Posted by Katherine Recap | Hollywood, TV

[For The People v. OJ Simpson “100 Percent Not Guilty” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
100 Percent Not Guilty. The entrance of Johnnie Cochran adds an interesting energy to the case.

“100 percent Not Guilty” opens in a dance club where OJ is getting down with champagne, oysters, shots and doing coke off the chest of a beauty in a tiny red dress. Then we see that it was all in his frustrated head and back in the present OJ sits in his cell, pissed off. This lifestyle comes up again later in the episode when Lee Resnick describes exactly this sort of night life as shared by OJ, Nicole and their alleged cocaine-fueled conquests for her tell-all book about Nicole.

At the first Dream Team meeting when Cochran finally joins them Shapiro opens with the question “Who thinks OJ did it?” but nobody wants to play that game so then he says, “me neither”. Then they discuss the benefit of a downtown jury where there will certainly be black men and Shapiro points out that Cochran knows the language of “these people,” thus irritating Johnnie to the core. One thing they all agree about is their strategy to fight each and every item brought up as if the whole case depends on each and every tiny point of contention.

We see this in action right away at the preliminary hearing when Cochran vehemently objects to Marcia Clark’s request for hair samples, escalating it to the point that they end up requesting a special hearing just for hair sample discussion. Cochran then goes to visit OJ in prison and gives crankypants a pep talk. Johnnie’s a fantastic storyteller and makes OJ smile even with his red-rimmed eyes, clogged toilet, nasty prison food, and wrinkled brow. Johnnie reminds OJ that he’s an inspiration to many people, including Cochran.

Next we see Judge Ito telling his wife, a police officer, that he got assigned to the Simpson case. He’s excited and immediately has her fill out “the usual spousal conflict form”. She scans the list and pauses significantly over Mark Fuhrman’s name before signing off on it. Then we see Ito taking OJ’s plea in court, he makes that famous statement saying, I’m absolutely “100 Percent Not Guilty,” after which some music plays to indicate that the charade within a carnival within a TV show is about to begin.

F. Lee Bailey and Shapiro have dinner and Bailey asks who he should send his billable hours to but Shapiro tells him he’s going to be working pro bono on this one. It’ll be worth it because it’s such a high profile case, Shapiro promises. Bailey balks at this and points out that he was the first lawyer Shapiro called. One can’t really blame Bailey for this, he’s already a household name from the Sam Shepherd and Patty Hearst cases, thus likely doing it for the money and not so much additional fame at this point. What Shapiro is too bloated in the head to realize is that he needs Bailey as his ally on the dream team and alienating his buddy like this is a stupid move.

Next Faye Resnick feeds tawdry stories about coke binges and anonymous Brentwood BJs to the ghost writers for her trashy book about Nicole. She talks about how the reason behind Nicole and OJ’s fights was that they were always breaking up and reconciling but then one of them would invariably sleep around and screw it up. Resnick said all sorts of horrifying things with seemingly no filter and then published the book in a frenzy so fast that Judge Ito brought the lawyers into his back office to discuss it before the jury has even been selected. The prosecution and defense teams both read the book, along with the rest of the United States. Every character has their own individual shocked reaction and then Shapiro points out the lesbian sex page for the convenience of “The Dream Team” as they sit around a table reading it in tandem.

Meanwhile at the DA’s office the Goldman family comes in to talk to Marcia. Ron Goldman’s father is justifiably angry that nobody seems to care about his son’s death or if they do it’s seemingly only to tarnish his name. Ron was truly a good person and not just the hottie people see in his photos. He volunteered with sick kids and never drank or did drugs but all the press talks about is his modeling and tanning salon. Mr. Goldman softly relays how many times Ron was stabbed, even after he was dead and it’s heartbreaking to imagine losing your child this way, to a monster. Marcia’s moved and takes his hand then promises, “We’re going to get him,” and Mr. Goldman says, “You better” which just kills us even more because we know this promise gets broken too.

After that Marcia meets with Gil and Bill who give her the bad news that they can’t go for the death penalty. Nobody in America wants to execute OJ, they explain. We can’t even get Charles Manson executed, for God’s sake! Then they tell her to go see the focus group guy. He’s a real pro and offered to do them for free on this case. In the first focus group Marcia and Bill see all the black people raise their hands to indicate that they think OJ is innocent and all the white people think he’s guilty. Then the focus group watches a courtroom tape of the lawyers in action and subsequently describe Marcia as a bitch, strident, a know-it-all, and shifty. Uh oh. After the focus groups Marcia gets advice to soften her hairdo, wear skirts and maybe try smiling. Black women especially don’t like her. She’s beside herself and, unfortunately, doesn’t really believe it. Marcia keeps insisting that black women love her because she’s helped so many with battered wife cases in the past. What she doesn’t realize is that previous truths no longer apply with this case. It’s a different world with OJ.

Meanwhile the defense runs focus groups of their own and are surprised to learn that black women love OJ but call Nicole a “gold digger,” welcome news for their side though. Kardashian can’t see past the fact that he’s upset by it and says, “Nicole wasn’t at all like that. She really loved him,” etc. It’s a challenge sometimes to remember that technically Kardashian was also on the Dream Team because he acts more like their dufus waterboy half the time.

Marcia meets with Darden then and tells him they have to drop the Cowlings case after all because OJ is taking all the attention of the DA office. Then they share a drink and chat about jury selection. He asks her how Johnnie scored in the focus groups and she tells him a ten and how poorly she did – a four. It doesn’t bode well and she asks Darden what it is that’s so special about Cochran. He says not to underestimate Johnnie because he’s the real deal.

Jury selection begins and “The Dream Team” leaves day one’s courtroom deciding to do a press conference about the jury already leaning too white and Shapiro insists he be the one to speak to the press because he’s the team leader. But after Shapiro’s PR speech falls flat, the press follows Johnnie to his shoe shine and Cochran gives them the quotes they really want. This leads to a front page headline about racism already arising in the courtroom. Then Gil advises Marcia and Bill they need a third lawyer at their table and it needs to be somebody “good for optics” AKA black. Marcia then suggests they add Darden to their team. She’s not making these smart choices in the courtroom, though. Back at jury selection the dream team adds more black women and Marcia’s a bit too open-minded about it. Instead of taking the focus group information into account and challenging the jury makeup which is heavily stacked with black women and men, Marcia holds out on principle against Bill. Should it matter? No. But it does matter. All Bill asks for is one white guy because hey, “We live in Los Angeles too,” and he’s got a point.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Sometimes the word of the people outweighs even principle… like in a courtroom where the jury decides.

Next thing we know Johnnie gives OJ the good news that his neighbor’s maid can give testimony that messes up the prosecution’s timeline. This gives the defense team hope. Then Shapiro waltzes in and advises OJ to plead manslaughter. He should say he went to the house to slash Nicole’s tires and things escalated to killing her and then subsequently “the Ron fella” out of jealousy. This horrifies the rest of the room but Shapiro goes home oblivious. His wife begs him to drop the case but he can’t drop it, he explains. Shapiro knows everybody in their whitewashed world thinks OJ is guilty. That’s the world he lives in too and clearly it’s where he’s comfortable. But the rest of “The Dream Team” is at least playing along with the “100 Percent Not Guilty” plea and he needs to get on board because it’s his job.

The Dream team and OJ then convalesce while Shapiro takes a vacation to Hawaii. They even go to his office and remove all of his OJ files and put them in Cochran’s office. Shapiro is pissed to come back and find this out, especially when The Daily News splashes it across their front page. He confronts them when he gets back, rushing into Cochran’s office. The Dream Team were waiting for him and have OJ on conference call ready to talk it out. At first OJ tries to tell Shapiro with football metaphors. But then F. Lee Bailey gives Shapiro the bad news point blank – looks like Bailey will be billing hours after all on this case. When the rest of The Dream Team concurs with Bailey, it’s officially decided to make Cochran leader and Shapiro has no choice but to accept. Truth is, this frees him from the very problem his wife talked about. Now defending OJ isn’t all on his shoulders anymore. But this is a man who hates to lose any ground. So, he pouts anyway. In the final scene The Dream Team walks into court and are taken aback by Darden’s presence on the prosecution team. OJ asks Cochran, “When did they get a black guy?” and Marcia smiles at them. She’s finally got one small victory for her side.

–Katherine Recap


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