Wednesday, February 2, 2022

REVIEW: 'Pam & Tommy' - Rand Believes It's His Responsibility to Inflict Karma on a Celebrity Couple in 'Drilling and Pounding'

Hulu's Pam & Tommy - Episode 1.01 "Drilling and Pounding"

Handyman Rand Gauthier seeks revenge on the celebrity client who stiffs him.

"Drilling and Pounding" was written by Robert Siegel and directed by Craig Gillespie

This premiere has shockingly little of its titular characters as a celebrity couple. It's primary focus is on construction worker Rand Gauthier seeking payback on Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, while Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has to essentially pay for it in the press. The dimensions are there to present a stunning and complicated story. It all starts with Pam being interviewed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The video is discussed. It's awkward. And yet, it is deemed necessary for her to  offer an explanation or at least a comment on it. She doesn't play a role in its release at all. In fact, the narrative would even suggest that Tommy has a reason to be blamed for how poorly he treated the help. Of course, it's also suggested to be a deeper psychological story about how Rand being mistreated by Tommy relates to his relationship with his father. He then got lucky and took advantage of the situation because he could only see it as deserving of someone so heinous. When he and porn producer Uncle Miltie realize what they've got, Pamela Anderson is the one immediately recognized. She is labeled the star. Rand has a personal vendetta against Tommy. He barely interacts with Pam. Of course, that one brief moment is enough to set everyone off. Tommy is a demanding client who is constantly changing his mind. He needs to flaunt his sexuality and wealth. He has control over this domain. He can do whatever he wants. He is free from a life with any consequences. Rand still commits a crime in order to get back at the drummer. His co-worker Lonnie recognizes that. He cannot follow through on the plan. It went from hoping for karma to get this heinous man back to planing a felony for one's own selfish reasons. Rand is determined though. He stalks out the house and the movements of the people who come and go. He details every single aspect of Pam and Tommy's lives. They are simply to be observed. It doesn't matter how they behave and act. It's simply sketching out their lives and figuring out the most opportune way to disrupt their privacy. When Rand ultimately breaks into their mansion, it's not to solely target the safe and the prized possessions within. He roams through the house as well. It's presented as him also tempting fate. All it would take was the dog alerting someone to the intruder. Instead, Rand is given the freedom to walk into Pam and Tommy's bedroom and flip them off. Again, it's all built around Rand's vitriol against Tommy. In this moment though, the couple are a collective unit. They are in happily married bliss. Rand can't escape that at work or at home. He is reminded of the fame they have. It creeps into his world when he can't even afford his cable bill. He should not be struggling to survive. He can't fathom how he has gotten into this position. He deserves more than this. He is entitled to take from these celebrity clients. They have riches they don't know what to do with. He can simply deliver the prizes to a pawn shop whose owner is impressed. The objects that were once terrified are now Rand's ticket to a better life. Of course, he doesn't use these ill-gotten gains to improve his life. He spends it on the same vices he already embraced. The tape is different. It's a way for him to publicly inflict pain. He sees that opportunity the moment he realizes what it is. Sure, it's convenient that his porn producer friend is the only person he knows who can possibly reveal what's on the tape. That's connecting things together in a way that is narratively convenient. It's strangely intimate as well. That comes mostly from this feeling like a very confined and empty world. That may be a limitation of production thanks to protocols on set. But it also shares just how vast these interior lives can be when professional obligations seem so normal and expected. Fame alters perceptions. Rand is cognizant enough to realize the scope of his crime and the risks it will take to pull off. He doesn't comprehend the vast consequences that are coming both for the couple and the world at large. He can't fathom that in the same way that it's insane that the VCR could replace movie theaters. And yes, it is intimidating to witness Tommy threatening Rand at gunpoint. That doesn't justify the lengths Rand goes to "get even." He simply has the arrogance to believe he is responsible for issuing that karma no matter what the repercussions turn out to be.