Pam & Tommy’s fifth episode, entitled Uncle Jim and Aunt Susie in Duluth, saw Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) come under strain as their sex tape made the inevitable move from the sleazy corners of the internet to mainstream news.
The episode, set in 1996, began with a Los Angeles Times reporter learning of the tapes existence and attempting to pitch an article to her editor to no avail, who dismisses the story as gossip and is not convinced the story meets the level of respectable news reporting.
As talk of the tape continues to spread like wildfire, Pamela is ‘distracting’ herself from her devastating miscarriage depicted in episode four, as well as the tape, by doing press for Barbed Wire, admitting to the journalist that she ‘doesn’t want to dwell on any bad things in the past and move on’.
Pam & Tommy episode 5 recap: The couple’s marriage came under strain as their sex tape moved from the internet to national news while they faced a legal battle with Penthouse magazine
Meanwhile, Tommy is struggling to cope with his grief and is seen in a downward spiral of drinking, partying and fighting in a bid to numb his pain, leaving Pamela in crisis talks with her publicist Gail Chwatsky (Mozhan Marnò).
Pamela then sits down to discuss her sex tape and learns it’s beginning to spiral out of control online, prompting a ferocious row with Tommy later in the evening as she accuses him of benefiting from the release of the video.
As the couple’s private investigator continues to hunt down the initial leak of the tape, Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) is nowhere to be seen after abandoning his apartment shortly after clearing out the porn studio of all hard copies of the tape. Miltie (Nick Offerman) is also suspiciously absent from the episode.
Under strain: As talk of the tape continues to spread like wildfire, Pamela is ‘distracting’ herself from her devastating miscarriage depicted in episode four, as well as the tape, by doing press for Barbed Wire
Where are they? As Pam and Tommy’s sex tape becomes headline news Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) and Miltie (Nick Offerman) are suspiciously absent from the episode
Tommy’s bad luck also continues to spiral as he learns his record label is starting to lose interest in Mötley Crüe and is investing their time and energy in a viral video.
Undeterred by her editor’s initial rejection, the LA Times reporter continues to dig around for a story, calling Tommy for comment, and while he tells her in no uncertain times to ‘f**k off’, he makes the fatal error of revealing the video was stolen, giving the story a newsworthy angle.
The tape then falls into the hands of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, with Pamela and Tommy’s lawyers quick to suggest they sue in a bid to stop images from the video appearing in the adult magazine.
On the scent: The episode, set in 1996, began with a Los Angeles Times reporter learning of the tapes existence and attempting to pitch an article to her editor to no avail, who dismisses the story as gossip
Tension: Tommy is struggling to cope with his grief and is seen in a downward spiral of drinking, partying and fighting in a bid to numb his pain, leaving Pamela in crisis talks with her publicist
Their plan backfires, however, with Bob’s legal team aren’t willing to roll over, arguing that it’s ‘freedom of speech’ that will allow them to publish 20 of the ‘nastiest’ images, while the LA Times catches wind of the legal battle and decides to publish it as news.
As Pamela assures herself that ‘no one will even see’ the back page feature, she’s unfortunately misguided, with Jay Leno’s team and also Hugh Hefner (Mike Seely) picking up on article.
While Pamela and Tommy continue to drift apart with their constant rows, the couple then see their tape being mocked on The Tonight Show, with Leno quipping that being completely naked is Pamela’s ‘work attire’ and that her ‘floatation devices’ have pleased boating safety experts.
The episode ends with Pamela being summoned to give an oral deposition in the legal battle with Penthouse’s team. As Tommy reminds her ‘we’re in this together’, the glamour model is seen realising that this isn’t truly the case.
Distressing: Pamela informs publicist Gail Chwatsky (Mozhan Marnò) of the tape’s existence and the pair learn it’s being mass produced on the internet
Fury: Pamela then sits down to discuss her sex tape and learns it’s beginning to spiral out of control online, prompting a ferocious row with Tommy later in the evening as she accuses him of benefiting from the release of the video
Uh oh: The tape then falls into the hands of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, with Pamela and Tommy’s lawyers quick to suggest they sue in a bid to stop images from the video appearing in the adult magazine
The fifth episode dropped following claims Pamela Anderson’s inner-circle reportedly fears she is being ‘re-traumatized’ by the series.
‘After the tape was made public, it was a very traumatizing situation and it’s unfair that she is being re-subjected to this trauma, like re-opening a wound,” the source says,’ a source told PEOPLE.
The leaking of the tape was a time of devastation for the Nineties pin-up, now 54, and the Motley Crue rocker, now 59, as their X-rated honeymoon moment was spread across the internet for all to view.
Oh dear: Their plan backfires, however, with Bob’s legal team aren’t willing to roll over and vow to publish 20 of the ‘nastiest’ images, while the LA Times catches wind of the legal battle and decides to publish it as news
It had been locked away in a safe, which was later snatched by a disgruntled former employee, Rand Gauthier. Once the tape was found, it was soon released to the public.
PEOPLE’s source claimed that those close to Pamela believe that the series ‘is re-exploiting Pamela’ and that, like anyone else, she ‘deserves a level of respect.’
They continued: ‘She’s a human being and a mom. There’s a sense of hypocrisy about it. It’s her life and she should have the decision [as to] whether it’s turned into a commodity for public consumption.’
At the time, Pamela was already well-known for her role as swimsuit-clad C.J. Parker on the hit TV series Baywatch, as well as her hot-and-heavy relationship with Tommy. But it was the sex tape that really sent her fame into overdrive.
‘Then when [the leaked sex tape] happened, there were paparazzi following her and always outside of her home. She was not seeking any more attention — she had enough,’ the source alleged.
Pamela had willingly posed topless for Playboy back in 1992, before going on to add more covers to her impressive roster, but having her body exposed without her consent was deeply upsetting to the star.
‘If you go back to her Playboy [cover], she always had the perspective that that was her conscious choice.
Pam & Tommy drops on Wednesday on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in Europe.
Pam & Tommy: The Reviews
Ed Cumming writes: ‘Yet while Pam & Tommy sometimes plays it seriously, most of the time it is content to stick to the laughs. An overlong heist scene, in which Gauthier contrives to steal Lee’s safe as “karma” for unpaid wages, might have come out of another Rogen film altogether. Pineapple Express, perhaps. This isn’t really Pam & Tommy – it’s Rand. He might be a more relatable figure, but nobody ever went to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee for relatability.
Jan Moir writes: ‘There can only ever be one Pamela Anderson, but Lily James does a tremendous job of playing her in this eight-part mini-series… Pam & Tommy gets more sombre and serious as it progresses but, to be honest, it works best when it is being blackly comic – that’s if you are prepared to go along with the full frontals, the sex and the rose-tinted depictions of their deep lurve for each other… If Pam & Tommy is so committed to exposing the ‘harm’ that the sex tape scandal did to Pamela Anderson all those years ago, doesn’t this rehash simply dredge it all up again?’
Lucy Mangan writes: ‘The sight of the 90s image of Anderson, and the scandal being reconsidered in line with modern and more enlightened mores (imperfect though they still are) is a welcome one. But, this is undermined by the fact that the whole enterprise has been undertaken without her approval. Ironically, it is the very alertness and compassion of the thing that – assuming she saw the script or was given an idea of the tone – makes you think how very much she must have wanted, whatever the take on it was to be, the entire subject to be left alone’
Kathryn VanArendonk writes: ‘The tone and construction of Pam & Tommy has a playfulness that makes a good match for the early days of its subjects. They seem incredibly in love and also adorably naïve, and it’s conveyed well in scenes like the one where Pam makes Tommy watch The King and I, or one particularly notable exchange between Tommy and his own animatronic c**k (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas!)…
‘The series does, however, fall into a trap that many, many shows now do too frequently, by bouncing around back and forth through time. First it’s Rand’s perspective on Tommy; then it’s Pam and Tommy’s origin story; then back to the early days of the marriage; and then later, back once again to the start of Pamela’s career…
‘It’s a frustrating narrative tic, but there is one meaningful effect for Pam & Tommy: Because it begins with Rand, it also begins with the worst of Tommy, scenes where he is emotionally horrible and physically violent to people doing their very best to please him. All the other hop-skipping time jumps are frustrating, but this choice has real weight.’
CHICAGO SUN TIMES
Richard Roeper writes: “Pam & Tommy” keeps reminding us the couple was the victim of multiple crimes: first, the burglary of their possessions, and then the widespread distribution of that tape by a series of exploitative hustlers and criminals. Thanks to James’ empathetic performance, we feel for Pamela, who has to keep reminding people — mostly men — that there’s a huge difference between making the decision to pose nude for a magazine and being exposed in a private honeymoon tape that was never intended for public consumption… We just spend too much time on meandering subplots, and too much time enduring Tommy Lee’s increasingly insufferable antics.’