Written by Tommy Tracy
We all knew how this was going to end and it had many wondering if it would even be necessary to tune in and watch the final episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson. The simple answer is yes. Yes, this episode is definitely the one where the audience knew the ending from the get-go but that wasn’t the point. It was the journey to the ending that’s so captivating, not just for this finale but the entire season.
Everything is done well here; the final thoughts, the jury’s incredibly quick decision, the verdict, the emotion, they all work together to piece together one of the most captivating television episodes to ever be aired. Cochran, who I’ve always seen as a genius (for better or for worse) is shown to be beyond human. Marcia Clark is seen to be a crusader, not just for the two people killed who are pushed to the background of this case, but also for people’s rights in general. And Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s best friend, is distraught and broken, believing his friend is guilty amongst the celebration of innocence.
The true high mark of this series has been the lack of focus on Simpson. This real life trial focused more on Simpson than the actual case of murder, a true black mark on our justice system (and my hometown of Los Angeles). The showrunners noticed this and chose to make O.J. a background character, still a focus but not the show stealer. Simpson was (at the time) a real life superhero to some, a man who was so decorated in the annals of football history that he couldn’t have possibly killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend, right? According to our justice system, he was innocent and it’s not up to me say whether he was guilty or not, but the trial, the angst and the racial tension did bring Simpson down a peg, something shown sparsely but brilliantly on this program.
As a whole, “The Verdict” gives us everything we needed in a season finale, an ending that historically has a stamp of finality on it but dramatically, a black mark that will never go away. The last shot of this episode is so haunting, so gut-wrenching, it paints a picture of a monster behind an angel. Ryan Murphy and his team of misfits are responsible for some damn good television (Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens) and have again knocked it out of the park here. What really makes me happy is the thought of the show’s second season, which will follow a whole new crime story. Here’s hoping for a Manson family or even the controversial Steven Avery case in the future.
Final Grade: 10/10
Final Series Grade: 9/10