Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story 1x07 Review: “Conspiracy Theories” (Big Mistake) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“Conspiracy Theories”
Original Airdate: March 15, 2016

Just when everything looks like it’s going well for the prosecution, it all falls apart. Not only do Marcia and Chris look like they are going to get it on, but they have a rock-solid argument to present in court. Everything’s coming up Marcia! Until it’s not.


Marcia enters the courtroom with straight hair and a don’t-mess-with-me attitude. She seems like she is back on track and tells boss Gil Garcetti to never mention her hair again, ever. It’s a telling scene when Marcia hides out in between two signs for the men’s restroom and waits for Johnnie Cochran to enter court that day, hoping to see him lambasted by the same press that skewered her last week. Of course, he is left relatively unscathed. Even when she is hiding, Marcia can’t escape men, or sexism.

But she tries to escape anyway and sets up a much-needed break with her dreamboat prosecution partner Chris. When they arrive at Chris’ childhood friend’s birthday party, Marcia is able to let her hair down (metaphorically of course, she is not about to mess up that blow out). When a friend of Chris’ claims he believes the police set up O.J., Chris lets Marcia shine as she uses shot glasses to expertly illustrate just how ludicrous that claim is. The men are impressed, which should be no surprise because Marcia has spent her entire professional life impressing men so that she could do her job. It was so nice to see Chris’ friends accept Marcia and let her have a good night. It says a lot about Chris that he surrounds himself with such kind people, and, man, did Marcia need a good time with nice people.

Chris’ boys build him up and say that if he wants to get with Marcia, the time is right. I agree! Marcia agrees! Chris probably agrees deep down in his heart! But he doesn’t follow through. Instead, Chris walks Marcia to her hotel room door, stands with her in an incredibly sexually charged moment, and then says goodnight and walks away.

Okay, I’ve been thinking a lot about Chris and Marcia. I have been shipping them because I want Marcia to have some happiness in her increasingly stressed-out life, but upon listening to smart people and thinking things over again, I have some caveats. Why is it that when Marcia was at her lowest, when she was vulnerable, when she had pressure coming from every part of her life, Chris felt like it was an okay time to flirt with her? And then why is it that when she was doing better, feeling stronger, and showing off how good she was at her job, he pulled back? Likely, Chris does have some feelings for Marcia but is afraid to get involved with someone — who happens to be his boss — during a trial that has the most media scrutiny in American history. And he’s not wrong. It would be an objectively bad idea that could ruin their careers. But it’s not exactly fair to Marcia, either, to move in on her when she is most vulnerable and then walk away when she is strong. Like I said, no matter where Marcia goes, she can’t escape the effects of sexism.

Not that Chris is doing this on purpose — he seems like a kind person — but he did find it acceptable to dance and schmooze and drink when Marcia was one hair pin away from a breakdown, and maybe that shouldn’t be given a total pass.

Speaking of things that should not be given a pass, how about his performance in the courtroom. The prosecution team found hard evidence that Nicole and O.J. owned gloves exactly like the ones found at the murder scene, and Marcia is convinced that the gloves will give them their conviction. Chris thinks that they should ask O.J. to put on the gloves in court so that the jury can see they fit his hands. Having that visual confirmation in front of the jury would be a homerun, according to Chris, but Marcia smartly refuses to do anything in court when she can’t guarantee the outcome. And making the defendant responsible for one of the displays of evidence that could put him away for murder is not exactly something she can control the outcome for.

The defense came up with this same idea, only they want to do it to prove the gloves don’t fit O.J. At first, Johnnie also says this is a bad idea for the same reason that Marcia does, but because Bob Shapiro tried on the gloves — in the middle of the courtroom using his bare hands, which most certainly should not be allowed — they are confident that the gloves are too small for O.J.’s hands, which are bigger than Shapiro’s. But they know it won’t work if the defense proposes this is in court because Marcia would object, so they get Chris to bring it up.

They play him like a fiddle. They know exactly what to say and exactly how to act to push all of Chris’ buttons. So Chris ignores Marcia’s direct orders and suggests that O.J. try on the gloves.

As we all know, the gloves don’t fit. O.J. hams it up, making faces and huffing and puffing as he tries in vain to pull the gloves on. Shapiro and Johnnie celebrate their move, high fiving under a table as the family of Ron Goldman looks on. Their celebration right in front of the grieving family’s horrified faces provide a contrast that encapsulates so much of what this show it about: the humanity just under the surface of what turns into a show.

Chris messed up. And they won’t be able to fix it. At the end of this harrowing day, Chris sits in his office, alone, without Marcia, and calls the Goldmans to apologize. But it’s too little too late.


Bob Shapiro and Johnnie’s cold war is not going unnoticed by their client. Using various football analogies, O.J. tells Shapiro to get it together or he’s going to get cut from the team. And get it together he does. While I don’t believe Shapiro has O.J.’s best interests at heart, he has been the one to come up with the defense’s best plays when they need it the most. He set up the police conspiracy theory, and it’s his idea to get O.J. to try on the gloves in court. Temporarily, this brings him and Johnnie together despite their differences, but we’ll see if it really lasts.

Johnnie’s past gets outed as tabloids get wind that he had a secret life when he was with his ex. Johnnie thinks he shut it down when he addressed the press, but his wife knows better. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can never get it back in. All of this is addressing one of the series’ larger themes of fame, and how it can build you up and destroy you. Johnnie wanted the fame and the power that comes with it, but fame is always coming for you, like a monster in a horror movie. It’s right there, behind you and breathing down your neck.

Meanwhile, Bobby Kardashian is having a crisis of conscience. It doesn’t make sense to him how blood could be all over O.J.’s bronco, and he doesn’t understand why, if O.J. didn’t do it, no one is looking for the actual killer. There is more information on this case and on the victims than ever before, but still no one can find an answer that doesn’t include O.J.

The show claims that it isn’t taking a stance on if O.J. really did it, but when they lay it all out there, one can’t help but feel a bit like Bobby. If not O.J., then who?

Notes from the case file:
  • I was feeling tense about Bobby opening the garment bag even though I knew there was nothing in it. This show is great at building atmosphere.
  • “Is this an AA meeting or is someone going to buy me a drink?” 
  • Chris and Marcia’s shared looks at the bar destroyed me. 


  1. I must say I have been reading these reviews and enjoying them but I have a comment about the Chris/Marcia situation. I think that Chris wasn't trying anything with the dance. I think he saw someone who he always saw as tough and strong being struck down by forces out of her control for the first time. He offered the dance to show that he would have her back (so to speak) and that Chris was attracted to her but just wanted to let her have a chance to be happy.

    For the bar and then hotel scene, I'll admit that they were ready to go(sex it up) but Chris pulled away. That I think was pure fear. Chris had enjoyed the flirtation but he was afraid of not only what would happen to him but Marcia and their careers. And by the time he figured out that he should risk it , it was too late. Pure and simple, what happens to every man at one time or another : we froze under pressure which in turn lead to I think Chris trying to save face by the glove idea.

    Once again , Great Review and can't wait to read the rest!

  2. That's a really good way to look at it, I think, and such a good point about him trying to save face. Thanks for reading and commenting! I just want to give both of them a hug right now