HOLLYWOOD—This week’s episode of “The People v. O.J. Simpson” was a tense ride leading right from the end of last week’s episode. Last week we ended with a tip line call that there might be tapes of Detective Fuhrman using racial slurs. These tapes are the focus of this week’s episode, ‘Manna From Heaven.’
The show starts off with a fight concerning race between Chris Darden and Johnnie Cochran. This leads into the scene where Johnnie’s team finds out the tapes are real. On the other side, Marcia Clark and Chris are debating whether the tapes are real. If they are, then the detective that Marcia put her money on might end up losing them the trial.
The tapes and transcripts are in North Carolina where Johnnie and F. Lee Bailey travel to obtain them. We get a quiet scene where we see bits of the transcripts as Johnnie and F. Lee read them. In the transcripts Detective Fuhrman uses racial slurs multiple times. This is not looking good for the prosecution’s case.
Johnnie and F. Lee have to go to an Evidentiary Hearing to obtain the transcripts and tapes. This scene continues to show what a big role race played even in the 90s as Johnnie had no luck convincing the southern judge to release the tapes and transcripts. F. Lee pointed this out to Johnnie, so F. Lee talked to the judge and he was able to acquire the tapes and transcripts.
Once Judge Ito received the tapes, Marcia lost it. She noted that Johnnie is just trying to get the jury to focus on conspiracy theories instead of the truth. Judge Ito says that both teams may listen to the tapes and view the transcripts, but the information stays sealed between them.
Marcia stopped the tapes half-way after hearing Detective Fuhrman use racial slurs and stereotypes. She does end up listening to the tapes, as does Chris, and they have to confront Gil Garcetti about the tapes containing Detective Fuhrman insulting Judge Ito’s wife.
Once Judge Ito is made aware of the situation he sees the conflict of interest if he were to remain the judge in the case and hear the harsh insults. He calls for Judge Reid to make the determination if a mistrial is possible. Johnnie and his team are worried about a mistrial, because then the tapes might not be played in a new trial. Marcia and Chris are worried, because if it looks like they pushed for a mistrial, then it could lead to a double jeopardy scenario where O.J. walks free.
There is a nicely directed scene to show the feeling of pressure on both teams. In one elevator Bob Shapiro and Johnnie have an argument on whether turning up the pressure is helping. In another elevator, Chris yells at Marcia for insisting on using Detective Fuhrman, not listening to him, and only wanting a black face, not a black voice on her team.
Johnnie changes the group’s course, even though Bob disagrees, and holds a Coalition Press Conference to demand that the tapes be released to the public. This way if there is a mistrial, then the future jury will have already heard the tapes.
Once again inside the courtroom Judge Ito announces that he has decided to release the tapes. Chris yells at both Judge Ito and Johnnie saying that Johnnie is not about the truth and his case has been built on lies. Marcia attempts to defend him, but both are threatened with being held in contempt of court.
The tapes are heard by everyone along with the transcript on the teleprompter. The tapes not only have Detective Fuhrman using racial slurs, but also admitting to falsifying police reports. Judge Ito then decides to only release two sentences to the jury instead of the full 13 hours. Johnnie tells the press that the criminal justice system is corrupt and that Judge Ito is misleading the jury.
In the last courtroom scene Johnnie calls Detective Fuhrman to the stand. For every question Johnnie asks, Detective Fuhrman uses his Fifth Amendment right, even to the question of whether he has ever planted or manufactured any evidence.
We end the episode by being reminded of life outside the trial. O.J. is thrilled with Detective Fuhrman’s tapes and even though Robert Kardashian is agreeing with him, he will not look directly at O.J. Then Marcia gets paperwork concerning her divorce and finds out she is getting full custody of her children.
It was a hard episode to watch especially when reading the transcripts of Detective Fuhrman and listening to the tapes. I wonder what will happen in the season finale next week!