On this week’s episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson, we see the “Manna From Heaven” for the defense by way of the Mark Fuhrman tapes. The best line of the night, “You wanted a black face, but you didn’t want a black voice,” said by Chris Darden to Marcia Clark in an elevator. In fact, there have been a lot of emotional elevator scenes in this series. Note to self: attorneys do their best work in an elevator.
We begin with O.J. Simpson’s arthritis doctor on the stand testifying that O.J. has the body of a grandfather. Then the jury watches a workout video made by said “grandfather” who has terrific flexibility just two weeks prior to the murders. Cut to an investigator following up on a tip about the existence of the tapes. A woman is watching the trial from her home in North Carolina when her phone rings. She is a screenwriter who couldn’t make it as a screenwriter so she now teaches screenwriting. Turns out, she interviewed Fuhrman for a script she was writing, but couldn’t sell, about the LAPD. She wants nothing to do with this trial or to help O.J. She hangs up the phone.
Back in court, thing are getting personal between Cochran and Darden as they fire off racial accusations while cross-examining a witness. Judge Ito tells them to knock it off, but it’s too late, everyone has seen it. Meanwhile, the Dream Team has confirmed the authenticity of the tapes and must A) subpoena them from North Carolina and then B) get them admitted by Judge Ito. The men argue over who should fly across the county, but it’s decided that Johnnie and F. Lee Bailey will go.
The two pour over the transcripts and are horrified and sickened by the gold mine they have discovered in Mark Fuhrman as he used racial slur after racial slur to brag about brutalizing and torturing black men in his custody. But when Johnnie goes before the North Carolina judge and demands the tapes, he is denied. Outside Johnnie in enraged the judge wouldn’t enforce the subpoena. F. Lee points to a confederate statue and suggests that Johnnie let him do the talking at the emergency appeal. After F. Lee’s smooth southern soliloquy was heard by the judges, the tapes were immediately delivered to the LA courts.
Judge Ito grants both sides the opportunity to listen to the tapes, but they must remain sealed and kept from the courtroom. Things are bad enough as Marcia and Chris listen, but they soon hear something much worse when Fuhrman is on the tapes saying vulgar things about Judge Ito’s wife – the highest ranking female in the LAPD. In fact, in order for Ito to be assigned to the Simpson trial, his wife had to sign an affidavit stating she had no dealings with Fuhrman that she recalled. Well Fuhrman certainly recalled her. Did Ito’s wife lie when she signed the affidavit? How did she not recall reprimanding Fuhrman for writing KKK on a MLK poster? The possibility of a mistrial looms again – and quite frankly – I don’t know why there wasn’t one.
Upon learning of the horrible words used by Fuhrman on the tape, Judge Ito gives a touching speech about women succeeding in a male-dominated field. He decides that it’s best that another judge makes the decision about the tapes – but that judge wants more time for a comprehensive look at the case. No telling how long that’s going to take. In the meantime, why not organize a coalition of black community leaders to demand an investigation, because Los Angeles isn’t enough of a powder keg about to blow. Johnnie leads the group chant, “Release the tape! Release the tape!”
So the tapes are ruled admissible, but Judge Ito wants the court to listen to the tapes in their entirety before deciding which parts are admissible. The court listens as Fuhrman proudly described beating the faces of black people into “mush” and then washing the blood from his hands before going out to direct traffic. Everyone in the courtroom looks ill.
Later Marcia and Chris have an “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you” moment about trying on the gloves and putting Fuhrman on the stand. That said – they still would not have won. This case was no longer about O.J. Simpson, but about decades of abuse from the LAPD to the black community members.
After the 13-hours of tapes are heard, Judge Ito decides that only two sentences will be permitted relating directly to Fuhrman’s perjury. The defense is not happy. They had been counting on the part about planting evidence. But it wouldn’t matter. When the most hated man in America, as F. Lee points out, “It’s hard to be hated by both sides,” takes the stand, he invokes his 5th amendment right on every question. Chris Darden doesn’t get to see this because he storms out of the courtroom when Fuhrman takes the stand, leaving Marcia to sit at the prosecution table alone. After getting nowhere, Johnnie asks one final question to Fuhrman: Did he plant or manufacture any evidence in this case? Again, Fuhrman pleads the 5th leaving a lasting impression with the jurors.
As O.J. boasts about how well the day went, Bobby Kardashian looks like he is about to puke. The episode ends with good news for Marcia Clark though, she won primary custody of her children in her battle with her ex-husband.
Tune in next week for the finale. Are you sad to see this series come to an end or are you ready to move on?