In the chapter of the same name, Toobin writes -- In the struggle over the Fuhrman tapes, the last great drama of the Simpson trial, it was, as if the id of the case had been unleashed. All the smoldering passion, anger, and resentment shot directly to the surface. I don't think there's a better summation than that for this episode.
'Manna from Heaven' acutely shows the skill level of the series' creators. They took these two sentences and didn't just spin them into an hour of TV but 10 hours -- while this conceit climaxes right at hour 9. This episode's addition to the season will remain a real standout for the incredible level of care it gives to us this 'last great drama'. There was no slo-mo set to some smooth 90s hip-hop or winks at the audience when something's played with a kitschy sparkle. Instead, I suspect we're intended to watch 'Manna from Heaven' in the same state as the courtroom and both sides of the bench listened to those tapes. Remarkably, the shift in tone is aided by a deliberate adherence to the visual style we've come to associate with this series. So this episode plays just as dramatically as all of the others (quick tracking shots plus quick edits galore) but the tone is one of utter stillness. And there's a shit-ton of impassioned dialogue condensed into this hour, more than ever, in my recollection. (Oh dear for next week's closing statements if Marcia has spoken already from her soul, though.) But I'd guess there'd have to be a lot of passionate speeches when, in this case, the manna from heaven is words -- words that are a hate delivery system.
|"Whatever's on those tapes really scares me."|
Johnnie Cochran really did believe that God handed him those tapes. For him, they were so much more than a boon for the defense. Courtney B. brilliantly exchanged his usual fervent swagger for just outright nuclear energy here. By many accounts, Johnnie turned his own self up to an 11 after their discovery. The trajectory of the trial had hit a height he didn't even dare to dream of. But all of his nature and tactics blazing this strong were starting to alienate him from his peers, who were more interested in an acquittal than blowing up the LAPD. They were all extremely smart, though, because they knew Johnnie's multiple impromptu press conferences put an anvil over Ito's head that would likely result in a decision the defense benefited from. Going back to Vance, good god, give that man the appropriate acting awards when the time comes. He plays Cochran with what I imagine is the right amount of levels someone that complex, brilliant and manipulative lived with. And he's wonderfully wounded when in the company of his wife which is also, in its own right, heroic and interesting (actor and man).
|No justice. No peace.|
If Cochran repped the anger, Darden has the burden of resentment. Another very strong point to 'Manna from Heaven', was the climax to a conflict started early on in the season with Chris Darden. Darden all but implodes in on himself after the millionth Cochran antic. It's only speculation by observers that the Furhman tapes were the last straw for Darden's psyche -- after all, he'd lost a brother to AIDS during the trial -- that was a far more devastating personal issue than this case. However, that a near insurmountable mountain of shite, one that challenged his identity as a black man living in the world, existed for him isn't far-fetched to submit to the audience and Sterling Brown runs with it. From his outburst in the elevator with Marcia to almost being held in contempt, Brown's Darden doesn't miss an emotional beat as a wholehearted chance to convey the extreme spectrum of how institutionalized racism has fucked specifically him because of his unique position. Everyone involved in this trial was caught in the damned if they do, damned if they don't web, but none more than him. And in many ways, Cochran was the ringmaster.
|"This case is a circus. And the defense has made it into a circus."|
|"I am begging you from my soul --"|
|"This whole situation is toxic."|
* Loved the several instances of juxtaposing the prosecution and defense experiencing one thing or another -- the first listen of the tapes, as well as, Ito's proposing the chance of a mistrial.
* It's amazing to me that no one involved lost their damn mind completely. Seriously. Though most checked out of life as they knew it in one form or another after the trial was over.
* Each shot through the court camera is an exact re-enactment from one of the thousands of hours of tape of the trial.
* So glad they chose to end the episode on this high note for Clark.
* Just a quick aside to say that I saw Steven Pasquale in a stage production of 'The Robber Bridegroom' last week and he has the voice of an angel.
Ito: "And I'm so mad at both of you guys right now, I'm about to hold the two of you in contempt."
Judge: "Mr. Cochran, there are no TV cameras in my courtroom. There is no need for gratuitous alliteration."
Bailey: "With all due respect, I don't know if you play as well in Dixie."
Johnnie: "This is a smoking gun for the United States."
Marcia: "Yep. Not only does Fuhrman hate blacks, he hates Peggy York, the highest ranking woman in the LAPD."
Dunne: "You couldn't get away with this plot twist in an airport paperback."
Marcia: "I shouldn't have bet on Fuhrman."
Darden: "Well, as long as we're apologizing, then I'm sorry as shit about those gloves."
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