We open in a courtroom. It's not O. J. Simpson's murder trial, though. It's a custody battle between Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) and her estranged husband, Gordon. With the long hours Clark has been working on the Simpson case, Gordon is now arguing that he should have primary custody of their two sons, who at this time are 3 and 5 years old. This hearing, which is incredibly stressful for Clark because it calls into question her ability to care for her children, makes her late to court for Simpson's case.
When she arrives, she receives evil glares from the defense team. Even Judge Ito (Kenneth Choi) says, "I'm honored you could join us today, Ms. Clark." She doesn't offer excuses, though. "My apologies to the court, Your Honor," Clark replies. Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown) asks if she's okay. She merely puts her hand up as if to signal that she doesn't want to talk about it.
When Clark arrives at home from court, there's a style expert on TV criticizing her appearance. "This is not a look; this is a cry for help," Dolly Sugarman (Jennifer Birmingham Lee) says. Clark is able to momentarily ignore the criticism, though, when her son comes out of the house and asks her an adorable question. She clearly hasn't forgotten Sugarman's remarks, though, because after her son goes to his room, Clark walks up to a mirror and examines her curls.
Next up on the witness stand: Detective Phillip Van Atter (Michael McGrady). He tells the court that after he witnessed the crime scene at the Bundy (Nicole Brown Simpson's residence), he rushed to Rockingham (O. J. Simpson's house) to notify him of his ex-wife's death. Johnnie Cochran takes umbrage with this. Why would three detectives do this? Did it have anything to do with the fact that when they were at the Bundy crime scene, Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) informed Van Atter that he'd previously been involved with O. J. and Nicole Brown Simpson's domestic violence incidents, and that this information immediately turned O. J. Simpson into a suspect for the racist LAPD?
"Today, we make [the jury] think these cops lie about little things, so that tomorrow, we can show them they lie about big things, even if they're doing it for what they think is right. That's where the daylight's at," Cochran says to Shawn Chapman (Angel Parker) in the car, explaining his long-term strategy for demonstrating how the police cut corners at the scene.
The LAPD negligence demonstration continues during Detective Tom Lange's (Chris Bauer) testimony. He took Simpson's shoes home from the crime scene instead of booking them into evidence that night. They remained in the trunk of his car, which he drove home to Simi Valley, for approximately six hours. "Simi Valley, the home of the officers involved in the Rodney King beating," Johnnie Cochran notes. Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) gets up and makes Lange admit that he's never taken evidence from a crime scene home overnight. "Shit," Marcia Clark utters under her breath.
Marcia Clark and Chris Darden then get a little moment of levity. He shares that he has a 15-year-old daughter who lives in Oakland, and that he wishes he'd been there more during her childhood. Now that he's involved in the Simpson trial, he's suddenly the cool dad, though. They start dancing. The sexual tension is pretty thick.
The levity doesn't continue. Just when it's time to call Detective Fuhrman to the stand, Cochran approaches the bench and says that they're having a witness problem. Rosa Lopez (Peggy Blow), Simpson's neighbor's housekeeper who reportedly saw his Bronco at Rockingham during the time when the murders supposedly occurred, has threatened leave the country because she's being hounded by the media, and the defense wants her to testify earlier than planned.
Judge Ito dismisses the jury so they can hold a hearing on whether or not to allow Lopez to testify early. This hearing will require the prosecution and defense to stay late. Unfortunately, Marcia Clark needs to go home; she has to relieve her babysitter. She stands to notify the judge of this issue. He lets Clark know that he has the power to make people stay late in his courtroom. It's an uncomfortable standoff, but in the end, Ito announces that they'll recess until tomorrow.
Even Clark's boss, District Attorney Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood), is somewhat aghast that she asked the entire court be adjourned so she could get home to relieve her babysitter. At the same time he's being unintentionally sexist about Clark having a problem being a working mother, he also pretends to apologize for all the negative media commentary on her appearance.
"I'm sorry. It's awful; it's inappropriate; it's sexist," Garcetti says. "Having said that, I can put you together with a couple of terrific media consultants." Oh, so this is more of a non-pology. It comes with the implicit suggestion that Clark do something about her appearance, because the District Attorney's office seems to think it somehow reflects on them.
Right before Rosa Lopez takes the stand, Johnnie Cochran makes a snide remark about Clark's child care issues. She stands up and makes a baller statement on behalf of working mothers everywhere. "I am offended by Mr. Cochran's remarks as a woman, and as a mother. Mr. Cochran may not know what it's like to work a 70-hour work week and also take care of a family, but I do, and many other people do, too. To belittle my childcare issues in your courtroom is unconscionable and totally out of line."
Then, it's time for the defense's all-important key witness, Rosa Lopez — except she turns out to be much more pivotal for the prosecution. Lopez claimed she was going to leave the country forever because of the glaring media attention the trial was putting on her, but the prosecution could find no record of her having booked any flights. She also filed for unemployement for the forseeable future. When Clark asks if she saw the Bronco outside Simpson's house at 10 or 10:15 p.m., Lopez claims she can no longer remember. "We gotta get this woman off the stand," Simpson utters to the dream team. "When I wanna hear from you, I'll rattle my zipper," he screams at Robert Shapiro later on in prison during a defense team debriefing.
Marcia Clark gets a makeover, which equals her getting an even tighter perm. The comments she receives are ruthless. "Who made her Rick James?" someone utters. When she walks into the courtroom, Judge Ito says, "Good morning, Ms. Clark, I think." Later on, she goes to the supermarket. The tabloids at the checkout have headlines like, "Marcia Clark's Hair Verdict: GUILTY." Clark is subjected to additional scrutiny from the cashier when he rings up her tampons. "I guess the defense is in for one hell of a week!" he comments. Everyone's a critic.
It's finally time for Mark Fuhrman to take the stand. While the prosecution is trying him, it seems like a pretty air-tight case. Clark gets Furhman to describe the bloody scene the authorities encountered when they arrived at Nicole Brown Simpson's residence. Furhman also says that the detectives went to Simpson's house because they were concerned that he might be in danger, given how gruesome the scene was at Bundy. "That makes sense," Clark agrees.
Over drinks, F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) says that he has one simple word that's going to destroy Fuhrman as a witness. It's the n-word. When he says it, Shawn Chapman, Johnnie Cochran, and Carl E. Douglas (Dale Godboldo) are horrified, but Bailey explains why he used it. "I'm going to ask that racist son of a bitch Fuhrman point-blank in a courtroom under oath if he ever uses the word — if he ever has used the word. If he denies it, the jury will call bullshit. They won't trust him. If he admits it; it's even worse. Check and mate. He'll be chasing teenage shoplifters around the Beverly Center by Christmas...That's the most powerful word in the English language, and I'm going to impale him on it." The team loves the idea. "You just make sure you can walk, Lee" Cochran says.
When Bailey poses the big question to Fuhrman in court, Fuhrman says that he's never used the n-word to describe someone. He also states that if the defense were to bring anyone to the courtroom to testify that Fuhrman had used the n-word to describe to them, they'd be lying. The seed has been planted.
Clark is having another personal crisis. Her first husband sold naked pictures of her to a tabloid. When she tries to return to court after she finds out, she breaks down in tears. Judge Ito takes pity on her and adjourns the trial until the next day. Clark heads up to her office to cry, where Chris Darden finds her.
"I'm not a public personality. This isn't what I do. I don't know how to do this. Those other guys, they're flashy hot shots. They're used to it, but I just can't take it," she tells Darden.
"You'll do fine. I know it," he says as he goes to sit down next to her. "And if it helps at all, you do look mighty good in that picture."
The episode ends with her laughing as the two hold hands.