Wednesday, February 9, 2022

REVIEW: 'Pam & Tommy' - Pam and Tommy Realize the Scale of Rand's Revenge Against Them in 'The Master Beta'

Hulu's Pam & Tommy - Episode 1.04 "The Master Beta"

Pam and Tommy resort to increasingly desperate measures to get their property back.

"The Master Beta" was written by Matthew Bass & Theodore B. Bressman and directed by Lake Bell

It doesn't take a criminal mastermind to completely destroy someone's life. Rand flails around several times in order to escape the goons hired to hunt him down and retrieve Pam and Tommy's sex tape. Seriously, how many times does the audience need to see him fumble around and evade capture? It happens on three occasions here. It's certainly excessive. But again, that highlights just how foolish he is. He saw himself as this brilliant inventor. The person who could bypass the security system to take revenge on Tommy Lee. The person who could reinvent how celebrity sex tapes are delivered to the public. And yet, he can't accept this business taking on a life of its own. He is very possessive of the entire venture. He needs to be the one in control. He is the one risking it all. He carries the personal burden. He is the one being hunted down. It's not fair that others profit off his hard work. He wants to present a quality product. But grifters on the side of the street are doing a much more effective job at selling the tape. Everyone is still quite new to the internet. Pam and Tommy even have to go to a public library to realize the scale of this endeavor against them. It took them months to realize that the safe was stolen. That moment happened in the premiere. This is the fourth episode. They only now discover that they have been robbed. Pam knows the most valuable thing from that safe. Tommy continually wants to write it off as not being that bad. He does take it seriously. He trusts the police until he learns they are ineffective at their jobs. He hires a private investigator with the skills to catch who did this to them. He still doesn't quite understand the magnitude of the tape being released. Pam chastises him for that as well. He can get away with having a sex tape available for the public to see. He will be celebrated for having sex with her. Meanwhile, she will be shamed and condemned for being so blatant with her sexuality. It doesn't matter that she is the one with control over her body in that moment. She is giving herself to her husband. It's a private moment. They made this tape together. They cherish it. She worries about it being accessible. He locks it up assuming it will be safe. And then, one man with enough conviction steals it and destroys their lives forever.

As such, the perception of Pamela Anderson changes. She has already been labeled a sex symbol. People take advantage of how attractive she is. That's all they expect from her. She isn't suppose to be seen as a quality actress capable of entertaining the masses with her skills. She is only a beautiful thing to admire. Rand and Miltie provide the world with that service in a new way. They built up this business model. Pam and Tommy are catching up. They realize the extent of this threat. They can barely do anything. They can hire people to enforce their wills though. Miltie has the smarts to get out of the country. He is only concerned once Rand notes that he has been exposed as a participant in this endeavor as well. It's easy for Miltie to manipulate Rand into doing the grunt work and being left behind to pick up the pieces. That makes it questionable why the audience has to spend so much time with Rand. He finally gets the bright idea to run away to somewhere else. Again, it still takes three run-ins with the people after him. Plus, it only takes him to Erica, who just wants a divorce from him. That's it. This is a guy with no great understanding of the world and how it operates. And yet, he is responsible for this transformational thing. That dichotomy is compelling. It just doesn't present with enough storytelling material to make it feel worthy of the time invested in Rand's antics. Lily James and Sebastian Stan are offering the embodiments of characters living in a multi-faceted world. One where Pam and Tommy are devastated by the release of the tape at the same time as they're managing a miscarriage. Meanwhile, the rest of the show is rather one note instead of offering the nuance of the societal norms of the time and how they inform each of those characters. Pam and Tommy shouldn't be seen as perfect victims. That concept doesn't exist whatsoever. The narrative simply opts to tell the basic details when digging deeper could reveal something much more transcendent about this experience and its profound effects on the world at large. Pam and Tommy simply want to mourn in peace. Instead, they attack the paparazzi chasing after them because that's the least subtle way to portray the stress in their lives at this moment.