The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Episode 3 Recap: Meet The Dream Team

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), O. J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), & Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer)
At the end of episode 2, Maria Clark says, "We're taking [O. J. Simpson] to trial." That can only mean one thing: It's time to assemble one of the most famous legal defense teams in history. During the trial, the lawyers on Simpson's defense team — a.k.a. "the dream team" — became celebrities.
A perfect example of their celebrity status occurs during the opening scene of this episode. Robert Kardashian Sr. (David Schwimmer) — or Richard Kordovian, as a hostess mistakenly calls him...remember the days when "Kardashian" wasn't a household name? — is taking his four children out to eat. Even though the restaurant is packed, he immediately gets a table due to his growing notoriety as a member of O. J. Simpson's (played in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story by Cuba Gooding Jr.) legal team.
The kids take the opportunity to ask their dad if they think Simpson, to whom he repeatedly refers as "Uncle Juice," did it. He says no. Kim (Veronica Galvez) mentions that their mother, Kris Jenner (Selma Blair), disagrees. Robert Kardashian says their mom shouldn't be talking to them about this stuff, but Kim counters with the fact that, "People ask me about it all day. I mean, [Simpson] is my godfather."
I know it seems beyond the realm of comprehension that the Kardashians, who have now reached a level of global fame that's unbelievable, were also involved in Nicole Brown Simpson's murder case, but it's true. Kris Jenner was actually one of Nicole's best friends. After her death, Jenner was the one who went to Nicole's condo to box up the Simpsons' children's belongings to send to them. The murder divided not just Jenner and her ex-husband, but it also put a strain on the whole family. One time, Kim and Kourtney went to the courthouse with their father during the trial. There, they had to sit opposite their mother, who was with Nicole Brown Simpson's family on the prosecution side.
The People v. O.J. Simpson's writers also couldn't resist getting a little dig at the absurd levels of fame the Kardashians have reached since the events pictured in this scene. Their father mentions that he's going to be interviewed by Barbara Walters. The kids counter that, "She talked to mom and Bruce [Jenner], too." Rob Jr. (Nicolas Bechtel) adds, "Bruce is famous — he won the Olympics!" Khloé says, "Bruce and mom sell ThighMasters on TV. That means they're both famous."
Rob wants to know why his dad is famous. "I'm not," his dad replies. "We are Kardashians; and in this family, being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than being famous. Fame is fleeting. It's hollow. It means nothing at all without a virtuous heart."
The camera pans slowly around the table at all of the Kardashian offspring, who as we all know will one day rise to global notoriety. The irony weighs so heavily on this scene, it's like a custom-made Balmain cape.
Photo: Courtesy of FX.
O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) holds a press conference to read the charges against O. J. Simpson. "Simpson will be charged with the premeditated deaths of both victims and that's precisely what we will prove." The press wants to know if the death penalty is on the table. "I'd say everything is on the table," Clark responds.
As she walks away from the press conference, she smiles and high fives her coworkers. She thinks there's enough physical evidence that a conviction will be a slam dunk.
Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) knows he's got a reputation for settling, not fighting things in court. He also knows how guilty Simpson looks — what with the trail of blood running from the crime scene to Simpson's door and trying to make a run for it in the Bronco — so Shapiro calls in F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) for assistance. Bailey immediately suggests hiring Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler), just so he stops pointing out everything Shapiro is doing wrong on CNN.
Dershowitz brings in DNA expert Barry Scheck (Rob Morrow), who basically repeats what the prosecution knows, which is that the physical evidence undeniably points to Simpson's guilt. Scheck then brings up something that makes the defense team happy for the first time in the case: They should do whatever they can to prove that the authorities messed up while collecting the evidence, so it should be completely thrown out of court. I bet the defense is glad Scheck was born.
Simpson's mugshot is on the cover of both Time and Newsweek, but Time appears to have darkened his skin. "They made him Blacker," a newsstand owner says to Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown) when he stops to look. "Of course it's racially insensitive, but the real injustice is the way police officers view Blacks in Los Angeles even after the [Rodney King] riots, even after the Christopher Commission. The LAPD culture has not changed," Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) says when he goes on CNN to comment on the matter, on which managing editor James R. Gaines would later be forced to comment in a statement.
"It seems to me you could argue that it's racist to say that Blacker is more sinister, but be that as it may: To the extent that this caused offense to anyone, I obviously regret it...[N]o racial implication was intended, by Time or by the artist," Gaines said in a message posted on America Online.
The defense decides to look into Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), who gathered a lot of the physical evidence at the scene. He apparently "hates Black people," which means Shapiro can formulate the argument that, "O. J. Simpson was set up by the cops because he was a Black man, and because the LAPD has a systemic racism problem."
The prosecution's slam-dunk case starts to unravel at the same time the dream team's solidifies. One of their key witnesses goes on A Current Affair and Clark says she can't take the stand anymore, because the defense will discredit her. Clark is still confident in their strong physical evidence. You know, the same evidence the defense team is now going to argue was planted by a racist homicide detective because of the LAPD's systemic bigotry.
The final part of the defense team's strategy? Adding someone who can "communicate with the downtown jury," a.k.a. Cochran. Simpson isn't that into the idea when they go to see him in prison to pose the idea, but he obviously comes around to it. Not the first time, but after the release of the 911 tapes in which Simpson can be overheard beating Nicole Brown Simpson back when they were still married.
Chris Darden comes to warn Clark that he received a call about Detective Fuhrman being investigated. She takes the opportunity to ask what he thinks about the case. Darden says that even though it seems pretty open-and-shut, a lot of Black people think Simpson is innocent. Clark is shocked to hear this. She even wants to add in a charge for aiding and abetting for A. C. Cowlings. She thinks Darden should take the case it. "It'll be fun," Clark smiles. The tides are about to shift, though.
Just when it seems like things can't get any more contentious, Nicole Brown Simpson's old 911 tapes are released to the public. Almost immediately after, an interview Shapiro did with The New Yorker comes out. In it, which he basically accuses the LAPD of framing Simpson for the murders. "We have to stop looking at this case as a slam dunk. This article is a declaration of war," Clark realizes. This is also the moment Shapiro and Kardashian finally convince Simpson to hire Cochran.
"Cochran...motherfucker," is what Clark has to say about that when she reads about the dream team getting its future starting forward.

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