‘Pam and Tommy’ Episode One Recap: ‘Drilling and Pounding’
The first episode of Pam & Tommy quickly establishes not only the central conflict of the miniseries, but the fundamental personality clashes between two of its main characters. Those differences will eventually cost them both greatly, in very different ways.
The episode is titled "Drilling and Pounding," and in a manner of speaking that's what both Sebastian Stan's Tommy Lee and Seth Rogen's Rand Gauthier are doing in the first scene.
Gauthier is a down on his luck, nearly broke carpenter trying to build a bedroom to match Lee's ever-changing design dreams, while his client is upstairs having very loud sex with his new wife, Pamela Anderson (played by Lily James).
Instead of being happy at the prospect of a larger paycheck when Lee demands yet more changes, Gauthier gets offended that he doesn't apologize. Part of the issue is that the carpenter is funding the job with a nearly maxed out credit card, but just as importantly, he's jealous of everything Lee has, and fed up with his own lot in life.
Of course this being a TV show, Gauthier can't just be broke, he's got to be the most broke person ever. His cable is canceled when he gets home, he has to dig coins out of his pocket to pay for supplies and his car and apartment are both well past their best days.
Both Rogen and Stan are excellent and convincing in their roles, with the Captain America star inhabiting the perpetually thong-wearing, bare-assed Lee role with undeniable confidence and charisma.
After the last in a series of increasingly awkward attempts to stand up for himself and get some kind of advance payment, Gauthier gets fired. The carpenter tries to go back to the home and at least recover his toolbox, but Lee responds by putting a shotgun to his face in one of the series' more unsettling scenes.
This triggers painful childhood memories for Gauthier, who vows revenge. He spends months casing Lee's house before pulling off the elaborate and somewhat unbelievable late-night theft of a gigantic safe. All he wants is the money he's owed, plus enough to replace his tools. What he also finds, in the form of the infamous sex tape, kicked off one of the biggest scandals ever to hit the entertainment world.
Only the real life Lee and Gauthier know how close this version of events compares to their real-life conversations. Speaking only of the characters as presented in Pam & Tommy, you can't avoid thinking about how easily the whole debacle could have been nipped in the bud if Gauthier had simply told the generally genial and eager to please Lee that he really needed the money.
But apparently his pride wouldn't allow that, and granted Lee could have been much less of a jerk about it all. So the die has been cast in this modern day tragedy. Things are about to get much worse not only for both men, but for the innocent Anderson, who is barely seen in this episode, and to this point has no idea of the hornet's nest her husband has kicked over.
The most surprising thing about the first episode of Pam & Tommy is how far along we get into the known timeline of the real-life sex tape scandal that inspired it. The robbery has already taken place, the idea to sell the sex tape has already taken root in Gauthier's mind, things you might have expected would require a bit more build up have already been laid on the table.
So you're left wondering exactly how this story is going to take up seven more episodes. The answer, as you'll see in our review of episode two, "I Love You, Tommy," is time travel.
Best Scene: The climactic moment, featured in the show's trailer, where Gauthier and his porn producing friend Uncle Miltie realize exactly what they've uncovered. "It's like we're seeing something we're not supposed to be seeing," Miltie gasps. "Which is kind of what makes it so fucking hot."
Biggest Question: In the opening scene, isn't Gauthier missing the proper placement of those nails by a really wide margin? The idea it to fasten two pieces of wood together, right? Is he a lousy carpenter or just understandably distracted by the sounds of Lee and Anderson's lovemaking?