[For The People v. OJ Simpson “The Dream team” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
The Dream Team. Robert Shapiro begins putting together OJ Simpson’s legal counsel.
“The Dream Team” essentially gets down to the brass tacks of doing business in Los Angeles. But because it’s Hollywood, baby, fame matters. And emotion matters even more, even in the business of criminal justice. This is one of the major flaws in the idealism of the prosecutors from the very beginning. They decide it works for them to have the trial “downtown” rather than Santa Monica where the crime took place. Gill likes the idea because he’s thinking of his next election and wants a few black people on the jury and Marcia Clark is bursting with confidence because of her record wins and the abundance of evidence against OJ. She does make a telling joke, though, about how it’s too bad OJ won’t get a jury of his peers, rich white people. Another significant but seemingly offhanded joke is when Darden explains to her that many black people are convinced OJ didn’t do it, “They’re emotional,” he says and notes that she doesn’t “get it” because she never gets emotional about her cases. This is apparently a point of pride for Marcia Clark. Unfortunately, it will also be her undoing.
The episode opens on Kardashian eating out on Father’s Day with his kids where he gets recognized for being “the OJ guy” and thus seated right away. His daughters ask if he thinks OJ did it and he says no way but they insist that their mother thinks he did it. King Kodependent says he believes in OJ and also lectures them that being a good person and loyal friend is much more important than being famous. “Fame is fleeting and means nothing without a virtuous heart,” he says. Kardashian’s sincerity is evident but his idealism also feels touched with delusion given that the children listening to this and nodding their heads in agreement are Kim and Khloe Kardashian.
Meanwhile, Robert Shapiro’s incredibly pissed off by the media’s portrayal of the OJ case. He calls F Lee Bailey and has him over for some expensive booze and wooing. He cries to Bailey about how bad it looks for OJ: the trail of blood straight into his house, the gloves, running away in the Bronco, etc. Then they turn on the TV and see Dershowitz talking about how terrible this whole thing is for OJ. They discuss smug Dershowitz and agree that the only way to shut him up is to hire him. Next they bring on Barry Scheck, the best DNA guy in the business. When they all meet to discuss the case Dershowitz lists all their mistakes including reading OJ’s apparent confession on TV. Once he’s finished pissing all over their parade they all start sharing strategies. Barry Scheck’s strategy is to show errors in the handling of DNA samples to attack every assumption brought by the prosecution. Dershowitz then takes this strategy further and says they’ll do the same with all the evidence and get as much thrown out as possible. Later Pat McKenna, their team’s lead investigator, says the LAPD treated OJ like they were his butler but he does happen to know one of them, Mark Furhman and that he’s a real prick – even Johnny Carson didn’t like him.
Cochran hasn’t yet joined the team but tells his wife he doesn’t want to lose along with that crowd of fancypants. She says sure sure but how would you feel if they got Simpson off without you on the team? Johnny has to admit he wouldn’t like that. OJ’s face is on the cover of Time, Newsweek, and all the other news magazines and there’s outrage in the media about how they made him look darker in his mugshot. So, the topic of racism has already entered the conversation. Next we see Pat McKenna back with Shapiro after investigating Mark Furhman’s files at the lAPD and it turns out he’s been deemed racially biased and it’s all on record. Thus, the cop that found the glove – the most crucial evidence – can be taken down on the stand for his “known racism” and now Shapiro has his strategy. This information combined with the LAPD’s history in the black community gives him all he needs to clinch the case. It’s the first time Shapiro has smiled in a long time. A reporter from The New Yorker Magazine comes by his office and Shapiro tells him about Mark Furhman and that the police set up OJ Simpson.
Then Marcia Clark sees her eyewitness, the one OJ screamed at from his Bronco. She’s on Hard Copy talking about the incident with Simpson on the night of the murder and basically gives all of her testimony right there on TV. Turns out the show paid her five thousand dollars to tell her story. Even though she’s the only real eyewitness for the prosecution from the night of the murders and crucial to the timeline, Marcia says they have to pull her from the witness list now that she’s been tainted by the media. Clark says they still have all the evidence they need to hold the high ground. Uh oh. Slippery slope here they come.
Next we see OJ talking to Shapiro, Bailey, and Kardashian. Shapiro says he wants to add Cochran to the team so he can better communicate with the downtown jury and OJ doesn’t like this idea at all. It’s in direct conflict with the way he self-identifies. “You want to make this about being black but I’m not black. I’m OJ,” and now we see that OJ never really liked or agreed with the very defense that ended up freeing him.
Christopher Darden gets a call from the reporter at the New Yorker and he tells Marcia about it, saying he knows Furhman is an important witness for her. She then asks Darden what he thinks about the case. He says it seems bulletproof. But Marcia’s shocked when Darden adds that it’s interesting how a lot of black people don’t think OJ did it. So, he attempts to explain the phenomenon but Clark never quite grasps the concept. Next she asks him what he thinks of AC Cowlings being prosecuted for aiding and abetting a felon when he drove OJ in the Bronco. Darden points out that OJ having the gun pointed to his head makes it complicated. Marcia says she wants Darden to lead this aiding and abetting case against Cowling and Darden says he hasn’t been in a courtroom in a long time but she insists he’s the right one for the Cowlings case.
Then things unravel even further for the DA’s office when the news media starts playing the 911 tapes of Nicole calling in about OJ beating her. Marcia rants that her evidence is already all on TV and she’s going to have nothing left by the time the trial starts. It certainly won’t help her case now. Then The New Yorker issue comes out and F Lee Bailey praises Shapiro for his big brass balls. They talk about how the 911 tapes being exposed puts them back in the winning game now that this article is the followup. How can having the 911 tapes out there help them? It’s a lot like what Robert Kardashian told his kids, “Fame is fleeting. It’s hollow,” so people get emotional about it today, yes. But then they move on to the next thing as they do with all news stories. There’s a new one right around the corner that will make them feel something completely different. And guess what that next thing is – Shapiro and his story about how it’s impossible for a black man to get a fair shake with the LAPD.
Meanwhile Darden tells Marcia and Gill he thinks this Shapiro story from The New Yorker could stick. The DA office starts to realize their case is no longer such a slam dunk and it’s going to be a battle after all. Kardashian then reads The New Yorker article to OJ in prison and Shapiro explains to OJ how the 911 tapes hurt his reputation as the golden boy and they need to bring Cochran on the case to seal the race story for them. Shapiro finally gets the OK from Simpson but then faces another obstacle when Cochran says he has to look into OJ’s eyes and believe him before he can join the case. Shapiro clearly doesn’t believe Simpson and thus gets a worried look on his face at the prospect.
So, then Cochran visits OJ in prison and they sit, just the two of them, while OJ cries. He loved Nicole. He didn’t do it. He couldn’t have done it. Johnny just has to believe him. OJ uses emotion like a master, wiping away the tears and tapping deep into Johnny’s soft heart. Cochran says he does believe it and that all he needs is one black juror for a hung jury and then OJ can go home.
In the final scene Marcia smokes at a picnic table in her backyard just as the sun’s coming up on a new day. She smokes her billionth cigarette and looks at the paper. On the front page is the news that Cochran has joined “The Dream Team,” and Clark only has one word to say about this, “Motherfucker”. She’s facing a formidable opponent in Cochran because he taps into people’s emotions, a skill Clark doesn’t have. In fact, this theme resonates throughout the episode. From the scene where Darden points out to Clark that her stoicism prevents her from understanding the black community’s point of view, to the argument among OJ’s Dream Team when they accuse each other of being too emotional. Yes, they are emotional and it works for them. You have to care deeply to convince people to think in different ways. You need passion and this dream team has tons to spare. Now, with Cochran joining them they have a veritable wall of passion. It’s all about getting the job done but in this case their work is a war with an ice queen armed with facts. So, who better to battle her than warriors with hearts afire?