K. Brown is so, so sympathetic in this role, and the ins and outs of Darden’s relationship with Cochran are really compelling. That moment where Johnnie comes up to Chris at OJ’s house and tells him to “let a white person” interrogate That Asshole Racist Mark Fuhrman was so good. Because I think we all wondered: Is this advice, or gamesmanship? Or both? (I, for one, think it was advice that also worked as gamesmanship.) The way that relationship weaves from mentor/mentee to fierce opposition, and maybe back again, is riveting, and you get the sense that Johnnie is in control of it the entire time.
Also compelling this week: DUDE. How did I forget that Johnnie’s opening arguments were so good they gave poor Bill a HEART ATTACK IN COURT? Well, because THAT actually never happened, per the must-read Vulture fact-checking column. (Which I was relieved to hear, honestly. If I had forgotten watching Bill pass out in court, I would be worried about my own memory.) Additionally, that intel about Cochran redecorating OJ’s house is riveting, and that bit is true; also, this week’s Vulture piece discusses the way the in-court debate about the n-word impacted the Los Angeles Times’s newsroom, and also covers the fact that Cochran’s off-mic aside to Darden, in which he drops said n-word, never actually happened — but that Cochran is on record as having wanted to say just that; I have to think that Johnnie, in heaven, appreciated getting his wish.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that THERE ARE LITERALLY NEW DEVELOPMENTS INTHE CASE SINCE LAST WE TALKED.
Let’s talk about this episode.