It's difficult to suggest that the finale for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story wasn't an expected, foregone conclusion, but the creators of the show were still able to satisfy viewers with an accurate depiction of the final verdict. This, coupled with the heavy burden of the verdict on several of the characters afterward, painted a clearer picture of the 1995 trial that dominated American media.
Moreover, if the first in the American Crime Story anthology series is any indication, Ryan Murphy and the rest of the creative team have a good thing in place if they're to keep the same structure and thoughtful commentary that made the first run of the series so successful.
Every minute detail of the verdict itself was portrayed in a very accurate light. "In the end, 'The Verdict' plays it straight — right down to the clerk stumbling over the name Orenthal James Simpson," Scott Meslow wrote for the Week. "Look beyond Ryan Murphy's dramatic camera work and you'll see that The People vs. O.J. is essentially a perfect recreation of the moment O.J. Simpson was found not guilty."
What's interesting, really, is how Simpson is portrayed after the trial — or more accurately, how he portrays himself. "'The Verdict' tracks the emptiness of O.J.'s life after his acquittal," Scott Meslow wrote for the Week. "It starts with his would-be triumphant drive back to Brentwood, where he's enraged to discover that protesters have refused to accept the jury's verdict as the truth. He throws an incredibly depressing house party full of hangers-on looking to revel in his infamy. When he vows to find the real killer of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, his partygoers respond with the awkward, scattered applause of a group that assumes the killer is already standing in front of them."
Similarly, the show introduced bittersweet endings for the other major players in the case, namely the attorneys on both sides of the aisle. Sarah Paulson's portrayal of prosecuting attorney Marcia Clark, in particular, painted her as a tragic hero.
"The People v. O.J. Simpson portrayed Clark as a diligent, well-meaning prosecutor scoured by rampant sexism for her insufficiently feminine clothes and manner — while also casting a great actress to play her, treating her with enormous sympathy, and tossing in a 'ship-worthy romance with fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden," Willa Paskin wrote for Slate.
The Twitterverse was also impressed with the show's finale — though again, we all knew what the end result would be before it happened. Here's to Ryan Murphy and Co. compiling another great cast, and crime story, next year.