If the first episode of FX's docudrama The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story leaves you wondering "How the hell did he get off?," you're not alone.
Over the next nine episodes, creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski will make the jury's decision to acquit Simpson of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman clear(er), but after the first installment, it's almost impossible to see how the evidence mounted against Simpson didn't lead to a guilty verdict. (Something to keep in mind: There's little to no factual embellishment in the series. Most of the major details, including the bloody paws of Nicole Brown's dog drawing the attention of a neighbor, are historically accurate.)
Here's a recap of the damning facts outlined in Episode 1, as well as the juiciest moments (this is a Ryan Murphy production, after all):
-The night of the murders, O.J. (Cuba Gooding Jr.) apologizes to the limo driver who's taking him to the airport, saying he's running late because he overslept and had to shower - a bit odd, considering it's about 11 o'clock at night.
-Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) notices a blood drop pattern at the murder scene that indicates the culprit is bleeding from his left hand. Later, when the cops are handcuffing Simpson, they notice his left hand is bandaged.
-Upon arriving at Simpson's house, Fuhrman and other officers notice what appears to be blood on the door handle and console of his Ford Bronco. (The imposing statue of Simpson in his yard in this scene is a nice touch.)
-Simpson's dim-witted house guest Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnussen), basically a golden retriever in human form, tells police he heard banging on his wall shortly before 11 p.m. (Pasquale's face as Fuhrman gets his first look at Kato Kaelin is priceless.) Later, Fuhrman notices a glove by Simpson's fence that appears to match the one he previously saw at the murder scene.
-When the cops reach Simpson in Chicago and tell him that his ex-wife has been killed, one detective notes that Simpson, peculiarly, doesn't ask how she died before promising to get on the first plane back to L.A.
-Prosecutors learn that Nicole Brown Simpson had called 9-1-1 eight times to report abuse at the hands of O.J., though he never served time (even after pleading no contest to an incident in 1989).
-During a taped interview with police, Simpson won't commit to a specific timeline about his actions the night of the murders. The cops don't press him on inconsistencies, even about details as significant as how and when he injured his hand. Marcia Clark spitting "This is a fiasco" is definitely in Sarah Paulson's Top 2 line readings this episode, the other being her incredulous "Who is this?!" when Shapiro hands the phone to an unsuspecting doctor.
-Witness Jill Shively tells Clark and co-prosecutor Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson) that she saw Simpson speeding through an intersection in his Bronco, coming from the direction of Nicole Brown's house, at about 10:45 p.m. the night of the murders. Clark also interviews Simpson's limo driver, who says he saw a black man go into Simpson's house just before 11 p.m., and claims he didn't notice Simpson's Bronco parked outside the house when he got there about 10:30.
-DNA tests reveal that the blood drops at the crime scene match Simpson's blood type, and the glove found at Simpson's home contains blood that is a mixture of Simpson's and his two (alleged) victims.
-Simpson flunks a lie detector test in spectacular fashion, but blames it on the fact that he's so emotional hearing about Nicole so soon after her death.
-Johnnie Cochran's (Courtney B. Vance) walk-in closet would make Carrie Bradshaw envious. Also, can we talk about the glossed-over revelation that Michael Jackson was afraid of the color lime?
-Before he's formally charged, Simpson paces around his house like a trapped animal, surrounded by his family and friends, and popping pills like candy. It's in these scenes where I just don't buy Gooding as Simpson - mostly due, I think, to his unmistakable voice. All I can think is "Show me the money!"
-Shapiro looks very unconvinced when O.J. tells him point-blank he didn't commit the murders, and the contrast between him and Simpson's BFF-turned-attorney Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) is striking - Shapiro knows Simpson's guilty, while Kardashian can't even entertain the possibility that his friend could have committed such a heinous crime.
-Props to Ryan Murphy, who directed this installment, for actually making me stressed out, despite a general awareness of the events depicted, that O.J. was going to shoot himself or Robert Kardashian.
-Idea: Drink every time Robert Kardashian calls Simpson "Juice." Only do this if you want to black out.
-Kardashian Kids Kount: 1 (and a half if you count the glimpse into Kim's childhood bedroom, adorned with posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Joey Lawrence)
The episode concludes with Simpson evading arrest and embarking on what would become an infamous trip in a Ford Bronco with his friend AC Cowlings (Malcolm Jamal Warner). "We're going to look like morons," a dismayed Clark says when she hears that Simpson has snuck out of the house. If she only knew ...
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.