American Crime Story: ‘Manna From Heaven’ Review

Knockin' On Heaven's Door

“Shall I take off my watch and jewelry?” -Marcia Clark

To admit the tapes or not to admit the tapes…that is the question. American Crime Story brought in some brand new evidence for ‘Manna From Heaven’ and it caused even more chaos in the courtroom, if that is even possible. Last week’s jury-focused episode had me reeling but this was just as good with Judge Ito almost getting himself disqualified because of his wife’s relationship with Mark Fuhrman. Even crazier was the fact that Fuhrman is the most racist person in the world. I think it was inevitable that these tapes were going to find their way into evidence. Marcia should have never used him as their star witness but, unfortunately, a do-over was not in the cards.

The episode had a ton of tense moments including when Marcia and Darden were almost being held in contempt. Can you even imagine if that had happened? At the same time, I was glad to see them hold their ground. The defense has definitely made a mockery of the case, making it all about race, and Ron Goldman’s father was definitely right when he stated that Fuhrman wasn’t the one on trial. Still, the fact that Fuhrman completely lied about everything during his testimony and then pleading the 5th amendment after being asked whether he planted evidence at the crime scene is going to be the nail in the coffin for the prosecution. Plus, did I mention that Fuhrman is the most racist person in the world?

Now let’s all say goodbye to Judge Ito (but only temporarily) and enjoy the review, fellow OJ fans!

Break It All The Way Down

Things start off with some laughs as OJ’s defense takes a hit after an exercise video surfaces. OJ appears to be in his prime two weeks before the murders, doing exercises like a champ:

Feel it in yo' knees

My knees definitely be feelin’ that and so should yours! Obviously this poses a massive problem for the defense who already had testimony regarding how bent out of physical shape OJ allegedly is. Clearly this is not the case but OJ’s exercise video was pure ’90s gold!

Meanwhile, Laura Hart McKinny, a screenwriter, was doing some research on the LAPD and gets a call from OJ’s special private investigator who is trying to dig up some dirt on the LAPD, specifically Mark Fuhrman. We already know this guy is in possession of some Nazi memorabilia and it’s probably safe to say that it was only a matter of time before some dirt was dug up. This is exactly what happened whether Laura McKinny wanted to get involved or not.

Later on, Darden and Cochran square off in court and it was fucking epic! The witness in question saw a Ford Bronco and two people arguing near Bundy Drive but all of this appears to be forgotten after Cochran brings up the race card. In Johnny’s defense (pun totally intended), he’s definitely right when he says that it’s totally discriminatory to identify a black person from only hearing a voice. It was definitely fun watching these two trade blows though.

Of course, the defense is still waiting for that big break in the case, their so-called manna from heaven, and that was exactly what happens when the dream team finds out about the audio tapes of Fuhrman, who is obviously about to ruin the entire case for the prosecution. Bailey and Cochran head to the Carolinas to see what they can find and it’s exactly what they’re looking for and more.

Carolina Dreamin'

Unfortunately for the defense, the South smells like mint julep and condescension and Cochran has absolutely 100% no luck. He’s denied access to the tapes for OJ’s trial and this ultimately forces Bailey to file an appeal and take over since the South don’t take kindly to Johnny. It worked like a charm and these tapes are about to change the entire trial.

The tape also confirms that Mark Fuhrman is the biggest fucking moron on the planet. Not only did he say a ton of racist things on the tape but he lied on the stand about having never said anything of such nature. What a dumb ass. To make matters significantly worse, Fuhrman is also spouting off about Judge Ito’s wife. You might remember Ito having her sign an affidavit earlier in the season and as it turns out, this is why they showed us that moment. Just when you think this case can’t get any more fucked up, it absolutely 100% does when it’s revealed that Markkk Fuhrman wrote ‘KKK’ on an MLK poster. Gil’s reaction pretty much sums up exactly how fucked they are:

"Oh God"

It also sums up exactly how I feel every day I get up in the morning for work. This totally blows for the prosecution though because now Judge Ito’s wife can be called as a material witness which means Judge Ito would have to disqualify himself which means mistrial. And surprisingly, this actually could be a good thing for the prosecution who would get a complete do-over whereby they could easily learn from their mistakes and not call Fuhrman to the stand. Obviously, this is not happening.

A Delicate Situation

The defense immediately catches on to the prosecution’s new plan and lawyers from both sides have a meeting with Judge Ito to discuss his wife’s brief appearance on the tapes. Ultimately, and shockingly, Ito decides to step down for the remainder of the trial. Wait, WHAT?! Once again, I had no memory of this and, once again, it’s obviously because I was a dumb 12-year old who was playing Nintendo and riding my bike at the time of the trial. Well, I never expected to say the opposite of Pauly Shore’s famous line in Jury Duty but let’s all say goodbye to Judge Ito:

Say Bye To Judge Ito

Last week the jury went bananas and this week it was the judge’s turn. All we need is an executioner and we’ll be all set, right?! Regardless, the DA has to plow forward because if it’s perceived that they pushed for a mistrial, OJ could potentially walk because of double jeopardy which would be the worst possible scenario. But really, the worst possible scenario would have been a not guilty verdict and, spoiler alert from 1995, that’s exactly what happened.

The shit continued to pile up for Gil and the district attorney’s office because Cochran goes straight to the media and demands the tapes be released. To be quite honest, I could actually feel the tension building here. With the 1992 race riots barely in the rear view mirror, this was an extremely hostile situation. Fuhrman really really really fucked up here, guys! Also, I actually agree with Shapiro and think that turning up the pressure on this case is a completely idiotic idea. Even I’m feeling the pressure and this trial took place 22 years ago. Props to ACS for making us relive this trial in the best way possible (let us pause while I take a minute and give my television a hug).

Judge Ito ends up remaining on the bench but he has to make an impossible decision. To tape or not to tape…that is the question. And we were all watching intently just like Marcia and Darden:

Marcia watching intently

Who would have thought a decision regarding some audio tapes could be this interesting? This was just the beginning because as soon as Judge Ito decides that the defense should get a chance to present the tapes to determine their admissibility, all hell breaks loose in the courtroom and Darden completely loses his shit on the defense. I honestly can’t even blame the guy either.

There's NOTHING funny here!

The outbursts continue and both Darden and Marcia are almost held in contempt but luckily Darden is able to diffuse the situation by apologizing to the judge for his remarks. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if both prosecuting lawyers had been held in contempt but the gloves were definitely off even though we’re already passed that part of the case.

"Shall I take off my watch and jewelry?"

The watch and jewelry almost came off for this one and I was loving Marcia’s loyalty and feistiness as all of this went down. Still, it’s not looking good for the prosecution now that the tapes have been admitted as evidence and it was time for the court to see the other side of Markkk Fuhrman (see what I keep doing there)?

Fuhrman Das Fuhrer

With all the craziness behind us (I think), it was time for the tapes as the defense presented what is easily their strongest piece of evidence. Fuhrman dug his own grave with this one and pretty much destroys any and all credibility the LAPD had as witnesses during the trial. It was totally manna from heaven for Johnny and the dream team. Plus, we got to see the hilarious signage that the public brought with them. I especially enjoyed the Fuhrman head with the Hitler stache drawn on.

Fuhrman Das Fuhrer

Classic! In all seriousness though, Fuhrman is one fucked up dude. I can’t even believe a human being is capable of saying such hateful things and the shock of everyone in the courtroom pretty much sums up how fucked up it was. His initials are M.F. after all and you all know what that stands for. Fuhrman…a motherfucker.

In the end, Judge Ito only admits a couple of sentences from the tapes and Johnny and the dream team are absolutely livid. Their plan was to show doubt by suggesting that Fuhrman planted evidence and framed OJ and these tapes would have sealed the deal. Things could have been a lot worse, however, because at least the defense team is not Mark Fuhrman who has an entire city after his head. I mentioned earlier that we were only missing the executioner…well, apparently we have one:

Street Justice

How did Fuhrman even survive after all of this came out I have no idea. The defense team calls up Fuhrman and every single person in the courtroom is giving him a dirty look. Hell, Marcia can’t even look at the guy. Bailey was right when he said it takes a man of certain character to be hated by both sides and, truth be told, this rarely ever happens to a witness.

Fuhrman pleads the 5th on all of the defense’s questions and it is now official: the prosecution is royally fucked, with the fatal hit coming when Fuhrman pleads the 5th about planting evidence. Even though all of the evidence still likely points to OJ being the killer, the issue of credibility can play a major role in any trial and obviously it’s not good when your star witness lies on the stand. Remember the jury only needs a reasonable doubt to acquit OJ and this is a HUGE check mark in favor of the dream team.

At least there was a somewhat happy ending for Marcia who was granted primary custody of her children in her divorce case. You have to at least feel a little happy for Marcia who has literally been thrown into the spotlight in one of history’s most insane trials. With only one episode left though, we’re about to get a verdict and it’s not going to be a good day for Marcia, Darden and old Gil. Fuhrman…that motherfucker!

The Verdict

Episode Score: MIKEY LIKES IT
Mikey Likes It

Once again, American Crime Story raised the pressure, and my own blood pressure, with Manna From Heaven as it was finally revealed what happened with Judge Ito and how he was almost disqualified from the case. I had a feeling that something was going to come up after Ito’s wife signed that affidavit way back in the beginning of the season and now we know why. Plus, we finally were horrified by the words coming out of Fuhrman’s mouth as he almost single-handedly started another race riot in California.

This series has been a delight so far. I’m sure plenty of us watching already know the outcome but I’m completely shocked about how much I didn’t know about this case in the first place. I thought we had seen everything after the jury collectively lost their minds last week but boy, was I ever wrong. The defense clearly has an advantage now after those tapes surfaced and I’m super excited for the big verdict finale next week and so should you.

Admittedly, I didn’t have high expectations for American Crime Story before it premiered. I wrongly assumed that knowing the outcome would have made this series much less riveting and much more predictable. I was wrong and I’m super glad that I was because this has been one helluva roller coaster ride through the courtroom.

With only the finale remaining, I think it’s also time to start speculating about next season! I hope the rumors regarding the Hurricane Katrina plot are completely wrong because that doesn’t exactly scream ‘American Crime Story’, now does it? Obviously I will be watching regardless but I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Jeffrey Dahmer story might be where we’re headed next. Ryan Murphy loves to drop hints for the next season and they already dropped Dahmer’s name during the premiere. It was a super subtle reference but it totally has my Spidey sense tingling!

So what did everyone think of Manna From Heaven? Did it make you feel it in yo’ knees like that amazing OJ workout video? Or are you ready to join the mob and head out after Fuhrman Das Fuhrer? Let us know all of your thoughts and theories in the comments and thanks for reading, fellow crime enthusiasts!

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