The eventual white Bronco episode was always going to be a challenge for American Crime Story. The high-speed chase is the most widely documented and most famous aspect of the O.J. Simpson murder trial story. More than the trial or crime itself, when people think of O.J. Simpson, they think of that iconic white Bronco speeding down the highway. American Crime Story had the Herculean task of taking an event that nearly everyone has seen live or in archival news footage and making it feel fresh and exciting. Surprisingly (and pleasingly), they manage to pull it off in episode two, “The Run of His Life.”
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The Juice is Loose
In the wake of O.J.’s disappearance, prosecutors Gil Garcetti and Marcia Clark hold a press conference. Not to be outdone, Robert Shapiro holds his own press conference and makes it all about him. Shapiro denies any wrongdoing in O.J. going missing. He also continually references himself and his perceived and inflated sense of self. Sadly, he doesn’t mention his mighty eyebrows at all. This is a huge disappointment because they are easily his most impressive quality.
Meanwhile, O.J. is spotted on the highway by a pair of idiots. The idiots call the cops and O.J. is quickly tracked down. The police stop the white Bronco and ask A.C. to let O.J. out of the car. In the backseat, O.J. has a gun to his head and yells at A.C. to keep driving, which he does, of course.
Unaware of all this, Robert Kardashian goes to visit O.J.’s family at his palatial home. Kardashian tells the family that he believes O.J. has killed himself. Everyone begins to lose their minds, only to see the white Bronco on TV. The Simpson family becomes just as riveted as anyone else watching O.J. in his famous high-speed chase. Rarely has a TV series showing people watching TV been this riveting.
Hell on Wheels
American Crime Story gives the audience a look inside the white Bronco. The matter of how much of this story is true is definitely up for debate. No matter how accurate the story is, it is still fascinating. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays a man on the edge of suicide in an incredible fashion. Whether you believe the real O.J. did it or not, American Crime Story paints a captivating version of their O.J. American Crime Story does a wonderful job of making their character of O.J. Simpson a flawed and tortured human being.
Splicing together real news footage and American Crime Story‘s own creation, O.J. repeats over and over that he just wants to get home to see his mother. O.J. calls Robert and basically goes through the same suicidal rhetoric of their last conversation at Robert’s home. Kardashian does very little to help, but looks bewildered and on the verge of tears. This is Kardashian’s one and constant facial expression since American Crime Story started, though, so we can’t be surprised.
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Cochran vs. Darden
This episode also picks up with Johnnie Cochran, O.J.’s future lawyer, and Christopher Darden, O.J.’s future prosecutor, during the chase. Cochran appears on TV and compares O.J. to plenty of other innocent black men who have been chased by the police. This doesn’t just seem like talk for the cameras, either. Cochran genuinely begins to believe that O.J. is being treated unfairly.
Darden takes a very different view. He believes that ever since O.J. became rich and popular, he turned his back on his past. O.J., in Darden’s opinion, has never given back to the community which raised him. Unlike Cochran, Darden sees O.J. as guilty, and the real victims of the event are the prosecutors and O.J.’s family.
O.J. Arrested at Last
Eventually, A.C. drives O.J. up to his home, which is surrounded by police. O.J. teeters on the edge of suicide several more times. He gets especially close when his son, Jason, desperately rushes out to the car. O.J. waits in the car until nightfall. It is then that Robert Kardashian finally manages to do something useful. He calls O.J. on the car phone and convinces O.J. to come out and be arrested inside his house.
O.J. exits the car in an ashamed and almost bashful fashion. As O.J. makes it past the threshold of his mansion, he more or less collapses into Robert Kardashian’s arms. Kardashian lays O.J. down on the couch and the man finally gets to talk to his mother by telephone.
Across town, Marcia takes a long drag in victorious exhalation. Watching the TV, she makes a grand statement. She is going to take O.J. to court and make him pay for what he has done. Oh, semi-fictionalized Marcia, you have no idea what is coming next.
American Crime Story airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)