Warning: This recap for the “The Run of His Life” episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story contains spoilers.
If you don’t occasionally have a bad day, then there is a good chance that you are currently lying in a grave because you’re a corpse. (What’s it like? Thinking about getting into that scene someday.) The truth is, we’ve all been there: We’ve either gotten ourselves into terrible trouble or perhaps been wrongly accused of terrible trouble. But trouble is trouble and sometimes the best way to deal with it is to just put on your nicest yellow polo shirt and jump into the backseat of Malcolm Jamal-Warner’s white Bronco with a stack of framed photographs and a loaded gun. You know? Try it sometime. But the problem with O.J. Simpson’s attempt to get away from his worries was that he was super famous and his attempt to perhaps commit suicide while driving 55 mph on L.A.’s ugliest freeway ended up being a real pain in the B. for a lot of people.
According to “The Run of His Life,” there was a lot more going on during those stressful few hours than the live-helicopter footage or talking heads let on. For example, while you and I were grilled to our TVs watching that white Bronco cruise casually across the Southlands, Marcia Clark was VERY mad about not getting to chain smoke as much as usual; Robert Shapiro was not able to listen to smooth jazz in his car as long as he’d wanted to; and most worrisome of all, Pizza Hut ran out of pizzas! It was truly a bad day for a lot of people, not just possible/probable murderers. “The Run of His Life” was a compelling and pretty wonderful distillation of that one weird day in Los Angeles. Let’s talk about it!
We began where last week’s episode left off: An empty driveway and a lot of wealthy men stressing OUT.
Here was Robert Kardashian face-palming after reading the Bible a ‘lil. What was he gonna do about that rascal O.J.?!
Everyone down at the station was extremely steamed. Out of all the things they expected O.J. to do, this was not one of them. It also was slightly unprecedented for a murder suspect this famous to go on the lam so a lot of confused glances were exchanged. Well, not Marcia Clark, who was off in the corner sharpening her trident. Lady was wanting to BATTLE.
Here’s what she looked like at the press conference announcing O.J.’s disappearance. It looked like she was about to legally change her name to Preposition because she was OVER IT.
I loved when we got our first glimpse of the white Ford Bronco, and it was casing the cemetery where Nicole Brown Simpson had been buried. This moment honestly reminded me a lot of the early scenes in Halloween when Michael Myers cruised around Haddonfield in that stolen station wagon. Nobody was really paying the Bronco any mind, but there was definitely bad times happening inside.
As a sort of revenge for the District Attorneys’ anti-O.J. press conference, Robert Shapiro called one so that he could claim he had nothing to do with O.J.’s decision and that he really loved cops. Jonnie Cochran was watching, totally outraged at how self-obsessed Robert Shapiro was, but guess who else was watching and feeling strong emotions?
The Kardashian kids! They saw their father on TV and it was like four lightbulbs going off at the same time: TV was a good look on this family!
Finally the Bronco took to the freeway and started terrorizing other drivers, but if we’re being real, everyone was extremely delighted to be nearly run off the road by Al Cowlings. At one point the police even stopped the Bronco and approached with weapons raised, but O.J. successfully talked them out of shooting him by threatening to shoot his own damn self first. As it turned out, cops are not super interested in murdering celebrities. (In this case at least.)
Yeah, no offense to Cuba Gooding, Jr., but it felt like it was just scene after scene of O.J. shrilly threatening to shoot himself while Al Cowlings frantically placed calls on his car phone and begged O.J. not to do it.
But the suicide thing was a much realer threat than I think any of us believed at the time. First of all, there were the suicide notes, which Robert Karsashian accepted as gospel. There was even a scene where Kardashian walked into O.J.’s house and announced to O.J.’s family and Kato that O.J. had killed himself, and everyone cried en masse…
Until they looked up and saw the white Bronco on TV! That was an awkward mistake to make on Robert Kardashian’s part. Just in general, try not to report suicides when you’re not 100 percent sure.
We also got a lot of glimpses of how the nation reacted to this slow-speed chase up the freeway. Almost every TV broadcast was interrupted (including an NBA finals game!); sports bars shushed so they could hear the anchors’ commentary; Bob Costas did whatever it is Bob Costas does. But I’m mostly glad Ryan Murphy included this quick shot of Pizza Hut running out of pizza. The people of Los Angeles had priorities, and nothing goes better with a celebrity-on-the-lam ordeal than a nice, deep-fried “pizza.” More like a slow-speed chase to the bathroom. (Sorry.)
Eventually O.J. decided he just wanted to go back to Brentwood and say hi to his momma one last time. Surprisingly, the cops were real relaxed and mellow about the whole thing, and promised to clear the road so that he could get there safely.
But that didn’t mean TV stations weren’t planning for a worse outcome…
This guy was already creating an In Memoriam package for O.J., something that Johnnie Cochran found appalling.
Even though he was not yet representing O.J., Cochran was starting to lecture his staff and colleagues about how important it was to keep fair and balanced, and he even went on TV to lambaste the LAPD’s history of random violence against black citizens. Which, Johnnie Cochran was not wrong about this. But one of the most painful aspects of this whole case was the idea that the awareness of this issue was linked to a man who was (a) a wealthy celebrity who (b) had the sketchiest alibi and most obvious motive possible. So it’s like, maybe O.J. was not the best example of systemic injustice?
Even Christopher Darden couldn’t attend a backyard BBQ without his neighbors shouting at him about how O.J. was innocent. Clearly the population was already drawing dividing lines, but fascinatingly, they weren’t necessarily along racial ones. Well, at least at first.
See, even as O.J. pulled into his neighborhood, he was greeted by a pretty diverse crowd of supporters… Who were presumably just dazzled by his celebrity. This had an effect on O.J., and at one point he even sat back and imagined the Rose Bowl crowd roaring their admiration for him after yet another touchdown. Obviously those days were over now.
When the sun finally set, the Bronco was parked in O.J.’s driveway under swirling helicopters. Robert Kardashian pleaded with O.J. to exit the vehicle without his gun so that he could be politely handcuffed inside the house where cameras wouldn’t see. (How sweet! Rich people have all the luck.) After a quick beat wherein a cop thought O.J.’s framed photos of his kids were a gun and ALMOST fired shots, O.J. was quickly escorted inside and allowed to call his mama on the phone. (I loved that he asked the cops for orange juice. Undeniably adorable.)
It’s sometimes hard to remember this in 2016, but back in the ‘90s there wasn’t Skype, so a slow-speed chase at gunpoint was the next-best way to contact your mom. But from his tears it was obvious that O.J. regretted everything he’d put the city through, so at least there’s that. And now he was in custody for real finally.
But guess who did NOT have shred of sympathy for him? Old Battleaxe Clark, who puffed at her cigarette and vowed retribution like a be-permed Cersei Lannister. (Sarah Paulson continues to be amazing, duh.)
Much like last week, we knew the broad strokes of the real life events, but Ryan Murphy and his writers brought nuance and you-are-there tension to even the most banal events. This cast continues to be gangbusters, and the writing surprisingly shaded. But if we’re being real, the Bronco chase was a mere appetizer to what happens with the case itself, so it’s hard not to be excited about next week and beyond. This show is already special, but if it tackles the meat of this case with the same aplomb, it’ll be legitimately great.
What did YOU think of “The Run of His Life”?
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX