In every tragedy there are secondary victims whose plight, however downplayed, misunderstood or downright ignored, creates real human pain. Y’know?
The Fix, a 10-part limited series that premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, draws our attention to one of those victims in the O.J. Simpson murder case: Marcia Clark, the prosecutor whose team failed to convince a jury in 1995 that Simpson had murdered his ex-wife Nicole and incidental bystander Ronald Goldman.
Unlike FX’s acclaimed American Crime Story documentary a few seasons back, The Fix technically isn’t a revisitation of the O.J. murder case. All the characters have different names, for instance, so the lead prosecutor and focal point here is Maya Travis (Robin Tunney).
The story in The Fix revolves around Sevvy Johnson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a famous and highly successful African-American movie star who was tried eight years earlier for the murder of his younger white wife.
He was acquitted, despite seemingly strong forensic evidence, because his oily lawyer Ezra Wolf (Scott Cohen) skillfully played the racial injustice card.
Now who could possibly think this fictional story has any parallels in real life?
Anyhow, Sevvy lost some gigs in the aftermath of the trial, but he’s still living large in the Southern California hills. He has a daughter in college and he recently took up with her roommate Jessica (Taylor Kalupa).
Then one day Jessica was found dead, stabbed to death in much the same way as Sevvy’s ex-wife.
This news takes a little while to reach Maya, who left the prosecutor’s office and now lives on a remote Northwestern ranch with handsome, wealthy, good-hearted outdoor dude Riv (Marc Blucas). It took a long time, Maya explains, but she finally felt she was healing from the wounds of the trial and the crushing high-pressure scrutiny it put her under.
Then the phone rings. It’s Andre (Adam Rayner), who worked with her on the first trial and now becomes the one to tell her that yup, it looks like Sevvy may have struck again.
At first Maya’s interest is somewhat abstract, mostly confirming her never-wavering conviction that Sevvy was guilty the first time. So even though Andre asks for her help, telling her no one understands Sevvy’s psychological makeup better than she, she tells Andre she has no inclination to jump back into the snakepit.
Andre presses and she resists, because even though Andre would be running the case, he answers to a new bossman, Charlie Wiest (Breckin Meyer), whom both Maya and Andre regarded as an overmatched lightweight.
Then Andre finds the magic words for Marcia, er, Maya: This is your second chance, your shot at a do-over. It’s the rematch we never thought we’d get.
It takes Maya less than one commercial break to bite. After all, how many times in life do we get an opportunity like this? How many times has the real-life Marcia Clark, like all of us when we think about bad moments in our lives, fantasized about how to even the score?
To be fair, The Fix doesn’t focus only on Maya. Akinnuoye-Agbaje gives us an intriguing portrait of Sevvy, and of course there are romantic subplots as well. Andre and Maya were an item back at the time of the first trial, for instance, a connection of which Riv is aware.
We also get a good number of investigative twists and high-stakes chess moves among the key players. The internal politics of the prosecutor’s office threaten from the beginning to complicate the case for Maya, while Ezra Wolf’s façade of ultra-confidence turns out to hide potentially troublesome secrets.
But in the end, this is Maya’s story. We revisit what she went through during the first trial. We learn how long and painful the aftermath felt to her. We see her brilliance and steely determination now that fate has taken this unexpected albeit tragic turn.
Marcia Clark has written books about the O.J. case and consulted on previous television projects. For The Fix, she came up with the idea, serves as executive producer and cowrote at least the first episode.
If she can’t rewrite history, she can imagine a different version for television, kind of like a fantasy sports league — and lest cynics suggest she’s making a career out of a losing a court case, the evidence strongly suggests she’s giving the people what they want.